48 Hours In Bristol, England
When I told people I was traveling to England, their first response was, “Oh, have fun in London, hi to the Queen!” Upon explaining I would be visiting Bristol, not London, I was greeted with cocked heads, scrunched up noses, and the question, “What’s in Bristol?” Truth be told, I wasn’t quite sure myself…I was simply delighted to be going somewhere that would allow me to be surrounded by adorable British accents day in and day out.
After returning home from my trip, I’m happy to report back that the answer to, “What’s in Bristol?” is, in fact, plenty. The city center is truly an engine for both cultural and culinary expression. Stuffed full of quaint galleries, museums, restaurants and cafes, pubs, and performance spaces, Bristol has so much to offer, it’s hard to fit it all into two days. So grab your glass of cider, your sense of adventure, and I’ll show you how to get the most out of your 48 hours in Bristol.
Getting Acquainted 11am
Upon landing at the Bristol Airport and taking the bus into the city (a quick 25 minute jaunt), grab your camera and umbrella and head for one of the red double-decker buses, operated by City Sightseeing Bristol. Assuming it’s not pouring out, enjoy the open-air top deck, sit back, relax, and take in the sights and sounds of Bristol during the hour-long tour. You’ll get a brief history of the city, as well as plenty of opportunities to snap photos of the various sites and neighborhoods.
Local Eats 12:30pm
The canal is the major artery that pumps through the heart of the city, so enjoy your first meal at one of the many harbourside restaurants. Locally sourced restaurant Bordeaux Quay is the place to go to enjoy fabulous food, fantastic service, and first-class views courtesy of its waterside location. The fresh food and amazing wine selection will provide you with a second wind to take on an afternoon bout of culture.
The People’s Museum 3pm
Bristol’s newest museum, M-Shed, tells the history of the city, through artifacts and stories of the people who have made Bristol what it is today. The view from the top floor balcony is stunning, and the interactive exhibits are fun for all ages. Entry is free.
Relax and Recharge 5pm
One of the perks of staying in the heart of the city at the Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel are the amenities it offers: a regal Romanesque-style pool, hot tub, sauna, steam room, and gym. Throw on your suit and indulge…jet lag should be kicking in about now, so upon feeling the powerful hot tub jets massage into your back, you’ll thank me.
A Little Night Music 8pm
Saunter over to Under The Stars and enjoy a cider (or three!) and some top notch Mediterranean inspired tapas…maybe even some shisha under the stars? The boat-turned-cafe is unique in that if offers tons of fun events, ranging from “Singing Suppers”, themed movie nights, and open-mic evenings where you can share your talent (or at least your bold, American spirit) with Bristol residents.
The Full English Breakfast 9am
A trip to Bristol wouldn’t be complete without indulging in what is perhaps England’s most important meal of the day: breakfast. The Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel offers a diverse display of food…ranging from made-on-demand omelettes, to fresh, flaky pastries, to an impressive collection of cheese and meats.
Neighborhood Walk 10am
Take a stroll up Park Street (nominated by Google Street Award as the “Hippest Street in the UK”), wind your way around Clifton Village, and head towards the Clifton Suspension Bridge. The iconic staple of Bristol, Clifton Suspension Bridge was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel at the young age of 23, who called it “my first child, my darling”. The bridge was completed in 1864, five years after Brunel’s death, and offers stunning views of the town, the Avon Gorge, and lush, rolling green hills as far as the eye can see. Word of caution: if you have a fear of heights, the bridge may be a bit much, as it hangs 245 feet above the high water mark. Walk back down Park Street, and enjoy exploring the unique boutiques and cafes.
Bites and Boatrides 1pm
You are now back in the heart of Bristol, The Watershed. Still stuffed from your ginormous English breakfast, grab a light lunch at one of the many restaurants or street vendors in the area. We enjoyed the selection of sweet and savory crepes from Quick Crepe, right by the waterside. After your lunch, hop on one of the Bristol Ferry Boats, which will provide another look at this gorgeous city via the waterways. Hop off on the stop for Bristol’s award winning attraction, the Brunel ss Great Britain, and take in some fascinating, true stories that have indeed changed the world.
Broadway in Bristol 7pm
The century old Bristol Hippodrome is home to some of the best Broadway and West End Productions, so stop by and experience some smashing British theater! Or, for something with local flavor, check out the Tobacco Factory for one of their in-house productions.
A Proper British Night Cap 10pm
A pub is the perfect spot to mingle with the Bristol locals. We swooned over the non-marked bar, Milk Thistle, and its unique, members-and-friends-only appeal. If you’re looking for something a little more laid back, try the White Lion Pub right next door. The bartender will know your name by the time you leave, as will the rest of the blokes and birds tossing back ciders by the bar.
If You Go
The four star Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel is steeped in grandeur and Victorian elegance. Centrally located, the hotel is steps away from the Bristol Cathedral and historic harbourside. The charming hotel lounge offers plush couches and cozy fireplaces, all the perfect backdrop for traditional afternoon tea, or pre-dinner cocktails. The hotel’s 242 rooms start at 85 pounds.
The Bristol Marriott Royal is about 8 miles from the Bristol Airport and can easily be reached in under 30 minutes by public transportation (using the Bristol Flyer express coach service). If coming/going via train, the hotel is a 10 minute drive from the Temple Meads train station.
By: Jessica Tiare Bowen
A very special thank you to the wonderful folks at Destination Bristol!