Living in Brighton, I thought our city was the most bizarre part of the UK, something I was quite proud of, but then I visited Bristol, our equally crazy cousin! I love this city, it’s so vibrant, so free and creative. If you’re feeling puzzled what to book for your weekend, whether it’s a hen or stag do, a birthday party or even a team building event, here are some of the best things to do in Bristol.
1) Clip ‘n Climb Bristol
Providing you don’t have an intense fear of heights, this climbing based activity is hugely popular for all ages, from four and above, making it a popular option for birthday parties. This does also mean it can be filled with little kids depending on the time you visit, so this activity often works better for families.
2) Berkeley Castle
Yes, this one does involve a short drive or train North, but it’s a short distance from Bristol and it’s a great day out. This historic fortress was built in the 12th century, with the same family remaining in residence throughout the entire time! It should however be highlighted that the castle is normally only open to the public from Sunday until Wednesday.
3) Riproar Comedy Club
I LOVE live stand-up comedy, whenever I go I wonder why I don’t go more often! You get a nice mix of local comedians to some of the biggest in the country. Make sure to look for tickets in advance to see some of the bigger acts.
4) Clifton Suspension Bridge
Stretching the whole way across from Bristol to Leigh Woods, this is more than just a bridge, it has become the famous symbol of Bristol, having opened 150 years ago. Forget driving, you can have a walk across the bridge, stopping half way across to catch some great snaps.
5) Rainbow Casino
I’m always adverse to mention anything around gambling, however I know the Rainbow casino is a popular option for many in Bristol. This is also an added option to watch various sports, such as the boxing, which normally is on too late for many bars or pubs.
6) Cabot Tower
An added benefit to visiting this tower built in 1897 is the Brandon Hill park it’s located in, where you can sit down for a picnic or relax with friends or family. This Grade II listed building makes the vast majority of list for the best things to do in Bristol.
7) Whistle Punks Urban Axe Throwing
This is an amazingly fun activity for groups of mates, whether on a stag/hen weekend or just meeting up for a bit of fun. See who’s got the best target and who would make the greatest Viking. There are only low alcohol drinks available, so don’t expect this to be the place where you get tipsy, this will be the starting activity before you head on with your night.
8) Brunel’s SS Great Britain
While you can’t take to the open seas, you can explore this museum ship, which used to be a passenger steamship, first launched in 1843. It was a global phenomenon at the time as it was actually the longest passenger ship in the world for 9 years, highlighting Britain’s achievements on the seas.
9) Replay Bristol
We’re secret lovers of board games, I absolutely love Christmas time with my family, so the idea of an area to meet with family and friends for food, drink and a hell of a lot of board games sounds unbelievable. Since writing this article, there are rumours it might have closed, so do check before visiting and if you get the chance, do let me know so I can update this article.
10) Smoke and mirrors
To say this is just a traditional pub would be missing the point by a mile! Firstly, it has a small theatre where people perform, but also, these aren’t normal play performances, we’re talking magic! You can see the best magicians in the country create wonders right in front of your eyes, while you sip on your pint!
11) Hell In A Cell
How jumpy are you? This horror escape rooms will have you jumping out of your skin! This was my favourite thing to do in Prague as they had the Thill Park, which is meant to be very similar. I can tell you this, Raquel jumped like crazy throughout the whole event!
12) We the curious
This science and arts centre is a great option for families, especially if it’s raining outside, offering hours of entertainment. There are hundreds of exhibits to see and experience, while it is open 7 days per week, with slightly later closing times on Saturdays and Sundays.
13) InPlay Golf
As the name suggests, this is a brilliant opportunity to play golf inside, meaning you can avoid the rain and walking miles to find where your ball went. There is also a bar, meaning you can have a beer in hand while playing. This is often booked up for team building events throughout the year, while it can be found very close to Bristol City Centre.
14) M Shed
You will find this museum on the Prince’s Wharf, meaning there are plenty of great restaurants located nearby around the floating harbour. This is a great indoor activity for families and tourists alike, available for free entry.
15) You&Meow Cat Cafe
Admittedly I’d prefer a dog cafe, but how can you say no to petting any animal while enjoy a coffee? There are plenty of amazing cakes on offer, while the theme of the cafe is inspired by Japanese rock gardens with miniature stylised landscape.
