Here are not one, not two, but twenty-six glorious reasons to visit Bristol in alphabetical order...

A is for Attractions

Bristol is a city with thrilling, world-class attractions. From an interactive Science centre to the world’s fifth oldest zoo, museums and galleries to iconic landmarks, the city showcases its exceptional heritage (such as Concorde at Aerospace Bristol and part of Brunel's portfolio - the SS Great Britain and Clifton Suspension Bridge), artistic side, beautiful buildings, stunning countryside and exciting wildlife (see also Bristol Zoo ProjectBristol Aquarium, Avon Valley Adventure & Wildlife Park, Noah's Ark Zoo Farm) in enthralling, wonderful ways, making it a great place for an exciting and diverse city break. 

A father and son in front of the Concorde Alpha Foxtrot supersonic airliner at Aerospace Bristol - credit Adam Gasson

Image: Aerospace Bristol, credit Adam Gasson

B is for Banksy

One of the biggest enigmas of the art world is the Bristol-born street artist Banksy. His identity is shrouded in secrecy and rumours swirl every time a potential clue about who he is comes to light. Thanks to his Bristol beginnings, the city is home to many of his works and his fame has paved the way for other cutting-edge graffiti masters - the likes of which include Inky, Cheo and Silent Hobo - who treat the city’s streets as a giant canvas for their art. South Bristol is given a makeover during Europe’s largest live street art and graffiti festival, Upfest, and local companies Where The Wall and Graft offer have-a-go stencilling sessions as well as walking tours which reveal the stories behind the culture that makes Bristol the street art capital of the UK. Or, you can hunt out Banksy's artworks yourself using the interactive map guides on this easy-to-follow smartphone App.

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

C is for Clifton Suspension Bridge

Ahh yes, that gert big bridge, an icon of Bristol and rightly so - it’s blooming impressive. Spanning the spectacular Avon Gorge, this wonderful feat of engineering designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel (more about him later), is one of the city's most breathtaking landmarks. 

A view of the Clifton Suspension Bridge in West Bristol - credit Lee Pullen Photography for Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust

Image: Clifton Suspension Bridge, credit Lee Pullen

D is for Dining Out

Gastronomically speaking, Bristol is one of the hottest destinations in the country! In addition to several Michelin-starred restaurants, the city has a number of markets that specialise in unbeatable street food, a mouth-watering collection of cafés and bars in repurposed shipping containers on Wapping Wharf, acclaimed restaurants, and oodles of independent eateries serving up meals to remember. On top of that, the city’s drinks scene is equally thrilling and diverse with an abundance of independent breweries, gin distilleries, craft beer festivals, and, as capital of the West Country, some of the finest ciders in the land. 

One of the dishes available at Bulrush in the Cotham area of West Bristol - credit Bulrush
Image: Bulrush

E is for Eco-Friendly

Bristol is celebrated for its eco-conscience and has a long association with sustainable initiatives. As well as being the first British city to win the European Green Capital Award in 2015, Bristol is the UK’s first cycling city and one of the world's leading Fairtrade cities, meaning it trades fairly with nearly five million workers in 58 developing countries. The city is also home to Incredible Edible (an initiative that sees volunteer gardeners growing food in over 30 edible gardens across Bristol, including parks, street corners and station platforms), the Soil Association, the Environment Agency, the BBC's Natural History Unit and Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity behind the development of the National Cycle Network. 

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

Image: Bristol & Bath Railway Path, credit South Gloucestershire Council

F is for Festivals

Bristol has got festival fever all-year round. From side-splitting comedy, spectacular light installations (Bristol Light Festival), jaw-dropping hot air balloons, West Country cider and delicious food, to exciting walks, African Caribbean culture (St Paul's Carnival), the LGBT+ community (Bristol Pride), film, family-friendly fun, eclectic music, street art, craft beer... we could go on and on! Find the city's full festival calendar over on our Festivals page. 

