We asked local stand up comedian and BS4 aficionado Mark Olver for his recommendations on where to go in this leafy suburb of south east Bristol...

Beeses Riverside Bar, Credit: Beese's Riverside Bar
Image - Beeses Riverside Bar

I have lived in Brislington all of my life (apart from university and a few years "at sea" in Cotham, Clifton and Redland). Many parts of Bristol have changed in the past 30 years but I doubt any area has changed as dramatically as Brislington.

Yes areas grow, get trendy and become home to posh bakeries and hot yoga studios, but Brislington has ACTUALLY changed. Let's start with the 2 biggies.

Arnos Vale Cemetery

We used to play hide and seek in its vastly overgrown maze of paths and steps, using it as our adventure playground. It is now one of Bristol's most beautiful and versatile venues. If you want a peaceful stroll around hundreds of years of Bristol history it's there. Cinema? Comedy? Theatre? Opera? Wedding? All of these things happen there, all of the time. 

In the early 80's we would play Releaster (which might be the Bristolian word for Tag) and now you can go to craft fairs and have history walks. I think it might be Bristol's best kept secret. 

People walking in sunny cemetery, credit: Arnos Vale Cemetery
Image - Arnos Vale Cemetery

Paintworks

When I was 12 I was THE GREATEST PAPER BOY in Bristol, Fact. Morning rounds, evening rounds and even the dreaded Sunday round. One of my routes included the warehouses, factories and garages in the site that is now known as Paintworks. 

It is now home to Bocabar, a place where I have learnt the correct way to pronounce the word Calzone. It's a great place to sit outside if it's sunny and they also have some great food; snacks, sandwiches and specials during the day, amazing pizzas in the evening. It feels like 2 or 3 different restaurants under one spacious roof. Oh, and they've stopped automatically giving out plastic straws to try and do their bit for the environment. 

Interior of bar at Bocabar Paintworks, credit: Bocabar
Image - Bocabar

Bristol Blue Glass

Buy some amazing gifts and items for your house, or go through a door at the back of the shop to watch the glass being blown in front of you. 

Man making a glass object in workshop, credit: Bristol Blue Glass
Image - Bristol Blue Glass

The Black Castle

Not the best pub. It's ok. It could be better. But no other building in Bristol plays tricks on your mind like The Black Castle. It looks like a weird modern theme park version of a shrunken fairy tale castle, built in the early 90's maybe, to lure in people on their way to Avonmeads to bowl and cinema.  It was actually built in 1750 as a folly, part of the estate of William Reeve (which also includes Arnos Manor Hotel and the park across the road). There are secrets and theories and tunnels and ghosts and nuns and conspiracies. It's all there. Along with potato wedges and scampi. 

The Black Castle in Brislington, credit: Wikipedia

Image - The Black Castle

Beeses Riverside Bar

It's in Broomhill technically, but when will Broomhill get its own page here? Beeses is usually accessed by boat, but you can also sneak through a housing estate and down a bumpy lane to end up in a gorgeous corner of the city. It opens odd hours and caters to passing pleasure cruises but also lets in drivers and walkers. Sit and eat, or just go for a walk up and down the Avon. 

Beeses Riverside Bar, Credit: Shonette Laffy
Image - Beeses Riverside Bar, Credit: Shonette Laffy

Nightingale Valley and St Anne’s Woods 

One of the most magical and unexpected walks in Bristol. Along a little stream in a valley, accessed through entrances off suburban roads, where you'll be transported back decades.

There is even a gorgeous bench for excellent and scarily close views of trains entering Temple Meads. 

Nightingale Valley sign, credit: Jon Chamberlain

Image - Nightingale Valley, Credit: Jon Chamberlain

Sparke Evans Park

If you join the cycle path behind Temple Meads you can walk into Brislington along the riverside; it's quieter and you end up in Sparke Evans Park, a gorgeous, flat, secluded park, surrounded by an industrial estate, with a bridge across the river that takes you into the heart of Arnos Vale. 

Bonus recommendations (not technically in Brislington, but near enough!)

The Knowle

Not far away in Knowle/Towtterdown (as Totterdown gets more popular it has crawled up The Wells Rd). Sunday lunch is amazing and needs booking in advance, but food is served all day. And it's up a hill, so the views across Bristol are amazing. 

Interior of pub, Credit: The Knowle

Image - The Knowle

Jubilee Swimming Baths

I can't swim but it's a gorgeous building.

Harts Bakery

Located in the arches underneath Temple Meads station, it's close enough to Brislington and pretty perfect. Incredible food, brilliant staff, specials changing every day (their Friday sandwich specials are mind blowing).

Cinnamon rolls, Credit:Harts Bakery

Image - Harts Bakery

Read more:

Brislington Local's Guide