16) Bristol Ferry Boats
This isn’t just an added transport option to get around the city from Bristol harbour, the ferry is a great option for tourists and visitors to the city. Trips take place every single day, while you can even book a booze cruise for your birthday, or simply because it’s a Friday night.
17) Laser Fusion
You’re never too old to player laser tag, just ask Barney Stinson or the group from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It’s time to pick up those laser guns and get your team ready for an extreme amount of action. But remember not to wear grey, I came out looking incredibly sweaty, not the best look! This is also a great birthday activity.
18) Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
Found in Clifton, Bristol Museum & Art Gallery offers a great chance to explore through the Egyptian Mummies and learn about all the curses that were set in place around the tombs. They also have dinosaur fossils and some brilliant art pieces, not to mention what main exhibition piece is being featured at that point in time.
19) Oakham Treasure
This is a privately owned museum, open from Tuesday’s till Saturday’s from 10am to 5pm, however it should be mentioned that the last admission inside to the museum is at 3:30pm. The museum celebrates the retail and farming history of the UK.
20) Bristol Zoo Gardens
My mate actually plans on having his wedding here! I wasn’t aware this was something you could even do, but it sounds incredible. Obviously, for anyone else I’d just recommend a casual visit during the day. There are hundreds of threatened species homed in this zoo, including gorillas, red pandas and fruit bats.
21) Bristol City Docks
You can hire a boat trip from Bristol Harbour or enjoy one of the many bars and restaurants along the city docks. You can even explore a museum or arrange various watersports. Want to find out more about the area? You can book yourself on to a self guided walking tour.
22) St Marys Redcliffe Church
One of those picturesque scenes in Bristol that has stood the test of time, having been built 900 years ago. It’s also a close walk from Bristol Temple Meads station. This is a good day time tourist attraction.
23) Clifton Observatory and Caves
You can look out over the Clifton Suspension Bridge, as well as the entire city. It’s open 7 days a week, while you can also hire the venue out for celebrations. The giant caves can be accessed directly in the Observatory.
24) Cabot circus
Nope, we’re not talking about an actual circus. This is a huge shopping centre, complete with plenty of restaurants and a cinema, not to mention a central hotel and plenty of apartments. But perhaps the reason why so many people are fascinated by the Cabot Circus is the roof covering over top.
25) Bristol Old Vic
Apparently, this is the oldest continuously running theatre in any English speaking country! There are plenty of shows to be seen throughout the year, so it could be worth looking up what’s on and seeing if you can buy tickets.
26) Bristol Aquarium
You know what to expect, thousands of underwater creatures floating right past your face, including a giant octopus and sharks (everyone’s favourite). There are 40 display sections to view from, while this is a great family day out activity.
27) Tobacco Factory Theatres
Located in South Bristol, you can enjoy a show in the Theatre or relax with a latte in the cafe bar. There are plenty of productions to watch, from musicals to large productions.
28) Bristol Hippodrome
This theatre is best known for showing Les Miserables and The King And I, however these will rotate constantly, so make sure to look what’s on. Who needs to go to London to see a big show?
29) ‘Well Hung Lover’
Not what you’re thinking, you filthy buggers, this is a Banksy art piece, as the naked man dangles from the window. Unfortunately, it has been covered a little by idiots with paint, but it’s still very clear.
30) Clifton Rocks Railway
Right next to the Clifton Suspension Bridge, this underground funicular railway coasting along the Avon Gorge rocks. Built 125 years ago, this has stood the test of time and is still available to take a ride.
31) Blaise Hamlet
This beautiful set of cottages looks like something out of a Hobbit movie. A part of the Blaise Castle Estate, these were originally an area for the servants to stay. It’s now seen as a ‘mini village’.
32) The Nails
Have you ever heard of the saying ‘cash on the nails’? If so, you might be interested to know that locals believe this is where it started. It’s a set of four bronze tables which were built in the 16th/17th century.
33) Bristol Milk
Nope, we’re not talking actual milk, this is a drink of sherry! Apparently, mother’s in Bristol would give their teething children a little bit of Bristol Milk. But interestingly, the wine doesn’t actually come from Bristol, however many of them are thickened here.