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

G is for Gert Lush

Alright, me babber, Brizzle has its own lingo mind. Goodness knows how many times we've heard the 'snow settling vs. pitching debate' on this side of the country! Some people think that the oo arr me hearties-type jargon spoken by fictional pirates is a crude imitation of the West Country accent. It could be this is a result of the number of pirates that came from South West England during the Golden Age of Piracy. Or, it could be due to the fact that in 1954, Robert Newton starred as Long John Silver (who is from Bristol) in Disney’s Treasure Island, as well as Disney's Blackbeard the Pirate, and used a Bristol accent for both, which has subsequently filtered through to popular pirate culture. Either way, it's fun to brush up your Brizzle before your visit.

Bristol Packet Nightlife Boat - CREDIT Paul Box
Image: Locals on a Bristol Packet boat trip, credit Paul Box

H is for Hot Air Balloons

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is one of the most visually spectacular outdoor events on Bristol’s events calendar and the iconic images of the festival’s nightglow and mass balloon ascents floating over Clifton Suspension Bridge have become synonymous with the city. Luckily, these sights aren't just reserved for the festival weekend, as Bristol's ballooning companies Virgin Balloon Flights and Fly Away Ballooning run flights throughout the season.

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

I is for Isambard Kingdom Brunel

One of the city’s most famous adopted sons, this prolific Victorian engineer was the brains behind the SS Great Britain (the ship that changed the world), Clifton Suspension Bridge, a visionary for the Great Western Railway and a whole host of ingenious designs that made him one of the key figures of the Industrial Revolution. The Being Brunel museum at Brunel's SS Great Britain celebrates the man who ‘built Britain’ and helped shape the world, providing insight into his life, family, interests and creative mind.

Exterior of the SS Great Britain at the Great Western Dockyard in Bristol - credit Brunel's SS Great Britain
Image: Brunel's SS Great Britain

J is for Jolly good places to stay

The city is packed with perfect accommodation options for your Bristol adventure: rural retreats within easy distance of the city, quirky boltholes, luxury and boutique hotels, romantic rooms, laid-back budget hotels, brilliant B&Bs, eco-friendly lodgings, serviced apartmentsself-catering hideaways and cool campsites

Luxury hotel room with blue walls and bathtub in room

Image: Avon Gorge by Hotel du Vin

K is for Kooky-coloured glass

We couldn't write an A-Z guide to Bristol without mentioning one of the city's most famous exports, Bristol Blue Glass. The city used to be one of the most important glass-making centres in Europe, thanks to its distinctive blue glass which dates back some 300 years. With a Studio Shop in Arnos Vale and a retail outlet next to St Nicholas Market, Bristol Blue Glass continues to make beautiful glassware in the traditional way. Visit the studio to see them being made, or learn to blow one yourself!

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

L is for Location, Location, Location

As capital of the South West, Bristol makes a perfect base to discover the very best the region has to offer. The city is right on the doorstep of sensational North SomersetCotswolds and South Gloucestershire countryside and celebrated historical landmarks are all just a short bus, train journey, cycle, or car ride away! So, why not add a few extra days to your stay and tick off some world-famous sites at the same time? Check out our list of six World Heritage Sites to visit near Bristol or check out our suggestions for day trips north, eastsouth, and west of the city.

Gothic mansion house with girl running in front - credit Rob Stothard, National Trust
Image - Tyntesfield, credit Rob Stothard

M is for Music

Bristol's nightlife is legendary. Having spawned acts such as Massive Attack, Roni Size, and Portishead, the city's thriving and incredibly varied live music scene has garnered an esteemed reputation across the globe. From pop legends playing sell-out shows at Ashton Gate Stadium to indie rock stars on the Harbourside and award-winning clubs hosting top DJs, any music lover will feel right at home in Bristol. The city also hosts an eclectic selection of music festivals throughout the year, so take a look at our roundup of the unmissable live music gigs in 2024 and grab tickets to the hottest shows in town! 

