3 Days in Bristol: Everything You Should Know
A fifteen-minute train ride from the Roman city of Bath and nearly two hours away from London, Bristol is a fun, vibrant, and relaxed city with an independent spirit and thriving creative scene. It’s a must-visit destination if you love art and history, with plenty of world-class galleries and museums you can enter for free. Many of them feature changing exhibitions throughout the year, providing visitors with something new to see and discover each time.
For nature lovers out there, spend your afternoon in one or two of the hundreds of expansive parks, gardens, and other green spaces. Located in the city centre, the iconic Brandon Hill and the nearby Georgian Queen Square offer plenty of space for relaxing, picnics, and playing. There are also excellent farms in Bristol and the surrounding areas, such as the Windmill Hill City Farm. It is open throughout the year, featuring social, educational, and environmental activities for all ages and interests.
Whether you only have a long weekend in Bristol or an extended vacation, every hour spent here is filled with adventures, learning, and exploration. So waste no time and organize your schedule to have the best 3 days in Bristol. You can walk, cycle, paddle along the River Avon, or admire the city from above with a magical hot air balloon ride. If you don’t know where to start, we’ve created a three-day itinerary highlighting the major attractions and activities you shouldn’t miss.
Travel tip: Drop your bags with Bristol luggage storage and travel without burden. See the sights with a lightened load to fit more into your day!
Bristol itinerary - Day 1
Morning: Stroll Around Bristol City Centre
Bristol City Centre is so compact that you can easily go around on foot. So start your day through a self-guided walking tour to get acquainted with the city and experience its infectious energy.
The heart of Bristol serves as its bustling entertainment, commercial, and business hub, packed with centuries-old buildings, shopping districts, live music venues, and remarkable architectural landmarks. It’s where you’ll find medieval monuments like the St. Nicholas Church, The Guildhall, and the Old Council House, as well as numerous major city attractions, including Castle Park.
Wander through the Old City and fall in love with its unique charm. Its historic streets, including King Street, Corn Street, Broad Street, Queen Square, and Welsh Back, have preserved their identity and look. They are punctuated with interesting architecture, hidden alleys, and cobbled streets, which remain pretty much the same as they were hundreds of years ago.
If you’re in the mood for shopping, head to the Bristol Shopping Quarter. It has more than 500 stores, over 50 restaurants and cafes, fantastic entertainment, and cinemas. When you need a relaxing break, relax at Queen Square. It’s a vast Georgian park area surrounded by trees, making it an excellent place to chill and rest. It also hosts regular outdoor concerts, theater, and festivals, including the Bristol Harbour Festival.
Afternoon: Brunel's SS Great Britain and Clifton Suspension Bridge
You can't visit Bristol and not see the majestic Brunel's SS Great Britain. It's the top attraction you don’t want to skip on your weekend in Bristol. It’s the first iron-hulled passenger ship in the world, rescued from wreckage and rust in 1970. Since then, it has been restored brilliantly and is now alive with sounds, sights, and even smells of life on board, making the visitor experience more immersive.
Visiting SS Great Britain is like stepping on board an extraordinary time machine. It tells the story of one of the greatest engineers in Britain and one of the significant ships in maritime history. You can get up close and admire the engine, explore the below decks, stroll the upper decks, and get a glance of the First Class Dining Saloon, where you can hear the voices of passengers recorded from the diaries written onboard. Today, SS Great Britain features a Victorian ship, two museums, a research center, a conference facility, and a special venue for weddings and celebrations.
There’s a lot to see and do at SS Great Britain, so your afternoon visit may take three to four hours. But before it gets dark, take the time to visit the world-famous Clifton Suspension Bridge. The Bridge is an impressive structure designed by a remarkable Victorian engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It is set on the cliffs of the Avon Gorge, making it the city’s defining symbol.
The iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge attracts thousands of visitors each year who want to witness the 19th-century structure. If you’re spending a weekend in Bristol or visiting on Bank Holidays, you can take advantage of free guided tours and learn about the Bridge’s history. These tours often start at 3 PM and last 45 minutes to an hour.
Night: Clifton Village
Next to the magnificent Clifton Suspension Bridge is Clifton Village, one of Bristol’s most beautiful suburbs. It is home to 18th-19th-century terraces and stunning streets with lines of independent shops, cafes, and boutiques.
Overlooking the picturesque Mall Gardens, the Ivy Clifton Brasserie Restaurant in Clifton Village offers sophisticated dining in a relaxed and inviting atmosphere. It serves café-style classics and modern British cuisine to satisfy your appetite. They also have delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes to meet your dietary requirements. But if you want a bar and restaurant setting with a selection of classic cocktails, wines, and beers, check out Coppa Club.
After dinner, take a walk and explore the Grade I and II-listed Georgian terraces, or shop at the Clifton Arcade and find the unique shops set in the Victorian era. There’s something for everyone here, from plants and fabrics to quality antiques, jewelry, gifts, and more. Remember that the Arcade is only open until 5:30 PM on weekdays and 6 PM on Saturdays. So you might want to stop by before dinner to shop.
Bristol itinerary - Day 2
Morning: Street Art Tour
Dedicate your second day in Bristol to appreciating its gorgeous street art scene. It’s an excellent way to see the city in a new light and get to know the street artists contributing to its booming culture and art scene.
