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 Wild Place, Bristol 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. 

Aerospace Bristol Concorde - A-Z of Bristol

Image - Concorde at Aerospace Bristol

B is for Banksy

One of the most recent 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 (although 2019 is a fallow year), 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 for yourself using the interactive map guides on this easy-to-follow smartphone App.

Mild Mild West Banksy - A-Z of Bristol

Image - Mild Mild West, Banksy, Stokes Croft

C is for Clifton Suspension Bridge

Ahh yes, that gurt big bridge, an icon of Bristol and rightly so - it’s blooming impressive. Spanning the spectacular Avon Gorge, this wonderful feat of engineering (thanks to Brunel - more about him later), is one of the most breath-taking sightseeing spots in the city.

Clifton Suspension Bridge - A - Z of Bristol

Image - Clifton Suspension Bridge, credit Angharad Paull

D is for Dining out

Haven’t you heard? Gastronomically speaking, Bristol is one of the hottest destinations in the country! As well as having the most Michelin stars in the UK outside of London, the city has a number of markets that specialise in unbeatable street food, a cool collection of cafés and bars in repurposed shipping containers down on Wapping Wharf, award-winning restaurants and oodles of independent eateries serving up banging good nosh. 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, hidden speakeasies and, as capital of the West Country, some of the finest ciders in the land. 

Casamia A-Z of Bristol

Image - Casamia, credit John Blackwell

E is for Eco-friendly

Bristol is celebrated for its eco-conscience and has a long association with the green movement. As well as being the first UK city to win the award of Green Capital (back in 2015), Bristol is the UK’s first cycling city and a Fairtrade city, meaning it trades fairly with nearly five million workers in 58 developing countries. The city is also home to Incredible Edible (an initative 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 Natural History Unit and Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity behind the development of the National Cycle Network. 

Floating seed garden - A-Z of Bristol

Image - Arnolfini 'Seeds of Change' Floating ballast seed garden, credit Bristol City Council

F is for Festivals

Bristol has got festival fever all-year round. From split your sides comedy, jaw-dropping hot air balloons and West Country cider to delicious food, weird and wonderful puppets, creepy crime fiction and al fresco Shakespeare to exciting walks, African Caribbean culture (St Paul's Carnival), film, the LGBT+ community (Bristol Pride), feel-good dancing, family-friendly fun, eclectic music, street art, craft beer and delightful chocolate, there’s something to suit all tastes.

Bristol Pride - A-Z of Bristol

Image - Bristol Pride Festival, credit Paul Box

G is for Gurt lush

Alright, me babber, Brizzle has its own lingo as well as its own currency innit, 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.

A-Z of Bristol

Image - Locals on Bristol Harbourside

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 and Bristol's ballooning companies; Bristol BalloonsBailey Balloons and Elite Air (UK) Ltd run flights throughout the season.

Hot air balloons over Bristol - A-Z of Bristol

Image - Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, credit Paul Box

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. Being Brunel 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.

Brunel - A-Z of Bristol

Image - Brunel's SS Great Britain

J is for Jolly good places to stay

The city is packed with 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 tip-top campsites

HdV Avon Gorge - A-Z OF Bristol

Image - Avon Gorge by Hotel du Vin, credit Amy Murrell

K is for Krazy coloured glass

Apologies for the spelling, but we had to mention Bristol’s famous blue glass and when most of the city’s activities and attractions begin with ‘B’, a bit of creativity is required on the spelling front… 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!

Bristol Blue Glass - A-Z of Bristol

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, car ride or cycle away! So why not add a few extra days onto your stay in the city and tick off some world-famous sites at the same time? Click to see six World Heritage Sites near Bristol or check out our suggestions for day trips NORTHSOUTHEAST and WEST of the city.

Tyntesfield A-Z of Bristol

Image - Tyntesfield, credit Andrew Butler

M is for Music

Nightlife in Bristol is legendary and having spawned acts such as Portishead, Roni Size and Massive Attack, Bristol’s reputation for an incredibly varied, thriving live music scene is well-merited. From musical legends playing sell-out shows at Ashton Gate Stadium, to bluegrass twanging under Banksy-decorated walls and big clubs hosting top DJs, Bristol’s got something for all music lovers. The city is also host to an eclectic selection of music festivals that take place all year-round. So grab your dancing shoes and get your hands on some of the hottest tickets of 2019. 

Bristol Harbour Festival: A-Z of Bristol

Image - Bristol Harbour Festival

N is for Nature

As well as being a ‘green’ city in eco terms, Bristol is often described as a city in the countryside, thanks to its green spaces (there are over 400 parks and gardens) and 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, winter and dog walks around the city. And don’t miss the Festival of Nature from 2-10 June - the UK’s largest free celebration of the natural world.

