Bristol is a vibrant and historic city that offers a wealth of things to do in 24 hours. Whether you’re looking to explore the city’s many museums and cultural attractions or enjoy a day out in the great outdoors, Bristol has something to offer.
It’s become one of my favourite cities to visit and it’s easy to see why people love it so much. Regularly named in publications like National Geographic Traveller and Rough Guides as one of the coolest cities in Britain. And one of the best places to live.
One of the main reasons I love to visit is the food and craft scene, honestly, it great! But if you only have one day in Bristol then you need a good mix of iconic landmarks, street art and plenty of authentic experiences.
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This route is perfectly planned in walking route order so you don’t backtrack, plenty of food stops and a mix of free and paid attractions. If your feet do get sore, consider taking one of the electric scooters or one of the well connected bus routes. There are a few hills at the end of the day.
Here are some of the top things to do in 24 hours in Bristol.
A Guide to Spending One Day in Bristol
Girl with The Pearl Earring
The famous world-renowned artist Banksy was born in Bristol in 1974, and you can still see his earliest work hidden around the streets of Bristol. When street art took Bristol by storm in the 1980s, Banksy took to the walls with a can of spray paint.
As the Girl with the Pearl Earring is just around the corner from the SS Great Britain it’s a must to go and visit! Right?
Although his work can now be found all throughout the world, there is something special about these pieces in his home city. His pieces now may sell for hundreds of thousands, but you can still witness his artistic style for yourself.
Some of the most famous pieces include the Grim Reaper, The Cat and Dog and The Well Hung Lover. As Bristol is his home There are quite a few of his pieces you can stop by on this route.
Visiting SS Great Britain
The SS Great Britain is not just a magnificent ship but full of interesting history. Get here at 10 am so you can spend 90-120 minutes on board exploring. Make sure you speak to the expert guides who are dotted around the ship! Not only are they entertaining but provide a wealth of additional facts, they know their stuff!
The SS Great Britain is now a museum ship, although formerly it was a passenger steamship that was well ahead of her time. SS Great Britain was the first Iron steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean and she held the record for the longest passenger ship in the world from 1845 to 1854.
In 1970 the SS Great Britain Project brought her home on an 8,000-mile journey from the Falkland Islands. She was restored and the trust continues to care for the ship, giving people the opportunity to see inside for themselves.
You can wander around the dining salon, take a walk along the promenade or head up to see the ship rigging. SS Great Britain is the city’s top visitor attraction making it a must if you are only spending one day in Bristol.
Book your ticket online today and the best thing is the ticket last for a year so I have been a few times.
Between March to October, the site is open 10 am-6 pm. During the Autumn winter season, the site is open Thursday to Sunday 10 am-4:30 pm between the months of November to March.
Learn All About Bristols History at M Shed
M Shed is a museum dedicated to the history of Bristol and is the perfect place to visit if you are looking to learn more about the city. Some of the most popular galleries within the Museum include Bristol places, Bristol people and Bristol Life.
The Bristol places gallery focuses on how people have shaped the city. Here you can learn about how the city prepared for WWII, the variety of public transport vehicles that were used to get people around and how homes have changed throughout the years.
The Bristol People gallery focuses on music, art, industry and technology. This gallery takes you through the city’s trading past and its involvement in the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
The Bristol Life gallery is all about peoples shared experiences within the city. Here you can find out about how families lived, worked and socialised throughout the centuries.
M Shed is open Tuesday to Sunday 10 am-5 pm.
Bristol Cathedral, Bristol City Hall and Well Hung Lover
This trio is within a few hundred metres of each other. As time is short, I’d recommend prioritising whether you want to go inside the Cathedral or City Hall. The architecture on the outside is wonderful so I haven’t ever felt I missed out by not going inside.
Bristol Cathedral is a beautiful, historic site that offers visitors a unique glimpse into England’s religious history. The cathedral is one of the largest in the country, and its architecture is truly stunning.
