Things to Do in Bristol and How to Get There by Train

speeding train

Written by our Web Team

9 min read | 7 June 2024

Adventure seekers, couples, and families looking for a UK city break shouldn’t overlook Bristol. This city isn’t always an obvious choice, as many sightseers turn straight to cities like London, Manchester, and Birmingham. But there are plenty of fun-filled things to do in Bristol too.

From a picnic on the Downs to an award-winning ghost walk, there are countless places to visit in Bristol. A pint at a Tudor pub and a film at an artsy cinema can both be on the cards too.

What is Bristol famous for? 

Bristol is famous for its abundance of fascinating museums, world-class art, and buzzing social scene. It’s also one of the largest cities in southern England. Despite its size, it’s still easy and enjoyable to walk across the city.

But once you’re here, you can easily get around without public transport if you want to make the most of your day.

We will explore the easiest ways into the city, but first, here are our top things to do in Bristol.

Bristol Cathedral and the Great Gatehouse at College Square.

Things to do in Bristol

Bristol is full of sights and attractions for people of all ages and with all kinds of interests. That’s why the city has made our list of the best 10 city breaks in England.

While there’s plenty to see and do outdoors, there are also several indoor activities in Bristol to enjoy. To get you started, here are nine things to do in Bristol. We’ve covered three attractions for solo travellers, three for couples, and three for families with children.

Things to do in Bristol on your own

Here are three activities in Bristol for solo travellers. That said, there’s nothing to stop you from enjoying these with friends and family.

1. King Street

Stroll down historic King Street, which you’ll find at the centre of the theatrical district. Constructed in 1650, many notable buildings line this street, including pubs from the 17th century. One example is The Hatchet Inn, a Tudor pub built in 1606.

2. St. Nicholas Market

Wander through the bustling St. Nicholas Market to explore its many local offerings. Set in a Georgian arcade, the market dates back to 1743 and offers more than enough shops to fill an afternoon. 

Choose from local produce stalls, vintage clothing shops, and second-hand bookshops.

  • Address: Corn Street, Bristol, BS1 1JQ

  • Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm

3. Take a Haunted and Hidden Ghost Walk

Given Bristol’s rich history, it’s no surprise that the city holds many ghost stories. Take a Haunted and Hidden Ghost Walk to hear some of these tales.

This walking tour won the 2023 TripAdvisor ‘Travellers’ Choice’ award and is frightful enough to have appeared on Living TV’s Most Haunted.

However, if ghosts aren’t your thing, you might prefer a street art tour or pirate walk.

  • Address: The Haunted and Hidden Ghost Walk departs from Bristol Cathedral, College Green, Bristol, BS1 5TJ

  • Opening hours: The tour begins at 8:00 pm on Fridays

  • Price: £7 for adults and £5 for concessions

Things to do in Bristol with kids

Here are three things to do in Bristol with kids. However, you don’t have to take your children, these trips are fun for everyone.

1. We The Curious

One of Bristol’s top family-friendly attractions, We The Curious is an interactive science museum. Children will love the live shows and workshops, the Planetarium, and the interactive exhibits. The building is currently closed for repairs after a fire, they will reopen on 2 July 2024. Check out their website for updates.

  • Address: One Millennium Square, Anchor Road, Bristol, BS1 5DB

  • Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm during term time and Monday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm during school holidays and bank holidays

  • Price: £16 for adults aged 16+; £13 for adult concessions; £11 for children aged 3-15; and free for under 2s, personal assistants, and members

2. Blaise Castle Estate

Blaise Castle Estate makes a fun day out for the whole family. In the 18th-century mansion and castle, children can explore the Victorian dolls, toys, and period costumes. 

The 650-acre Grade II listed site also holds an adventure playground and horse riding trails.

  • Address: Kings Weston Road, Bristol, BS10 7QS

  • Opening hours: The estate is always open Monday to Sunday from 7:30 am, but when it closes in the evening varies throughout the year

  • Price: Free

3. Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery offers plenty to keep children entertained. Older children will enjoy the scientific wonders of archaeology, geology, and art exhibits. These exhibits come with ‘please touch’ labels to encourage hands-on activity.

Under 5s will enjoy plenty of interactive games and puppet shows. And children of all ages will love the dinosaur floor.

  • Address: Queens Road, Bristol, BS8 1RL

  • Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10:30 am to 5:00 pm

  • Price: Free

Things to do in Bristol for couples

Bristol is one of the UK’s most romantic places to visit. From live music events to hot air balloon tours, there are loads of things to do in Bristol for couples.

There are too many options for couples to list, but here are three to get you started. These activities are ideal for a romantic city break. However, you can enjoy them with friends or family too.

1. Enjoy the Downs

Couples can spend quality time together by relaxing at the Downs. This protected parkland, covering Clifton Down and Durdham Down, offers over 400 acres of tranquil scenery.

Here you can enjoy the views with a picnic and, if you’re feeling brave, traverse the suspension bridge at the local Avon Gorge.

