How to spend 48 hours in Bristol
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There are many reasons to visit Bristol, but here are the top 10.
Bristol has many examples of splendid architecture. Bristol Cathedral, St Mary Redcliffe Church, Cabot Tower and Clifton Suspension Bridge are all of a bygone era. The Colston Hall Foyer, Arnolfini and the Lido demonstrate how new architecture can enhance the look of a period building.
Whether it’s an exhibition at the Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery; modern art at Arnolfini or the Royal West of England Academy, a private viewing at Spike Island or an insight into the Industrial Revolution or exhibition at the M Shed, there is plenty to keep inquisitive minds happy.
With a thriving music and arts scene, you are never short of something to do in Bristol. Whether you want to relax to live jazz at The Old Duke, catch an up-and-coming band at The Thekla, or watch a show at the Bristol Hippodrome. Alternatively, experience classical or world music at one of the large music venues in town, or take in some comedy or a show at the theatre.
Bristol plays host to a number of great festivals throughout the year. Bristol Sounds is a five-night midsummer gig series on Bristol’s iconic Harbourside taking place 24-28 June. The amphitheatre is an incredible setting for live music. Bristol Harbour Festival, which attracts 250,000 visitors is a free dance, music and arts extravaganza at the Harbourside from 17-19 July and the Balloon Fiesta, from August 6-9, is another popular event on the Bristol festival calendar and attracts around 100,000 visitors.
The River Avon and the Harbourside have always played a pivotal role in the city’s life. A focal point for leisure activities, there is a string of attractions along its banks including Brunel’s SS Great Britain, We The Curious, bars and restaurants and, of course, the beautiful Clifton Suspension Bridge.
Bristol is a mecca for outdoor sports. There are endless cycle trails around the area; climbers can enjoy the pleasures of Avon Gorge and Cheddar Gorge and with so much water around there are plenty of options for those pursuing watersports.
Bristol is overflowing with talent, from the greatest Victorian engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, to modern-day writers – from Catherine Johnson, who penned the hit film Mamma Mia!, to comedian Stephen Merchant, who co-wrote hit TV Series, The Office. Bristol is also home to the BBC Natural History Unit where TV programmes such as Life on Earth, and the Blue Planet were made. Local artist Banksy, and much-loved characters Wallace and Gromit created by Aardman Animations, also keep Bristol in the headlines. Musically too, the talents of Portishead, Massive Attack and Tricky add to the city’s hall
Bristol is a shopper’s paradise. Cabot Circus offers the biggest names in high street retail. Clifton Village, Park Street and Whiteladies Road play host to delightful independent shops, boutiques and antique dealers, while Christmas Steps takes you back in time, offering a myriad of fascinating shops, galleries, and creative outlets.
Bristol is blessed with more than 450 green spaces. Whether it’s a small park, or a large woodland area on the outskirts of the city, there are multiple places, visitors can take full advantage of. Popular spaces include Ashton Court and Blaise Castle Estates, Durdham Downs and Leigh Woods, and horticultural gems including Bristol University Botanic Garden.
Bristol is situated on the M4 and M5 motorways and the city is an ideal base for exploring the rolling hills of the Mendips, one of England’s most special places. The Cotswolds, which boasts attractive English villages of honey-coloured stone, can also be explored.
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