Bristol City Hall was built in the 1840s, and it’s been used as a municipal building ever since. It’s now home to the Bristol City Council. The hall is open to the public, and you can visit it for free. Whether you’re interested in politics or just want to see some stunning architecture, Bristol City Hall is worth having a look at.
Across the road from City Hall is a mural called “The Well Hung Lover”, it features a man hanging from a window with two people looking out the window, a woman in her underwear and a man in a suit looking out the window for the man.
Stop for Coffee at Playground Coffee House
If you are a coffee lover and love a unique experience, then visiting the Playground Coffee House is a must. You get to sit on swings whilst sipping your delicious coffee, and there is an impressive selection of board games to play too.
Aside from the tasty coffee, there is a selection of loose-leaf teas to choose from. If you are feeling peckish, there is a selection of sandwiches and cakes. However, if you decide to visit in the evening, tiki cocktails will also be available!
St Nicholas Market
St Nicholas Market is one of the best places to go in Bristol to grab a bite to eat for lunch. You will be spoiled for choice by the number of food vendors here and the best part? This market has food for all preferences and dietary requirements including vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free.
You can dine and taste food from all over the world including the Caribbean, Portugal, Morocco and of course Britain.
Although I always end up at the Eat a Pitta or Martina! Falafel and halloumi are perfect market food or any time, to be honest.
Explore the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
If you are a culture buff then visiting the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery is a must. Consisting of three separate floors, the Museum has a variety of exhibits.
The ground floor of the museum focuses on ancient Egypt, the ancient civilisation of the Middle East and archaeology objects from around the world. The Exhibition Gallery is also located on this floor, so make sure to research what is on before you visit.
The first floor focuses on the best-preserved dinosaurs found in Britain (including the Bristol dinosaur). This area of the museum also focuses on wildlife, geology, minerals and film.
The second and final floor of the museum is where the art galleries are found. The type of art found in this museum includes Romanticism, modern and contemporary art, Victorian art and Eastern art.
The Bristol Museum and Art Gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday 10 am-5 pm.
Wander Around the Royal Fort Gardens
The Royal Fort Gardens are owned by the University of Bristol but are accessible to the public. Originally the gardens were used as a Civil War fortification to defend the city during the 17th century. However, today it is a popular tourist attraction and a great place to take a picnic.
The Royal Fort House acts as a backdrop to the gardens, and there are popular pieces of art within the gardens to see. If you wander into the gardens you will come across a cool mirror maze called ‘Follow Me’ and an artistic piece called ‘Hollow’ which is made from 10,000 wood samples from across the world.
To give you another reason to visit this special place, the Royal Fort Garden also has a wildflower meadow which was built to increase the number of pollinators. If you are only spending one day in Bristol, then make sure the Royal Fort Gardens are on your itinerary.
Get Some Fresh Air on the Clifton Downs
The Clifton Downs are the perfect place to visit if you are looking for a breath of fresh air. It is a large open green space located close to Clifton village and the Redland areas of Bristol. Taking a wander around the Downs is a great way to escape the city’s hustle and bustle, and the park offers beautiful views.
There is more than enough room to take a football, play some sports, or simply head out on a stroll with a picnic.
Visit Clifton Observatory
The Clifton Observatory was established in 1766 and is one of the most iconic landmarks in Bristol. The Observatory was originally used as a windmill until it was damaged by a fire in 1777. The building was then left derelict for 25 years until an artist rented it as a studio in the 1800s.
In 2015, Clifton Observatory was restored and today, there is a 360 café that offers unforgettable views of the Avon Gorge, the Clifton Suspension Bridge and of course Bristol itself.
There is also a museum located here which is home to a Victorian-era Camera Obscura and there is now an entrance to Ghyston’s Cave found inside. Ghyston’s Cave (also known as Giants Cave) is a natural cave found within the Avon Gorge.
For centuries it was only accessible from the top of the gorge or by a steep climb, but now there is a tunnel leading down into the cave from within the observatory. The journey down the tunnel leads out onto a viewing platform that offers incredible views of Avon Gorge and the suspension bridge.
