A visit to Bristol doesn’t need to be an expensive one, in fact we’ve got 60 ideas for totally free things to do in Bristol. 

1. M Shed

Located in a huge 1950s transit shed right on Bristol’s Harbourside, the M Shed museum explores over 2000 years of Bristol’s history and is free to enter. Learn about Bristol People and Bristol Places and keep an eye out for the special exhibitions on the top floor. 

Exterior of Bristol's M Shed local history museum - credit Quintin Lake
Image: M Shed - CREDIT Quintin Lake

2. Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

A magnificent space of art, archaeology, geology and natural history in 19 galleries over 3 floors. Don’t miss the box kite, gypsy caravan and the ‘Bristol Dinosaur.’

Exterior of Bristol Museum & Art Gallery - credit Chris Bahn
Image: Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

3. Spike Island

Spike Island is an international centre for contemporary art and design. The Gallery is free all year round and hosts exhibitions from world-renowned artists. 

Exterior of the Spike Island art gallery, Bristol - credit Max McClure
Image: Spike Island - Credit Max McClure

4. Underfall Yard 

Underfall Yard is a working boatyard that welcomes visitors. Explore the free visitor centre with lots of hands-on displays and a giant interactive map of Bristol’s floating harbour and water system. 

5. The Matthew

Step aboard The Matthew, a modern reconstruction of the original ship that John Cabot sailed to Newfoundland in 1497. When the ship isn’t taking trips, she’s moored at Prince’s Wharf outside the M Shed. Go onboard, climb the steps to the upper decks and get a sailor’s eye-view of Bristol Harbour. 

A view of The Matthew replica ship passing through Bristol's Cumberland Basin with the Clifton Suspension Bridge in the background - credit Nick Greville
Image: The Matthew - Credit Nick Greville

6. Clifton Suspension Bridge

Bristol's most famous attraction, the Clifton Suspension Bridge is totally free to admire, walk across and take that all important selfie with. There are also free guided tours of Clifton Suspension Bridge at 3pm every Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday from Easter to October. You'll find your volunteer guide by the Clifton Toll Booth (Bristol side of the bridge) wearing a high vis jacket. It's worth visiting the Clifton Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre on the Leigh Woods side of the bridge, to see displays and artefacts explaining the history, construction and maintenance of the world famous bridge. Admission is free.

Clifton Suspension Bridge at sunset V
Image: Clifton Suspension Bridge 

7. Banksy walking tour

You may know that Bristol is the hometown of infamous street artist Banksy and as a result there's plenty of his work around the city that you can go and see. Take our self-guided tour of his artworks, download the Banksy Trail app or join the experts on a street art walking tour to discover more.  

Banksy mural with teddy bear throwing molotov cocktail - credit Paul Box
Image: Banksy's Mild Mild West

8. See the street art 

However, it's not just Banksy that has street art to write home about, Bristol's walls are an ever-changing free gallery of incredible art and there's always something new to discover. Find out more about Banksy and Street Art in Bristol.

9. Cabot Tower and Brandon Hill 

Visit Brandon Hill to spot squirrels, explore the nature reserve or climb the 105ft Cabot Tower for panoramic views of the city below. 

Cabot Tower at the top of Brandon Hill in central Bristol - credit Chris Bahn
Image: Cabot Tower and Brandon Hill, credit Chris Bahn

10. Georgian House Museum 

The Georgian House Museum is an 18th century, six storey townhouse which has been restored and decorated to its original gloryThe house was built in 1790 for John Pinney, a wealthy slave plantation owner and sugar merchant, it is also where the enslaved African, Pero Jones lived. Pero's Bridge, the footbridge across Bristol's floating harbour was named in commemoration of Pero who lived and died in the city. The Georgian House Museum is currently free to visit but donations are welcome. Also please note Georgian House Museum is closed for the Winter months until the start of April.

Interior of the Georgian House Museum in central Bristol - credit Visit Bristol
Image: The Georgian House Museum

11. Ashton Court Estate 

On the outskirts of the city, you'll find Ashton Court Estate, 850 acres of woods and grasslands in total, designed by Humphry Repton. Discover the magnificent old oak trees, whizz down the mountain bike tracks and see the deer graze in an estate that first became a deer park over 600 years ago. Ashton Court Estate is also home to the free Bristol International Balloon Fiesta in August every year.

