Travel Guide: Bristol

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As you might have guessed from my previous post and my instagram spam (!) I went to Bristol for the bank holiday weekend. Bristol, and the West Country in general, feels very close to home for me, my grandmother went to school in Bristol, then lived in Wells, and various cousins live in both Wells and Bath. Of all the cities in England apart from London, Bristol is the one place I can see myself living: it has beautiful Georgian architecture and character galore – a little bit edgier than its counterpart Bath – plus an arty crowd, picturesque quarters and lots of colour and greenery around every corner (in fact, it’s the 2015 European Green Capital and was the UK’s first cycling city in 2008). 

We spent one night in Bristol, in the fabulous Number Thirty Eight Clifton (see the review here). The first day was a bit drizzly and grey, but it didn’t stop the city looking beautiful or us enjoying what it had to offer. Just two hours from London Paddington, we arrived, checked in and stumbled down Clifton Village to find lunch at River Cottage Canteen (the best fish and chips I’ve had in a long, long time). Afterwards we meandered around the streets of Clifton, coming across the glorious Royal York Crescent (above) and some small boutiques and antique shops. We sheltered from the rain in coffee shop Spicer & Cole before taking in the views from the mighty, dizzyingly high Clifton Suspension Bridge.

The next day, following a hearty full English, we walked along the harbourside, stopping off at the Arnolfini Centre for Contemporary Arts and MShed, a museum all about Bristol. And if you walk all along Spike Island you are rewarded with stunning views across the water at the colourful specks of Clifton’s houses. In search of a well-earnt drink and bite to eat, we climbed up the hill (Bristolians must have good legs with all these hills!) to the Lido in Clifton, a 19th century outdoor pool and restaurant that felt like a corner of the mediterranean on that sunny Monday. Later that afternoon we stepped back in time to the Red Lodge Museum, a tudor building with grand wood-panelled interiors, and the Georgian House Museum, a Bristol sugar plantation and slave owner’s home built around the 1790s. Exhausted from all the walking and history we finished the day off with a coffee at FCP Press, a small cafe in the centre of town run by people who really know their stuff about coffee – this is a place for coffee lovers and coffee connoisseurs.

All in all it was a fabulous night away, we fitted in so much that it didn’t really feel like just a night at all, but I would gladly come back to see it all and more again. Below I’ve listed places to see, places to shop and places to eat, all highlighted on a handy map made with Jauntful. See the printable, pocket-sized map here.

catesthill.com - bristol travel guide

 

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We stumbled across architect Berthold Lubetkin’s (Highpoint, London Zoo penguin pool, Finsbury Health Centre) plaque, and being an archi-geek had a photo with it, then to our surprise his daughter came out and we had a lovely chat!

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The Lido is a hidden gem – an outdoor swimming pool and spa with a bar and restaurant looking onto it, tucked away behind Clifton’s terraces. It was originally built in 1850 but closed to the public in 1990, it was later redeveloped and opened again in November 2008.When we went the sun was shining (though we weren’t brave enough for a dip…), delicious plates of tapas were being shared and it felt like we were by the seaside, or at least, not in cold, wet England!

Lido, Oakfield Place, Clifton, Bristol

catesthill.com - bristol travel guide  catesthill.com - bristol travel guide

 

catesthill.com - bristol travel guide   catesthill.com - bristol travel guide

We sheltered from the rain and loved Spicer & Cole coffee shop for its wide variety of teas and an unctuous spiced orange cake.

9 Princess Victoria Street, Clifton Village, Bristol

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Clifton Suspension Bridge below spans the picturesque Avon Gorge.

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We wandered along the harbourside walkway, climbing to the rooftop of museum MShed to take in views across the city and the geometric lines of the old cranes, before walking along Spike Island and spotting the happy, brightly coloured houses on Clifton opposite.

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We spotted a Banksy above (the blue paint was not made by Banksy and you can see the lighter areas where the council have tried to get rid of it).

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Papersmith’s is magazine heaven and stationery shop. Lots of lovely things to catch the eye, from patterned notebooks and colourful washi tapes to a living succulent wall.

6a Boyces Avenue, Clifton, Bristol

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All images my own, except second from bottom: Papersmiths

  1. Hi there, I’ve just come across your blog from Apartment Apothecary… and I had to comment on this post in particular as I live in Bristol and I’m so pleased you enjoyed your trip here! I liked your ‘edgier counterpart’ comparison to Bath (where I went to uni incidentally). You can find the same charm and beautiful features here as in Bath but there’s so much more going on, it might sound corny but it definitely is a ‘vibrant’ city. I look forward to reading the rest of your blog :).

    • Very glad you’ve discovered the blog and thankyou for stopping by Lucy! I really liked bristol, it has charm but you’re very right, it’s a vibrant city, I would love to live there one day! Hopefully! X

  2. He he… I came across a mini Crescent in Cheltham, also painted in all white.
    The one in Bath is still my personal favourite, I think 🙂

  3. This is perfect timing for me as I’ve got a couple of nights in Bristol at the end of May. The place always has a special place in my heart as I went to University there. Like you, it’s the only city (apart from London) that I could see myself living in one day. I’m trying to persuade my husband of the merits of Bristol too! Lucy x

    • Ah hope this will provide some tips for that trip in May! It’s such a beautiful city, with a lot of what London has to offer, maybe one day! X

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