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20 Very Good Reasons Why You Should Visit Bristol

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Considered to be one of the most fun, vibrant and relaxed cities in England, there are lots of very good reasons why you should visit our hometown of Bristol in the South West.

Locals and tourists alike repeatedly claim to have fallen in love with this incredible city. And now that we’ve lived in Bristol for nearly a decade, we understand why!

But you might also be surprised by some of the reasons to visit Bristol! Such as, did you know that Ribena was invented here?! Let’s discuss…

20 Very Good Reasons Why You Should Visit Bristol

Clifton Suspension Bridge

1. Street art is celebrated, not shunned

Bristol is one of the few cities around the world that truly celebrates street art, rather than shunning, banning or preventing it.

Now, we’re not talking about the graffiti ‘tagging’ that some choose to do. We’re talking about the beautiful, evocative and thought-provoking art that just so happens to grace the sides of buildings, walls and fences.

Just taking a walk along Gloucester Road in Bristol will show you fantastic street art pieces (including some by world-famous guerrilla artist, Banksy).

Additionally, Europe’s largest urban paint festival: UpFest is held in Bristol every year, which truly celebrates everything great about street art.

How many cities can say they do that?

Fall in Love with Bristol: Girl with the Pearl Earring Street Art

2. Bristol has a trendy city vibe

Any visitor to Bristol will likely remark on the vibe that is felt across every inch of the city.

From the trendy hipsters you see roaming the streets to the sheer volume of free events held regularly, the trendy city vibe reveals itself every step of the way.

3. Fancy a free festival? No problem!

If you’re a foodie, music lover or even sightseer, there are a number of free festivals held every year that you will love.

Some of our favourites include the International Balloon Fiesta (held every August), Harbour Festival (that runs every July) and UpFest (also held every July).

There’s never a dull day in Bristol – especially throughout the summer months.

International Balloon Fiesta

4. Bristol was voted the European Green Capital in 2015

The European Green Capital award is a prestigious and highly coveted award from The European Commission.

Previous winners include Stockholm and Copenhagen, but as the first city in the UK to win this award, Bristolians were so proud of the accomplishment.

So many residents and businesses in Bristol pride themselves on being eco-friendly.

There were a number of reasons why Bristol was voted European Green Capital including the fact that Bristol uses less energy per household than any other major UK city and has a booming cycling population.

But that’s not all.

When declaring the winner, the judges said: “The award of European Green Capital 2015 goes to the city with the sense of fun.” Even the judges fell in love with Bristol!

5. From John Cabot to Brunel, history is at its best in Bristol

Legendary inventor Brunel has helped put design engineering on the map when it comes to Bristol.

From designing the impressive SS Great Britain, which was able to carry Victorian passengers all the way to Australia to the beautiful Clifton Suspension Bridge, there are so many impressive feats Brunel helped to bring to life.

And not just that. There’s also John Cabot.

Cabot was an Italian-born explorer who settled in Bristol in 1490. In 1497, he sailed on ‘The Matthew’ in search of Asia and claimed the land he found as Newfoundland.

On his second expedition in 1498, he wanted to find Japan.

But… it’s believed that he actually reached North America instead, although never returned home to Bristol. Although this piece of history isn’t certain, it does cast doubt on Christopher Columbus’ discovery. Just one of many Bristol secrets you simply must discover!

SS Great Britain

6. Bristol is a colourful city

You only have to take a walk along the harbourside or near the Clifton Downs and Totterdown to see why we would describe Bristol as “colourful”.

In these areas, the houses glow down on the surrounding neighbourhoods like some kind of domestic rainbow.

Oh, and (as already mentioned), other areas are plastered in bright visual artwork!

7. Love the city? Love the country? Have both in Bristol!

There are not many cities that can claim to have the best of both city and country available to its residents and visitors. But this really is true of Bristol.

The city centre itself is a thriving cosmopolitan city. But venture outside of Bristol for maybe ten minutes and the countryside is right on your doorstep.

You could even cycle to it!

Rolling green hills, chocolate box landscapes, farmer’s fields and thick forests are never too far away from you in Bristol.

Leigh Woods

8. Bristol is perfect for shopaholics

From designer shopping in Cabot Circus and the bustling Cribbs Causeway Mall to unique independent boutiques in Clifton Village and along Gloucester Road, Bristol is perfect for shopaholics.

In fact, with the surrounding areas of Gloucester Road being very popular with the middle classes (who love local produce), this 1.7 mile stretch of road has certainly kept its independent vibe over the years.

It is now promoted by Bristol City Council as a centre of independent trade.

9. The technology and aerospace industries are booming

With top industries such as technology and aerospace booming in Bristol and with it being named as the #1 city to create a new business in several times over, finding incredible work opportunities in Bristol is certainly possible.

Yes, there’s steep competition for the top jobs with many flocking to the city for work or even commuting long distances, but working in Bristol offers so much to its hard workers.

That’s enough to keep anyone inspired to do well!

Admire the views from the top of Cabot Tower

10. International travel is easy

With its own international airport and easy access to London via the M4 motorway, (or even by train or coach if you wish!), travelling internationally is super easy when living in Bristol.

Why else do you think we became avid travellers after moving here?!

11. Beaches and the waterfront are never too far away

Similarly to rolling green hills, a trip to the seaside for sunbathing, swimming and sandcastles is also never too far away.