A performer on stage at Bristol Harbour Festival - credit Bristol Harbour Festival
Image: Bristol Harbour Festival

N is for Nature

As well as being a ‘green’ city in sustainable terms, Bristol is often described as a city in the countryside, thanks to its green spaces (there are over 400 parks and gardens) and close proximity to well, countryside! To see Bristol’s wilder side, check out these places for urban wildlife spotting, discover five of the world’s most endangered animals here in Bristol, or see our suggestions for top autumn, spring, and winter walks around the city. And don’t miss the Festival of Nature - the UK’s largest free celebration of the natural world.

Man walking two dog in Oldbury Court and Snuff Mills
Image: Snuff Mills

O is for Our Independent Spirit

Fiercely proud of its creative and independent spirit (where else would you find a street shut down to be converted into a giant water slide?!), Bristol is an alternative city that dances to the beat of its own drum. It's impossible to miss the numerous independent shops, markets, cafés, restaurants and bars, all of which help make Bristol the unique city it is today. A great example of this is Gloucester Road, which boasts one of the longest stretches of independent businesses in the country.

P is for Pirates

The infamous pirate Blackbeard is thought to have been born in Bristol and there’s all sorts of other interesting piratey titbits to discover about the city. Take a pirate walk to hear more about the grizzlier side of Bristol's past or see our tips for a pirate-themed day out in Bristol.

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

Q is for Queen Square

This lovely square has two functions; a peaceful oasis among the bustle of the city centre, and venue for some of Bristol's biggest annual events, such as Bristol Harbour Festival and Bristol Comedy Garden. In summer, its grassy turf is covered with picnickers, and come autumn, the changing leaves of the mature plane trees set against the backdrop of Georgian houses are a sight to behold.

An aerial view of Queen Square park in central Bristol
Image: Queen Square, Bristol

R is for Remarkable Shopping

Bristol is a superb shopping destination. Park StreetSt Nick’s MarketChristmas StepsWapping Wharf, North Street and Gloucester Road are all home to a wide range of independent shops, while classy Clifton Village is lovely for a spot of boutique browsing. At Bristol Shopping Quarter, made up of four key areas: BroadmeadThe Galleries, Quakers Friars and Cabot Circus, you'll find hundreds of shops, from your high street favourites to independent boutiques. Out of town, discover 150 shops under one roof at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway.

There are also daily markets featuring local traders, food and drink producers and local art and craft specialists across the city. 

The interior of St Nicholas Market in Bristol's Old City - credit St Nicholas Markets
Image: St Nicholas Market

S is for Sport

Bristol is an active, adventurous city, and seeing people cruising around the Harbourside on various waterborne contraptions or climbing the cliffs of the Avon Gorge is the norm. Being the UK’s first cycling city, getting around on two wheels is fun and easy, with many places to hire bikes, plus a range of national cycle routes and off-road trails to explore - you can even get all the way to Bath along a former railway line!

If you’d rather spectate than participate, Gloucestershire County Cricket Club (just off Gloucester Road) hosts regular matches, and the city also has two professional football teams, one professional basketball team, and one Premiership-level rugby team. For more urban active sports, sedate rounds of golf, and other Bristol sporting inspiration, visit our Sports & Active page

A Gloucestershire County Cricket Club player bowling at the Seat Unique cricket stadium in North Bristol - credit Gloucestershire County Cricket Club
Image: A match at Seat Unique Stadium, credit Gloucestershire County Cricket Club

T is for Theatre

Whether its world-famous West End musicals, cutting-edge plays from upcoming artists, light-hearted family entertainment, or complex social commentary, Bristol's theatre scene is jam-packed with an eclectic mix of shows all year round. Take a look at upcoming shows here.

