Things to do in Bristol: A weekend itinerary
Since Covid stopped us from venturing abroad, in 2020 I explored more of the UK than ever and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at what my home country has to offer! Bristol is a really cool city to explore especially if you’re a big art fan like me. Nearby Clifton Village is a perfect base to explore it from, due to its close proximity but very cute village appeal.
Below is my itinerary for a full 2 days exploring everything Bristol and Clifton have to offer.
Arrive in Clifton and check in. We stayed at the Avon Gorge by Hotel du Vin. With its dark decor, and small but perfectly formed double rooms the Avon Gorge has a really cozy vibe. It’s also located right next to the Clifton Suspension Bridge and boasts amazing views over it from the attached White Lion pub.
Visit the Clifton Suspension Bridge, designed by engineering legend Isabard Brunel. Fun fact: This bridge spot is the 'seventh most popular place for photos in the whole of the UK' - I’m not surprised, it looks good even on a moody day. The Observatory has an even higher viewpoint if you fancy, and there’s also the Giant’s Cave, which is a little lookout lower down in the cliffs themselves, for a small admission price.
Wander into Bristol, heading for the Bristol docks area. On route spot Girl with the Pierced Eardrum which is located by the Albion Dockyard (more on where to spot the Banksy’s in Bristol here!)
It’s an interesting walk through the docks, as it’s very much still a working area and you can see boat building in progress at Underfall Yard. We stopped off at a pub on route to take in the views of the colourful houses on the other side of the River Avon in Cliftonwood.
Visit Brunel’s SS Great Britain - another Brunel vision launched in the 1840’s and the first iron propelled ship to cross the Atlantic. You can’t get much of a look at it unless you go into the museum (which is on the boat) - the visit will set you back £18p/p.
Make your way back to Clifton and have some drinks at the White Lion pub. Sit out on the terrace and enjoy the amazing views over the bridge... I'm gonna rate this as one of the best beer garden views I've ever come across!
Head into Clifton Village, where there are plenty of dining options. I ate at the Giggling Squid which is a fantastic Thai restaurant, there are a few of these dotted around the south of England but the food is really authentic and the service really good.
Try the local tipple at one of lovely local pubs in Clifton, I’d recommend both The Albion and The Mall. The local Bristolian gin is called 6 O’Clock and is very nice!
Start the day right with breakfast at the Ivy Clifton Brasserie. The dining room is elegant and breakfast options super tasty (I opted for eggs benedict) - with reasonable prices too. If you fancy something a bit more low-key, try out Parson’s Bakery for a grab-and-go breakfast.
For today’s explorations I’ve recommended a bit of a tour of Banksy street art, but in doing so you get to see so much of Bristol so it’s a good way to explore the whole city, including bits you maybe wouldn’t otherwise visit.
But first, a visit to Brandon Hill, the oldest park in Bristol and a climb up Cabot Tower which has spectacular views over the whole of Bristol, and is free entry.
Next head to the Bristol Museum, where you can spot Banksy’s Paint Pot Angel. There’s lots more in the museum and we did a quick sweep but to be honest (this sounds terrible) I’ve been spoiled by London’s museums whilst growing up, so the Banksy was - to me - the highlight.
Take a wander by the museum and College Green for studenty vibes. This area of Bristol has what are probably the nicest council buildings of anywhere in the UK! You will also spot Banksy’s Well Hung Lover (click here for exact location).
Take a walk down Nelson Street and Quay Street, these otherwise grey and drab main roads have been taken over by large scale, colourful street art which almost give an open air gallery feel. This constantly changing area is an exciting place to spot new art.
A 10 minute walk away is Wapping Wharf, which has beautiful industrial electric canes (I admit, I had to google what exactly they were) and a cool vibe thanks to M Shed, an exhibition space showcasing life in Bristol.
There’s also some local restaurants and bars who have made shipping containers their home. If you're there, make sure to stop in at Gambas Tapas Bar for some delicious tapas.
Sorry no pics here ‘coz I ate it too fast!
After a little stop for lunch and soaking up the atmosphere at Wapping Wharf, walk up the river in the direction of Stokes Croft, a 30 min walk in total. Be sure to walk via Castle Park which is on the riverfront, and if you fancy a little stop the Left Handed Giant Brewery looked like a great place for a beer on a sunny day (sadly it was closed due to Covid when we were there).
Arrive at Stokes Croft to see Banksy’s Wild Wild West artwork, one from the earlier days but thanks to constant upkeep, still in amazing condition. Stokes Croft area of Bristol is very cool, a bit rough around the edges but with lots of independent shops and cafes. Walk around the side streets to find the Rose in a Mousetrap and you will also spot many other artwork on the side of houses, shops, everywhere!
After all that walking I’d probably Uber it back to Clifton, hit up one of the pubs and get some well-earned dinner.
Thanks for checking out this blog, I hope its given you some ideas of what to see, do and eat whilst in Bristol! Remember to check out my blog here of where to spot Banksy artworks, which has images, full addresses of where to find them, and is updated regularly with any new artwork.
After any more UK-escape ideas? Check out the charming Cotswolds, historic York, or cool East London And of course, hit me up in the comments if you have any Bristol-must do’s!
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