Got an hour to kill in Bristol? Perhaps your train has been delayed or you're pottering around until you can check into your hotel? Maybe you're looking for an interesting way to spend your lunch break or are just eager to squeeze even more lovely Bristol experiences into your day. Who can blame you! Here are some short but sweet ways to spend 60 minutes in the city.

An aerial view of hot air balloons flying over Bristol Harbourside

Walk the Bristol Harbour Loop

It’s around an hour if you take it at a brisk pace, starting from outside M Shed where you can see the historic dock cranes and boats including the replica of John Cabot's ship The Matthew. Follow the quayside alongside the steam railway tracks past Brunel's SS Great Britain, Bristol Marina (see if you can find Banksy's Girl With a Pierced Eardrum) and Baltic Wharf. If you've got time, stop in for some lunch at the end of the harbour in The Cottage or Noah's.

A view of small sailboats on Bristol's Harbourside with the colourful houses of Cliftonwood in the background - credit Paul Box
Image - Bristol Harbourside. Credit: Paul Box

Follow the path around the other side of the harbour, where you'll end up by Millennium Square and Pero's Bridge. From here you can explore attractions such as Bristol Aquarium and We the Curious, or stop into one of the waterside bars and restaurants for refreshments.

People sitting on the Bristol Harbourside with Pero's Bridge and the cranes outside M Shed in the background
Image - Pero's Bridge

See Bristol from the water

Hop on a Bristol Ferry - a round trip starting and ending from the pontoon outside the Watershed takes you around the harbour to Hotwells and back.

Bristol Packet Boat Trips also do regular harbour tours in the school holidays and summer.

A cruise around the harbour takes around 35 minutes, leaving you 25 minutes to have a coffee at one of the waterfront bars like No 1 Harbourside, Mud Dock, Arnolfini Harbourside Bar or The Architect.

Matilda off to Hotwells with Arnolfini in the background - credit Bristol Ferry
Image - Bristol Ferry

Get cultured

Feast your eyes on some fantastic works at Arnolfini, one of Europe's leading centres for contemporary art.

The gallery hosts regular talks, exhibitions and screenings that will sap that hour in the most compelling of ways. Potter in the gift shop afterwards for all sorts of creative treats.

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

Book tickets for a screening at Watershed on Bristol Harbourside from 11am. The cinema often screens shorter, independent and foreign films and also hosts a variety of talks and film festivals throughout the year.

If you've got a bit longer, pop into their cafe for a drink and bite to eat overlooking this bustling waterside location. 

Audience watching film in cinema
Image - Film screening at Watershed

Explore Bristol's literary past

Discover part of Bristol's pirating past with the Treaure Island Trail by following the barrels strategically dotted around the Harbourside. Each barrel represents a chapter from Treasure Island and carries a plaque showing the link between Bristol and places or characters in Robert Louis Stevenson's famous book, Treasure Island. The self-guided walking and cycling route around the city’s historic Floating harbour that can easily be done in an hour.

A man wearing a pirate outfit stood next to a wooden barrel - Credit Visit West
Image - Treasure Island Trail

Alternatively, you can book on to a guided tour of the city - choose from a Blackbeard to Banksy walk, a theatrical stroll around the harbour on the Blood, Blackbeard and Buccaneers tour, a food tour around Wapping Wharf or a historic walk around St Nicholas Market and the Old City.

Tour group looking at street art
Image - Blackbeard to Banksy walking  tour

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