Getting to Bristol has never been easier with the amount of different types of fares we have. If you are willing to book your ticket at least three days in advance you could use Coachcards to find yourself in this picturesque West Country city for even cheaper.
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Being such an iconic city in terms of British film and art (the city was named a UNESCO City of Film in 2017), there are plenty of things to do in Bristol. That’s without taking account of the excellent cuisine and night life you can enjoy while you’re here.
From year-round attractions, to specific recommendations for families, we’ve packed this page with nuggets of inspiration to get your trip off to a flying start.
With holidays by National Express, you can combine our great value coach travel with hotels and attractions in Bristol. There is so much to see and do during a city break or short break in Bristol, here is a suggested holiday itinerary:
Za Za Bazaar
Pile your plate high at all-you-can-eat buffet Za Za Bazaar. The UK’s largest restaurant serves food from five continents and has buzzing ‘night market’ vibe – perfect for families and groups of friends. Za Za Bazaar sits on the city’s picturesque Harbourside within easy reach of some of Bristol’s best attractions.
Three Brothers Burgers
If the stuffy formalities of a traditional restaurant aren't your thing, forget the fancy wardrobe and come and get your hands dirty at Three Brothers Burgers. Situated on Welsh Back, right in the very heart of Bristol’s 'Beermuda' triangle, it offers a selection of burgers and dogs with craft beer, shakes, sundaes and floats. On warm summer nights you’d be hard pushed to find a better place to enjoy some good old-fashioned grub, cooked well.
Affectionately called the ‘beermuda triangle’ by those in the know, the cobbled street is home to numerous bars and restaurants as well as world-famous theatre, the Bristol Old Vic. The Old Duke hosts live jazz every night (and Sunday lunchtimes) and King Street Brew House has a great range of beers, some brewed on site.
The Grain Barge
Moored in a beautiful location in Hotwells, the Grain Barge is bursting with character. Within sight of Brunel’s SS Great Britain, its three decks offer great views over the Harbourside, making it the perfect place to relax and watch the world go by. A superb range of craft beers is on offer, from some of the most exciting breweries around and it hosts a variety of events including live music and comedy.
Cabot Circus is a gigantic glass-covered shopping centre in Bristol Shopping Quarter, home to everything from high-end shops and flagship stores to niche independent stores, restaurants and entertainment. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in Cabot Circus, it’s a short stroll to Broadmead, Quaker’s Friars and The Galleries which make up the city centre shopping district.
St Nicholas Market
Soon after its creation in 1743, St Nick’s became the biggest market in Bristol and a much-loved institution. Surrounded by historical Georgian architecture in the heart of the old city, the market is a hive of independent outlets, selling local, organic produce, street food, flowers and textiles. Its other markets on Corn Street and beyond include the Nails Market, St Nicholas Night Market and Vegan Wellbeing Market.
Clifton Suspension Bridge
The Clifton Suspension Bridge is to Bristol what the Golden Gate Bridge is to San Francisco; an iconic part of the landscape and quintessentially Bristolian. Spanning the dramatic gorge through which the River Avon flows, Brunel’s design for the bridge was revolutionary at the time and remains a marvellous feat of engineering today. The views from the bridge are breath-taking - Instagrammable opportunities await!
Possibly the most famous street artist in the world today, Banksy has sold his work for hundreds of thousands of pounds. Having grown up in the city, some of his most famous pieces can still be found on the streets of Bristol. Discover more about Banksy and other up-and-coming graffiti artists on a street art walking tour around the city.
Brunel’s SS Great Britain
Step onboard the most extraordinary time-machine, Brunel’s SS Great Britain, the world’s first great ocean liner! The brainchild of honorary Bristolian, Isambard Kingdom Brunel; this iconic steamship is the heart of this multi-award-winning visitor attraction. Don’t miss the Being Brunel museum, dedicated to the life and legacy of the innovative Victorian engineer. Plus, more adventurous travellers can ‘Go Aloft!’ by climbing the rigging (and get the best views of the Harbour!).
We The Curious
This state-of-the-art visitor attraction offers an amazing world of hands-on discovery brimming with exhibits, events and activities aimed to fire up visitors’ curiosity and creativity. Join Morph and friends in Aardman’s exclusive exhibition and become an animator for the day. You can even take a trip to the outer reaches of the universe in the UK’s first 3D Planetarium; a show that will have you seeing stars!
Venture to a world beneath the waves at Bristol’s marvellous aquarium. Amaze your kids with wonders of life within our oceans – meet tropical marine and freshwater creatures from around the world, see fish swim through a life-size recreation of a sunken ship and walk on a footbridge over a giant coral seas display.
A free-to-enter museum by the Harbourside tells the history of Bristol through the story of its people. The museum includes a number of large working exhibits including a steam crane, train and various boats.
While you can’t see all there is to see in Bristol in 24 hours, it’s possible to get a good feel for what the city has to offer. Of course, the start of any full day of sightseeing should begin with stocking up on some great grub. Pinkmans on Park Street is perfect for a hearty breakfast and some excellent coffee to get you fired up and raring to go.
After breakfast comes the first activity of the day. Obviously this depends on your particular interests, but we suggest starting out with a street art walking tour. This will allow you to burn off some of those sourdoughnut-sourced calories while seeing the works of one of the most iconic artists of modern times in his home town.
After the extensive walking tour, you’ll want to stay in one place for a while. Therefore, we’d recommend heading over to the world-famous Clifton Suspension Bridge for staggering views of the city. Take a free tour or discover its history for yourself by heading across the bridge to the Visitor Centre on the Leigh Woods side. It’s just a short walk along Clifton Down to Bristol Zoo Gardens. The Zoo is home to over 400 species of exotic, endangered and adorable animals from across the globe.
Depending on how long you spend in the zoo, you might have time to squeeze in another activity at this point. Head off to Aerospace Bristol to see Concorde Alpha Foxtrot, the last to be built and last to fly, or make your way to Brunel’s SS Great Britain and its brand new on-site museum Being Brunel.
After a busy day, you’ll be in need of a good feed. Try Cargo, a trendy hub of restaurants in shipping containers with harbour views. From faultless fish and chips at Salt & Malt to fine dining at Box-E, this is the perfect place to end the day or start the night.
The Red Lodge Museum
Dating back 400 years, this is one of the oldest buildings in Bristol and it will certainly feel like you’ve been transported back in time as you step through the door from bustling Park Row. Known as the ‘royal party house’, Queen Elizabeth I reportedly stayed here and you can see why, with the Great Oak Room fit for royalty and excellent example of an Elizabethan-style knot garden.
One of Bristol’s free museums, which also include M Shed, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, Arnolfini, Blaise Castle House Museum and Estate and The Georgian House Museum.
Hyde and Co.
Hyde and Co. just off Clifton Triangle was one of Bristol’s first speakeasy-style bars and is the place to go for an atmospheric night-cap. After ringing the doorbell to get in, you have to go through an innocuous looking bookcase to get to the secret room within.
Sister venue of Milk Thistle, the similarly dimly lit surroundings, prohibition vibes and punchy cocktails give it a thrilling exclusivity – perfect for a special occasion.
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Friendly neighbourhood blogger, Beth recently undertook the epic journey from Edinburgh to Bristol on a National Express coach. Read how her and her husband got on in this great entry from her blog, Adventure & Anxiety.
Lucy, of the On the Luce travel blog, has taken several day-trips with National Express. You can see how she enjoyed her Bristol experience below.
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