Mansion house surrounded by spring flowers
Image: Ashton Court Red Deer - Credit Chris Bahn

12. Bristol Cathedral & College Green 

Bristol’s beautiful Cathedral has over a thousand years of history, starting in 1140 when Robert Fitzharding founded the Abbey of St Augustine - the Chapter House and Abbey Gatehouse from this period are open to visitors. The architecture throughout the Cathedral make it a major example of a hall church in Great Britain. The Cathedral is free to visit and open 365 days a year, with special events and exhibitions taking place regularly.

Exterior of Bristol Cathedral - credit Dave Pratt
Image: Bristol Cathedral and College Green

13. Queen Square 

Completed in 1727, Queen Square has leafy plane tree-lined avenues and plenty of space for picnics, playing catch or just relaxing. It’s home to festivals throughout the summer including the free Bristol Harbour Festival

A view of the statue in the centre of Queen Square in central Bristol - credit Tamany Baker
Image: Queen Square

14. Arnos Vale Cemetery 

Arnos Vale Cemetery is a stunning heritage site, steeped in Victorian Architecture and set amongst 45 acres of woodland. There are themed self-guided walks around the estate and changing free exhibitions in the West Lodge and Spielman Crypt.

People walking in cemetery
Image: Arnos Vale Cemetery

15. Bristol International Balloon Fiesta 

Bristol's most well-known event, the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is completely free! Held over a weekend in August each year, you'll see over 100 hot air balloons taking off at dawn and dusk as well as the famous Night Glows, when the balloons light up the sky in time to music.

A group of balloons lifting off in a mass ascent at Bristol International Balloon Fiesta - credit Adam Gasson
Image: Bristol Balloon Fiesta - Credit Paul Box

16. Bristol Harbour Festival

A highlight of Bristol's summer calendar, the Bristol Harbour Festival is an annual free dance, music, entertainment and arts extravaganza which stretches from both ends of Bristol Harbour. Be sure to check out the amazing family activities, music, dance and circus stages, food markets and visiting vessels.

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: Bristol Harbour Festival

17. Bristol Open Doors

Bristol Open Doors is an biennial chance to peek behind closed doors and discover buildings and rooms that are usually closed to the public. Explore fascinating buildings, join guided tours - all for free!

18. Windmill Hill City Farm

Visit the working farm to meet the animals, stroll through the community gardens and play in the outdoor play areas at Windmill Hill City Farm. There are also other free city farms to visit; St Werburghs City Farm, Hartcliffe Community Farm, Grimsby Farm Kingswood and Lawrence Weston Community Farm.

Rosie the pig at Windmill Hill City Farm in South Bristol
Image: Windmill Hill City Farm

19. Red Lodge Museum 

A historic Elizabethan house that is currently free to visit but donations are welcome. The Great Oak Room is the last complete Elizabethan room in Bristol and the beautiful garden reflects a typical Elizabethan knot design. Please note that the Red Lodge Museum is closed during winter months and reopens at the start of April every year. 

The garden at The Red Lodge Museum in West Bristol - credit Visit Bristol
Image: Red Lodge Museum Elizabethan Knot Garden

20. Bristol Central Library 

The Central Library contains the Lending centre, Learning Centre, Children's, Music and Business, Art and Local History libraries along with the Family History, Drama Collection and the Reference Library. You can also visit Bristol Archives at The Create Centre for free. See if you can spot the statue of Raja Ram Mohan Roy between the Central Library and Bristol Cathedral.

Exterior of Bristol Central Library in central Bristol - credit Visit England
Image: Bristol Central Library 

21. St Mary Redcliffe 

St Mary Redcliffe is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture and some 800 years old. Inside you'll find a superb collection of carved bosses, elegant 18th century ironwork, beautiful stained glass and a world famous organ. This magnificent church also hosts a range of exhibitions, tours and events throughout the year.

Aerial view of the exterior of St Mary Redcliffe Church, Bristol
Image: St Mary Redcliffe Church

22. Bristol Walk Fest

Bristol’s month-long walking festival, offers a huge variety of mostly free walking events. There are historical tours, nature walks, street art tours and walking sports. Walk distances range from less than a mile to more than ten.

