As capital of the South West, Bristol makes the perfect base to explore the very best the region has to offer. World-famous attractions, ancient landmarks and gorgeous countryside are all just a short train journey, car ride or cycle away! So why not add a few extra days onto your stay in the city and tick off some iconic sites at the same time?

Here’s our pick of the best day trips east of Bristol. You can get to many of the closer attractions using public transport, or booking an excursion with Rabbie's Tours, who offer a day trip to Somerset & Glastonbury or Stonehenge and the Cotswolds from Bristol, or you can Stonehenge, Wells and Glastonbury with Mad Max Tours.

American Museum and Gardens

Based at the beautiful Claverton Manor near Bath, this is the only museum of Americana outside the United States. Go on a journey through the history of America, from its early settlers to the twentieth century. The extensive grounds include an arboretum of American trees and an ongoing restoration project of its replica George Washington Garden.

An aerial view of the American Museum & Gardens in Claverton, Bath, near Bristol - credit American Museum & Gardens
Image: American Museum and Gardens

Avon Valley

Half an hour away from the city, you’ll find two brilliant family attractions – Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park and the Avon Valley Railway. The first is a great place to meet animals of all shapes and sizes, enjoy tractor and train rides and go wild in the soft play. They also offer a ‘Boomerang Ticket’, where you get 25% off your 2nd visit, 50% off your 3rd visit, 75% off your 4th visit and your 5th visit is free! 

Avon Valley Railway offers an exciting locomotive adventure along three miles of track through spectacular countryside (mainly at weekends and on school holidays).

Bitton Station Blue - Avon Valley Railway - Credit Oliver Jordan
Image: Avon Valley Railway, credit Oliver Jordan

Bowood House and Gardens

Bowood Estate lies about an hour east of Bristol and has a whole range of activities on offer. Take some time out with a spa break followed by an indulgent afternoon tea, or play a round of golf at one of the finest 18 hole courses in the South of England. Make it a family day out - the house and gardens have one of the UK’s most extensive Adventure playgrounds.

Tulips in the garden at Bowood House - credit Bowood House
Image: Bowood House and Gardens

Bath

Trains run from Bristol to Bath every 10 minutes and take a mere 12 minutes. If you’re feeling energetic, you can cycle a lovely flat 13 miles along the popular Bristol and Bath Railway Path to reach the city instead. Must-sees are the famous Roman Baths, Jane Austen Centre and Fashion Museum along with the stunning city architecture. Make sure you leave time to relax at Thermae Bath Spa’s open-air rooftop pool, complete with jaw-dropping views over the city.

An wide shot of the Great Bath at The Roman Baths in central Bath, near Bristol
Image: The Roman Baths

Salisbury Cathedral

This magnificent cathedral takes under two hours to get to from Bristol and is well worth the trip. The Cathedral lays claim to being Britain’s tallest spire (123m) and the world’s oldest working mechanical clock, dating back to 1836. It’s also home to the finest surviving copy of the 1215 Magna Carta, one of only four remaining in the world. You can also squeeze in world-famous Stonehenge en route. Hop on a train from Bristol Temple Meads direct to Salisbury.

Exterior of Salisbury Cathedral in Wiltshire, near Bristol - credit Ash Mills
Image: Salisbury Cathedral, credit Ash Mills

Dyrham Park

Head towards Bath to see this impressive 17th century house within acres of stunning countryside. Explore picturesque pools in well-manicured gardens, natural play areas and an ancient deer park.

Dyrham Park mansion house and grounds
Image: Dyrham Park

London

Many overseas visitors don’t realise just how close Bristol is to the UK’s capital city. On the fast train, the journey takes just 1 hour and 38 minutes, meaning a day sightseeing in the capital is easily achievable. Trains run every 30 minutes to and from London Paddington station at Bristol's two mainline stations, Temple Meads (city centre) and Bristol Parkway (north Bristol).

2 people with luggage on the platform at Paddington Train Station - Credit Great Western Railway
Image: A couple arriving at London Paddington station, credit Great Western Railway

Oxford

This ancient University City, full of striking architecture is just an hour and a half from Bristol. Seek out the colleges (some are free, others – like Christchurch, are paid, but worth it for Harry Potter fans!). Explore the fascinating museums or hire a traditional punt and cruise along the scenic River Cherwell.

The Radcliffe Camera building in central Oxford - credit Experience Oxfordshire
Image: Radcliffe Camera in central Oxford, credit Experience Oxfordshire

Castle Combe, Corsham and Lacock

In Wiltshire, just half an hour east of Bristol is quintessential English village, Castle Combe – often described as ‘the prettiest village in England’. Thanks to its good looks, it’s often used as a film location – you may have spotted it in The Wolf Man, Stardust, Stephen Spielberg’s War Horse or the original Dr Doolittle. A little further on is another picture-perfect film star village, Lacock – known for its appearances in Downton Abbey and the movie adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Watch out for freely roaming peacocks in Corsham, another beautiful, historic Wiltshire village. Admire the Georgian buildings on a stroll down the high street (featured in the BBC's Poldark), visit Corsham Court, set in Capability Brown-designed gardens or just sit and savour the atmosphere in one of the many restaurants, pubs and cafés.

A red vintage sports car driving over the bridge in the village of Castle Combe, near Bristol - credit Great West Way
Image: Castle Combe, credit Great West Way

Bradford on Avon

Set in the Avon Valley, this characterful town has drawn people through the ages - The Romans, Saxons, Normans, Georgians and Victorians have all made their mark. Exploring is a bit like stepping back in time - discover the ancient bridge, 19th century former cloth mills, medieval tithe barn, wander along the river and canal or take a walk in the surrounding countryside.

Town Bridge in the town of Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire, near Bristol - credit Chris Locke
Image: Bradford on Avon, credit VisitEngland Chris Locke

Devizes

Medieval market town Devizes has over 500 listed buildings. Visit ‘Brewseum’ Wadworth Brewery, try their famed 6X and meet the Shire horses that still deliver to pubs in the town. Marvel at the 29 locks of the Caen Hill flight on the Kennet and Avon canal - a magnificent feat of Georgian engineering, or visit the Wiltshire Museum which features gold from the time of Stonehenge (which incidentally is only a few miles away).

The Kennet & Avon canal in Devizes, Wiltshire, near Bristol - credit Iain Lewis
Image: Kennet & Avon Canal in Devizes, credit VisitEngland Iain Lewis

Stonehenge

Prehistoric monument Stonehenge is one of the wonders of the world and just an hour and a half from Bristol. Explore the incredible ancient landscape surrounding the iconic Stone Circle, marvel at the Neolithic houses of thousands of years ago and come face to face with a 5500 year-old man.

A view of the Stonehenge monument near Bristol by day
Image: Stonehenge

Avebury

World Heritage Site Avebury henge and stone circles are one of the wonders of primeval Britain. Built over 4500 years ago (making it older than the more famous Stone Henge), Avebury is the largest megalithic stone circle in the world and forms part of an incredible landscape of ancient ceremonial sites. These include West Kennet Avenue, West Kennet Long Barrow, The Sanctuary, Windmill Hill and the mystical Silbury Hill (Europe's tallest prehistoric burial ground) - many of which can be reached on foot from the village of Avebury. Avebury is around an hour away by car from Bristol.

A view of part of the Avebury stone circle in Wiltshire near Bristol - credit Great West Way
Image - Avebury World Heritage Site, credit Great West Way

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