Once a centre for travelling merchants and commerce, the historic dock city of Bristol is now immersed in technology and tourism. Bristol is one of the UK’s most popular tourist destinations and it has the awards to prove why: in 2014 it was named the best city in Britain in which to live, the city received the European Green Capital Award in 2015 and many districts have been awarded Purple Flag status, showing a consistent level of excellence from evening/night-time businesses. Bristol seems to have it all!
Before visiting any town or city make sure you know the basics. General details and important information.
- Emergency Services: 999
- Language: English
- Currency: British Pound
- Country Code: GB
- Travel Visa: None required
- Population: 686,210
Researching various official sources, we perceive the risk to holiday makers and travellers are as follows;
Top travel advice and interesting tip bits of information from experienced travellers.
- Protect your bike! Bristol had the worst crime rate in the South West for bicycle theft, which isn’t a surprise given the number of bikes being used daily in the city.
- Be wary of cyclists, they have their own designated lanes and spaces so whether you’re walking or driving be mindful of them and to not cause a collision.
For the Emergency services just dial 999 from any phone, for not so serious situations please dial 101.
Bristol Tourist Information Centre: 0117 2397685
You cannot talk about travelling around Bristol without first mentioning that it is the cycling capitol of the UK and is rated as one of Europe’s most bike-friendly cities (coming for you Amsterdam!). Whether you are simply commuting through the city or fancy a scenic excursion, there are plenty of trails to choose from. Then of course there is the Bristol airport, two train stations and even ferry services. Much like the bike trails, the ferry service offers tours of the historic waterfront or just a ride to get you from point A to point B.
Bristol Airport: Bristol Airport
What’s the weather like?
Bristol is a south-westerly port city and, therefore, will be quite chilly and windy most of the time. Its proximity to the sea also increases humidity. It rains often, especially from October to January.
The average summer temperature is 17 °C whilst the average winter temperature is 5 °C.
For the most reasonable weather, visit in the summer.
Dress and plan accordingly.
What are some safety top tips?
Bristol is among the top 5 safest large cities in the UK but you should always be careful just in case.
High tourism means there will be more likely to be pickpockets about, looking for an easy mark.
Keep your valuables close to you, no phones or wallets in back pockets.
Be aware of your surroundings and know where you’re going beforehand. even in a safe city getting lost is not the best idea.
What are some safer areas in the city?
Park Street & Queens Road and Gloucester Road & Stokes Croft are both areas in Bristol that are safe and tourist friendly. Both areas are filled with shops, cafes, bars, restaurants and other attractions to fill your day with. If you fancy some classic retail therapy with known brands, Park Street & Queens Road is your destination. Gloucester Road & Stokes Croft is recognised as the more indy sector of Bristol, with many independently owned, vintage or charity shops residing there.
By all means, explore other parts of Bristol but these densely populated areas should see you almost certainly safe (Keep an eye out for pickpockets though!).
What areas should I avoid?
The local police released city-wide crime statistics a few years ago, naming Broadmead as one of the more dangerous areas of Bristol. This was due to increased and more consistent crime rates compared to other areas of the city.
Annual events allow a city come together for some amazing experiences. If visiting at this time, make sure you have your accommodation booked and are always aware of your surroundings when travelling around.
The Bristol Harbour Festival takes place all over Bristol: be it in the city, is a green space, on the water or, in fact, in the water. Its content is as diverse as its locations with music, performance, contemporary circus spectacles, family friendly events to get involved with and maritime activities. There will be tall ships and jet skis. There will be costumes and demonstrations of spoken word and dance. There will be more- you should go see it for yourself.
Europe’s largest annual meeting of hot air balloons, this event attracts hundreds of hot air balloons from all over the world. Every day of the festival the balloons are launched together then tethered so they can be seen filling up the sky all day. There are model hot air balloon competitions you can enter or you can just observe the spectacle. On the Thursday and the Saturday, there is the Nightglows event, in which the balloons light up the dark in time to the music playing below. This is followed by a breath-taking fireworks display as a finale. It really is a sight to behold.
