Bristol dwellers would all thank the few ardent volunteers that in 1971 saved the floating harbour from being filled in completely by creating Bristol Water Festival (now Bristol Harbour Festival) to demonstrate how the harbour should form the centre of the city’s leisure pursuits. Take a stroll past some of the city’s finest restaurants and you’ll come across the steam cranes, tall ships in residence, paddle boarders and hundreds of people living on the city’s waterways.

Brunel’s ss Great Britain

Proud Bristolians will also tell you that the ss Great Britain was once the world’s longest passenger ship. Brunel’s historic vessel has been beautifully restored and now sits gleaming in dry dock. Meet Brunel himself, climb the rigging with Go Aloft, and experience the sights, sounds and smells on board ship.

The Matthew

Proud Bristolians will tell you that John Cabot, not Christopher Columbus, discovered America. The Matthew is a full-size replica of the ship that he sailed in when he arrived at Newfoundland in 1497.

Ferries and Boat Trips

A few ferry companies operate on the Floating Harbour, the blue and yellow of Bristol Ferry Boats (look out for the one with Gromit on the bow), the elegant Bristol Packet boats and barges, Number Seven Boat Trips whose boats all have painted faces and Avon River Cruises. Go from A to B or take a round-trip.

Underfall Yard

A working shipyard at the far end of the Floating Harbour, where sailmakers work side by side with boat builders in an environment which probably hasn’t changed for centuries. Not far from here is also the latest Banksy “The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum”.

M Shed

Like a car boot sale of Bristol history, right up until the present day with rooms themed around people, places and life. Don’t miss the Wallace & Gromit exhibition on until September 7.

Steam power

Three of the M Shed’s most popular exhibits aren’t in the museum at all but outside: the working steam crane, and the steam train and steam tug on which you can travel up and down the old docks.


M Shed
M Shed Museum Bristol

M Shed is an exciting and innovative flagship museum for Bristol with gallery space and a packed events schedule.