As lockdown eases and the shutters lift on the city’s attractions, restaurants, pubs, shops and much more in between, Bristol is ready to welcome you back!

With a seemingly never-ending list sights to see and experiences to tick off, allow us to help you plan your perfect Bristol break with these top 21 things to do in 2021. Find exciting ways to reconnect with the city, your loved ones and yourself among them.

However you choose to spend your time in Bristol, Escape the Everyday Responsibly by planning and booking ahead (and cancelling in good time if needed), respecting and protecting nature and following social distancing guidelines.

Remember to check directly with businesses for the latest updates on their reopening plans. 

1. Soak up some history

From a journey through Bristol’s aviation achievements at Aerospace Bristol, to stepping aboard Brunel’s iconic SS Great Britain, travel through time at the city’s historic attractions and museums.

Find exhibits around archaeology, human inventions, the natural world and more at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, while M Shed showcases local social history through immersive exhibits and will house the Colston Statue display this summer. Don’t skip the city’s smaller museums and historic houses either.

Boy sitting in an exhibit at Aerospace Bristol

Image - Aerospace Bristol

2. Meet the local wildlife

Explore wildlife parks home to animals of all shapes and sizes. There’s more than 400 species at Bristol Zoo Gardens alone and an equally exciting array of creatures at sister site Wild Place Project. Dive into the wonders of the deep at Bristol Aquarium, spot big zoo animals at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm or get up close to an amazing ensemble of farm animals at Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park.

A little further afield you can go on a safari adventure at Longleat or spend a day birdwatching at WWT Slimbridge.

Brown bear at Wild Place Project

Image - Wild Place Project 

3. Check out new exhibitions

Exciting new exhibitions in 2021 include the long-awaited Project What If at We The Curious. Inspired by the curiosity of the city, it uses questions from real people to delve into the real world of science.

Don’t miss Vanguard - Bristol Street Art at M Shed from June to October; Museum of the Moon at Bristol Cathedral in August; Bristol Photo Festival from May to January, and the Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year at The Royal Photographic Society from November to December.

4. Stay for the night

One day is never enough in Bristol. See more of the city by checking in for an overnight visit – we’ve got excellent hotels such as the Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel, the Novotel Bristol Centre and The Bristol along with quirkier accommodation to choose from.

Bedroom at Mercure Bristol North The Grange Hotel

Image - Mercure Bristol North The Grange Hotel 

5. Spend a night at the theatre

From hard-hitting productions to enchanting musicals and stand-up comedy, catch theatre shows of all genres and for all ages on the stage at Bristol Old Vic, Redgrave Theatre, Bristol Hippodrome, 1532 Performing Arts Centre and the Tobacco Factory.

6. Discover the live music scene

Classical, rock, house, drum and bass, blues, jazz, pop – you’ll find it all in Bristol. Check out the gig listings at Bristol Beacon, St George’s Bristol, LakotaTrinity Centre and other top music venues.

St George's Bristol

Image - St George's Bristol, credit Evan Dawson

7. Go to a festival

Get on your dancing shoes for a music festival, chuckle your way through sets at Bristol Comedy Garden, discover new favourite beers at Bristol Craft Beer Festival or see street art come to life at Upfest's 75 walls in 75 days.

8. Feast on top food and drink

Our award-winning food and drink scene spans Michelin-starred restaurants, international cuisines, regular street food markets, plenty of vegan eats, locally made craft beers and gins, and so much more.

Plates of food from Bravas Bristol

Image - Bravas

9. Catch a match at Bristol’s stadiums

Save yourself a spot in the stands at Gloucestershire County Cricket Club for this year’s fixtures. You can cheer on Bristol Bears and Bristol City at Ashton Gate Stadium too, or watch Bristol Rovers over at Memorial Stadium just off Gloucester Road.   

10. See Bristol’s world-famous street art

Go in search of street art including pieces by the world’s most elusive artist, Banksy, who hails from Bristol. From 15 May, artists will be creating a new mural every day for 75 days in the lead up to Upfest, the street art festival taking place on 28 and 29 August at Greville Smyth Park.

Man taking a photo of an eye mural - street art in Bedminster

Image - Street art in Bedminster, Bristol, credit Paul Box

11. Shop until you drop

Discover the variety of shopping areas in Bristol – from boutique-lined streets perfect for shopping vintage and independent, to mega malls like Cabot Circus and The Mall at Cribbs Causeway.

12. Take a guided tour

Dig a little deeper into Bristol’s history and culture while you see the sights. You can find tours themed around the city’s pirate past, street art obsession, role in transatlantic slavery, literary links and more. Check out Bristol Open Doors from 10 to 12 September when tours uncover secret and hidden corners of the city.  

13. Hop on your bike

One of the best ways to see the city is on two wheels. Hit one of the easy-to-follow cycling routes such as the Bristol and Bath Railway Path or pedal your way to some Bristol beauty spots

14. Take in the greenery

Speaking of beauty spots, there are leafy green spaces galore to discover in Bristol and the surrounding area. Picnic in the parks with hearts, admire pretty gardens, follow countryside walking routes or head for the open air of outdoor attractions like Westonbirt.

Brandon Hill

Image - View from Cabot Tower, Brandon Hill, credit Paul Box

15. Take to the water

Have fun splashing your way through water sports on the harbour, a day of surfing at The Wave or swimming lengths at The Lido (currently open to members only). You can always book a stay at a hotel with a pool too.

16. Fly high in a hot air balloon

Enjoy the unforgettable experience of soaring above Bristol in a hot air balloon with Bristol Balloons, Bailey Balloons or Elite Air (UK) Ltd. If you’re happier with your feet on the ground, watch others take to sky instead during Bristol International Balloon Fiesta in August.

Hot air balloons flying over Clifton Suspension Bridge and the Avon Gorge

Image - Hot air balloons over Clifton Suspension Bridge, credit Gary Newman

17. Plan a day trip beyond Bristol

There are heaps of remarkable and beautiful places within easy reach of Bristol, from the culture-steeped city of Bath to the spectacular Cheddar Gorge. Get inspiration from our guides to the best day trips northsoutheast and west of Bristol as well as nearby World Heritage Sites.

18. Find filming locations

Scour our UNESCO City of Film for locations that have starred in film and TV programmes such as Sanditon, Doctor Who and Poldark.

19. Be a dark tourist

Uncover places and tales connected to gruesome and macabre parts of Bristol’s past, from a Victorian garden cemetery to the Blood and Butchery of Bedminster. You’ll find lots of inspiration from Haunt Bristol.

20. Discover Bristol’s sacred and spiritual side

Search out the impressive sacred buildings around Bristol including the historic Bristol Cathedral and St Mary Redcliffe Church and learn more about religious figures who have shaped the city, such as the Wesley brothers and George Müller.

Cathedral choir

Image - Bristol Cathedral Choir, credit A. Campbell

21. Give back to a local cause

Show some love to the fantastic local organisations in Bristol by sharing your time, money or support.

Plan your Bristol break: