In town on your tod? Or just fancy some alone time? Visit Bristol’s Hannah Stuart-Leach shares her favourite things to do in the city when she’s got the whole day to herself…

My birthday’s coming up and I’ve got the day off to celebrate. It’s on a Wednesday so my friends will be at work, which means I get to enjoy some alone time in this wonderful city. Here’s what I have planned to set me up for a happy and healthy year...

Image - Arnos Vale Cemetary on a winter morning 

I’m very lucky that Arnos Vale is so close to my house. Despite being just off the busy Bath Road, it’s a wooded, green, peaceful space where you can hear the birds sing and contemplate life. My best time for a stroll in the grounds is on a frosty winter morning when the grass is crunchy underfoot and the air is crisp and cleansing. 

Or if I’m feeling energetic, I might go for a jog around the Harbourside where there’s plenty of distractions when the running gets tough – stand up paddleboarders, The Matthew, the colourful houses of Clifton Wood and, if you jog through Underfall Yard, a new visitor centre where you can learn about the workings of the historic docks. 

Get a massage 

Image - The Lido's outdoor pool (make sure you shower beforehand in the buff!)

You can’t beat the warm, melty muscle feeling after a decent massage. I love the whole experience at the Victorian Lido in Clifton, it feels quite Scandinavian - sweating it out in the sauna and steam room and taking a cool, refreshing dip in the outdoor pool post-rub.  

Eat some feel-good food 

Image - The Olive Shed © Paul Box 

I have tried and failed many times to go vegetarian - just mention ‘Bacon Friday’ to my colleagues and see them snigger. I’ve always loved veggie food though and Bristol is the land of plenty when it comes to that. At lunchtime I often go to The Olive Shed in St Nick’s Market for a halloumi wrap stuffed with sun dried tomatoes and hummus, drizzled with rose harissa. 

I find Asian food really comforting, especially Korean as I lived there for a while. The bibimbap at Tuk Tuk - a rice bowl with veg, fried tofu and hot red pepper paste - is particularly comforting. Friska, which you’ll find in several locations, does a smashing soup of the day – their coconutty Sri Lankan chickpea concoctions always hit the spot.

While away the afternoon in a cool café 

Image - Maria serving coffee at Watershed Cafe Bar © Watershed 

Whether I want to get stuck into a book, do a bit of writing or just stare out the window, there’s always a Bristol café to cosy up in. 

Half the fun is finding your own special hideaway but for starters I’d recommend At The Well on Cheltenham Road, which doubles up as a launderette and is known for its American-style Transatlantic Pancakes, and Hennesseys Coffee Lounge on North Street - they do a dreamy, super creamy hot chocolate.

If you’re feeling playful, jump on one of the swings at Playground Coffee House in the Old City. Finally, arts cinema Watershed has a large open plan café bar – sometimes the white noise of people coming and going can be surprisingly soothing. 

And breathe…

Image - Yoga on the Floating Harbour © SUP Bristol

Bristol’s big on yoga so you’re never far from a drop-in downward dog. If I’m doing yoga in the evening I like it to be relaxing. 

It may be a cliché but for me there’s no better way to end a day like this than a long candlelit soak in a bath overflowing with bubbles – preferably accompanied by a nice glass of wine. (Tip: both Hotel du Vin and the new Harbour Hotel boast beautiful stand-alone tubs.) 


Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust
Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust

Step into a secret world and discover 45 green acres where the history of Bristol is told in a leafy and tranquil setting.

SUP Bristol - Stand Up Paddleboarding
Outdoor Activity/Pursuit Centre
SUP Bristol Stand Up Paddleboarding in groups

Try stand up paddleboarding with SUP Bristol and see Bristol Floating Harbour from a truly unique angle. Explore the vibrant and historic Harbourside with SUP Bristol's expert and enthusiastic instructors to show you the ropes.

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.

Underfall Yard
Heritage/Visitor Centre
Underfall Yard Bristol Harbourside

Underfall Yard – the heart of Bristol’s harbour since 1809 and the machines that powered a port.

The Lido
The Lido Spa Bristol

Bristol’s most unique spa destination, featuring a pool, hot tub, steam room, sauna, spa, restaurant bar and terrace

St Nicholas Market
St Nicks Market Corn St

Established in 1743 St Nicholas Market is the oldest and best loved market in Bristol, famous for some of the best food in the city.

Watershed Cafe Bar
Watershed Cafe Bar

Cafe bar serving up quality food and drink in a relaxed Harbourside location

Hotel du Vin & Bistro
Hotel du Vin & Bistro room

Quirky, elegant and luxurious hotel, with some loft-style rooms and a fantastic on-site bistro

Bristol Harbour Hotel
Bristol Harbour Hotel - Exterior

With 42 luxury bedrooms, some with spectacular views over St Nicholas Market and Bristol Crown Court, you will feel instantly relaxed as you settle into your surroundings.