Top 10 coolest things to see in Bristol (in a day!)

Pinterest image of Banky's street art, the Bristol Harbour and Clifton Suspension Bridge with the text: "Top 10 coolest things to see in Bristol (in a day!)

Top 10 coolest things to see in Bristol (in a day!)

Bristol is one of the most culturally diverse cities I have ever visited and has a unique identity like no other! From its rich maritime history, world renowned graffiti artists, festivals, vintage scene and distinct music and art culture. There’s lots of awesome things to see and do in Bristol! But with the help of this guide you’ll manage to conquer a big chunk of it in just one day! Here are the top 10 coolest things to see in Bristol.


1) Clifton Suspension Bridge

The Clifton Suspension Bridge is one of my favourite sights in Bristol! It’s over 150 years old and is completely unchanged since it was opened in 1864.

At the time of its construction it was intended to be the highest and longest suspension bridge in the world. However, as it took 33 years to build due to ongoing cash flow issues, other bridges sadly beat the record during its construction!

Despite not achieving the world records that engineers had hoped for, the Clifton Suspension Bridge is still an incredible feat of engineering.

It’s so unique that it’s still an amazing sight to behold for tourists visiting Bristol today. As it would have been for tourists over a century ago, observing ships coming down the Avon gorge from 250 feet.

The bridge has been at the centre of many interesting stories and legends over the years too!

One story involves a Victorian woman who attempted to jump from the bridge after a lover’s spat. However, a gust of wind blew her dress up, turning it into a parachute! She ended up landing below the bridge without a scratch on her (incredibly!).

Surviving such a shocking fall must of given her a sense of appreciation for life as she ended up living for a further 62 years, passing away at the age of 85!

Two friends smiling in front of the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol with green hedges and trees around them

2) Banksy street art

Banksy street art is definitely one of the biggest highlights of coming to Bristol! Especially if you’re a massive street art fan (like me!).

Bristol is the elusive Banksy’s hometown and his art can be found all over the city. 

I managed to see two of Banksy’s pieces during my day trip on a Walking Tour of Bristol. These included the “Well Hung Lover” on Frogmore Street and the “Paint Pot Angel” in Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.

The “Well Hung Lover” is my favourite as it’s very tongue in cheek, being sprayed onto the side of a sexual health clinic!

The mural depicts a naked man hanging from a window ledge as another suited man looks out trying to find him. Meanwhile his wife, (dressed in underwear!) holds his shoulder, worrying that her affair will be uncovered!

But it wasn’t the nature of the artwork that caused controversy funnily enough! “The Well Hung Lover” appeared at a time when Bristol Council was cracking down on graffiti.

Following pressure to keep the mural, the council created an online poll and 97% of the respondents were in support of keeping the mural.

This led to retrospective permission being granted – the first legal street art mural in the UK!

Banksy's, "Well Hung Lover" mural in Bristol

3) Bristol Harbour

Bristol has its roots in maritime history with a trading port being located here since 1051!

By the 14th century Bristol was trading with Spain, Portugal and Iceland. However, ships also left for the “New World” here – how cool is that?!

Bristol’s Harbourside is no longer home to sailors and merchants. Instead it’s now a thriving social scene with tonnes of restaurants, trendy bars and hotels.

It’s so picturesque, you could very well spend an entire day just here at Bristol Harbour!

If you’d like to find out more about the harbour’s history and see its most significant sights, I highly recommend going on a Guided Walking Tour of Bristol Old City and Harbour.

You can also explore Brunel’s SS Great Britain (the world’s first great ocean liner), At-Bristol Science Centre and M Shed – a brilliant exhibition on the history of Bristol.

Bristol Harbour with candy coloured houses in the background and a yellow and blue boat sailing in the foreground

4) Royal York Crescent

No visit to Bristol should be without a walk down Royal York Crescent. They are some of the most beautiful houses I think I have ever seen – and total Insta fodder!

The street features a row of stunning Grade II listed terrace houses overlooking Bristol Harbour. Each with their own colourful door and original features which gives each residence its own personality.

