Things to do in Bristol

Culture and heritage

Bristol has a rich maritime history, celebrated in the annual Harbour Festival and Docks Heritage weekends.

The Old City has kept much of its charm from years gone by, while the city as a whole has gained a reputation for being at the cutting-edge of culture and the arts. The city’s free museums are a great place to start your visit. Bristol Museum and Art Gallery tells the story of our world from the beginning of time to present day and M Shed focuses on the story of the city itself. Nestled in the side streets, don’t miss The Georgian House Museum and The Red Lodge Museum. Built in 1766, Bristol Old Vic is the oldest continuously working theatre in the English-speaking world. Bristol Hippodrome hosts west end theatre productions and art lovers should head to Spike Island or Arnolfini.


The symbol of the city, Clifton Suspension Bridge, was designed by the great Isambard Kingdom Brunel, as was the SS Great Britain.

For animal lovers you can feed the fish at Bristol Aquarium, wonder along the tree-top walkway of Bear Wood at Wild Place Project or discover over 400 species at Bristol Zoo Gardens. For the innovators there’s We The Curious, a hands-on science museum that's home to the UK’s first 3D Planetarium. Further afield, at Aerospace Bristol you can fly through the city’s aviation history and even step aboard Concorde Alpha Foxtrot.

Food and drink

Bristol has developed a reputation for fantastic food and drink, with a superb range of restaurants, cafés and bars covering all tastes.

Head to St Nicholas Market to try local produce and street food in the Old City, or check out Cargo at Wapping Wharf, a vibrant new shipping container neighbourhood on the Harbourside. If you’re looking for luxury dining, Bristol has the most Michelin stars in the UK outside of London as well as three Bib Gourmand - an accolade that goes to restaurants which provide "exceptionally good food at moderate prices". The city has also recently topped the list for Vegan-friendly cities, meaning it is easier than ever to grab a great plant-based meal.

Music and nightlife

There’s no shortage of clubs, bars and live music venues to choose from in Bristol.

The home of 1990s legends Portishead and Massive Attack, plus present-day favourites IDLES, Heavy Lungs and The Travis Waltons, regularly attracts big–name musicians from all music genres. If it’s clubbing you want, try Harbourside, Park Street or The Triangle, and don’t miss a night out on Thekla, a former cargo ship turned live music venue. Jazz and Blues fans should start with The Old Duke on King Street. Those with festival fever should keep a look out for an enviable line-up of outdoor gigs over the summer months.


Bristol is dubbed the shopping capital of the South West for a reason.

You’ll find hundreds of big-name and independent stores in Bristol Shopping Quarter. Including those in Cabot Circus, as well as a great indoor selection at The Mall a short drive out of town at Cribbs Causeway. For quirky boutiques head to Clifton Village and Park Street. Take the train along the Severn Beach line to Montpelier and explore Gloucester Road. Don’t miss the ‘mile of markets’ at Christmas, linking up the Shopping Quarter to the Harbourside via the aptly-named St Nicholas Markets.

Film and TV

A UNESCO City of Film, Bristol is a hot bed of production for many television programmes and films. Often used as an alternative location - you’ve probably already seen more of Bristol than you know.

Be guided around ‘Peckham’ with the Only Fools and Horses Tour, go behind the scenes at BBC Bristol’s studios or follow the steps of genius detective Sherlock around the city. Home to many famous faces, most notably Cary Grant, the city is also home to Wallace and Gromit creators Aardman Animations. A feature-length list of film festivals graces the city each year including Bristol Film Festival which screens classics in immersive venues – think Airplane! under Concorde or Titanic aboard the SS Great Britain.

Street art

Bristol is the home of Banksy, but that's just the tip of the iceberg in this street art city. Scour the streets and you’ll struggle not to find a cutting-edge piece of graffiti art decorating the walls.

Be sure to take an artist-led walking street art tour with the chance to try it yourself. Alternatively, you can download the Banksy Bristol Trail app which will guide you around his remaining artworks. For a taste of the new talent on the scene, be sure to check out Southville and Bedminster, where Europe’s largest annual street art and graffiti festival Upfest takes place.

Sports and outdoors

Like sport? Bristol has loads to offer. Football is represented by local rivals Bristol City and Bristol Rovers, while Premiership rugby fans can get their fix at a Bristol Bears Rugby game.

Fancy a round of golf? There is a wide variety of courses to choose from across the city, including an indoor golf simulation facility for those rainy days. In 2020 Gloucestershire County Cricket Club are ‘150 not out’ as they celebrate a very special anniversary. For the more adventurous sporting types, take to the skies in a hot air balloon and soar across the city or alternatively see it from water level as you Stand Up Paddleboard along the harbour. Cycling is in Bristol’s genes – head to Ashton Court, around the Harbour or off-road all the way to Bath. From April-October look up in the early morning or evening and you’ll wonder at the sight of hot air balloons across the city.

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Where do GWR trains to Bristol arrive and depart?

GWR trains arrive and depart from both the centrally located Bristol Temple Meads station and from Bristol Parkway.

Bristol Temple Meads station is just a short walk or bus journey from the town centre, or you can catch the Bristol Ferry waterbus from the pier at Temple Meads all the way to the SS Great Britain via Hotwells and the city centre.

Bristol Temple Meads station is just a short walk from the town centre whilst Bristol Parkway lies further to the north of city.

Which train services run direct to Bristol?

Trains from a number of major cities such as London, Bath and Cardiff run directly to Bristol’s main station, Bristol Temple Meads.

Trains from London also run directly to Bristol Parkway station as well as services from Reading and Weston-super-Mare, and cities further north such as Manchester and Edinburgh.

When is the best time to travel to Bristol by train?

By travelling off peak, you will be able to avoid the busiest train services as well as book cheaper tickets.

Avoiding weekday commuter times or travelling at the weekend will allow you to travel on less crowded trains to Bristol.