As capital of the South West, Bristol makes an ideal base to discover the very best the region has to offer. Iconic attractions, historic landmarks and stunning countryside are all just a short bus, 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 world-famous sites at the same time?

Here’s our pick of the best day trips south 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 four-day trip to Cornwall, Devon & Stonehenge, as well as various day trips across the South West, as do Mad Max Tours.

Family attractions

The Grand Pier

Weston-super-Mare on the Somerset coast is home to the famous Grand Pier, which offers family fun for all ages including a 300-metre indoor go-kart track, F1 simulators, arcades and rides. Or opt for a traditional English seaside experience and seek out a donkey ride, ice cream and proper fish and chips. Weston also hosts lots of family-friendly events throughout the year, including a motorcycle beach race, illuminated carnival, air show, sand sculpture festival, food and real ale festivals, water-ski championships, and more. Travel by bus, car or train.

Weston-super-Mare beach and Grand Pier
Image: Aerial view of The Grand Pier in Weston-super-Mare

Wookey Hole

North Somerset’s green hills lie just across Bristol’s Clifton Suspension Bridge. Keep heading south and you’ll hit the glorious Mendips, where you can explore Wookey Hole Caves, home to magnificent show caves, family activities, a 4D cinema, crazy golf and soft play areas. There's even the chance to have a go at exploring the caves with Wild Wookey!

A family in a cave at Wookey Hole in Wells, near Bristol - credit Wookey Hole
Image: Wookey Hole

Brean Leisure Park

Open from March to November, Brean Theme Park has over 40 rides and attractions, as well as a Splash Watepark. Brean Play is open year-round and is the region's largest indoor play centre. Want to stay a little longer? Holiday Resort Unity has a range of lodges and holiday homes on the doorstep of the attractions.

Cheddar Gorge

Nearby Cheddar Gorge is one of the UK’s most spectacular natural sights and a local wildlife hotspot, offering a hilltop gorge walk with breath-taking views, dramatic cliffs, crags, pinnacles and caverns. Daredevils can try a range of rocksports, including climbing and adventure caving.

A girl taking part in a rocksports activity at Cheddar Gorge & Caves, near Bristol - credit Cheddar Gorge & Caves
Image: Cheddar Gorge & Caves 

Longleat

Just over an hour south of Bristol is the UK’s original Safari Park, Longleat. Glimpse a tiger or roaming lion on a Safari Drive-through, or marvel at sea lions swimming beside your Jungle Cruise boat. There’s also meerkats, gorillas, giraffes and lots more. Be sure to explore Longleat House, one of the finest Elizabethan stately homes in the country, and look out for special events such as the Sky Safari, Longleat Live or magical Festival of Light.

A family on a guided drive-through safari tour looking at a tiger from inside a Land Rover at Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire, near Bristol - credit Longleat
Image - Wildlife safari at Longleat

The Helicopter Museum

Get up close with over 80 helicopters from across the world, including the current world speed record holder G-LYNX (400 km per hour), a Russian Hind Gun Ship and more. The museums hosts regular open days, helicopter flights and special events throughout the year.

Fleet Air Arm Museum

'Fly' by helicopter to the replica flight deck of the HMS Ark Royal, step aboard the first British Concorde and see Europe's largest naval aviation collection at Fleet Air Arm Museum. About an hour and a quarter drive from Bristol.

One of the exhibits at Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovilton near Bristol, credit Nigel Cheffers-Head
Image: Fleet Air Arm Museum, credit Nigel Cheffers-Heard

Puxton Park

About 40 minutes away from the city is Puxton Park, a great family day out rain or shine thanks to a whole host of indoor activities, including slides, mouse tunnels and obstacle courses. Animal lovers can feed rabbits and guinea pigs, ride ponies or meet owls. Outdoors, Jumping Pillows, a mini railway, bumper boats, zorbs and rowing boats await.

Cities

Wells

Within an hour’s drive of Bristol, sitting at the foothills of the Mendips is England’s smallest city, Wells. Popular with film-makers and tourists for its medieval architecture and quaint streets, Wells is also well known for its year-round cultural offerings – film, comedy, art, literature and music festivals and of course the famous Wells Cathedral.

Wells Cathedral in the City of Wells
Image: Wells Cathedral 

Exeter

Bristol to Exeter by train takes just an hour of your time. This ancient city, which dates back to Roman times, offers plenty of fascinating attractions to explore. Discover underground passages, a beautiful cathedral or visit the exciting museums and galleries.

Iconic landmarks

Glastonbury Tor

Myth and legend swirl around one of the West Country’s most famous landmarks, Glastonbury Tor, which looms over the landscape just a short distance from the site of the famous Glastonbury music festival. The Tor has long-held spiritual connections with Arthurian legend, the Holy Grail and the Isle of Avalon. The ruined remains of Glastonbury Abbey and the bohemian town of Glastonbury itself are also well worth a visit. Reachable in just over an hour from Bristol.

A view of the Glastonbury Tor, near Bristol - credit Iain Lewis
Image: View of Somerset countryside and Glastonbury Tor as seen from the top of Wells Cathedral, credit Iain Lewis

Escape to the countryside

Somerset

Cyclists and walkers should seek out The Strawberry Line which runs between Yatton and Cheddar, an 11-mile bike route which passes through dramatically changing landscape - from the flat Somerset levels to the steep cliffs of the Cheddar Gorge. You'll also go through Thatchers Cider orchard and the pretty town of Axbridge along the way - perfect stop off points for an obligatory Somerset cider sampling! 

