Bristol is such a vibrant and thriving city to live in (and visit). After living here for nearly 5 years, I think I’ve now discovered pretty much everything this fun city and its surrounding areas have to offer.
So, here’s my roundup of the best 25 activities you can do to have the best Summer in and around Bristol – enjoy!
1. See the city from above at Cabot Tower
Who doesn’t love perfect city views? Cabot Tower in Brandon Hill Park offers some of the best views of the city, whilst also offering a perfect picnic spot in the accompanying park.
2. Go on the hunt for the perfect ice cream
Ice cream is the ultimate celebration of hot weather, and a total summer staple. Bristol offers several great options for ice cream, including Vee Double Moo and Zyka Desserts. Or, if those don’t quite float your boat, try some of these on for size.
3. Marvel at animals in the Bristol Zoo
No visit to Bristol should be complete without a visit to the zoo, which is the perfect escape from the city hustle and bustle. There are a fairly large variety of animals to see here, including penguins and gorillas. But that’s not all – imagine wandering through a zoo, escaping into wildlife, only to spot houses overlooking the zoo… talk about unique!
4. Chill out on deckchairs in the aquarium
Admiring marine life is always a fun way to spend a few hours, and the Bristol Aquarium is no different. What is different though is the addition of deckchairs in the greenhouse. I can think of nothing better than chilling out on these deckchairs in the middle of your aquarium visit!
5. Take a breather in Leigh Woods
With any city, there should be the opportunity to visit green spaces and parks – Bristol offers this in abundance. One such place is Leigh Woods, which overlooks Avon Gorge and the infamous Clifton Suspension Bridge. Not only do these woods offer great views of the bridge and gorge, but are also lovely woods to walk in.
6. Get problem solving in an Escape Room
Escape Rooms are becoming the ‘in’ thing to do in most cities, and Bristol is right up there with this trend. It’s possible to try out loads of Escape Rooms in the city, but some of my favourites are by the masterminds over at Puzzlair. Although admittedly, one for a rainy day in the summer, rather than a sunny one.
7. Picnic in Castle Park
Right in the centre of the city is Castle Park – super popular with both locals and tourists alike. In the summer months, lots of people bring picnics, BBQs and ciders. Just chilling out with a big group of friends with food and drink is a great way to spend the summer in Bristol.
8. Watch hot air balloons sail overhead
Bristol is home to some of the best free festivals including the International Balloon Fiesta, held every August. Travellers come from far and wide to see this spectacle, which rivals even that of Cappadocia in Turkey. Watch hundreds of hot air balloons sail overhead, see the famous balloon night glow and hang out on roller coasters with your friends… all for free!
9. Attend an open air cinema or theatre showing
In the city, there are various opportunities for open air cinemas. Your best bet with these would be to join a few Facebook groups, or keep an eye on the Cult Screens website, as they’re usually announced on there. Equally, nearby National Trust property, Dyrham Park has a Shakespeare open air theatre showing every year (usually in August). Keep an eye on the NT website for details and for booking tickets.
10. Bounce, bounce and bounce some more
There are several trampoline parks in Bristol, which are great fun for everyone. You’re basically thrown into a huge warehouse space filled with trampolines for an hour – expect to be very tired by the end of it! Be sure to check out Groupon for cheap options that occasionally pop up.
11. Mooch for hours along Gloucester Road
Boasting one of the longest roads of independent shops, you can spend hours mooching along Gloucester Road. From quirky clothing, to unique gifts and amazing patisseries, there’s so much amazing shopping on offer on this stretch of road. Don’t say I didn’t warn you and your credit card!
12. Splash about in the Clifton Lido
Clifton is a very popular spot in Bristol. Often known as the posh bit, and boasting some great shopping options, it’s also home to the lido. Complete with sauna and steam room, this is a great place to come for a bit of a splash about.
13. Have a historic day out in Bath
Bath, home to incredible (and historic) Roman Baths is a great day out and super close to Bristol. It’s a must-see for Jane Austen fans as well, seeing as Bath was her home for many years and features heavily in her novels. A walk through the Botanical Gardens are also worth a look. Although it’s possible to drive to Bath in around 45 minutes, my recommendation would always be to opt for public transport as parking in Bath can be both a nightmare and expensive. And with a train getting you to Bath in just 12 minutes, or a bus only taking an hour, it makes sense!
