As the largest city in England’s West Country, Bristol has been a regional hub for centuries. This historic inland port city has seen maritime trade flow along the river Avon to its docks as far back as the Middle Ages, and Bristol has flourished accordingly. Although once-staple industries such as manufacturing and shipbuilding have declined, the city has adapted and remains one of England’s foremost metropolitan areas. Each year, visitors flock to Bristol to enjoy its buzzing music and restaurant scene. Much investment in urban regeneration has made it one of the most attractive cities in southern England.
Bristol is also well situated for those wishing to explore other cities and sites in the southwest part of the country. The historic city of Bath, another popular destination in the region and perfect for a sightseeing day trip, is only a short drive or train ride away.
Famous prehistoric monument Stonehenge is also easily accessible, as is the town of Glastonbury where the world’s largest green field open-air music and performing arts festival is held.
Bristol is one of the U.K.’s warmest and sunniest cities due to its southwesterly location. The city is sheltered from the surrounding hills and enjoys warm weather in July and August. December, January and February are typically the coldest months, and while snowfall is rare, it can occur from about mid-November through mid-April.
When to fly to Bristol
June through September are Bristol’s most popular months as the weather is typically warm and dry at this time. The end of July brings an influx of visitors for the Harbour Festival.
Fewer tourists visit during the rainy months of December, January and February when accommodations and fares are accordingly more plentiful and cheaper.
Getting around Bristol
Central Bristol features many pedestrian streets and picturesque quayside walking routes, and it’s compact enough that most attractions are within easy walking distance. There are also many cycle paths and routes should you wish to rent a bike. An inexpensive public bus runs routes that are useful for visitors travelling through the city centre and West End as well as the shopping area of Broadmead.
Bristol International Airport (BRS) (www.bristolairport.co.uk) is located in Winford, North Somerset, 13 km (8 miles) southwest of Bristol.
Bristol insider information
- At-Bristol is a science and technology education and exploration centre based in a former railway building that is sure to enthrall inquisitive minds of all ages. It offers more than 300 interactive exhibits on subjects such as the human brain, aviation, space travel and human anatomy. The facility also houses a planetarium.
- Bristol Cathedral was founded in 1140 as an Augustinian abbey and renowned for its Norman gatehouse, gateway and chapterhouse, the last being one of the most impressive of its kind in Britain. Its chapels, meanwhile, are notable for their stunning stained glass windows and carvings.
- The ss Great Britain, designed by famed engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, is preserved in a dry dock at Great Western Dockyard and open for tours. The vessel is the world’s first iron-hulled, screw-driven, steam-powered ocean liner, a marvel in its day and a fascinating testament to the advances made by the great thinkers of the Victorian era.
- The Clifton Suspension Bridge, completed in 1864, is another of Brunel’s creations and one of Bristol’s most iconic landmarks. The bridge spans Avon Gorge, offering breathtaking views, and links the Clifton ward of Bristol with Leigh Woods, an area of woodland popular for walking and cycling.