As capital of the South West, Bristol makes the perfect base to explore the very best the region has to offer. World-famous attractions, ancient landmarks and gorgeous countryside are all just a short train journey, car ride or cycle away! So why not add a few extra days onto your stay in the city and tick off some iconic sites at the same time?

As part of our new blog series, here’s our pick of the best day trips NORTH of Bristol:

Family Attractions

Plan a city safari to Wild Place Project, just a quick trip from central Bristol.  Wander ancient woodland, beautiful open countryside and themed areas of parkland filled with animals. Attempt the Leap of Faith or try an exciting overnight glamping adventure at Camp Baboon with after-hours tours, bush craft skills, a night-time wolf-spotting mission and breakfast with giraffes.

Camp Baboon

Image - Camp Baboon

Go bird mad at Slimbridge, one of the UK’s best nature reserves, just a short drive up the M5. Lying to the east of the Severn Estuary, the reserve’s lagoons, meadows and grasslands provide a haven for thousands of wetland creatures. Get up close to wildlife, splash around in Welly Boot Land, take a canoe safari or let kids loose in the soft play area.

Stepping stone

Get to grips with the principles of flight through hands-on activities, discover the fascinating stories behind some of the exhibits and step aboard Concorde Alpha Foxtrot - the last Concorde to be built and fly. Once you’ve learnt everything you need to know about launching aircraft into flight, see how high you can ping yourself at nearby Airhop- one of the first indoor trampoline parks in England.

Aerospace

Image - Aerospace Bristol

Pack a picnic and enjoy the animals and adventure parks of Old Down, under an hour’s drive from Bristol. Take on the Zip wire or bounce to your heart’s content on the Jumping Pillow, wander through the Victorian Walled Garden, pop into the Yurt and Fairy Garden or just enjoy the grounds.

Old Down Country park

30 minutes north of Bristol you’ll find another winner with families. Giant slides and soft play take care of indoor activities, while outdoors you’ll find a climbing net, mini tractors, willow maze, adventure castle and a boating lake, plus lots more.  There’s also plenty of cute animals to coo over.

Spas

This Victorian country estate lies on the fringes of the glorious Cotswolds, just a short drive from Bristol. Take a stroll in the beautiful grounds before heading to the spa for some proper pampering. They also do a delightfully naughty afternoon tea in their characterful wood-panelled restaurant which overlooks the extensive gardens.

Tortworth Estate

Image - Tortworth Estate

City visits

  • Cheltenham

Most famous for its Gold Cup Racing Day in March, Cheltenham – described as the ‘cultural centre of the Cotswolds’ is just a 50-minute drive from Bristol. In addition to horse racing, Cheltenham’s boating lake, architecture and parks and gardens are a real tourist draw.

Cheltenham

Image - Pittville Pump Room, credit VisitEngland/Cotswolds.com/Nick Turner

  • Stratford-upon-Avon

Visit the birthplace of one of the most famous people the world has ever known – Shakespeare. Just an hour and a half away from Bristol, this medieval market town also sits on the River Avon and its fascinating history, landmarks and attractions will give you a real taste of olde worlde England.

home of Shakespeare's wife.

Image - Home of Shakespeare's wife, credit VisitEngland/Shakespeare's Birth Trust/Amy Murrell

Iconic landmarks

Venture off the motorway half an hour from Bristol to 16th century Thornbury Castle – where Henry VIII chose to honeymoon with Anne Boleyn, now a luxurious hotel. Roll up for afternoon tea or one of their gastronomic events throughout the year - it’s a foodie treat. Gin lovers should make time for a stop at 6 O’clock Gin for a distillery tour and tutored tasting on their way back to the city.

Thornbury Castle

Discover the captivating history of Berkeley Castle, a great family day out just half an hour from central Bristol. Shiver at the stinking dungeon hole, walk in the footsteps of royalty (Queen Elizabeth 1 was once a guest), explore the beautiful gardens or play make-believe as medieval heroes and heroines before dining in a Yurt. Close by, you can visit Dr Jenner’s House, Garden and Museum (discoverer of the smallpox vaccine) and the beautiful village of Berkeley.

Berkeley Castle

Escape to the countryside

Bristol sits on the doorstep of South Gloucestershire and The Cotswolds, making the city a good base for lengthy strolls in two of the most beautiful locations in the UK.  Largely rural, the area is renowned for its classic English country charm - rolling hills, picturesque thatched medieval villages, honey-coloured stone, beautiful churches, cosy country pubs and handsome country houses. Outdoorsy people come here for the fantastic walks and bike-friendly countryside and families are spoilt for choice for activities. Badminton Horse Trials take place at Gloucestershire’s beautiful Badminton Estate in May - one of the most prestigious events in the equestrian calendar.

Cotswolds

Image - The Cotswolds

Visit one of the finest collections of trees and shrubs in the world, about a 40-minute drive from Bristol.  Whatever the season, exploring its magical grounds will delight. In autumn, the trees blaze with fiery colours, come spring, the place erupts in candy-coloured blooms – admire it all from the treetop walkway.

Westonbirt

Image - Westonbirt, credit Paul Groom

Venture just outside Bristol to this sophisticated country house for a wicked afternoon tea or 8-course tasting menu in the award-winning Hattusa restaurant. Set in beautiful grounds surrounded by countryside, guests can wander the grounds and glimpse the Severn Estuary through the trees.

Berwick Lodge

Image - Berwick Lodge

  • Wye Valley and Forest of Dean

Adventure seekers should take a short hop (half an hour or so) across the River Severn and you’re in the beautiful green Wye Valley and Forest of Dean. Here you’ll find enchanting woodland, castles, caves and historic inns as well as popular tourist destinations, Symonds Yat and Tintern Abbey. Dive into an ancient forest, unleash your inner ape on a treetop adventure at Go Ape, follow in the footsteps of your favourite film and TV characters, explore a folk legend, mountain bike, kayak... it's the perfect natural playground.

Go Ape

Image - Go Ape

  • The Malverns

Yet another area of outstanding beauty, The Malvern Hills are a walker’s paradise. With a range of trails for all abilities, they make a great day out for ramblers of all ages and the views are extraordinary. Just an hour and a half from Bristol.

Malverns

Image - Malvern Hills District, credit Visit The Malverns @malverntic

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