A group of people walking through a park in Bristol as part of Bristol Walkfest - credit Jenni Nott
Image: Bristol Walk Fest. A May Meander, credit Jenni Nott

23. Blaise Castle House Museum and Estate 

Blaise Castle House Museum and Estate is free to visit and features a 19th century mansion, set in 400 acres of parkland and woodlands. Explore the folly castle and the amazing children's adventure playground. Nearby you'll also find Blaise Hamlet, a group of quaint and picturesque cottages now owned and maintained by the National Trust.

Folly castle in park
Image: Blaise Castle House Museum and Estate

24. Kings Weston Roman Villa

Explore where Romans used to live and see a Roman bath suite and mosaic floors. Unescorted visits to the site may be made by individuals or family groups (up to 6 people) by simply picking up a key from Blaise Castle House Museum or Bristol Museum & Art Gallery during opening hours.

An ancient mosaic in the Kingsweston Roman Villa in North Bristol - credit Bristol Museums
Image: Kings Weston Roman Villa, credit Bristol Museums

25. Bristol Bridges Walk

This circular walk 45km (28 miles!) in length, takes you from the bridges of the inner city to the open vistas of the Severn Estuary and back again. 

26. Oldbury Court, Snuff Mills and the Frome Valley Walkway

Oldbury Court and Snuff Mills are beautiful and diverse estates in East Bristol. There are wide open green spaces, children's playgrounds and riverside walks. You can follow the path along the river Frome as part of the Frome Valley Walkway and look out for kingfishers, herons, foxes, owls and bats along the way.

Man walking two dog in Oldbury Court and Snuff Mills
Image: Oldbury Court & Snuff Mills, credit Claire Routledge

27. The Royal Photographic Society

A dedicated centre for photography which shows four exhibitions annually of visually arresting photography. They are family-friendly and offer free self-serve tea and coffee to their visitors! Open every day of the week, 10am – 5pm. 

Exterior of the Royal Photographic Society exhibition space at Paintworks Bristol - credit Rebecca Faith
Image: Royal Photographic Society, credit Rebecca Faith

28. Big Screen in Millennium Square

Take a seat in Millennium Square outside We The Curious and watch the Big Screen for free. There are movies, documentaries, sporting events and local and historical occasions. While you're here you can also wave to the Cary Grant statue.

29. St Nicholas Market

Take a wander through St Nicholas Market, established in 1743, making it Bristol's oldest market. Soak up the smells, sights and sounds of the covered halls and glass arcade and browse more than 60 stalls. Make sure you check out the 'Nails,' brass pillars located outside the market on Corn Street. Dating from the late Tudor/early Stuart period, they were used for the exchange of money between customers and traders.

Signs inside St Nicholas Market in Bristol's Old City - credit Morgane Bigault
Image: St Nicholas Market

30. Treasure Island Trail

Take the free Treasure Island Trail around the Bristol's Harbour and explore Bristol's connections with Robert Louis Stephenson's Treasure Island. The walk is about a mile long and will take you to eight 'Black Spots' that highlight the story in sequence around the city. Take a look at the Treasure Island Trail map, or download the app for £3.60. 

A man dressed as a pirate promoting the Treasure Island Trail in Bristol
Image: Treasure Island Trail

31. Bristol Blue Glass

Bristol is famed for it's distinctive free-blown blue glass and you can visit the factory and shop and watch the glass being made by highly skilled craftspeople. You can also blow your own bauble for a few pounds, please ring ahead to book.

A staff member shaping a glass object at Bristol Blue Glass - credit Bristol Blue Glass
Image: Bristol Blue Glass

32. Visit the beach at Weston-super-Mare

The quintessential English seaside, Weston-super-Mare boasts miles of sandy beach, perfect for families, beach sports and fabulous sunsets. 

Weston-super-Mare beach and Grand Pier
Image: Aerial view of the Grand Pier and beach at Weston-super-Mare

33. Poets Walk, Clevedon

Poets' Walk is a popular footpath which runs along the coast with fantastic sea views along the way. The walk is said to have inspired poets including Alfred Tennyson, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Makepeace Thackeray, who visited the town. Read our Local's Guide to Clevedon for others local spots to visit.

A view of the harbour in Clevedon, near Bristol at sunset - credit Dave Peters
Image: Clevedon Harbour at sunset, credit Dave Peters

34. The Downs

The Downs is a huge area of protected parkland that neighbours Clifton and the Avon Gorge. Perfect for walking, sports, flying a kite and home to events throughout the year. Make sure you head to 'Sea Walls' to take in the view across the Avon Gorge all the way down to the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Bench in park
Image: The Downs

35. Troopers Hill Nature Reserve

Troopers Hill Nature Reserve in the St George area of East Bristol is a lovely hillside with wild plants, animals, rocky crags, stunning views and two listed chimneys. It's also a great spot for watching hot air balloons fly over the city.