An abundance of street art throughout Bristol’s streets and roads will catch your attention. No matter where you go, from the high streets to the side of the roads, thoroughfares, and back alleys, the various outdoor murals are a feast to the eyes. They add color and life to the otherwise monotonous and gray buildings and areas.
Some spots and main streets where you can find the vibrant graffiti art adorning the city include Nelson Street, North Street, Stokes Croft, Upfest, and Easton. Watch out for the legendary artworks of Banksy, a famous street artist whose works throughout Bristol have him on the map. His contribution to the city’s arts scene spans decades, and many of his pieces are still much loved here.
A cultural experience you should do when visiting Bristol is the Street Art Tour. Try Where The Wall’s guided walking tour that lasts for two hours and runs each week. It provides insights into the work and life of Banksy and reveals the fascinating stories behind the paintings and art pieces that make Bristol the UK’s street art and graffiti capital.
Afternoon: Boat Trip to the Bristol Harbour
After discovering the colorful street art on foot, it’s time to take your adventure to another level by boat and go on a trip with your loved ones. It’s the best way to get to know the busy Harbourside and Bristol’s Floating Harbour. Pick from themes cruises, ferry rides, and afternoon trips on the River Avon with local experts.
Tours are available year-round, meaning you can enjoy a boat trip anytime you visit Bristol and marvel at the city from the water. If you’re not a fan of being on the water, you can stroll around the edge of the water at the Harbourside. You can try other city attractions besides the ferry boat ride, including Bristol Aquarium, We The Curious, Spike Island, M Shed, and other art galleries and museums.
Night: Park Street
Park Street has recently been short-listed as the hippest street in the UK, boasting an outstanding selection of restaurants, shops, and trendy bars. It also has eclectic late-night clubs, so you can party the night away on your second night in Bristol. As home to some of the best city nightlife, Park Street continues to draw the younger crowds and even adults looking for a night to chill, spend time with friends, and meet new people.
This area offers more than just excellent culinary delights, quirky shops, and pubs. It’s also where you’ll find other popular city landmarks. These include the historic Bristol Cathedral, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, Brandon Hill Park, St George’s, and the Royal West of England Academy.
Bristol itinerary - Day 3
Morning: Hike to Brandon Hill and Cabot Tower
Start your day right on your final day in Bristol by hiking the city centre's hilly park and nature reserve. Brandon Hill and Cabot Tower offer one of the best free things to enjoy in Bristol, where you can see spectacular, panoramic views of the entire city and beyond.
You don’t have to travel far from the heart of the city to be close to nature. Brandon Hill Nature Park is home to wildlife, featuring a nature conservation area, beautiful paths, and a play area for kids. Every spring and summer, you’ll be amazed by the gorgeous flowers blossoming in the park, giving it some color and life.
The most notable feature of the park is Cabot Tower. It’s 105 feet tall, providing a bird’s eye view of the city and the surrounding areas. It was built in 1897 to celebrate the famous voyage of an Italian explorer and navigator, John Cabot, from which the tower was named.
Climbing the hill and tower is free and open daily. It offers a family-friendly adventure perfect for everyone of all ages. Since it is hilly, it can be challenging for those with mobility issues and wheelchair users.
Afternoon: Windmill Hill City Farm
The Windmill Hill City Farm is a short drive from Brandon Hill, located in South Bristol. This 4.5-acre green space is dedicated to providing recreational, educational, and therapeutic activities and services to locals and visitors. It has community gardens with flowers and crops growing throughout the year and farm animals, including cows, pigs, goats, and sheep. It’s a wonderful place to take your kids to see and learn about farm animals and participate in different activities.
If you’re visiting with kids, be sure to check out the Stick Man Trail. It’s a self-guided trail designed to encourage children aged three to seven to go outdoors, see how things grow, and explore the natural world around them. You can also shop for local produce and gift items, including handmade arts and crafts and homewares.
It’s guaranteed fun and a relaxing afternoon at the city farm. There’s also a café for a quick bite. You can order colorful veggie-filled dishes and home-cooked meals. The farm, gardens, and café are open seven days a week, but the food is served until 3 PM only. It is a 15-minute walk from the central city or Temple Meads railway station.
Night: The Shakespeare Tavern
There’s probably nothing more satisfying than dining at a lovely restaurant serving quality food in a welcoming atmosphere at the end of your 3 days in Bristol. Situated in the heart of Redland, The Shakespeare Tavern creates a warm, friendly, and inviting space for people to relish tasty food and delicious drinks.
The restaurant serves dinner from 5 pm to 9 pm, from Monday through Friday, and prepares food from 12 noon to 9 pm on Saturday. You can enjoy your meal in the courtyard garden if you want a more open area to enjoy your food and drinks. If you come on Thursday night, you can enjoy their Steak night special, and if you have a team, gather your friends and families for the weekly Pub Quiz.
See Bristol in 3 Days
If you haven't visited Bristol, now is the time to plan your three-day adventure in this lively city. For some, three days may be too short, but it’s more than enough to delve beneath the surface, dig deep, and discover many of Bristol’s hidden treasures and best offerings. No matter your interest, there’s always something here that will make your whole experience worthwhile and unforgettable.
Still planning your visit to Bristol? Check out these guides for more ideas!