When we decided to visit Bristol for 3 days during the 2019 summer holidays, we were not sure what was interesting in the city to discover. We started doing some google searches, which is how most of our trips start, and we discovered some very important aspects.
Bristol is the home of Banksy, the controversial and famous graffiti artist who vindicates social realities using huge amounts of spray. It is also the birthplace of one of the greatest actors of all time, the unforgettable Cary Grant.
Creativity seems to flow like few other things in this medium-sized city in the southwest of England… And if not tell Arya of Game of Thrones, who is also Bristoleña!
Arrival in Bristol
We arrived at Bristol airport a little later than noon. To go to the center, we use the bus service available at the airport, as well as being fast and efficient is much cheaper than other means of transport. Our recommendation is that you buy the ticket on the website, to avoid queues in necessary and to be able to board the bus as soon as you leave the terminal. The price is £7 for the single journey, or £12 for the round trip.
Once in the city centre, we went to check in at the hotel we had chosen for our stay. We decided to stay at the Mercure Grand hotel, which is located near all the tourist attractions and also looked good when we saw the rooms on the website. During our stay we discovered that spy communications were made in this hotel during the Second World War!
First meeting with Bristol
For the first afternoon in Bristol, we decided to visit two museums that we were very interested in and that because of their opening hours and days, we would not have the opportunity to see them at any other time.
You know that we love to soak up the stories and curiosities of the places we visited, so these two visits were definitely an opportunity to learn to the max:
Red Lodge Museum
This museum is free and shows a 17th century house with a lot of the original features as well as the furniture that one day its inhabitants used almost four centuries ago.
Rooms with wood panels carved by hand, stone fireplaces with ornaments artisanly sculpted that are incredible… a staircase that communicates the floor from above with the one from below that sincerely, made my hair stand on end…. And I hadn’t gone out to the incredible garden yet.
The truth is that I already imagined myself as a lady of Bristol and without a doubt this is one of the visits in which an image is worth more than a thousand words, although you are warned that the photographs do not do justice either.
Georgian House Museum
A few weeks ago we told you about our visit to the Georgian House in Edinburgh and with all that we learned about the time, we couldn’t resist visiting Bristol too.
Entrance is free and allows you to visit three floors of different rooms and rooms where people made their lives in the eighteenth century.
This is a very interesting visit, although I must admit that I personally liked the Red Lodge Museum more.
We’re still walking around Bristol.
After having soaked ourselves in the history of Bristol thanks to these two free museums, we decided to take a walk through the center of the city.
One of those walks in which you go aimlessly and aimlessly, simply enjoying the streets, observing people and buildings. It is very interesting the university energy that the city offers at every step, undoubtedly this has much to do with all that creativity and entrepreneurial zeal that characterizes the city.
We love to become hobo travelers!
We visited the Christmas steps, an alley full of stairs in the center of the city surrounded by small shops with a lot of charm. This street dates back to 1669 and undoubtedly seems to move to the seventeenth century.
We took a lot of photos, as it is a simple but unique place in the world and very special.
We also stroll around the cathedral, which is absolutely imposing. I found it curious that I had never heard of it and yet it has nothing to envy of York Cathedral or the many others that are celebrated and admired throughout the UK. If you dare to visit it (it’s free) please don’t forget to see one of the stained glass windows that dates back to the 20th century and that is an abstract representation of the Holy Spirit. Simply beautiful and super different from the rest of the colorful windows of the cathedral.
As it couldn’t be otherwise, we took a coffee break. Very close to the cathedral, we found a cafeteria that also had some sweet snacks called Cowbee and we took advantage to make a stop and rest a little our sore feet.
Once the energies were recovered, we decided to go and see some of Banksy’s works in the city of Bristol. Although the identity of this famous graffiti artist is not known for sure, we do know that he was born in Bristol. Some of his most famous paintings in Bristol are:
To be our first contact with Bristol, we went very happily to the hotel and slept like hobbits after an adventure… Although our time in the city was not yet over!
