Laura’s Harbourside Itinerary

I love being outside, especially when the sun is on my back and the air is fresh. Bristol really is an amazing city to walk around and as the sun begins to peek out from behind his winter clouds, I’m ready to get out and about in Bristol and soak up the city from the great outdoors, and in Bristol one of my favourite places to explore is the Harbourside. This bustling and vibrant part of the city is a true outdoor-lovers dream.

1. I like to walk all the way round which takes between 1-1.5 hours (without stops) and I will usually start my walk off right with either a coffee or a crepe (if I’m feeling hungry) at the Coffee and Crepe cabin, then I’ll duck into the M Shed on my way past and check out a part of the exhibitions that I haven’t seen before. It’s free so you can do it all in one go, or pop in as many times as you are able to see a new bit each time.

M Shed and Ferries - Image Morgane Bigault

M Shed and Ferries - Image Morgane Bigault

2. The Matthew is also usually moored just outside the M Shed and you can walk on board and have a look around. The staff there are also super friendly and happy to answer any questions about the ship. It makes for some lovely Instagram photos as well, and I have to confess to pretending to be a pirate in my pictures on-board more than one occasion.

3. From the Matthew is will continue on before I reach Brunel’s ss Great Britain. It really is a brilliant place to visit and if you do buy a ticket, you won’t regret it (plus your ticket is valid for 12 months so you can return as many times as you’d like! Bargain!) If I’m short on time, there’s a perfect little cross-harbour ferry, which costs less than a pound and will drop you on the other side of the harbour.

4. However, if I’m taking in the full walk, I’ll continue on round, past Aardman Animations studios (looks out for the tiny Shaun the Sheep in the window) and also checking out my favourite Banksy in Bristol, The Girl with the Pearl Earring. It appeared here in late 2014 and pays homage to the famous painting of the similar name. It’s on a wall under the harbour clock on your left as you enter the boatyard.

Banksy - The Girl with the Pearl Eardrum

5. Continuing on, you’ll walk along the harbour and catch a glimpse of one of Bristol’s most colourful views. Look up and over to your right and admire all the candy-coloured houses of Cliftonwood. It’s a view that makes me fall more in love with my city every time I see it. On a sunny day there’s often boats sailing here and paddleboarders ambling on the water. If you are ready for your lunch by this point you could pop into The Cottage for some lovely chips eaten looking out over the water.

6. There is also a Bristol Ferry stop outside The Cottage, and I’ll love to hop on board one of the ferries to enjoy a lovely boat trip back up the harbour. Every time I take the ferry it feels like a real treat, but it’s so cheap. People are so friendly they will often wave at you as you pass (and I love to wave!)

7. If you choose to walk all the way around though you’ll be rewarded with a look at Underfall Yard a working boatyard, where the shipwrights are quite often happy to explain what they are doing if you ask nicely. Stop to admire the top left corner of the Clifton Suspension Bridge out towards the Avon Gorge here. Then a pretty walk back up the other side, past Pooles Wharf where sweet little waterside cottages with colourful window boxes line up along the water. You can bet that every time I pass I will say, oh I wish I lived in one of these.

Hotwells and the Grain Barge - Image Daniels Andres

Hotwells and the Grain Barge - Image Daniels Andres

8. Walk past the Grain Barge (or pop in for a local beer) and back along the newly developed Harbourside area, there’s a cracking little nature reserve here and you won’t believe you are minutes from the city centre as the ferries chug past, people sit outside cafes and moorhens, ducks, swans and even the odd otter apparently goes about their day among the reeds.

9. Here you’ll stumble into Lloyds Amphitheatre where there’s often festivals, concerts and markets taking place. By this time, I’ve usually worked up quite the appetite so will make a beeline for one of the bars and restaurants along the water’s edge here. Before heading home over Pero’s Bridge feeling refreshed and happy.

About the Author: Laura Valentine


Laura Valentine is Visit Bristol’s digital marketing executive and loves Bristol very much. She can often be found wearing scarves, looking at maps and hopping through kissing gates. Her Bristol picks are St Nicholas Market, the bluebell woods near Portbury and the Harbourside in the sunshine.


M Shed
M Shed
The Matthew
Historic Ship
The Matthew Bristol

Based in Bristol’s floating harbour for much of the year, the Matthew is popular for harbour tours as well as longer sailing trips.

Brunel's SS Great Britain
Historic Ship
SS Great Britain Hero Image

Voyage back in time at Brunel’s SS Great Britain, the world’s first great ocean liner.

Bristol Ferry Boats
Bristol Ferry Boats

Explore Bristol's Harbourside by ferry, go on a trip with friends or colleagues, or simply get from A to B without worrying about traffic

Number Seven Boat Trips
Boat Trip
Number Seven

Passenger boat company providing public ferry services and private charter trips around Bristol and on the River Avon

Pero's Bridge
Industrial Archaeology
Pero's Bridge - Copyright Mick Kirton

A pedestrian footbridge that spans Bristol's floating harbour, named in honour of enslaved Pero Jones.