34) Aerospace Bristol
Run by the Bristol Aero Collection Trust and located just off the M5, you will get the chance to see a supersonic plane called Alpha Foxtrot, which is by far the biggest attraction. Seeing the last Concorde ever to fly, it does make me feel gutted I never got to fly on one, considering they were retired back in 2003.
35) Wild Place Project
This wildlife conservation is fun for people of all ages, giving you the chance to see giraffes up close, amongst all the many animals you will find. It can be relatively busy on the weekends, so if given the opportunity, it could be worth going through the week.
They might not be playing the big blockbusters, but you can see plenty of cultural classics at the Watershed cinema. This innovative event space offers various different art forms right alongside the river, making it quite scenic.
37) Watch any film you like in the city’s smallest cinema – Bristol institution 20th Century Flicks
I grew up living near a guy who had his own cinema in his house and we used to celebrate our birthday parties there, which was amazing! Having a close knit group go together and watch the movie, all booked out for them, makes it feel very unique and VIP.
38) Caves hidden on the harbourside
The Redfliffe Caves are famous throughout the UK as an unbelievable sight, completely man-made. They were dug up in the Middle Ages, with estimates on the exact dates. They now have music playing hear, which echoes and blasts off the cave walls.
39) Bristol: Blackbeard to Banksy Guided Walking Tour
This walking tour will take you around 1,000 years of history, recognised as the best tour in Bristol. Easily some of the most popular spots along the tour are the Banksy murals, however expect a few people taking photos alongside you.
40) Bristol: Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Cruise
These ferry boats have run for 40 years and are open 364 days of the year. The journey takes around 80 minutes if you want to go around the whole harbour, but you can hop on and off where you want, allowing for a unique way to get around Bristol.
41) Bristol’s Self-Guided Cross-Harbor Craft Beer Tour
The number of craft beer brands in the UK is always expanding, as demand continues to grow. People are moving away from lagers and into the art covered craft beers, while Bristol has a strong reputation for these.
42) Noah Ark Zoo
You don’t need to go on a safari around the Maasai Mara in order to see some of the big five. No, you can catch most of them at Bristol’s Noah Ark Zoo! Covering 110 acres of countryside, this can take the best part of a day to get around.
43) Stockwood Vale Golf Club
My skills at golf are beyond poor, but this doesn’t take away how much fun it can be! The grounds are kept in good condition, while this is an 18 hole proprietary golf course.
44) Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill Bristol
OK, vegetarians or vegans might want to skip this one, but I do love steak! Alternatively, you could opt for their afternoon tea options. Also, if you’re looking for a birthday gift, you can get restaurant vouchers for Marco Pierre’s.
45) Visit A Spa
Gardens health spa, Lido spa or the Bannatyne Health Club, you’re spoilt for choice in Bristol, while who doesn’t want a relaxing massage? The prices can be competitive, so it’s worth looking around for the spa that suits your requirements, whether you want a traditional popular option or you’re after a more well-being focused option.
46) Aryz on Nelson Street
A dog dressed like a Hipster, I mean, what else could you ask for? Aryz is, unsurprisingly considering the title I’ve given, located on the walls of a building on Nelson Street, as the dog stares up at…Well, I’ve no idea.
47) Escape Hunt Bristol
Who doesn’t love an escape rooms? OK, I’ve taken part in 6 and so far only escaped once, therefore my reputation isn’t the greatest currently, but they are amazing group fun. The Escape Hunt can be found at the previously mentioned Cabot Circus.
48) Puzzlair-4D Bristol
You’ve got one hour to escape this 4D escape rooms, with your choice of the room of Al Capone, the Fortress, the warehouse of Jack Travis, the secret agent room, the poltergeist room or the prison van, all sounds equally fun!
49) Leap of Faith
How are you with heights? There is not a chance I’d give this a try, but if you’re a daredevil and don’t get weak at the knees the moment you’re on the edge of dropping down then this might be perfect for you!
Located on Glass Walk in Cabot Circus, this is a great chance to try out various virtual reality games. I still get a bit dizzy if I do these games for an hour, but they’re amazing fun for 20-30 minutes of game-play.