The Bristol Half Marathon has been transformed into a new event called the Great Bristol Run and has consolidated the half marathon, the 10k run and the junior event into the same day. Both the half marathon and the 10k will be bringing out the best in Bristol community spirit as the city residents will line the streets to cheer on the runners. The running path will lead through Bristol’s famous entertainment zones, which provide music (and hopefully new found motivation) to keep the runners having a good time whilst not distracting from their focus. The route passes multiple classic Bristol landmarks, such as the waterfront and the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
This event for contemporary street art has grown exponentially in a past years, from 20 artists to a whole festival. As well as local art, the festival showcases independent streetwear brands and culturally diverse food stalls. It has events for both children and adults to inspire some creativity and the opportunity to appreciate street art in new ways. There’s even a graffiti academy! UPFEST endeavours to create opportunities for local artists by supporting partner organisations, community projects and securing artist commissions.
Taking place between the Chew Valley Lake and the picturesque Mendip hills, Valley Fest is not you’re average music festival. As well as showcasing Bristol’s live music scene, there are plenty of excellent local food businesses. You will find a huge range to eat and drink- this is not like Leeds Fest where you grab an over-priced burger and then run to the next set. This festival has events and talks about wellbeing, exercising, gardening and crafts. There’s a water colour painting class that sounds just delightful. This seems to be a very relaxed family friendly festival, which has so much more going on than just the music.
What museums should I visit?
Bristol Museum & Art Gallery tells the story of our world in every display, from the beginning of time to the present day. Nineteen galleries over three floors reveal fascinating cultures, ancient civilisations, human invention and creativity, as well as showcasing our beautiful and fragile natural world. With thousands of amazing objects on display, including local glassware, Chinese ceramics and art, one visit just isn’t enough! It is worth noting that this museum takes a very honest and hard look at England’s involvement with the transatlantic slave trade and everyone should take visiting as an opportunity to learn about that too.
This museum opened in 2011 on the site of the former Bristol Industrial Museum. It has exhibitions that allow you to discover how Bristol prepared for and was effected by the second World War, you can go on in and meet the Thecodontosaurus (our very own dinosaur) and, in true Bristolian fashion, listen about the maritime adventures of the past, maybe even finding some treasure yourself. There are also lots of industrial exhibits, including a range of cranes and boats that were park of Bristol’s dock for many years.
Where can I spend the day at?
Bristol Zoo holds a large selection of animals for which it performs conservation and breeding programs as part of a global effort. The keepers perform an array of feeds and talks for visitors to meet the animals and learning about where they come from. You can even book into animal experiences with lemurs, bats and penguins or go further and have a Keeper for the Day experience. There are also options to adopt select animals from the zoo that will get your name put on their exhibit. You really cant go wrong with a zoo day out!
An interactive science museum that describes itself as more of an indoor festival. They want you to touch the exhibits, to explore and be playful. This museum believes that to fully engage your mind with science and new ideas, you must be having fun. Witness exciting science shows and observe in wonder at the planetarium. There are workshops for children that encourage curiosity and themed days filled with events that cover many wonderful facets of science.
What is there to do on a night?
This theatre/pub is certainly an unusual night out but, nevertheless, a good one. You can attend and be entertained by various comedians and dazzling magicians. The bar has lots of drinks and, more specifically, cocktails to choose from. You can also book experiences here: bartenders will teach you how make swish cocktails to impress your friends whilst the magicians can show you how to perform a few magic tricks (as long as you don’t reveal their secrets). Throughout the week, there are other events too including live music and burlesque performances.
A lot of Bristol tourist information promises a great night out and various bars and late-night attractions have been awarded the Purple Flag Status so it must be true, right? But where is all this stuff, exactly?
The best place to start is the Bristol Habourside, this is where a lot of bars and restaurants reside in close proximity to each other. There are also lots of daytime attractions here too so you could spend a lot of time in this one section of the city.
Lets be more specific now with some interesting and unique bars (you can get a pint or a G&T anywhere after all).
The Clockwork Rose is a steampunk themed cocktail bar. You can dress up and play the part or simply take in the décor and have a drink in a funky little receptacle (skull, jam jar, tea cup- its up you really).
Hyde and Co. is a speakeasy themed bar. Dark with mood lighting, old style leather furniture and booths, lots of vintage lamp shades- the ambiance is off the scale. Try and enjoy classic prohibition cocktails and cocktails.