I would like to give you a small introduction to Bristol, one of my all-time favourite English cities!
To give you a little bit of background, Bristol is located alongside the River Avon in South-West England and on a good day, you can see over the Severn Estuary into Wales. With its close proximity to the coast (the English seaside is just 10 miles away), Bristol has a strong maritime heritage and the city’s industry is founded on sea trade and ship building.
Anyone visiting Bristol will learn about Isambard Kingdom Brunel, a renowned 19th century Bristolian, who built two of Bristol’s most popular attractions: the Clifton Suspension Bridge and SS Great Britain, the first iron hulled, propeller-driven ship to cross the Atlantic.
If you visit Bristol, I would suggest you start in the city centre where you will find the docks. Today the working docks are located outside city centre. The old docks in the city centre have been redeveloped into a major attraction, with a floating harbour, shops, bars, restaurants an aquarium and planetarium. You can still get a real sense of what Bristol must have been like in the days when the harbour was filled with sailors and tall ships, with boxes of cargo lined up along the quays.
From the floating dock, head up towards College Green, a popular meeting place, where you will find Bristol’s Gothic style cathedral and a large open field surrounded by the impressive cathedral and city hall. If you aren’t deterred by hills (Bristol has a lot of them), you can wander up the hill towards Clifton, a beautiful part of Bristol, full of independent boutique shops selling everything from jewellery, clothes and food to antiques and gifts.
Life in Bristol can be hectic, but it’s so easy to get away from the crowds and city bustle. From Clifton you can wander across to the Clifton Suspension Bridge which overlooks the Avon Gorge. Right next to the bridge are The Downs, a massive green space with fantastic views, popular for a wide range of activities including walking, ball sports, picnicking, bird watching and cycling.
Bristol also has a thriving culture and arts scene, combining current and historical venues across genres including music, theatre, art and the cinema. A day can be easily spent touring some of the best known Banksy works, on display for everyone in the city to see. This is a city that loves to host events and it is well worth keeping an eye out for some of the great festivals that take place across the year including:
- The Bristol Film Festival (March)
- Harbour Festival (July)
- The Balloon Festival (August)
- Bristol Oktoberfest (October)