14. Follow the old railway line
Cycle paths in Bristol are second to none, and are also pedestrian friendly. A really popular one follows the old railway line, and can take you as far as Bath if you want it to. Whether you come here for a wander, run or cycle, this is a great place to use up any excess energy you may have.
15. Admire artwork at Upfest
Bristol is definitely on the map when it comes to street art, and Upfest (held annually) is a celebration of that. Successfully labelled as Europe’s largest, free street art and graffiti festival, Upfest attracts over 300 artists, whose job it is to paint venues throughout Bedminster and Southville in Bristol.
16. Feed the ducks at Slimbridge Wetlands
Not too far up the M5 from Bristol are the Slimbridge Wetlands. This is a huge nature reserve, specifically catering to birds, ducks and marine life. You can watch the birds, feed the ducks or just go for a walk, making this a super relaxing day out away from the busy city atmosphere.
17. Head to the beach
Bristol is in a great location for beach trips. Whether you’re after an adventure further away in Devon or Cornwall, or prefer to stay closer to home, there are plenty of options. Some of my favourites include Croyde Bay, Woolacombe and Weston-Super-Mare. Keep your eye out for a circus in town or impressive sandcastle sculptures!
18. Act like kids with crazy golf
Do you remember weekends playing crazy golf with your friends? I certainly do! Pirate Bay Adventure Golf is by far the best crazy golf place I’ve ever been to (and that’s saying something)! The theme is obviously pirates, but it even comes with islands you have to pull your own boat to! Great for little ones, and big kids alike.
19. Get up close and personal with Banksy
Surely we’ve all heard of the street artist Banksy? Well, believe it or not he actually comes from Bristol. In the city lies some of his earliest works, and you can see them all on your own Banksy walking tour – check it out! You may even spot Banksy wannabes adding to the iconic Bristol street art scene.
20. Catch a boat to a bar
Bristol is home to many riverside walks, but one such walk can also include catching a boat to a bar, which is such a novelty! Beese’s Riverside Bar is only open during the summer months (in winter, it’s basically underwater) and you can catch their boat across the river for just 50 pence per person (return).
21. Get involved with watersports
As can be expected from a city that prides itself on its youthful, fun vibe, you can take part in many watersports activities at the harbourside. Some of these may include paddle boarding, sailing, windsurfing and on some occasions, even dragon boat racing!
22. Learn some history at the SS Great Britain
Brunel is an amazing designer and has created some fabulous works across the South West of England, including the SS Great Britain – a Victorian passenger boat, that even sailed to Australia! This museum lets you see the underside of the boat, as well as exploring the first class cabins inside and the top deck. This ship is best seen on a sunny day so that you can both admire the views across the harbour, and enjoy the top deck (rather than slipping and sliding in puddles).
23. Suck on a shisha at The Full Moon
Okay, so this is definitely one for adults only! The Full Moon in Stokes Croft has one of the best shisha tobacco gardens in the city, allowing you to try all kinds of flavours including apple and strawberry to name just a couple of firm favourites. As The Full Moon is also a backpacker’s hostel, you’re sure to meet some really interesting people here.
24. Have fun at the Harbourside Festival
Another great thing about Bristol is its free festivals that happen every year. We’ve already mentioned the balloon fiesta, but how about the Harbourside Festival, held every July? This one offers music, circus performances, craft stalls and water activities. The cardboard boat race is always good fun, as are the free music shows.
25. Go underground in caves
Neighbouring county, Somerset offers some great day out options for cave lovers. It is of course home to Cheddar Gorge & Caves (yes, where the cheese comes from), but is also home to Wookey Hole Caves – another set of vast (and deep) caves! A trip to both or either is set to win you brownie points with whoever you’re taking.
Well, there you have it! I hope these 25 activities help you to have a perfect summer in and around Bristol! Which is your favourite on the list? Where else would you visit in the city? Jot a few thoughts down in the comments….
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