In about 1 hour and 45 minutes, it’s easy to get a world away from London. Bristol is famous for its maritime history, Georgian and Victorian architecture, street art, and Brunel’s engineering legacy. In the Second World War, the city was mostly flattened, but it has been regenerated, making it a charming city with a decent amount of nightlife and culture (probably attributed to the University situated there).
Being a bank holiday weekend, we got a bit of extra time which was needed given the amount there is to see and do in the town.
We spent the first day meandering through Clifton. It’s a charming area with loads of restaurants and coffee shops. We stopped for lunch at the Avon Gorge Hotel. While the hotel lobby makes you question our judgement, once you arrive at the terrace, the spectacular view of the Clifton Suspension Bridge explains our decision – the view is breathtaking (note: The Red Lion Pub also has the same terrace/view).
Following lunch, we wandered to see Brunel’s symbolic marvel. This 19th century suspension bridge spans the Avon Gorge, and is worth viewing and walking across it. We then continued through the Clifton area to see the Royal Crescents, and just enjoyed the town.
The following day, we spent most of our time taking in the rest of the city, with our primary focus on the floating harbour, which also was influenced by Brunel. There is quite a bit of martime history to take in, with the highlight being Brunel’s SS Great Britain. She is the world’s first iron hulled, screw propeller-driven, steam-powered passenger line. This boat was built in 1843 and is now well preserved and documented. And as an added bonus, you can climb up the main mast!