Discover the best attractions in Bristol this summer
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Discover the best attractions in Bristol this summer

A harbour city in the West Country of England, Bristol is known for its maritime history and youthful feel. If you plan on stopping here on your way to Wales this summer, take note of our suggestions for the best attractions in Bristol so you can make the most of your stay.

Tour the SS Great Britain

After getting settled into your Airbnb (or wherever you are staying while in Bristol), head down to the waterfront to check out the SS Great Britain. Sitting in dry dock at Bristol Harbour, it is more than just a handsome sailing ship. Slipping into the water for the first time in 1843, this iron-built ship was the first of its kind to cross the Atlantic Ocean and was the largest in existence when it debuted.

Carrying passengers across this watery void from 1845 to 1854, it covered more than a million miles during its short but industrious career.

A century and a half of wear and tear have relegated it to land, but it lives a second life today as a museum. As you walk through the boat, its smells, sounds, and restored antique furnishings will take you back to the Golden Age of Sail.

The first class dining room, the engine room, the galley (kitchen) and the top deck, where its captain piloted this ship through some of the most fickle seas in the world, are all made available to visitors, a big reason that makes it one of the best attractions in Bristol.

See the Bristol Cathedral

Opening their doors for the first time in 1148, The Bristol Cathedral provided masses for the faithful centuries before any of their country folk would ever set foot in North America.

Unlike other cathedrals founded long ago, the bones of this church have remained the same since the 12th century, despite major renovations being carried out in the 14th and 19th centuries.

Within, its Gothic-stained glass windows, its intricately carved arches and columns, and its massive organ will make your decision to include it in your itinerary a wise one.

Unlike major churches like Westminster Abbey, entry to this architectural highlight is free, making it a great option for those traveling on a budget.

Discover St John on the Wall

It may not have the stature of Bristol Cathedral, but what it lacks in size, St John on the Wall makes up for it in its unique feel and location. Built into the old city wall which used to defend Bristol from invaders, it has a look that agruably makes it one of the best attractions in Bristol.

While it no longer has an active congregation, it still retains some features which made it a special place during its active religious life.

This includes monuments to a three-time mayor of Bristol and a celebrated poet, but it is also used as a live music and performance venue – ask your guide, and you may be able to take in a performance during your visit.

Check out the Bristol Museum

Photo by Nilfanion via Wikimedia UK // CC 4.0

Photo by Nilfanion via Wikimedia UK // CC 4.0

London doesn’t hold a monopoly over great museums in the United Kingdom – Bristol has a treasured institution of its own in the Bristol Museum. Dedicated to natural and human history locally and around the world, it is a local treasure many consider to be among the best attractions in Bristol.

If time is at a premium, head straight for its Egyptology gallery – with mummies, antiquities, and a decorative piece created over 3,000 years ago, you’ll be pinching yourself the entire time.

It is also home to an art gallery – located on the second floor, its paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and other pieces show off the styles from Britain, Europe and the Far East, making it a great spot for lovers of fine art.

Take in its thriving nightlife

Bristol is a centre of learning – with eight universities and colleges within its borders, tens of thousands of post-secondary students call this city home. As a result, its nightlife has been infused with an energy that will make a night out on the town the best way to relax after a long day checking out Bristol’s top attractions.

After taking advantage of the amazing deals on Groupon to get killer deals on nightlife, grab a cab down to Harbourside (traditional home of bars and pubs) or Millennium Square (a short walk from Harbourside, home to Bristol’s most modern clubs) – however, you can find plenty of great options can also be found in the city centre or on King’s Street as well.

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