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Bristol

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Get to know Bristol’s unorthodox character, maritime history and arts scene while exploring acres of parkland, distinctive districts and iconic attractions.

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If ever there was a city with a story to tell, it’s Bristol.  Surrounded by the beautiful rolling countryside of South West England, its rich history stretches back centuries. Together with its Old City buildings, castle ruins, cathedral, Bristol Old Vic – celebrating its 250th anniversary in 2016 – and Georgian districts such as Clifton Village, it’s easy to see how Bristol has inspired so many writers, film directors, artists, actors, scientists, musicians and architects. Once a great port, Bristol’s historic Harbourside is still home to illustrious Victorian Engineer, Brunel’s ss Great Britain – the world’s first great ocean liner, now one of many top family attractions in the city.

Take a ferry from the Floating Harbour to Arnolfini – one of Europe’s leading contemporary arts centres – before comparing new works with classic pieces exhibited at the Royal West of England Academy and Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. Home to Banksy and other iconic artists, Bristol boasts an incredible amount of world-class street art. Street art tours are a must-do, with the artists themselves guiding visitors around the city's ever-changing urban outdoor galleries.

As the gateway to the South West, Bristol makes the perfect base for exploring Bath, Glastonbury and Stonehenge. You’ll also find a number of castles nearby including Thornbury – where Henry VIII honeymooned with Anne Boleyn, as well as Berkeley and Walton. End a day of exploring with spa treatments and fine food at Lido, a restored Victorian open-air pool.

A green city

Bristol is renowned for being green. It was the first UK city to be named European Green Capital in 2015 and also has an abundance of green spaces. Choose from 450 parks, many with beautiful cityscapes or views of the Avon Gorge and Brunel’s world-famous Clifton Suspension Bridge. Laid-back and friendly, Bristol is easy to get around on foot or bicycle. Named as the UK’s first Cycling City, it’s a hub of national cycle routes with country trails, a network of city bike lanes and organised tours.

Food and drink

Bristol has been shaped by many different cultures that have brought their customs and cuisine to the city, making it home to everything from award-winning restaurants to the hugely-popular street food stalls found in St Nicholas Market. For drinks, go in search of hidden speakeasies serving elegant cocktails; visit aged wine cellars, gin distilleries and vineyards; sip ale from local breweries, and as this is the capital of the West Country, sample some of the finest ciders in the world.

Shopping

From Harvey Nichols to the high-street bargains of Bristol Shopping Quarter, the city is a world-class shopping venue. Take a stroll around the independent boutiques in classy Clifton Village, shop for retro clothes on Park Street and Gloucester Road or hit St Nicholas Market for organic food, clothes and antiques.

Festivals

Bristol loves festivals and there is a diverse and eclectic mix throughout the calendar year – everything from food to slapstick comedy and,  theatre to street art. One of its most famous festivals is the annual International Balloon Fiesta, which sees over 150 hot air balloons take to the skies and float gracefully across the city each morning and evening.

How to get here

Bristol is 2hrs 30mins from London (car), 1hr 45mins from London Paddington (direct train), 2hrs 30mins from London Victoria (coach) and 30 mins from Bristol airport.

For more local tourist information:

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BBristol International Balloon Fiesta. © Gary Newman
CClifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol. © VisitEngland/Iain Lewis
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