Bristol is one of the cities in England that has the best mixture of culture. By that, I mean it perfectly blends the modern cultures with the older ones. Visiting Bristol will help you get a better idea of English classiness and style. Plus, Bristol is a perfect blend of parks, waterfronts, architectures, and downtown areas.
There are many areas in Bristol to explore, so to make it easier, I come up with a list of where to go in each areas. It’s possible to walk within these areas and even to other areas. Though, to go from one end to the other could take a while because not all these spots are clustered in a short walking distance.
I. Area around the Suspension Bridge
- Leigh Woods National Nature Reserve
- Brunel’s Clifton’s Suspension Bridge
- Clifton Observatory
- Christ Church
All the main highlights of Bristol are in this area. You got Leigh Woods National Nature Reserve that you could enjoy some shades while having a picnic or take a walk around the park. There are few walking trails, starting from 1 kilometre to no more than 3 kilometres.
Once you get out of the woods, the next stop is Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge. It’s a landmark of Bristol since Victorian time! You might wanna walk across the bridge and have a look at the Avon George that separates the forest and Hotwell Road.
Once you cross the bridge, Clifton Observatory is near. Paying 4 GBP for full access and you’ll be able to relax around the hill, try the Camera Obscura that projects the surrounding view inside the dark room and follow the tunnel into Giant’s Cave, which leads down to the cave balcony that is somehow almost 80 metres above the Avon George. At this cliff face, you’ll get a picturesque view of the bridge and the river. To be honest, it’s one of the most impressive experience in Bristol for me, because it’s so mysterious and adventurous.
Down the hill of Clifton Observatory, there is Christ Church, Clifton Down. It’s a small church with a 65 metres steeple and surrounded by nice green area.
II. Area around the Brandon Hill
- Brandon Hill
- Cabot Tower
- Wills Memorial Building
Brandon Hill is the oldest park in Bristol. It also comes with a small nature reserve. It’s the most popular picnic spot in Bristol and in some areas of the park, you could have a BBQ or just simply enjoy an ice-cream while admiring the view.
At the peak of the hill, stands the Cabot Tower. Even if you are lost walking around the hill, you’d still be able to spot this tower. You could go inside the tower and climb to the top for best views in Bristol. It offers you the view of the Bradford Hill, the waterfront and the downtown area. From the top of the tower, you could also see College Green, University of Bristol. But what’s outstanding is the Wills Memorial Building.
III. Area close to the River
- Bristol Cathedral
- Bristol Harbour
- Hannover Quay
- Spike Island
- Brunel’s SS Great Britain
- Waterfront Square
- The Harbourside Market
- Christmas Steps
- St Nicholas Market
Now we are moving closer to the waterfront, but before we go there, let’s stop at the Bristol Cathedral, which is only 10 minutes walking from Brandon Hill. Bristol Cathedral has one of the finest interior. It’s beautifully designed with vaulting and windows. There is the Elder Lady Chapel, which was built in the 13th century. Then there is the Chapter House, which has a really complex and beautiful ceiling. And there are the choirs’ organs that stand out in the hall.
Just behind the cathedral, take the Cathedral Walk and follow the trail down the Hannover Quay. You’ll have the Spike Island in front of you. You’ll also be able to spot the magnificent Brunel’s SS Great Britain, a museum ship in a dry dock. Around this area, you’ll see the blended culture of houseboat lifestyles and colorful houses facing the river. To get a better look, you can take a ferry ride along the River Avon.
I’d recommend Bristol Ferry Boats. Their fares start at 1.50 GBP and it’s really convenience if you wanna go to some of these tourist attractions: Brunel’s SS Great Britain, Millennium Square, Castle Park and Temple Meads.
Spend some time in this area and you might share the same perspective of Bristol as a mixture of older and modern cultures. There are old bars, harbourside houses, modern pubs and you’ll see teens and elders relaxing just next to the river.
You could walk to Waterfront Square and cross the Pero’s Bridge or eat at the Harbourside Market. About 10 minutes walking from the market, you’ll reach one of the very historic street of Bristol, the Christmas Steps. It holds a great culture and it looks like a romantic movie setting. There are many cute shops here, including potteries, arts, furnitures and clothes.
There is one more market in this area and it is one of the best markets in England; the St Nicholas Market. Located in the middle of Bristol’s old city and with the ambience of over 50 food stalls, this is a perfect place to eat.
IV. Temple Meads Area
- St Philip and St Jacob Church (Pip ‘n’ Jay)
- Temple Church (Holy Cross Church)
- St Mary Redcliffe
- Bristol Temple Meads Railway Station
Within the Temple Meads area, there are so much to see, but the places you shouldn’t miss are as follow. Firstly, the St Philip and St Jacob Church or what locals call Pip ‘n’ Jay, is one of the older churches in Bristol.
Next, just across the Temple Bridge is the Temple Church or the Holy Cross Church. It’s a ruined church and what remains is the result of the bombing during World War II. You can still see the vaulting, some memorials and bases of the pillars. Though, what’s interesting is the Leaning Tower.
Not far, is the most famous Parish Church in England, St Mary Redcliffe. This 800-year-old church is a tallest building in Bristol, with beautiful stained glass, unique Lady Chapel and nice organ. It’s stunning!