38 Ways To Spend The Perfect Weekend In Bristol

Do the West Country properly.

Photo illustration by Matt Tucker, phloxii/Shutterstock/Flickr/churchofpunk/mv_media/kgbbristol/micuradu/Creative Commons

Let’s go to Bristol…

Flickr: steinsky / Creative Comm

At the crossroads of the M5 and M4, with trains and buses galore, the gateway to the west is an easy place to reach.

1. If you’re arriving at Temple Meads station on the train, stop for a snack at Harts bakery before you move on.

Hart’s Bakery / Via hartsbakery.co.uk

2. And be sure to take a look back at the building and marvel at its architecture.

Flickr: rpmarks /Creative Commons

Much of it was designed by civil engineer, local hero, and #2 Great Briton Isambard Kingdom Brunel around 1840.

3. If you’re arriving at the bus station, just get the hell out of there.

Flickr: rbrwr / Creative Commons

4. Have a wander round the centre to get your bearings. Everything is pretty close by.

Flickr: dgmckelvey / Creative Commons

One of the best things about Bristol is that a surprise – such as beautiful Queen’s Square – lurks around many a corner.

5. Check into a vintage Airstream caravan on a roof.

Brooks Guesthouse / Via brooksguesthousebristol.com

Brooks Guesthouse has them perched in the centre of town.

6. Or jump in a cab to a boutique hotel like Number 38.

Boutique & Breakfast Limited / Via number38clifton.com

This luxurious bolthole is by the Downs and on the fringes of Clifton.

7. Get some food.

Flickr: derekl / Creative Commons

RockFish and The Cowshed are two of the best purveyors of fish and flesh round here.

8. Head to the Corrie Tap.

Flickr: stringberd / Creative Commons

You’re in the West Country now. Cider is mandatory, and this place specialises in it.

9. Descend from Clifton into town and embark on a pub crawl. Start at the Hatchet Inn.

Flickr: jaygalvin / Creative Commons

It’s a legendary metal / rock pub and the door is supposedly covered in human skin.

Their website is as Bristolian as their punters.

10. Move on to a couple of others with literary connections.

Flickr: 100915417@N07 / Creative Commons

The Llandoger Trow is where Daniel Defoe supposedly met a real life Robinson Crusoe and The Hole in the Wall was apparently the inspiration for Long John Silver’s Spyglass Inn in Treasure Island.

11. Now cross the river to the Seven Stars Inn.

The 7 Stars / Via 7stars.co.uk

Another historic boozer and CAMRA favourite boasting a great ale selection, this pub supposedly played a part in the abolition of slavery.

12. You’re now right next door to the Fleece & Firkin.

It’s a suitably scuzzy gig venue and your best choice for rising bands.

13. Climb aboard the Thekla.

It’s a club, on a boat. Bristol’s got a tonne of other nocturnal options too.

14. Saturday: Start the day with coffee at Canteen.

Flickr: geezaweezer / Creative Commons

The Stokes Croft café, restaurant and gig venue is classic Bristol.

15. Grab some Bristol pounds.

The city has its own currency, designed to keep spending local and help indigenous businesses.

16. Go for a walk round the riverside.

Flickr: churchofpunk / Creative Commons / Via Flickr: 17251154@N00

17. It’s particularly fun during the harbour festival in July.

18. The SS Great Britain is worth a peek.

A new experience called Go Aloft opened at Easter, allowing you to scale the main mast and rigging.

19. Find the mirror ball.

It’s got a planetarium inside and is part of the @Bristol complex.

20. Go shopping.

Gloucester Road and Park Streeet down to College Green are all relatively free of chain stores and places like Uncle Sam’s are still going.

21. Grab lunch.

St Nicholas Market is a popular spot, offering global eats from Morocco, India, and the Caribbean. Eat A Pitta and Grillstock are worth checking out.

22. Play spot the Banksy…

Flickr: lindsayascott / Creative Commons

You might have seen the elusive tagger’s Grim Reaper on the side of the Thekla, but his work is dotted around the city.

23. …but don’t ignore the city’s other artists.

Flickr: tmv_media / Creative Commons

Where The Wall offer Street Art Tours taking in the best of Bristolian as well as spray can workshops. Upfest and See No Evil are two festivals worth checking out.

24. Start an evening of culture at the Arnolfini.

Jamie Woodley / arnolfini.org.uk

It’s a riverside performing arts centre offering consistently surprising displays.

25. Go for supper.

Flickr: deepsphotos / Creative Commons

Bristol’s restaurant scene has boomed in recent years and Bristol Foodie does a good job of indexing the best, while the Guardian schlepped west to award Bell’s Diner 8/10.

26. Watch a film at an independent cinema.

Flickr: dgmckelvey / Creative Commons

The Watershed is a good bet, but the Cube is worth a look too.

27. Or take in a play.

The Bristol Old Vic has been putting bums on hard seats for nearly 250 years, and is set to be refurbed in time for the birthday in 2016.

28. Sunday: Head to the Boston Tea Party for a caffeine kick.

It’s a Bristol institution.

29. Use the energy to cycle to Bath and back.

It’s a 30 mile round trip along the flat railway path.

30. Or just cycle around Bristol.

The city is hilly but compact and, as European Green Capital for 2015, not short of beautiful spots.

31. Or perhaps have a swim.

Flickr: nicksarebi / Creative Commons / Via Flickr: 34517490@N00

The Bristol Lido received a £2m cash injection a few years ago, and surrounds its pool with hot tubs and saunas.

32. Get a Sunday roast.

The Lansdown, The Richmond, The Albion - options are not thin on the ground and the title is hotly contested.

33. Head up to the Downs.

By Sunday afternoon the doggers should have cleared off and the vast green expanse is free for roaming.

34. Go see the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s masterpiece is well worth a visit. This summer celebrations are starting to mark 150 years since its completion.

35. Get lost in Ashton Court on the other side.

Along with Leigh Woods, Ashton Court covers a huge expense of Turner-worthy wilderness full of circuitous walks and errant deer.

36. Go in August to see the balloons.

The International Balloon Fiesta fills Ashton Court with hot air.

37. Other events to plan a trip round include the Dot To Dot music festival, St Paul’s Carnival or the inaugural Cary Grant Festival (yes, really) this October.

38. Finally pass out, in the Bristol fashion, safe in the knowledge you’ve truly experienced Brizzle.

Flickr: brizzlebornandbred / Creative Commons

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