An area inhabited since the Iron Age, Bristol has flourished through centuries past, it was once deemed as the foremost port for voyages to America and in present day is a nucleus for aerospace, culture and industry. England’s sixth largest city and home to nearly 450,000 people, Bristol is a hospitable city with approach points to the countryside and to the divine coastline.
Therefore, whether your emphasis lies on eating and drinking well, exploring unique cultures or partaking in a romantic getaway with your better half, Bristol has it all to offer.
Clifton Suspension Bridge
Not only a marker but a triumph in design engineering as well as an icon of Bristol, the soaring 76m-tall Clifton Suspension Bridge (which spans across the Avon Gorge) was designed by master engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1836! Dolefully though, he never lived to see its completion in 1864.
The Grade I listed structure is thought to be Brunel’s greatest work and when built, had the longest span of any bridge in the world! Remarkable right? Wholly funded by tolls, drivers must shell out a £1 toll whereas pedestrians and cyclists needn’t pay.
An outstanding locale to catch the setting sun, here’s an insiders secret, you can make your way to the park on the east side of the bridge (alongside the Clifton Observatory) and revel in views of both the bridge and the sunset. A popular spot among locals and visitors alike, why stand atop the bridge when you can marvel at its magnificence and observe its grandeur from a distance.
Banksy Street Art
One of Bristol’s most famous artistic expressions – graffiti. The city is not only awash with it but is highly regarded for it as well. From fiercely protected murals on shop shutters, to windows to public walls, Bristol is adorned in graff.
Now a world renowned artist whose works can fetch umpteen thousands of pounds, Banksy is known to shed light on controversial and sensitive subjects. He too, once upon a time was just another kid on the streets of Bristol with a can of spray in his hands. With Banksy’s works littered around the globe now, it’s quite the learning curve to see his origins and rise which can be deciphered from his original pieces scattered around the city (these are sure to leave a greater imprint on you than any other pseudo-political stencil work costing 20K).
If you plan to seek out these art works yourself, we advocate dropping into the tourist office and picking up a map of Bristol street art. One must visit Nelson Street, Stokes Croft, Dean Lane skatepark in Bedminster and under the M32 flyover (only for the brave hearted). The other option would be to enlist for one of the comprehensive guided graff tours.
Ask any pedestrian or cyclist in Bristol and they will tell you that the city isn’t flat (not one bit). Akin to Rome, Birstol is blessed with seven hills which make getting around town a bit of a challenge (especially true for pedestrians & cyclists who will tell you that the proof lies in their ever-exhausted legs). But on the brighter side, these massive mounds will ensure your calves make you the envy of all other towns and that you the thighs you always yearned of having.
Another plus of having these hills reside in Bristol are that they provide first-rate vantage points to admire the cityscape of Bristol. So my council to you would be to get really high! Hold on a moment, what did you think I was implying?
Venture to Brandon Hill Park and climb the narrow spiral staircase, right to the top of Cabot Tower to view uninterrupted and glorious panoramas of the whole city in one go! The 19th century, 32 metre tall tower offers brilliant views of Bristol and the surrounding area, including the river.
Initially instituted as St. Augustine’s Abbey in 1140, the cathedral was consecrated in 1148, although the design that stands today dates back to works undertaken in the 14th to 16th century (a few fragments of the original still remain though, including the Abbey Gatehouse and Chapter House).
The grade I listed building is an imposing and stunning one from inside and out, the medieval stonework and 14th century stained glass are a work of art in themselves. The cathedral also acts as the seat of the church in England.
If all the sightseeing takes its toll on you, not to worry, good fortune is raining down upon you as there is an on-site café too where you can grab a warm brew and continue onwards on your exploration journey.
A few other noteworthy sites: Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, St. Nicholas Market, the Old City, M Shed and the SS Great Britain.