A view of Troopers Hill park in East Bristol - credit Visit Bristol
Image: Troopers Hill

36. Hollow at Royal Fort Gardens

Hollow is a permanent public artwork created by artist Katie Paterson with architects Zeller & Moye for Bristol's Royal Fort Gardens. Hollow houses a miniature forest of 10,000 unique tree species from around the world.

37. River Avon Trail

The River Avon Trail runs for 23 miles, all the way through Bristol from Pill in North Somerset to Pulteney Bridge in Bath. You can walk the full trail or just enjoy a section at a time. Do some wildlife spotting along the river while you explore!

A view of the Beeses riverside pub on the banks of Conham River Park in East Bristol - credit Paul Box
Image: The River Avon Trail in Conham

38. Leigh Woods

Explore the beautiful and diverse woodland on the plateau above The Avon Gorge. Maintained by The National Trust, Leigh Woods has been a haven for Bristolians for decades and offers grassy glades, shady woodland and lovely views of the Clifton Suspension Bridge

View of Clifton Suspension Bridge from Leigh Woods
Image: Leigh Woods view of Clifton Suspension Bridge

39. Hengrove Play Park

Hengrove Play Park is a large open space which includes the biggest free play park in Bristol for all ages and an additional wheels park. The Play Park includes a 12 metre-high dome with a jungle play experience, swings, and many other play attractions.

40. Birdcage Walk

Take a stroll through Birdcage Walk, a peaceful graveyard in Clifton Village and the remains of St Andrew’s Church - built in the 12th century but destroyed in the Bristol Blitz. Beautiful trees create a spectacular fairytale arch over the path.

A view down Birdcage Walk in Clifton Village, West Bristol - credit Visit Bristol
Image: Birdcage Walk, credit Visit Bristol

41. Slide down the Clifton Rock Slide

Whizz down the Clifton Rock Slide near Bristol Observatory, a strip of glassy rock that has been smoothed by thousands of Bristolian behinds over the years.

A man sliding down the rock slide in Clifton, West Bristol - credit Visit Bristol
Image: Clifton Rock Slide near Clifton Observatory, credit Visit Bristol

42. John Wesley's New Room

Visit John Wesley's New Room in the heart of Bristol Shopping Quarter. It was built in 1739 by John Wesley and is the oldest Methodist chapel in the world. There is also a paid-for museum detailing the life and works of Wesley and other Methodist preachers, The New Room Museum.

Statue outside John Wesley's New Room in central Bristol - credit John Wesley's New Room
Image: Exterior of John Wesley's New Room

43. Festival of Nature

Festival of Nature is the UK’s largest free celebration of the natural world with free interactive exhibitions, live performances and talks every summer in Bristol and Bath.

A father and his baby at the Festival of Nature on Bristol's Harbourside - credit Jon Craig
Image: Festival of Nature willow sculpture by Sarah Edwards, credit Jon Craig

44. Christmas Steps

Step down the cobbled streets of the Christmas Steps Arts Quarter, which dates back to the 1600s. Often compared to Diagon Alley in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter, it’s a magical place to explore.

A view of the Christmas Steps sign in central Bristol
Image: Christmas Steps Arts Quarter

45. Willsbridge Mill

Willsbridge Valley in Longwell Green is an oasis of wildlife. The Siston Brook stream runs through the site. You could try pond-dipping near the mill, where the ponds are brimming with frogs, toads, dragonflies and insects.

Exterior of Willsbridge Mill in Longwell Green, East Bristol - credit Willsbridge Mill
Image: Willsbridge Mill

46. Portishead Lake Grounds 

The Portishead Lake Grounds are a great spot to spend some time. There’s a lake where you feed the ducks and hire rowing boats in the summer. There’s also a large playground and lots of lovely open space for picnics and playing games, flying kites and relaxing. Find more things to do in our Local's Guide to Portishead.

47. Stoke Park Estate

Stoke Park Estate is a vast open space in the north east of the city with plenty to offer. Walk through woodland, near lakes and across fields all while gazing up at the bright yellow Dower House and Purdown Transmitter, both of which tower above the estate.

