In this article, I wanted to share with your the best free things to do in Bristol – one of the most vibrant and arty cities in the UK.
Bristol isn’t the most touristy city in the UK, however, it’s such a shame, because Bristol is a great city to visit. There are so many things to do: from street art tours to interesting museums and nature spots! We were lucky to spend two nights in Bristol exploring the best Bristol has to offer. This post was written in collaboration with Visit Bristol, who kindly brought us to Bristol and made sure that we had a great time in the city (which we did). However, all the impressions and opinions are as always our own!
Here’s what you can expect to find in this post:
If you’re new to this blog, hi, I’m Liza! I started Tripsget in 2016 out of passion for travelling and desire to share our unusual itineraries with fellow travellers from all around the world. A new chapter of my life started in 2017, when I moved to London and started exploring the UK, one weekend at a time. Together with my partner, Pepe, we have explored some of the most-visited places in the UK as well as some amazing hidden gems. If you’re interested in more UK content, make sure to check our UK destination page!
First, let’s talk about some frequently asked questions about Bristol!
This post's overview:
- 1 Getting to Bristol from London & other cities
- 2 Is one day in Bristol enough to explore the city?
- 3 Where to stay in Bristol?
- 4 So, let’s get started with the best free things to do in Bristol:
- 4.1 1. Visit the M Shed
- 4.2 2. Walk in the harbour and listen to street musicians
- 4.3 3. Go on a self-guided street art tour in Bristol
- 4.4 4. Take photos with the pretty storefronts in Clifton Village
- 4.5 5. Cross the Clifton Suspension Bridge by foot
- 4.6 6. Visit Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
- 4.7 7. ARNOLFINI Gallery
- 4.8 8. Visit Bristol Cathedral
- 5 Summary of the best free things to do in Bristol
- 6 Here are some other posts you might like:
Getting to Bristol from London & other cities
Bristol is located in the South-West of England, very close to Bath and just across the bridge from Wales. It takes around 2 hours 15 minutes to drive to Bristol from London (however, that depends on WHERE in London are you based, as it might take you 1 hour to exit London during the rush hours). If you take a coach, it might be a little longer – it took us around 3 hours to get to Bristol. Buying a ticket for a coach to Bristol was actually pretty affordable (we paid something like per person £10 for a return trip). You can check the prices and availability of coaches to Bristol here >
Taking a train from London to Bristol would take between 1 hour 40 minutes and 2 hours, so a bit faster compared to driving. You can check prices for the trains to Bristol here >
If you live in the North, e.g. Manchester or Liverpool, it would take you around 3 hours to drive to Bristol, which is a bit further away compared to London but not too bad! Taking a train would be surprisingly a bit slower, it would take around 3.5 hours to get to Bristol by train from Manchester.
Is one day in Bristol enough to explore the city?
Bristol is a relatively large city and there are plenty of things to do. If you can only come to Bristol for one day, that’s absolutely fine, however, I would recommend spending 2 days in Bristol. I actually wrote a separate article about our 2-day itinerary for Bristol visiting the main highlights of the city, so feel free to check it out here!
If you only have a day to spend in Bristol, you would need to prioritise and pick the activities that you would enjoy most. If you like beautiful photogenic neighbourhoods, cute cafes and antique shops, head to Clifton and spend some time there. You would be also able to see the famous Clifton suspension bridge.
If you’re interested in street art, then you should totally take one of the street art tours of Bristol (that would bring you to some of the best works from Banksy), e.g. this tour is definitely one of the best-rated ones!
If you like museums, there are so many in Bristol! My favourite was definitely M Shed, but there are a few others that I would recommend as well (e.g. Bristol Museum and Art Gallery).
If you like photogenic locations, then I’ve got another article for you! Check this post to find out what are the most Instagrammable spots in Bristol >
Where to stay in Bristol?
Finally, let’s chat about the best places to stay in Bristol if you decide to stay in Bristol for at least one night!
We were hosted by Radisson BLU Bristol and had the BEST view from our room. The view was absolutely stunning and so was the hotel itself – so that’s the hotel I would definitely recommend.
So, let’s get started with the best free things to do in Bristol:
1. Visit the M Shed
My favourite of the free things to do in Bristol is definitely M Shed. M Shed is a wonderful museum that is all about Bristol. You can learn about the famous people of Bristol, lesser famous people of Bristol and just ordinary Bristolians! M Shed covers everything, from history to modern lifestyle items. Moreover, M Shed has a great terrace on the last floor, from where you can enjoy the beautiful panorama of Bristol!
2. Walk in the harbour and listen to street musicians
Bristol is such an artsy city! I haven’t seen as many street musicians as in Bristol anywhere in the world. And they were great. It makes walking around the harbour even more enjoyable.
3. Go on a self-guided street art tour in Bristol
If you’re on a budget, you don’t have to take a street art tour. Instead, you can take a self-guided street art tour in Bristol! Justine from the Wanderer of the World has written this amazing blog post with the maps and so on, so you should definitely check it out!
4. Take photos with the pretty storefronts in Clifton Village
Clifton is the prettiest district in Bristol and it’s just a pleasure to walk around Clifton. Also, Clifton has so many beautiful restaurants, cafes, storefronts, that it would just take ages to see them all.
5. Cross the Clifton Suspension Bridge by foot
Another of the free things to do in Bristol is crossing the Clifton Suspension Bridge. If you do it by car, you will have to pay £1, however, if you cross it on foot, it’s absolutely free! And the views from Clifton Suspension Bridge are breathtaking.
6. Visit Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
For beautiful art and historical artefacts, visit the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery and of course, just as any other spot in this post, it’s free to visit!
7. ARNOLFINI Gallery
Another great free spot to visit in Bristol is Arnolfini Gallery. Head there for a lot of great contemporary and controversial art. If you’re not a fan of Modern Art, better heat to Bristol Museum or M Shed.
8. Visit Bristol Cathedral
Another great spot in Bristol is the Bristol Cathedral. I love visiting Cathedrals, so I would recommend you to visit the Bristol Cathedral for sure!
Summary of the best free things to do in Bristol
Alright, these were 8 of the best free things to do in Bristol! I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful. Our favourite free activities in Bristol were M Shed and Clifton Village, as we were on a hunt for the most Instagrammable places in Bristol. However, it really depends on your interests and the amount of time you have in Bristol – if you have 2 days or more, you will be able to see most of the things.