Clevedon is a charming seaside town about 40 minutes away, while Weston-Super-Mare has a fairly decent beach, which is only 30 minutes away from Bristol.

And if you wish to venture further afield, then fabulous beaches in Devon and Cornwall are easy to get to in about 2-3 hours.

Weston-Super-Mare Sand Art Show

12. Bristol was England’s first cycling city

Back in 2008, Bristol was named England’s first ‘cycling city’ in a £11.4 million Government scheme to encourage more people to cycle.

As part of this transformation, Bristol chose to use the money to create dedicated cycle lanes, better facilities and more training for children.

In today’s Bristol, a large portion of the population are big on cycling, cycle lanes are excellent (and long), plus lots of Bristol-based workplaces are involved with the ‘Cycle to Work’ scheme, allowing you to purchase bicycles at a fraction of the price.

13. The Clifton Suspension Bridge… enough said!

Brunel’s masterpiece, the Clifton Suspension Bridge opened in 1831 and is an iconic Bristolian landmark.

If visiting Bristol, you most definitely have to see the bridge, which offers fabulous views across Avon Gorge and the city skyline.

When the bridge was opened all those years ago, Sir Abraham Elton of Clevedon Court called it: “the ornament of Bristol and the wonder of the age”.

14. Fun is Bristol’s middle name!

One of the best things about Bristol is that no city could be described as fun as Bristol!

We’ve already mentioned the free festivals held annually, and the fact that street art is celebrated, but we’re not quite finished yet.

There are a number of trampoline parks in the city, which have made bouncing around a room full of trampolines every Bristolian’s favourite pastime!

And back in 2014, a giant waterslide closed down an entire road in Bristol (Park Street)! Sadly, we didn’t score tickets to slide down it, but we’ve heard a little rumour that the slide might be returning. Watch this space! 

Bristol Harbour Festival

15. The food is fresh and fabulous

Down with all the latest food crazes, such as great vegan choices, healthy living and perfect street food, Bristol really is a food lover’s paradise.

There is so much we could say about the food here, which is why we’ve written a local’s guide to Bristol, which has an entire section all about food. Mmm… delicious!

16. Bristol was voted the best place to live in the UK for 2017

Praised for being “handily placed for seaside and scenery”, Bristol has secured the top spot in The Sunday Times’ best places to live in the UK guide.

This guide runs every year and combines data such as crime rates, house prices and school performance.

So what did The Sunday Times have to say about Bristol?

“The city is a worthy winner thanks to its ideal combination of extraordinary culture, impressive schools, buzzing culinary scene, exciting redevelopment and community spirit. We sum the city up as cool, classy and supremely creative.” 

Thinking of moving to Bristol? Check out this guide!

17. Independence is celebrated in Bristol

As mentioned, Gloucester Road and Clifton Village are both awash with independent boutiques and family-run businesses, but this celebrated independence goes further than that.

Did you know that Bristol has its own currency?

Encouraging residents to “shop local”, the Bristol Pound is made by local people for local people and can only be used within BS postcodes.

What this means is that the money circulates around Bristol helping to make the local economy greener, fairer and stronger.

Under the Stars

18. Bristol was declared European City of Sport in 2017

Awarded by The European Capitals and Cities of Sport Federation, cities in Europe that show a passion for sport at every level are able to win this coveted award.

According to the Bristol Government: “our great sports facilities, current physical activity levels, the success of local sports clubs and sporting events and how Bristol works together to provide high quality sports provision” are all reasons why Bristol was able to win this award.

19. Bristol is the true home of Wallace and Gromit

Anyone who is remotely familiar with the British culture knows that the Wallace and Gromit cartoons and movies are a huge part of that.

And guess what?!

They were filmed in Bristol!

Since then, Bristol has celebrated this fact with several charity schemes involving fun, vibrant and colourful (there’s that word again!) statues of the Wallace and Gromit characters.

Just take a look at what they’ve been up to over the years in aid of raising millions for the Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal – the Bristol Children’s Hospital Charity. 

20. Ribena was invented in Bristol

Ribena was originally manufactured by Bristol-based food and drink company HW Carter as a blackcurrant squash.

As part of an experiment, Ribena was invented in Bristol by Vernon Charley, a scientist at the University of Bristol in 1933.

Then in 1938, the new drink was launched under the name of Ribena.

Did you know? The name Ribena comes from the botanical name for the blackcurrant, which is “Ribes nigrum”.

We could go on for hours and hours, days and days discussing all the best things about Bristol and why you should visit, but we think 20 reasons is more than enough to get our point across.

What are some of the reasons you think a visit to Bristol is needed? Jot a few thoughts down in the comments section below…

Feeling the love for Bristol? Share this blog now!

20 Very Good Reasons Why You Should Visit Bristol
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Justine Jenkins

Justine is one half of the married couple behind the Wanderers of the World travel blog. She lives in Bristol, UK and has travelled extensively within Europe and beyond since 2013. After her trips, she shares detailed travel itineraries, helpful travel guides and inspiring blog posts about the places she's been to. When she's not travelling overseas, you'll find her joining her husband, Scott on various day trips, weekend getaways and walks within the UK, which she also writes about on Wanderers of the World. Aside from travelling and writing, she also loves reading, crafting and learning about nature.

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