A Cultural Guide to Lively, Artsy Bristol, UK

Advisor - Bijoy Shah
Curated By

Bijoy Shah

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  • Off-the-Beaten-Path Travel

  • Arts & Culture

  • Food & Wine

  • Solo Travel

  • Local Culture

  • Local Food

  • History

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Curator’s statement

Bristol is a city of plenty. This city of bridges, balloons, boats, bikes, and Banksy (yes, *that* Banksy) is a delight for the body and soul. The birthplace of Cary Grant, Sir Daniel Day-Lewis, & Maisie Williams provides so much art and culture to fill your cup.

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Where to stay in Bristol

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Hotel du Vin Bristol

Boutique hotel set in 18th-century sugar warehouses with sleek rooms and an award-winning French bistro.

Number 38 Clifton

Set in a Georgian townhouse overlooking the Downs, this boutique B&B is walking distance to both Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, and the upscale shops of Clifton Village.

Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel

Housed in an ornate Victorian property, this classic hotel is home to contemporary, warmly decorated rooms and suites, and a sleek restaurant offering modern European cuisine and afternoon teas.

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Things to do in Bristol

hot air balloons over suspension bridge surrounded trees
  • Banksy Walkabout - There are numerous unique pieces spread out over the city, but a new one could always appear! Since Banksy is recognized for bringing attention to sensitive topics and social challenges, many of the works are debatable, and interesting. You can easily find a number of Banksy pieces throughout town and the local tourism office has self-guided walking tours.

  • Watershed - Watershed is a multi-artform venue set on Bristol’s harborside, offering a varied program of independent film & events, plus occasional live music and festivals. In a city that's brought forth dozens of world-renowned artists, see where the new generation of art is growing in Bristol!

  • Bristol Cathedral - This beautiful Romanesque cathedral al stretches over 300 feet and while much of it has been rebuilt, some of the original building remains. Tours are free, with a suggested donation of 5 quid.

  • Clifton Suspension Bridge - To some, this is the symbol of Bristol. Suspended above the River Avon, the bridge provides sweeping views of the river and surrounding city. If you're there early on the right day, you'll see dozens of hot air balloons fly overhead.

  • Empty Plinth of the Colston Statue - After protestors toppled a statue of a 17th-century slave trader, the pedestal where it once stood remains unoccupied. It's a cool reminder of the growth and evolution of Bristol.

  • Vale Street - England's steepest street. Residents tie their cars up when it's icy. Walking up can be a challenge, and for some it's a health goal.

  • The Guild of Ancient Merchant Taylors - Initially founded by Richard II in 1399, the year he was deposed as king, this structure contains one of the city’s oldest fraternal lodges and was originally built in 1740. You can see the orate doorway arch, which is quite a sight. The building no longer houses the Merchants Guild. The building now contains modern offices.

  • Henrietta Lacks Statue - Born in 1920, Henrietta Lacks suffered a severe hemorrhage after giving birth to her fifth child. At Johns Hopkins, the only hospital in the area that treated Black patients at the time, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer and died nine months later at the age of 31. During her treatments, two samples, one of healthy tissue and the other cancerous, were taken from Lacks’s cervix and given to cancer researcher George Otto Gey. He later created the first immortalized human cell line in history, known as HeLa, which is used for biomedical research to this day. As an homage, a statue of Lacks was unveiled at the Royal Fort House by the University of Bristol.

  • St Mary Redcliffe Church - A masterpiece of Gothic architecture, which has stood on this site for some 800 years. Inside, you'll find a superb collection carvings, elegant 18th century ironwork, beautiful stained glass and a world famous organ.

Places to eat & drink in Bristol

A Cultural Guide to Lively, Artsy Bristol, UK - Places to eat & drink

The Llandoger Trow: A historic, reportedly haunted pub built in 1664. This is where is where the Daniel Defoe met Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish privateer who had spent more than four years as a castaway on an uninhabited island. Selkirk’s story inspired Defoe to write his famous 1719 novel, "Robinson Crusoe." The pub also provided inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1882 novel "Treasure Island." They've also got a nice selection of beer and pub food.

The Volunteer Tavern: A great menu, a number of beer fests, and an award-winning beer list, make this a pub worthy of a visit.

The Bank Tavern: Tucked away in the Old City, The Bank is famous for doing the best roast dinner in Bristol. It's an absolute delight. The menu of pub faves is comprehensive and amazing. The selection of cask ales is also quite wonderful.

Bulrush: At first glance it might appear quite modest but this sweet neighborhood restaurant comes with an appealingly relaxed and cozy feel. Top-notch seasonal ingredient, either foraged or organic, and preserving and pickling play a key role on the imaginative, well-balanced and deftly prepared tasting menu.

Bambalan: Wonderful Mediterranean bites, fun cocktails, and an outdoor terrace that is quite large. A great place to take in a summer happy hour.

The Clifton Sausage: The restaurant specializes in traditional and classic British dishes, both unpretentious yet universal in their appeal, as well as delicious varieties of sausages. The traditional pub menu is happily paired with a great beer & wine list that make for a perfectly tasty meal.

Goram & Vincent at The Avon Gorge: A meat eater’s mecca, with big hand cut steaks by the pound and mouth-watering thick-cut filets, exciting sides that bring the meat alive and sweet and sour salads. The earthy smoke house with an open fire kitchen provides smoke and theater alongside coal fired grills and bespoke clay ovens. It's a truly unexpected delight.

Need to Know

Hungry for more travel inspo? Check out my guide to Scotland: A Whisky Lover's 12 Days in Scotland.

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to England.