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Travel guide to…Bristol

Roughly 100 miles to the west of London lies the city of Bristol, home to nearly half a million people and a rich selection of attractions. This is, after all, the city that gave us Ribena, tarmac and the first ever chocolate bar “suitable for widespread consumption.” Far from resting on its laurels, however, the West Country’s largest city has undergone significant transformations in recent years and is now one of Britain’s fastest growing cities.

So why should you visit? Well, to answer that very question we’ve checked out the best spots in and around the city – all of which are driver friendly, of course. From street art courtesy of the world’s most mysterious artist to the West Country’s very own ‘Grand Canyon’, it’s safe to say we were blown away by Bristol’s offerings. So, all that’s left for you to do is to check out our travel guide, book yourself a car hire and hit the road…

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Image by Ben Sutherland
Image by Ben Sutherland

As far as must-visit Bristol landmarks go, they don’t come much bigger (or more impressive) than the Clifton Suspension Bridge. The Grade I listed structure has stretched over the River Avon for close to 150 years and is rightfully regarded as one of the finest bridges on the planet.

Start off by admiring the views as you drive across, then head along to the visitor centre where you can learn all about the history of the bridge, including the fascinating story behind its construction all those years ago.

Cheddar Gorge

Image by Kelveden
Image by Kelveden

Cheddar Gorge is situated less than 20 miles south of Bristol and forms part of a stunning landscape often referred to as the ‘Grand Canyon of the West Country’. Its cliffs rise over 450 feet above the road which winds its way round the base of one of Britain’s largest gorges, which also happens to be a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Put simply, it makes for a majestic drive and a thoroughly enjoyable day out.

There are ample parking areas located along the narrow road, so pick up a car hire in Bristol and head into the country.

Make your way up to the Lookout Tower for some outstanding panoramic views, then embark along a three mile cliff top walking trail to fully immerse yourself in your gorgeous surroundings. Alternatively, take time to explore the fascinating nearby network of caves dating back to the Ice Age. Audio guided tours are available, making it an enjoyable adventure for both kids and adults.

Best of Banksy

Image by Heather Cowper
Image by Heather Cowper

Looking for an excuse to leave the car behind for a few hours? Take the chance to explore the city by foot, whilst checking out some captivating art creations. You see, according to some, Bristol is the home town of Banksy – the legendary graffiti artist whose identity remains a closely guarded secret. Thankfully, his work is far more accessible than the man himself and some of his finest creations can be viewed at various locations throughout the city as part of the self-guided Banksy Walking Tour. From his Grim Reaper creation in the city centre to the Mild Mild West artwork at Stokes Croft, it is simply a ‘must do’ walk for anyone with a soft spot for the arts.

You can get a flavour of what your art adventure holds in store here.

Bristol Zoo Gardens

Image by Airwolfhound
Image by Airwolfhound

Don’t miss out on the chance to pay a visit to the Bristol Zoo Gardens, which just so happens to be the fifth oldest zoo in the world.

Needless to say, it’s home to a huge variety of exotic animals which are sure to delight visitors of all ages. Learn about the primates on Gorilla Island and in the Monkey Jungle, then come face to face with Asiatic lions, flamingos, red pandas and meerkats.

The youngest ones can also let loose in the huge children’s play area, whilst the aquarium and reptile house both feature a host of fascinating creatures.

Westonbirt Arboretum

Image by Smoobs
Image by Smoobs

Westonbirt, The National Arboretum is just over a half hour’s drive north-east of Bristol city centre, perfect for a leisurely afternoon drive. Make the most of the enjoyable cruise along the narrow country roads by treating yourself to a prestige car hire, enabling you to visit the 600 acre arboretum in style.

Home to over 3,000 different species of trees, the Westonbirt Arboretum is a popular destination with walkers, mountain bikers and general outdoor lovers throughout the year. Take a casual stroll along the 17 mile long network of forest trails, or a join a free guided tour on Saturdays and Sundays.

Whether you’re visiting on a crisp winter morning or at the height of summer, bring a picnic along and make a day of it in one of the UK’s best loved beauty spots.

Wookey Hole Caves

Image by Stephen Jones
Image by Stephen Jones

The Wookey Hole Caves are located just a short drive away from Bristol Zoo Gardens and make for a superb day out for the whole family. Dating back several million years, and having provided shelter to humans for over 50,000 years, the Wookey Hole Caves offer the ultimate underground adventure. Take the tours and explore the darkest corners of the lit up caverns, and keep an eye out for the Wookey Witch who may well be lurking in the shadows!

Aside from the caves, the area is home to life-sized dinosaurs, fairy gardens, Pirate Island mini golf, the Wookey 4D experience and a host of other top notch attractions which prove popular with visitors of all ages. So what are you waiting for? Get your adventure hat on and head up to the Wookey Wonderland!

All set for Bristol? You may also want to check out some of our other helpful travel guides:

The Outsider’s Guide to…Bath
The Outsider’s Guide to…Belfast
The Outsider’s Guide to…Liverpool

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