An elevated view of Stoke Park Estate on the northern side of the M32 motorway in East Bristol
Image: Stoke Park Estate 

48. St Paul’s Carnival

St Paul’s Carnival is an iconic Bristol event which takes place biennially in July. It represents the best of African Caribbean culture, as well as the diversity, creativity and vibrancy of the city. As well as the carnival procession there are music stages and street food stalls. The next St Paul's Carnival is set to take place in July 2025. 

A performer in the parade during St Paul's Carnival in East Bristol
Image: St Paul's Carnival

49. Martin Parr Foundation

The Martin Parr Foundation in the Paintworks complex, features revolving free photography exhibitions throughout the year.

People at a Martin Parr exhibition at the Royal Photographic Society in Paintworks Bristol - credit Martin Parr Foundation
Image: Martin Parr Foundation

50. Palestine Museum and Cultural Centre

The Palestine Museum is a free permanent exhibition of Palestinian heritage, culture and political life. Only open on Saturday and Sunday. Just down the road is the Edward Everard building in Broad Street. A Grade II* listed building built in 1900 with a Pre-Raphaelite art nouveau style façade. 

Interior of the Palestine Museum & Cultural Centre in central Bristol - credit Bristol Palestine Museum & Cultural Centre
Image: Palestine Museum and Cultural Centre

51. Royal York Crescent

Royal York Crescent was once reputed to be the longest terrace in Europe. Marvel at the incredible Georgian and Regency architecture as enjoy views of Bristol Harbour.

A view of the houses in Royal York Crescent in Clifton Village, West Bristol - credit Tamany Baker
Image: Royal York Crescent

52. Temple Church and Gardens

Discover Bristol’s very own leaning tower. The top of the tower leans 1.64 metres (5 ft 5 in) from the vertical. The church was bombed in 1940 during the Bristol Blitz, and is now an empty shell, but you can walk around the ruins and the nearby gardens for a fascinating insight into Bristol’s history.

53. Bristol and Bath Railway Path

Travel between the two cities on the The Bristol and Bath Railway Path, a 13-mile off road route open to cyclists and walkers. Discover some fascinating history, spot wildlife and visit intriguing places just off the path such as the Frome Valley Walkway, Willsbridge Mill and the River Avon Trail.

A cyclist on the Bristol & Bath Railway Path - credit Sustrans
Image: Bristol to Bath Railway Cycle Path

54. Arnolfini

Arnolfini has a free programme of visual arts, performance, dance, film, music and events.

The exterior of the Arnolfini contemporary art gallery on the Bristol Harbourside - credit Jamie Wodley
Image: Arnolfini, credit Jamie Wodley

55. Audio Tours

We’ve put together and gathered some of the best free audio tours of Bristol and the surrounding areas including the Brunel Mile & City Docks, the Bristol Literary Trail and the Bristol Churches Trail which are all free to download and follow your own self-guided tour.

A woman looking out of a window wearing headphones listening to the Bristol audio tour
Image: Audio Tours of Bristol

56. Walk around the Harbourside

Explore Bristol’s Harbourside with a circular walk taking in many of the city’s most famous sights.

Colourful houses on the hills around harbourside
Image: Bristol Harbourside

57. Explore the small museums of Bristol

There are some charming small museums in and around Bristol. George Müller MuseumGlenside Hospital MuseumFrenchay Village MuseumThornbury and District Museum and Yate and District Museum are all free to visit.

58. St John on the Wall

Discover medieval Bristol at St John on the Wall. Explore this hidden church built into the old city wall and descend into the vaulted crypt.

Front entrance of Clayton Hotel Bristol
Image: Clayton Hotel and St John on the Wall

59. Badock's Wood

Located in the Westbury-on-Trym area of North Bristol, this hidden wood has winding paths, a bubbling stream and is so peaceful you’ll feel as though you are miles from the city as soon as you enter.

60. Bristol's Festivals 

Bristol is home to a wide range of festivals all year round. Bristol Light Festival and GLOW brighten up dark wintry evenings every February, followed by Bristol SoundsBristol Pride, Bristol Harbour Festival, Bristol International Balloon Fiesta and many more throughout the summer months. 

A view of the 'Bristol Is Always A Good Idea' installation on Valentine Bridge in Temple Quay during Bristol Light Festival 2024 - credit Max Rawlinson
Image: Bristol Light Festival, credit Max Rawlinson 

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