Second day in Bristol
Once we had covered and exhausted the most important points of the city centre on the first day, on the second day we decided to head for the Clifton district, where the suspended bridge bearing the same name is located.
We decided to do the walk but it’s about 40 minutes to go and about 40 minutes back, so if you’re short of time, it probably compensates you to take one of the city buses that bring you to the area.
We took the opportunity to pass in front of the house of Sarah Guppy, one of the engineers who worked on the bridge we were about to see. The truth is that I took with me the joy of a woman in the middle of the 19th century who would have participated in such a civil engineering work.
When you get to Clifton Bridge, the views are incredible. It is surrounded by several parks and hills, which make it absolutely magnificent. It’s one of those images that you can’t stop looking at and that you can always think of another photo to take home as a souvenir.
Very close to the park where we took these photos is the Observatory building, where the main attractions gather around this bridge. The first and most important is a cave that can be reached by going down 120 steps, called Cueva del Gigante. Admission is £2.50 per adult.
Access is fairly fair and steep, in some cases slippery, so I leave it to everyone’s assessment whether this is a possible visit or not – we did it without problem, but it is true that people with claustrophobia or any other personal circumstance may not feel comfortable.
It is undoubtedly highly recommended to go down to the cave, as it allows you to access incredible views of the bridge on a balcony that is suspended above a motorway. For those of us who are dizzy, it’s a bit scary, especially because the platform doesn’t look safe (it has a sign that only 8 people can show up at a time) because it’s a steel grating.
Once the descent is done, the way back to the surface is the same but in reverse.
In the observatory building there is also a “dark room”, but we did not visit it since it seems to us more artificial and less related to the marvel of the bridge.
Without a doubt I believe that this suspended bridge is one of the wonders that Bristol offers, and I recommend all travelers who read to us to please visit it, as it is a completely free visit and I promise you that the beauty is very much worthwhile.
Our favorite place to eat in Bristol
After the piece of walk we made to the bridge, the cave stairs, and the walk back to the center, we were super tired so we decided to find a place to eat. Chance led us to La Panza, an Italian restaurant located very close to the Christmas steps.
There we met his owner, Riccardo, who is a very young boy from Italy and absolutely charming. He told us that he doesn’t have a menu, but he cooks with what he buys every day in the market, fresh and quality products.
Riccardo proposed to us to take out a plate of entrants, some gnocchi with tomato sauce for Arol, and some spaghetti with macadamia pesto for me. Everything was incredibly rich, cooked on the spot, with a lot of flavor and in a place with great charm.
It also had homemade Italian desserts, but we decided to have an espresso and continue our adventure through Bristol, as we couldn’t stop much longer. The coffee was amazing.
Without a doubt we would like to recommend this restaurant to you, since the prices are quite competitive considering how rich it was in the food. For the starter and two main courses plus the coffees we pay about 27 pounds, excellent value for money.
Last hours in Bristol
After lunch we took another walk through the city centre, and went back into the Cathedral to visit its gardens, as the day before we had not been able to see it in its entirety.
The truth is that I think it is great that such a large and majestic building has such beautiful gardens, as it allows the visitor to clear a bit of so much Gothic art. I always have a lot of fun looking at tombstones and seeing how old people die (spooky hobby of mine, I know!)
Next to the Cathedral you will find the Central Library of Bristol, and as access is free, we encourage you to come in for a walk. The building is very nice on the outside, but on the inside it is a normal library. It does have free bathrooms and a cafe where you can rest if you want.
And with this second day we finish our escape to Bristol. A city that undoubtedly surprised us as we were not sure what to visit. Whether you want to do a day tour from London or visit Bristol exclusively, I think it’s worth spending between one and two days to discover some of the attractions we’ve described in this post. We also took the opportunity to do a one-day excursion to Bath, which I will tell you very soon in another post.