Audience overlooking the stage at Bristol Old Vic - credit Bristol Old Vic
Image: Bristol Old Vic

U is for UNESCO City of Film

In 2017, Bristol was declared a UNESCO City of Film, a permanent status which celebrates Bristol’s achievements as a leading city in the field of film and moving images. Home to the BBC's Natural History Unit, Aardman Animations, world-class film festivals and The Bottle Yard Studios, the city is often a star on-screen and behind the scenes as a production base. Time your stay to coincide with one of the city’s top film festivals, or look out for Bristolian landscapes in hit TV series and on the silver screen

Christopher Walken in season 2 of The Outlaws (2022) at Lloyds Ampitheatre on Bristol's Harbourside - credit BBC, Amazon Studios, Big Talk, and Four Eyes

Image: Christopher Walken filming The Outlaws season 2 on Bristol's Harbourside, credit BBC, Amazon Studios, Big Talk, and Four Eyes

V is for a vibrant craft beer scene 

Bristol’s craft beer industry is booming, with some of the most lauded independent breweries in the UK setting up shop in the city. One end of King Street is fondly known as 'The Beermuda Triangle' for its trio of top-notch craft beer bars, along with The Strawberry Thief, which offers an extensive menu of both local and international beers. East Bristol is so awash with taprooms that it has its very own brewery trail, which takes place each May and is not to be missed by beer fans visiting the city. 

To help you navigate the brilliant breweries and pubs across the city, why not take a tour? There are many to choose from in the city, including Bristol Hoppers, Wiper & True Brewery Tours, and Bristol Beer Factory Tour. Craft beer festivals also crop up regularly on the city calendar. 

A staff member pulling a pint at the Wiper & True Taproom in East Bristol - credit Wiper & True
Image: Wiper & True

W is for Wapping Wharf

One of the jewels in the crown of the city’s waterfront landscape, this trendy hub of independent cafés, restaurants, bars and shops is a key part of Bristol's buzzing Harbourside life. Visitors and locals alike flock here for delicious bites, alfresco drinks and harbour views while they eat.

People dining outside Cargo Cantina in Wapping Wharf on Bristol's Harbourside - credit Hey What
Image: Cargo Cantina at Wapping Wharf, credit Hey What

X is for Xmas

Every Christmas, festive markets pop up across Bristol, Santa Claus comes to town, outdoor ice rinks offer chilly festive fun, the city's attractions are bedecked in stunning displays, and Bristol’s sacred spaces get everyone in a Christmassy mood with carol concerts aplenty.

Bristol Cathedral alter with Christmas trees and candles  - Credit Bristol Cathedral
Image: Bristol Cathedral

Y is for Ye Olde History & Heritage

Although very much a modern city today, Bristol’s history dates back thousands of years, and discovering the city’s fascinating past is a highlight of any trip. Bristol’s museums, galleries and sacred spaces do an excellent job of exploring and presenting the city's story – from its social history and role in the transatlantic slave trade to gothic masterpieces, aeronautical prowess, natural history and maritime heritage. You’ll also find castles – both ruined and inhabited, plus a range of architectural styles dating from medieval times to the present day. Take a walking tour to be guided by experts or simply go on a self-guided walkabout by downloading one of these audio tours.

Spring blossom at Castle Park in central Bristol - credit Paul Box
Image: St Peter's Church in Castle Park Bristol Cathedral, credit Paul Box

Z is for Zipping around the Harbourside

Bristol’s Harbourside is home to lots of exciting restaurants and bars and all kinds of water-based activities. See the city from the water on a stand up paddleboard, row, sail, kayak and canoe, hop on a Bristol Ferry Boat for a fun (and cheap!) way of getting around or join a river cruise with Bristol Packet Boat Trips. The Harbourside is also packed with some of the city’s brilliant attractions - Brunel’s SS Great BritainWe The CuriousBristol AquariumArnolfiniThe MatthewSpike IslandWatershedUnderfall Yard and M Shed.  You can also eat, drink and sleep on boats (Grain Barge, The Apple, Under the Stars and Kyle Blue) and dance the night away aboard Bristol's beloved floating night club, Thekla!

Bristol Ferry at Bristol Harbour Festival - Credit Paul Box
Image: Bristol Ferry Boats, credit Paul Box