A family cycling on the Strawberry Line path near Bristol - credit Sustrans
Image: Cycling on the Strawberry Line, credit Sustrans

Chew Valley

Take a short drive out of Bristol for a lovely rural ramble in the Chew Valley. Discover Blagdon Lake, go strawberry picking in summer at a Pick Your Own farm, meet the range of species at Chew Valley Animal Park or stop into The Pelican or Ring o' Bells, for a great roast – perfect for ravenous walkers. Or stop into Chew Valley Distillery to sample their range of gins.

Visit in August and you'll be in time for Valley Fest, a family-friendly festival celebrating music, organic food and farming in an awe-inspiring location overlooking Chew Valley lake.

Bridge and turret at Chew Valley Lake - Credit Oliver Jordan
Image: Chew Valley Lake, credit Oliver Jordan

The Quantocks

The Quantock Hills in Somerset were England’s first designated area of outstanding beauty and are a dreamy place for walking, biking and horse riding. Follow in the footsteps of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth who drew inspiration from the rugged coastlines and heaths with their views over the Bristol Channel, Mendip and Blackdown Hills, Exmoor and the Somerset Levels. Around an hour or so from Bristol.

View over the Quantock Hills in West Somerset near Bristol - credit Stephen Spraggon
Image: The Quantocks Hills, credit Stephen Spraggon

Exmoor National Park

Keen walkers will love Exmoor, renowned for its dramatic coastline, magnificent moorland, ancient woodland, steep combes and Exmoor Ponies. Reachable in just over an hour and a half from Bristol, the area is also home to 12th century Dunster Castle, attractive villages and plenty of quintessentially English tea rooms.

Blackdown Hills

The Blackdown Hills are a range of hills along the Devon and Somerset border. This unspoilt area of rural countryside is made up of steep ridges, high plateaux, valleys, iron age hill forts, rivers, villages and farms. It was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1991. 

Dorset

The Jurassic Coast, which spans 95 miles of beautiful Dorset and Devon coastline was the first ever site to be inscribed as a 'natural' World Heritage Site. The dramatic rock cliffs and rock formations are filled with fossils and provide an almost continuous geological 'walk' back in time, through 185 million years of the Earth's history. Go for unspoilt countryside, sandy beaches, English seaside towns, amazing natural landmarks, brilliant family attractions and ancient castles in the area. Dorset is roughly a 2 hour drive away from Bristol.

Durdle Door on Jurassic Coast - credit Visit England
Image: Durdle Door, credit VisitDorset & VisitEngland 

Stourhead

Just over an hour south of Bristol, is Stourhead, one of the National Trust’s most visited properties. The estate includes world-famous landscaped 18th century neoclassical gardens, a Palladian mansion, lake, the village of Stourton, farmland, and magical woodland.

Barrington Court

Journey into mesmerising Somerset countryside to discover the mystery and atmosphere of this beautifully restored National Trust 16th Tudor manor house. Nature-inspired family activities take place all year round and the gardens are lovely with each changing season.

Beach breaks

Weston-Super-Mare

Weston is a lovely coastal spot with miles of sand to play on. Nearby Sand Bay is well-loved by horse riders and dog owners for the expanse of quiet sand overlooking old Birnbeck Pier, there are also numerous nature reserves in the area.  For impressive views over the Bristol Channel to Wales, try Sand Point's challenging hill top walk.

A view of the beach and Grand Pier at Weston-super-Mare near Bristol - credit Dave Peters
Image: Weston-Super-Mare, credit Dave Peters

Brean Down

Roughly an hour or so from Bristol is this quiet National Trust area, a seven mile stretch of sand running to Burnham-on-Sea. Take a walk, ride your bikes, discover a Roman temple and Palmerston Fort. The area offers striking views out across Bristol Channel, it's also a great spot to watch the aircraft when Weston has its annual air day on the beach in June.

Clevedon

Clevedon is a charming Victorian seaside town with a Marine Lake and restored Grade I* listed Victorian pier - you may recognise the latter as the backdrop in One Direction’s You and I video or from the film, Never Let Me Go starring Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield. Broadchurch fan?  Much of ITV’s award-winning drama was filmed here - see how many locations you recognise! Clevedon Golf Club poses a challenge to golfers of all abilities, set high above the Severn Estuary, the view from the cliff-side opening holes over the Bristol Channel is spectacular.

Clevedon Pier
Image: Clevedon Pier

South Devon

The rolling green hills, estuaries, beaches, spectacular landscapes, festivals and seaside towns (Brixham, Dartmouth, Babbacombe, Paignton and Torquay to name a few) of South Devon are some of the UK’s most popular tourist destinations. Easily reachable by car in around two hours, the Bristol-Totnes train takes just an hour and a half. On certain dates throughout the year, travel in steam age style on the Torbay Express steam train which leaves from Bristol Temple Meads in the morning and follows Brunel’s picturesque Great Western Railway all the way to the English Riviera. Spend several hours exploring before returning to Bristol in the evening.

Read more: