I’m a huge advocate of trying out new places as often as possible, but there’s also something very comforting about returning to a city you know and love. I lived in Bristol for around ten months in 2011, and some of my closest friends still live there, so I try and make it back there whenever I can – last weekend being my most recent visit.
When I lived in this lovely city, I worked in a demanding job that involved 10-11 hour days, and I spent every moment I wasn’t working propping up a bar with my colleagues or playing drinking games with my housemates (oh, the folly of youth!) The result? I didn’t take advantage of my time in the city at ALL. Luckily, I’ve had the opportunity to rectify this on subsequent visits.
If you have 48 hours to spend in beautiful Bristol, here are some of the city’s highlights.
The Bridge: See one of world-famous engineer Brunel’s masterpieces and admire incredible views of the Avon Gorge and Bristol City at the Clifton Suspension Bridge. It’s a steep walk up Clifton’s many hills to get to the bridge (seriously, I could feel it in my calves the next day), but it’s well worth it. The bridge is an iconic Bristol landmark, a great place to get photos and it’s also quite romantic, with a secluded bench off to one side that we immediately decided would be the perfect place for a proposal.
The Nightlife: As a city with a large student population, Bristol has a diverse nightlife. There are a variety of lively bars along the harbourside, as well as more intimate, upmarket spots on Whiteladies Road. For shots of every flavour imaginable (including chilli!) head to Vodka Revolution. If you’re young enough to think a massive nightclub with very loud music and lots of sweaty bodies sounds like fun, check out Pryzm.
For live music, check out the Stag and Hound to hear local bands, or Mr. Wolf’s for an alternative/Indie vibe. My personal favourite spot is Seamus O’Donnells, a tiny little Irish pub run by a charming gay couple on St. Nicholas’ Street (What can I say? I’m a cliché).The Food: My resident Bristolian friends tell me that the culinary scene has massively improved recently, and if my weekend was anything to go by, they’re absolutely right. Saturday was spent having afternoon tea at Brown’s in Clifton, including dainty sandwiches, warm scones and a variety of tasty treats. The salted caramel profiterole was the highlight for me, but it was all delicious! Sunday lunch was spent at Steak of the Art on the harbourside (not suitable for vegetarians!) The graffiti and decor are colourful and urban, and the food is consistently tasty and well priced. For standard pub grub at affordable prices, check out Molloy’s on Baldwin Street or the Bay Horse. The Shopping: Cabot Circus in central Bristol is a fab open air shopping centre, with a good mixture of big brands at House of Fraser, high street shops and cute cafes. The centre leads on to Broadmead, a pedestrian shopping area and it’s close to both Debenhams and Primark. If you’ve got deep pockets, there are all sorts of boutiques in Clifton. The biggest shopping centre is probably Cribb’s Causeway, but it’s a bus ride out of the city and it’s probably not worth it on a short trip.
The Sights: There are beautiful buildings all over Bristol – from catching a train at Temple Meads to watching skateboarders in front of the cathedral at College Green, you can hardly throw a stone in Bristol without hitting an architectural masterpiece. Stroll along the harbourside, or even explore the city from the water -there are several cool boat tours on offer. The world’s best bangers and mash is sold at St. Nick’s Market alongside all sorts of knickknacks.
10 top things to see and do in Bristol
1. Bristol Zoo is worth a visit – I once saw a gorilla there raise its new-born to present it to us, just like Mufasa does with Simba in the Lion King
2. Have a drink on the terrace at the Avon Gorge Hotel, which has stunning views of the Clifton Suspension Bridge. It’s a glamorous spot, and less effort than walking all the way up as described above!
3. Check out what’s on at the Hippodrome, Bristol’s theatre. Mamma Mia was on last weekend, so we gave that a miss as we had already seen it (Yes, we’re cool!)
4. Keep an eye out for graffiti by Banksy dotted around the city
5. Place your bets – Bristol’s Rainbow Casino has become a hugely popular spot for poker, roulette and blackjack
6. Book a karaoke room at Kobe Karaoke and blast out the tunes with your friends (Warning: I have memories of doing just that at a work-do that still make my stomach turn with embarassment!)
7. If you’re visiting in summer, try to time it to coincide with the Bristol Balloon Fiesta. Booking a hot air balloon ride is massively expensive (around £180 per person), but it’s still cool to walk around the festival while the sky is dotted with colourful balloons
8. If you’ve got extra time, take a half-day trip to Bath or Cheltenham, both very pretty towns that are very accessible from Bristol
9. See an exhibition at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. Last weekend, we visited a free exhibition on death, which was both morbid and fascinating
10. Jump onboard the S.S. Great Britain, one of Bristol’s most popular tourist attractions.
Have you visited Bristol? Did you love it as much as I do? If you’re visiting soon, what have you got planned?