Eastville Park - A-Z of Bristol

Image - Eastville Park, credit Paul Box

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 unorthodox city that dances to the beat of its own drum. The city embraced the UK's first city wide local currency, the Bristol Pound which can only be spent in indie shops – many of which are found on Gloucester Road (part of Bristol’s Independent District) -  the longest high street of independent shops in Europe. Then there are the many independent markets, cafés, restaurants and bars, which all help make Bristol the unique city it is today.

The ultimate A-Z guide to Bristol

Image - Bristol Pound

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.

Pirates A-Z of Bristol

Image - Treasure Island Trail, Bristol

Q is for Queen Square

Somebody remarked on the Visit Bristol Facebook page the other day that we don’t mention Queen Square enough and that we should because it’s so beautiful. And we tend to agree. Aside from being a beautiful park near Bristol city centre, it’s also a festival venue for various events throughout the year (Bristol Harbour Festival being one of them). In the summer, its grassy turf is covered with picnicking people and come autumn, the changing leaves of the mature plane trees set against a backdrop of Georgian houses are a sight to behold.

Queen Square - A-Z of Bristol

Image - Queen Square, Bristol

R is for Really good shopping

Bristol is a fantastic shopping destination. Park StreetSt Nick’s MarketChristmas StepsWapping Wharf, North Street and Gloucester Road are all home to lots of independent shops. Bristol Shopping Quarter - made up of four key areas, Broadmead, The Galleries, Quakers Friars and Cabot Circus - is home to hundreds of shops, from high street favourites to independent boutiques, while out of town you’ll find over 150 shops all under one roof at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway. Classy Clifton Village is lovely for a spot of boutique browsing or there are the daily markets featuring local traders, food and drink producers and local art and craft specialists.

St Nicholas Market - A-Z of Bristol

Image - St Nicholas Market

S is for Sport

Bristol is an active, adventurous city and seeing people zinging around the Harbourside on various waterborne contraptions or climbing the cliffs of the Avon Gorge is the norm. Being the UK’s first city of cycling, two wheels are a great way to get around and there are many places to hire bikes, plus national cycle routes and off-road trails to explore - you can even get all the way to Bath along an old railway line. If you’d rather spectate than participate, Gloucestershire County Cricket Club (just off Bristol’s Gloucester Road) is set to host ICC World Cup matches in addition to league and other international fixtures in 2019 and the city also has professional football teams, basketball team and a Premiership level rugby team. For more urban active sports, sedate rounds of golf and other Bristol sporting inspiration click here.

Brightside Ground Bristol

Image - The Brightside Ground, Bristol

T is for Theatre

From world-famous West End musicals to cutting-edge plays from upcoming artists, light-hearted family entertainment to 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.

Bristol Old Vic A-Z of bristol

Image - Bristol Old Vic, credit Jon Craig

U is for UNESCO city of film

In 2017 Bristol was pronounced a UNESCO city of film, a permanent status that celebrates Bristol’s achievements as a leading city in the field of film and moving image. Home to the BBC Natural History Unit, Aardman Animations, world-class festivals and The Bottle Yard Studios, the city is often a star onscreen as well as a production base. Coincide your stay with one of the city’s top film festivals or look out for Bristolian landscapes in TV faves and on the silver screen.

Stan & Ollie filming on Princes Wharf - A-Z of Bristol

Image - Stan & Ollie films on Princes Wharf, credit Bristol Film Office

V is for Very good beer

Bristol’s craft beer scene is booming with some of the most lauded independent craft beer 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. To help you navigate the brilliant tap rooms and pubs across the city take a craft beer tour – there are many to choose from in the city, including Bristol HoppersBrewerismBristol Brewery ToursBristol Beer Factory TourBath Ales Brewery Tour, and Butcombe Brewery and craft beer festivals crop up regularly on the city calendar.

Bristol Brewery tours

Image - Bristol Brewery Tours

W is for Wapping Wharf

Relatively new to the city’s waterfront landscape, this trendy hub of independent cafés, restaurants, bars and shops slotted right in to buzzing Harbourside life from the word CarGO (as part of it is also known). People flock here for delicious bites, al fresco drinks and Harbour views while they eat.

Cargo - Wapping Wharf - A-Z of Bristol

Image - Wapping Wharf, credit Jon Craig

X is for Xmas

...or Bristmas as it’s known in the city- when Bristol is at its spandangliest. Christmas markets pop up all over the city, Santa Claus comes to town, outdoor ice rinks offer chilly festive fun, attractions bedeck their grounds in beautiful twinkly displays and Bristol’s sacred spaces get people in the Christmassy mood with carol concerts a-plenty.

Christmas Clifton A-Z Bristol

Image - Clifton Christmas Tree

Y is for Ye olde history

Although very much a modern city, Bristol’s history goes 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 a fine job of exploring and presenting the past – from the city’s social history and role in the 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.

Bristol Cathedral A-Z of Bristol

Image - Bristol Cathedral, credit Dave Pratt

Z is for Zooming 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 Floating Harbour 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 on boat night club, Thekla!

Bristol Ferry A-Z of Bristol

Image - Bristol Ferry Boats

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