Having flown to Bristol airport for over 3 years, I realised I had never actually been to Bristol except to see the Penguin that my parents adopted for me at the zoo. I had no idea what Bristol looked like, which intrigued me to spend a long weekend there.
My boyfriend and I stayed at the Ibis Bristol Centre. The location of the hotel was brilliant, it was close to the water and also close to lots of bars, restaurants and a few small supermarkets. We didn’t need to use public transport and just walked everywhere (with the exception of The Clifton Suspension Bridge). We got an online deal on the hotel so we stayed three nights but only paid for two. I liked that the hotel had a bar and the lounge was laid back with outdoor seats. I thought our room looked like we were sleeping in a garage as the walls looked rough and the bathroom was like a pod – a bit like a caravan bathroom!
We spent most of our time at the harbour, I didn’t realise how much there was to see and do there. We walked around the harbour most nights as the weather was dry, the whole loop probably took just under an hour. On the way around there’s plenty of restaurants and pubs, and lots of cool boats to look at. We had dinner at a place called Spitfire Barbecue – probably the best barbecue food I’ve tasted yet. The portions were huge and the people running the place were lovely. There’s also a replica of The Matthew at the harbour – it was the boat that sailed from Bristol to North America.
A funny little area, the Christmas Steps are very steep with an odd collection of shops. If you’re looking for art shops and quirky gift shops, this is your place. In one shop I visited, the lady had a mint vintage cash register that actually worked – I know, I’m such a hipster. There was also a video rental shop with a ruby red door saying Bates Motel and a resident cat.
Clifton Suspension Bridge
Clifton is a lovely area with more of a town feel. You can drive over the Clifton Suspension Bridge for £1 or walk across for free. There’s a visitor centre telling you more about how it was built and how it works – not for people who hate heights!
The walk over is pretty cool, although I did feel my stomach churn when I looked over the railings. Once over the bridge, we went into a centre that has a very narrow cave (so narrow at times I had to lie on the ground to get through it as I kept hitting my head) to get to an amazing viewpoint. The viewpoint stuck out from a hill, where you walked onto a yellow platform. Without that platform, it would just be a sheer drop! Once out of the cave, you could go upstairs to the camera obscura. It was ok, it was unmanned so people kept coming in and out, making it too light to see anything. Both the cave and the camera obscura were about £4 each, I would probably give the camera obscura a miss.
SS Great Britain
This ship was down by the harbour, we were feeling lazy one morning so we actually hopped on a tiny boat that takes you across the harbour for about £1. The boat arrived right outside the SS Great Britain.
The ship is huge and there’s lots to see. You can get really close to the outside of the boat and you can see how the people used to live in the boat. There’s mannequins all around the boat, which is particularly spooky in the living quarters as they have sound effects – there was even a smell effect at one point.
I enjoy learning about how people used to live and so I found the whole experience really interesting. It’s not the cheapest entry fee but it does give you unlimited access all year ( if you lived nearby or really enjoyed it).
I love a market and Bristol’s markets are some of the best I’ve been too. Nobody was selling anything tacky, instead, they were selling gifts you’d actually want to buy and cakes you’d really want to eat.
The Watershed market was really close to our hotel so we walked past it quite a few times and picked up some cakes and a belt made out of a bicycle wheel to give as a present.
St Nicholas Market was pretty cool as the markets were inside this nice building and as you went round, there were even more stalls just outside the doors. One stall stood out to me as it had lots of cool manga style things and lots of things with cats on it!
Bristol is a quirky city and it’s super easy to get around the city on foot. I’d recommend Bristol for a weekend trip, plus the flights are usually quite cheap!