Marvel at the Clifton Suspension Bridge
The Clifton Suspension Bridge is one of the most famous structures in Bristol and spans the Avon Gorge and River Avon. The bridge took 33 years to complete and opened in 1864 as a toll bridge, which it continues to be to this day.
The bridge is a Grade I listed structure and is one of the oldest surviving iron suspension bridges in the world. It is one of Bristols most iconic landmarks and is one of the city’s top tourist attractions. The Clifton Suspension Bridge has even been used as a backdrop for several films, television programmes and for advertising. It was even the sight of the first modern bungee jump in 1979.
If you are spending one day in Bristol, in all honestly there is a limited amount that you can see. However, walking across the Clifton Suspension Bridge has to be on that list as the architecture is incredible.
Dinner in Clifton
The area is filled with charming shops and restaurants with plenty of great options for dining in Clifton. The usual chains can be found here like The Ivy, Giggling Squid, Zizzi, Coppa and Wagamama.
Looking for some alternatives, try one of these:
They produce simple and delicious regional Italian food. The menu changes every week as they use seasonal ingredients so you can always expect something new to try.
New Moon Tapas
Run by a husband-wife duo, expect a cosy atmosphere and the best tapas! The tapas are perfect for sharing with friends and the atmosphere friendly. You can expect to find a great selection of wines.
If you are looking for a more unique eating experience, then visiting Bristol Lido is the spot for you. Bristol Lido is home to spa facilities, a pool, and a new restaurant and cafe. You can lounge by the pool, head for a massage and then enjoy some tapas at the bar for lunch.
Finish with Cocktails at Her Majesty’s
A quirky cocktail bar is the best way to finish off the night! The telephone box door opened and I found myself in a magical little bar. It’s amazing; there are so many items that remind you about what life was like back in old England.
Then the cocktail menu is extensive and each drink has a theme! One ended up being in coconut on a palm tree pool floaty. They can also make all the classics too if the menu doesn’t tempt you.
If you have more time in Bristol check out their sister bar: Filthy XIII 208, Cheltenham Road, Bristol. BS6 5QU.
Alternative Things to Do in the Evening
Cargo is located within Wapping Wharf and is full of independent eateries and vendors. Whether you are looking for burgers, pizza, tapas, seafood or tasty treats, this area of Bristol has it all.
Spend Your Evening at the Bristol Hippodrome
The Bristol Hippodrome is one of the largest theatre stages in Britain and is the perfect place to spend an evening in Bristol. The theatre is located right in the city centre and is known as Bristols ‘West End Theatre’ due to it hosting many major musical productions.
If you are wondering about the quality of the theatrical productions then think of the ‘Lion King’, ‘Chicago’ and ‘Singin’ In The Rain’. However, if you aren’t a fan of theatre, the Bristol Hippodrome also hosts opera, ballet, popular comedians and tribute acts.
Have a Blast at Bristol’s Retro Bowling Alley
If you are looking for somewhere unique to visit, then why not head down to The Lanes. The Lanes is a boutique retro bowling alley with a twist. With a ‘50s diner-style decor, karaoke booths, a pool table and live music this is the place to come if you are looking for something different.
There is also a bar, diner and beer garden at The Lanes, so pizza, alcoholic milkshakes and custom cocktails are all up for grabs.
A Walking Map if You’re Spending One Day in Bristol
Bristol is an incredible city and has so much to offer. This is just an overview of what you can get up to in this city, but these are the most popular and iconic attractions with a bit of uniqueness thrown in there. Although a hectic schedule for just spending a day in the city, it’s so worth it. Although if it’s possible to spend more than one day in Bristol, you definitely should!
Hi, I'm Kat, an Australian that moved to London in 2013 to start a new adventure. What a roller-coaster that was! I love helping others move to the UK and people explore the world! I’d be honoured if you’d say, “Thanks!” with a £3 coffee on Ko-fi.