2. Visit Harbourside by ferry

Bristol’s port and harbour were once the home of the city’s commercial trade. Today, the waterfront is full of bars, restaurants, cafés, and shops. Plus, there’s a festival-like market here every weekend, where you can explore a variety of independent eateries.

Team a boat ride with a touch of local cuisine on the harbour for a romantic date.

  • Address: 44 The Grove, Bristol, BS1 4RB

  • Opening hours (for the waterbus): Thursday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 4:40 pm and every day from 10:00 am to 4:40 pm during school holidays

  • Price: £2 to £12 depending on journey time

3. Catch a film at an arthouse cinema

Those looking for a romantic afternoon or evening out will love Bristol’s selection of arthouse cinemas. Each offers a different experience.

While The Cube brews its own cola, the Everyman delivers cocktails to your seats. And The Watershed screens international cinema that you’ll struggle to find in larger chain cinemas.

  • The Cube is at Dove Street South, Kingsdown, Bristol, BS2 8JD

  • The Everyman is at Whiteladies Road, Bristol, BS8 2NH

  • The Watershed is at Canons Road, Harbourside, Bristol, BS1 5TX

A landscape shot of Clifton Bridge at sunset.

Places to visit in Bristol

No matter who you’re travelling with, there are many things to do in Bristol for people of all ages. Here are three bonus attractions with immense cultural and historical significance to suit everyone.

1. Bristol Cathedral

Consecrated in 1148, Bristol Cathedral is a must-see historic attraction. The Romanesque cathedral has a similar design to Paris’ Notre Dame and extends over 300 feet.

  • Address: Queens Road, Bristol, BS8 1RL

  • Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and Sunday 11:30 am to 3:00 pm

  • Price: Free

2. The Clifton Suspension Bridge

Built in 1864, the 412-metre Clifton Suspension Bridge is one of Bristol’s most famous landmarks. From the bridge, you can enjoy sweeping views of the Avon Gorge and River Avon. 

Those who are interested in the bridge’s history can speak to an expert at the visitor centre.

  • Address: Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol, BS3 2JX

  • Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

  • Price: Free

3. The S.S. Great Britain

Taking its first voyage in 1845, the S.S. Great Britain was the world’s first steam-powered passenger liner. 

At 322 feet long, it was the longest ship in the world for nearly 10 years. The ship sank in the Falkland Islands in 1937, where it stayed for 33 years. 

Today, people from all over the UK come to visit the ship as a tourist attraction.

  • Address: Great Western Dockyard, Gas Ferry Road, Bristol, BS1 6TY

  • Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm from March to October / Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm from November to February

  • Price: With an array of family tickets available, individual prices are £22 for adults aged 17+; £13.50 for children aged 4-16; free for under 4's and carers. Students from £18.50 with a valid student ID. For those paying, your ticket includes free, unlimited return visits for one year.

A train alighting at Bristol Temple Meads station.

How to get to Bristol by train

Avanti travels to Bristol from train stations all over the UK. Some of the most popular routes depart from London, Manchester, Birmingham, and Liverpool. These routes stop at several stations on the journey to Bristol Temple Meads. 

London to Bristol

The journey time from London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads is around one hour and 35 minutes.

This line includes stops at other stations including Reading, Swindon, Bath Spa, Bristol Parkway, and more.

Manchester to Bristol

The journey time from Manchester Piccadilly to Bristol Temple Meads is just over three hours.

This route will also include stations such as Stockport, Stoke-On-Trent, Wolverhampton, Cheltenham Spa, Gloucester, and more.

Birmingham to Bristol

The journey time from Birmingham New Street to Bristol Temple Meads is around one hour and 20 minutes.

Routes from Birmingham New Street stop at Cheltenham Spa, Bristol Parkway, and Bristol Temple Meads.

Liverpool to Bristol

The journey time from Liverpool Lime Street to Bristol Temple Meads is around three hours and 25 minutes.

Routes from Liverpool Lime Street stop at Runcorn, Crewe, Stafford, Wolverhampton, Birmingham New Street, Cheltenham Spa, Bristol Parkway, and Bristol Temple Meads.

Travelling to Bristol with Avanti

Once you’ve chosen things to do in Bristol, it’s time to bag the cheapest train tickets. Book directly with Avanti and you can avoid paying any booking fees. 

You can save even more on your train tickets with a Group Travel Ticket. These tickets offer savings for those travelling with friends or family.

Many travellers also qualify for our Railcards, which allow you to save a third on ticket prices.

If you’re planning ahead, sign up for Priority Ticket Alerts. We'll drop you an email when we release our cheapest train tickets. Booking early can help you save up to 75% on your ticket price.

Buy train tickets for your next journey

Buying through our website or app saves you money because we never charge booking fees.

To take a look at more ways to save including using a Railcard, booking in advance, and booking as a group, visit our ways to save page.

Avanti West Coast App