Need to get away but don’t have much time off work or can’t afford a long holiday? Perhaps you’re just looking to restore some work-life balance, or feel like you want to try something completely new. Then say hello to the microgap – a short break that capitalises on your free weekend time and is full of enriching opportunities that you’d normally experience on a typical gap year or career break.

A microgap can do wonders for mind, body and soul, so we’ve put together a microgap itinerary for Bristol:


Soar over Bristol in a balloon

Few things can match the experience of floating over Bristol at dawn or dusk in a hot air balloon. As you can imagine, from this bird’s eye perspective there are unforgettable, jaw-dropping views over the city and surrounding countryside. Ballooning companies Fly Away Ballooning and Virgin Balloon Flights run flights over the city, or you could book your flight during the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, when over 150 hot air balloons take to the skies in a spectacular mass ascent.

A balloon flying over Bristol Harbourside during the Bristol Balloon Fiesta - credit Paul Box
Image - Hot air balloons over Bristol

Float past famous attractions on a Stand Up Paddleboard

Head to the Harbourside to see Bristol from a completely different perspective – on a stand up paddleboard with SUP Bristol. As well as learning a new skill and getting a good dollop of fresh air, you’ll paddle past famous sights like Brunel’s SS Great Britain, The Matthew, Cliftonwood’s rainbow-coloured houses, historic boatyard Underfall Yard and M Shed.

Paddleboarding in Redcliffe - credit Carolyn Eaton
Image - SUP Bristol


Eat out overlooking the waterfront

All that adventuring is bound to work up an appetite, so stop off for a picturesque waterside refuel at No.1 Harbourside or Mud Dock, both of which have great views across the harbour. Or head to Bristol’s trendy Cargo on Wapping Wharf – a collection of independent restaurants and shops in shipping containers. Here you’ll find everything from Michelin-starred chef Josh Eggleton’s gluten free fish and chips at Salt & Malt to tacos at Cargo Cantina, or sushi at Seven Lucky Gods.

Outdoor terrace at No.1 Harbourside - Credit No.1 Harbourside
Image - No.1 Harbourside


Chill out at one of Bristol's best spas

After a busy day, treat yourself to a revitalising spa session in Bristol’s Victorian lido. Spa and dine packages let you nurture body and mind in a eucalyptus-scented steam room, Scandinavian-style sauna, outdoor hot tub and low chlorine open-air pool. Once suitably revitalised, stick around for tapas, or several courses from the A La Carte menu in the glass-fronted, poolside restaurant. Or if you wander over to pretty Clifton Village, the restaurant at Avon Gorge by Hotel du Vin has one of the best spots in Bristol – overlooking the Clifton Suspension Bridge – for a meal with WOW factor.

People swimming in outdoor pool
Image -  Bristol Lido


Choose an unusual place to stay in the city

Get a birds-eye view across the city with a room at Radisson Blu in central Bristol. If you need a spa to soak those aching muscles, book in to Bristol Harbour Hotel & Spa in the Old City and relax in the pool in the old bank vaults of this converted building or slide back in a sea of bubbles in a roll-top bath in your room. For the more budget-conscious try The Bristol Wing, a new YMCA hostel right in the central area in a converted Grade II listed old Police HQ or the stylish Moxy Bristol hotel near Cabot Circus.

Reception at Moxy hotel central Bristol - credit Moxy
Image - Moxy Bristol

Day Two


Explore on two wheels

Adrenalin-seekers should head for the mountain bike trails at Leigh Woods and Ashton Court Estate. Pedal Progression (based in Ashton Court) offers skills coaching, mountain bike hire and guided bike rides.

Pedal with a pal on a bicycle made for two from Bristol Tandem Hire, opt for one of their artisan food hampers to enjoy a scenic picnic somewhere en route. There are also e-bikes available to rent dotted across the city, or you can rent one from Cycle the City.

A group cycling on rented mountain bikes towards the off-road mountain biking trail at Ashton Court - credit Pedal Progression
Image - Pedal Progression

Or... Cycle to another city

For a longer, full-day trip, hire a bike and tackle the Bristol and Bath Cycle Path, a flat 21-km off-road route between the centres of the two cities with an arts trail, cafes, steam railway and more than a few cracking pubs along the way (book a bike space on the train for your return journey to save those aching thigh muscles).

Family cycling along Bristol and Bath Railway Path in Mangotsfield - credit South Gloucestershire Council
Image - Bristol and Bath Railway Path in Mangotsfield


Scale some walls

Bristol has an enviable choice of day time climbing opportunities. Adventurous Activity Company offers everything from a high ropes course to abseiling and rock climbing in the Avon Gorge, or try ‘adventure caving’ with Rocksport at Cheddar Gorge, who promise to have you climbing rock faces and exploring hidden, underground caverns in no time.

The indoor wall at Redpoint Climbing Centre is open until 10pm on weekdays (7pm on weekends). Novices can try climbing taster sessions, while seasoned climbers can brush up on their skills. You could also take a thrilling, swinging Leap of Faith at Bristol Zoo Project.

A climber scaling Avon Gorge in West Bristol - credit Martin Crocker
Image - abseiling Avon Gorge, credit Adventurous Activity Company


Travel to distant galaxies

Keep an eye on the listings for We The Curious science centre and their adult-only evenings including shows and DJ sets in the country’s only 3D Planetarium.

Audience sitting inside the Planetarium at We The Curious Bristol - credit Lee Pullen
Image - Planetarium Nights at We The Curious, credit Lee Pullen

Dine on a boat

Reward yourself after an exciting day with an equally thrilling evening meal aboard a boat. Three Brothers on Welsh Back at the end of King Street, serves some of the best burgers in town, while nearby Under the Stars serves up a menu of tapas dishes which you can enjoy below deck or on their roof.

Cruise round the Harbour on The Matthew (in season) – a replica of John Cabot’s caravel – while chomping fish and chips or gaze at Brunel’s SS Great Britain while tucking into locally-sourced produce and excellent craft beers on The Grain Barge.

Bristol Packet Boat Trips run trips downstream towards the Bristol Channel for spectacular views of Clifton Suspension Bridge and the Avon Gorge. Passengers can bring their own picnic and there is a full bar on board.

An exterior view of The Grain Barge - Credit The Grain Barge
Image - The Grain Barge 

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