But don’t get any ideas! This is also one of the most expensive streets in town, with a basement flat selling here for over half a million pounds!

Still, enjoy taking a stroll down here en route to Bristol Harbour and get a glimpse into how the other half live – past AND present!

A row of Grade II listed terrace houses overlooking Bristol Harbour with colourful doors and features

5) Bristol Planetarium

Bristol Planetarium is right by Bristol Harbour and is a great stop for science lovers and curious visitors alike!

They have loads of interactive and hands-on exhibitions for you to explore – most notably, ‘The Big Silver Ball”, which is the UK’s first 3D Planetarium.

You’ll have fun playing with the mirrors on the outside, whilst taking a trip to the stars in an amazing immersive experience on the inside of the Planetarium.

Bristol planetarium - a giant mirrored ball by Bristol Harbour
Friends posing for a selfie in the Bristol planetarium - a giant mirrored ball

6) Cabot Tower on Brandon Hill

Aside from Clifton Suspension Bridge, Brandon Hill’s Cabot Tower boasts one of the best views in Bristol!

It’s also free to enter and sits in a lovely park with beautiful gardens that visitors will love.

The 105 foot tower was built in 1897 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of famed explorer, John Cabot’s voyage from Bristol to Newfoundland.

There’s even a reconstruction of the ship in the harbour in Bristol’s city centre, that you MUST check out!

Cabot Tower, a Victorian brick tower in the middle of a green park filled with flowers

7) Victoria Rooms

The Victoria Rooms is a stunning building located en route to Bristol city centre from the main train station.

With ancient Greek inspired columns and statement statues, it’s an incredibly striking Grade II listed building!

Opened in 1842, the Victoria Rooms was built originally as a music hall. However, it fast became the cultural centre of the West of England as an exhibition and conference centre.

It’s had many incarnations over the years, most notably as a meeting place for the suffragette movement, but now belongs to the University of Bristol’s department of music.

Victoria Rooms in Bristol, a Victorian building with Greek inspired columns and a large fountain with statues out front

8) College Green

College Green is a beautiful open square where Bristol City Hall and Bristol Cathedral can be found.

The square was originally closed off as part of St Augustine’s Abbey as far back as the 12th century.

However, after King Henry VIII became head of his own church in order to marry Anne Boleyn, the abbey became a collegiate church. This meant the square would be opened up for the public to enjoy too.

Now, College Green is like no other central city square. It inhabits so many juxtaposing features which makes Bristol so individual and special.

With a Banksy, a Queen Victoria statue and a 12th century cathedral on opposite corners, it’s a really interesting place to see and hang out!

A gothic Bristol Cathedral in the College Green area of Bristol on a sunny day

9) Clifton Arcade

The Clifton Arcade was opened in 1878 and is home to rows of awesome quirky art and vintage shops.

It’s a really unique shopping experience. Not just because of the treasures you can find, but for a chance to wander around this wonderfully preserved historic building.

With an elegant Victorian staircase and Venetian inspired decor, this gorgeous little shopping arcade is one of the coolest and loveliest things to see in Bristol!

Clifton Arcade, a victorian arcade with rows of vintage shops both sides and high bright ceilings

10) Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital School (aka Hogwarts!)

You wouldn’t think that a school would be one of the coolest things to see in Bristol! But the Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital School was reportedly one of the inspirations for Hogwarts as JK Rowling grew up near the city.

Although the school was founded in 1586, it’s housed in a magnificent Grade II-listed building.

Built in 1847, the building is a wonderful example of the Victorian era’s gothic revival style architecture.

Queen Elizabeth's Hospital School, a large Victorian brick building that looks similar to Hogwarts in Harry Potter

For more on Bristol, check out my best of Bristol…in a day video on my YouTube channel!


What top things to see in Bristol would put on your list? Let me know in the comments below!

Quick FYI guys – this post contains affiliate links to some tours I recommend. I will receive a small commission for purchases made through these links at no extra cost to you. Thanks so much for your support!

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