Planning to spend a few days in the city? Here's a list of must-sees in Bristol to get you started...

Day one: The Harbourside

Grab a coffee by the Harbourside and visit M Shed, a museum telling the story of Bristol’s past and present, before climbing aboard The Matthew on the quayside nearby.

The ship is a faithful replica of the one John Cabot sailed to discover America in 1497 and does regular trips around the harbour, as well as afternoon tea cruises and trips further along the River Avon.

The Matthew ship sailing eastwards along Bristol Harbourside with paddleboarders and the colourful houses of Cliftonwood in the background during the Bristol Harbour Festival - credit Jim Cossey
Image - The Matthew

Feeling peckish? Grab lunch at Harbour House, Mud DockNo.1 Harbourside or Riverstation – all overlook the water and have outdoor seating.

Or you could explore the waterfront district of Wapping Wharf just behind M Shed, packed full of exciting independent businesses, including over 20 restaurants in shipping containers.

People dining alfresco at Wapping Wharf on Bristol's Harbourside - credit Hey What
Image - Cargo 2 in Wapping Wharf. Credit: Hey What!

Walk via Millennium Square or take a Bristol Ferry to Brunel’s SS Great Britain, the world’s first luxury cruise liner, fully-restored to its Victorian glory. Experience the sights, sounds and smells of the ship and don’t miss the chance to visit the Being Brunel museum.

In the evening, wander down historic King Street (known locally as the Beermuda Triangle due to its abundence of excellent craft beer bars) to Bristol Old Vic, the UK’s longest continuously working theatre, which boasts the stunning Kitchen + Bar at Bristol Old Vic.

Interior of cafe bar
Image - Kitchen + Bar at Bristol Old Vic

Top tips

Beef short rib at COR in Bedminster, South Bristol - credit COR
Image - COR in Southville

Day two: Clifton, Cargo and Cocktails

Head up to the beautiful Georgian quater of Clifton for the Suspension Bridge and fascinating visitor centre.

You can then browse the independent shops of Clifton Village before having lunch at one of the many great restaurants and cafés in this pictureque neighourhood. The beautiful decor at Bar 44, KIBOU or The Ivy Clifton Brasserie are the perfect options for those looking for something a bit special, or indulge in some top quality comfort food at The Clifton Sausage. Don't miss a chance to take in the grand vistas of the Clifton Suspension Bridge and Avon Gorge from the floor-to-ceiling windows at Goram & Vincent, the large terrace at The White Lion or the rooftop seats at Clifton Observatory's 360 Cafe.

Break up your day of exploring with some relaxation. Swim in the outdoor pool and enjoy luxury spa treatments at The Lido. There's also a great poolside restaurant here if you're feeling peckish!

In the afternoon, pop into the University of Bristol Botanic Garden and after, head to Cabot Tower on Brandon Hill for fantastic city views. 

Cabot Tower at the top of Brandon Hill in central Bristol
Image - Cabot Tower

Then it's time for a spot of retail therapy in Bristol’s Shopping Quarter, home to Harvey Nichols and many well-loved high street names as well as independent shops, cafes and restaurants across Broadmead and Cabot Circus.

Pop into St George’s Bristol or Bristol Beacon to hear world-class musicians and performers throughout the week, or if you time it right, you might even catch a lunchtime concert or recital at Bristol Cathedral.

An orchestra performing on the stage inside the Beacon Hall at Bristol Beacon - credit Shotaway
Image - Bristol Beacon

If you're planning on seeing a show or gig, it's worth checking our pre-theatre dining suggestions, many of which do a great value early bird menu. Check out our list of upcoming theatre shows in Bristol.

End your evening with a nightcap at The Milk Thistle, The Clockwork Rose or The Granary Club. Or if you're more of a night owl, don't miss a chance to experience Bristol’s legendary live music scene and top DJ sets in the pubs and clubs.

Top tips

Cocktails on an ornate tray
Image - Milk Thistle

Day three: Street food and street art

Start the day exploring the galleries and latest exhibitions at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery on Park Street and the esteemed Royal West of England Academy nearby.

For lunch, take your pick from the much-loved vendors at St Nicholas Market in the Old City - the market is one of the top foodie hot spots in Bristol. Just around the corner you can try some local beers and ales at Strawberry Thief (who also have a huge selection of international beers) or Hort's Townhouse. There's also the 6 O'clock Gin bar and shop on the Glassboat nearby if you want to bring some local tipples home with you!

The interior of St Nicholas Market in Bristol's Old City - credit St Nicholas Markets
Image - St Nicholas Market

Before you leave, don’t miss the amazing street art in various areas of the city, with hotspots including Nelson Street in the city centre, North Street in Bedminster and along Stokes Croft, best discovered on a street art tour.

Or you could end your trip on a high by seeing a real-life Concorde at Aerospace Bristol.

In fact, two nights might not be enough…

Top tips

An artwork at the Upfest street art festival on North Street, Bristol - credit Upfest
Image - Upfest in Bedminster

Handy travel tips

Maximise your time in the city by following these pointers...

  • Arrive early. Make the most of your weekend by checking in on Friday afternoon.
  • Get organised. Book restaurants or tours in advance – popular spots can get very busy.
  • Leave the car at home. Walking, cycling, ferry, bus and local trains are the best ways to get around.
  • Be tour savvy. Take an open-top bus tour and see all the sights in one hit.
  • Stay longer. Here for business? Why not add on time to get out and explore this wonderful city.

For more ideas plus details of amazing festivals and events year-round, check out our What's On Calendar.

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An aerial view of the Clifton Suspension Bridge & Clifton Village in West Bristol - credit Visit Bristol
Image - An aerial view of the Clifton Suspension Bridge & Clifton Village