Being a relatively compact city, there’s a lot you can achieve in Bristol with 24 hours at your disposal. Assuming you’re on foot and you’re feeling energetic, here’s a suggested itinerary for your exploration of the city. It’s by no means comprehensive and leaves out some cool things you should definitely see on your return visit (St Nicholas Market, to name one obvious omission.) Because I guarantee, you will be back soon – no one comes to Bristol just once…
Breakfast and browsing on Gloucester Road
Fuel up for the day ahead with breakfast at Bakers & Co, a bijou eatery inspired by San Francisco’s café culture on North Bristol’s vibrant Gloucester Road, a street frequently referenced as one of the last great proper high streets in the UK.
There are plenty of quirky independents to distract you on Gloucester Road, from cute homeware shops to traditional toy stores and health food suppliers.
Take a short detour around Montpelier’s Picton Street to get a taste of bohemian Bristol before emerging back onto Stokes Croft, the rebellious heart of the city, famous for its anarchic vibe and Banksy street art.
Culture and Views on Park Street
Winding up past the pretty Colton Street and Park Row, you’ll find yourself in the heart of Bristol’s student quarter. Pop into the free Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, a beautiful Edwardian building featuring fascinating permanent collections and visiting exhibitions.
Pick up a picnic from Pinkman’s bakery at the top of Park Street – the nearby Brandon Hill is the perfect place to take a break and enjoy panoramic views across the city. If you’ve got the energy, Cabot Tower is worth a climb for even better views across the skyline. Call into the easy-to-miss Georgian House on Great George Street, a beautifully preserved piece of Bristol’s heritage.
Heading to the Waterfront
A walk or boat ride around Bristol’s sympathetically developed docks area is a must – you can pick up frequent ferries to various parts of Bristol’s waterways by the cascading water fountains. Linger close to the main drag if you’re after bars, cafes or museums (including the free M Shed and the science-themed @ Bristol) or explore the more tranquil sections beyond the SS Great Britain. Don’t be put off by the pricey entrance fee for Brunel’s legendary creation – this painstakingly restored ship is a truly beautiful place to while away a couple of hours.
Up into Clifton
Feeling tired? Then you might want to bypass the painfully steep streets of Clifton Wood to make your way towards Bristol’s most refined suburb. But if you’re still good to go, you’ll be able to take in some of the city’s most picturesque streets, lined with multi-coloured houses – no filter needed.
When you reach Clifton proper, you can choose between browsing the independent boutiques and antique shops of the pretty Clifton Arcade or soak up the Georgian vibe at the insanely photogenic Royal York Crescent. If there’s still life in the old legs yet, head to Clifton Suspension Bridge, icon of Bristol and a masterpiece of engineering, spanning the dramatic Avon Gorge – a stunning, instagram-friendly backdrop for your selfies.
Dinner and drinks on Whiteladies Road
Bristol’s a true foodie destination and the choice of evening eating options are dizzying. Clifton village isn’t a bad place to find yourself come dinner time, but I’d recommend hailing a cab (you’ll be pretty weary by now) and making the short trip to Whiteladies Road. The consistently good Souk Kitchen serves delicious food inspired by Morocco and the Middle East, or further down the road you’ll find a handful of fantastic restaurants around Cotham Hill, including Bravas, a tiny tapas place that feels as if it’s been transplanted to Bristol direct from Seville. If you’re hungry for something more meaty, Cowshed is a must-visit – it’s one of Bristol’s smartest dinner destinations.
Now for a nightcap and you’ll have to summon up one last burst of energy to make your way to a hidden gem at the top of Blackboy Hill. Nestled underneath the Rajpoot Indian restaurant is Haus Bar, an intimate, dimly lit speakeasy where you’ll find some of the best cocktails in the city. Don’t be put off by having to ring the doorbell to gain admittance; Haus is – very much like Bristol itself – cool but friendly, and a fitting place to end your day out in the city.