There’s an abundance of Bristol tourist attractions to enjoy, including historic buildings, parks and stadiums. The city boasts two cathedrals, built eight centuries apart, Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s famous memorial bridge, Queen Elizabeth I’s favourite parish church, the park on the hill with its ties to Canada, plus much, much more for you to explore.
Attractions in Bristol
Despite being born in Portsmouth, and spending a lot of his life in London, Isambard Kingdom Brunel is an honorary Bristolians. The Clifton Suspension Bridge is one of his most famous creations, although he sadly didn’t live to see it completed. The famous structure, perched on the cliffs above the Avon Gorge, was completed in 1864 – five years after Brunel died – a fitting memorial to the man who ‘built Britain’.
If you’re paying a visit to the boutiques and cafés of Clifton Village, set aside the time to take a stroll across the bridge. You’ll get some incredible views of the city, and it’s worth appreciating just how much of an engineering feat the bridge is – it was designed for horse-drawn carriages, but it still copes with more than 10,000 cars crossing it every day.
If you’re interested in the life and creations of Brunel, you may be interested in visiting his SS Great Britain – the passenger steamboat that changed the world. It’s now a museum, which you can read about on our Bristol culture page.
Another attraction, while you’re in the area, is Clifton Cathedral. The Roman Catholic cathedral was only completed in 1973. It’s a stunning place of worship, meticulously designed with a hexagonal sanctuary that, even with a capacity congregation of 1,000 people, gives everyone a clear view of the High Altar. Inside, from certain angles, it looks less like a place of worship and more like something from a science fiction movie. If you’re interested in architecture and design, it’s worth a visit. It’s particularly fascinating to compare it to Bristol Cathedral on College Green, which dates back to the 12th century, and features aspects of German Gothic architecture that were very rarely found in Britain.
You’ll also want to see the St. Mary Redcliffe Church, described by Queen Elizabeth I as, ‘the fairest, goodliest, and most famous parish church in England’. It’s a feat of Gothic architecture, and just half a mile from our Bristol City Centre (Finzels Reach) hotel.
Wills Memorial Building is another iconic silhouette in Bristol’s skyline. It’s actually the third tallest landmark in the city, and is synonymous with the University of Bristol, housing their School of Law, the Law and Earth Sciences libraries, and hosting examinations and graduation ceremonies.
Clifton Suspension Bridge
SS Great Britain
A beautiful park with exceptional views of the city, Brandon Hill is the perfect place for a pitstop, particularly if the weather’s good enough for a picnic. You can see the multicoloured houses of Clifton, take a pew on the gorgeous green lawns or even climb the spiral staircase to the top of Cabot Tower for an unparalleled panorama of Bristol. The tower is more than 100 feet tall, and was built in 1897 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of John Cabot’s voyage from Bristol to what would later become Canada.
If you’re happy making your way a little out of town, we recommend a trip to Ashton Court as one of the best days out in Bristol. The beautiful estate covers 850 acres of glorious woodlands and open grasslands, cultivated by Humphry Repton – the last great landscape designer of the 18th century. You can go orienteering, try horse riding or pitch and putt, hit the mountain bike trails or visits its deer park to see some wonderful wildlife.
To round it all off, sitting at the heart of the estate is the Ashton Court Mansion House. There’s been a manor on the site since the 11th century. The core of the current house dates back to the 1600s, although it’s a motley collection of wings and architectural styles that have been added to over the years. While you can’t currently tour the house, it provides a stunning focal point to the estate.
Elsewhere, some of the city’s other popular parks include College Green, which we’ve already mentioned; it’s where you’ll find Bristol Cathedral. You can also take a walk through The Downs – two huge areas of parkland where a lot of the city’s major events such as charity runs and funfairs take place. Or, explore the Avon Gorge from the many pathways that run alongside the river.
St. Mary Redcliffe Church
When it comes to seeing sport in the city, football’s your best option. As we mentioned in our top picks for entertainment in Bristol, Bristol Roversplay their home matches at Memorial Stadium. Meanwhile, Ashton Gate is home to Bristol City FC.
However, if cricket’s your game, then you’ll want to make your way to The Brightside Ground. It’s been the home ground of Gloucestershire County Cricket Club ever since 1889 and, particularly following its recent refurbishment, is a popular venue for one-day international matches. The English cricket season runs during the spring and summer and if you’re interested in seeing a match, then check out our Bristol Filton hotel, which is less than a fifteen-minute drive from the cricket ground.