Fellow travel blogger, Heather, was kind enough to have me stay at her house in Bristol when she found out I was going to be visiting in August. I couldn’t have asked for a more gracious hostess and it was so lovely getting to meet her family. Despite me arriving in the middle of their busy week, she and her husband picked me up from the bus station and drove me around the city, giving me a quick introduction to Bristol before sunset.
I set off to explore the next day, armed with loads of information on the best attractions to visit that Heather had graciously provided me with. Thankfully, the weather was on my side with gorgeous blue skies. Even in August, sunshine in never guaranteed in England so I was very happy.
Like most major cities in England, I found Bristol to be extremely walkable. Unlike most major cities in England, I found Bristol to be rather affordable! Every attraction I visited was free of charge, and after spending a week in London, my wallet was very grateful for this.
While I know I am leaving out a lot, I’ve compiled a list of some free attractions I’d highly recommend to anyone visiting Bristol for the first time!
#1 Floating Harbor Walk
If the weather is behaving, take a stroll around Bristol’s historic harbor. The harbor covers an area of 70 acres and dates back to the 13th century. If you begin on the south side of Prince Street Bridge and start walking west, you’ll run into M Shed, a museum which opened in 2011. Here you’ll learn all about Bristol’s history, with over 3,000 artifacts on display in their three main galleries: Bristol Places, Bristol People and Bristol life.
#2 The Georgian House
Built in 1790 and owned by a wealthy sugar merchant, a visit to the Georgian House paints a great picture of what it was like to live in Bristol during the 18th century. You get to explore four floors which include the kitchens, housekeeper’s rooms, dining room, study, drawing room, bedrooms, and so much more. I could have easily spent a couple hours in here. I much prefer old houses like these than museums. The history truly comes to life.
#3 Red Lodge Museum
The Red Lodge Museum is a hidden gem in Bristol and easily my favorite attraction. It started off as a family home in the late 1500’s and was turned into a Girl’s Reform School from 1854-1917. You can only view a few rooms spread over two floors, however, the Great Oak Room is what everyone comes to see. Pictures don’t do any justice to the incredibly intricate Tudor wood panelling that took two whole years to complete! The entire room retains its original oak panelling and you’ll even find an original portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, who once stayed at the lodge. I don’t want to post too many pictures – you have to see it for yourself!
#4 Cabot Tower and Brandon Hill
You’ll find Cabot Tower, standing over 100 feet tall, situated in a lovely park called Brandon Hill. You can climb up the tower and look out over Bristol, which offers up some incredible views! I’m sure there are plenty of people here on a sunny day, enjoying their lush surroundings and settling down for a picnic… or nap! I hardly spent any time here but I’m eager to explore more on my next visit.
#5 Bristol Cathedral
Bristol Cathedral is one of England’s greatest Medieval churches. It’s impossible to miss when you’re in the city and I would definitely recommend popping in for a visit. Whether you’re religious or not, the architecture (dating back the 1200’s!) is something to be appreciated. How they built these enormous buildings back then, without the help of modern machinery, is beyond me! Don’t miss out on getting coffee or a bite to eat in their courtyard. Better yet, bring a book and stay awhile. You won’t get tired of the view…
Thanks again to Heather for hosting me. The travel blogging community is so welcoming and friendly and I feel very lucky to be apart of it. I encourage everyone to visit Bristol as it often gets overlooked by most day trippers stopping in Bath instead, which is only 15 minutes away by train. Give yourself at least 4 days and see both cities! You won’t regret it. I barely scratched the surface during my trip.
Have you been to Bristol before? What are your favorite cities in England? Leave a comment down below and let me know.