For years there’s been a steady stream of cluey Londoners moving to Bristol in the UK’s South West – and for good reason. The harbour city punches well above its weight for cultural and culinary cred while still offering amazing access to the region’s lush green landscapes and ancient woodlands.
Here old world charm (as only the English do) sits proudly alongside thought-provoking street art (the city is home to Banksy, no less). Here’s how to spend one perfect day in Bristol.
10.00 Immerse yourself in street art
As the birthplace of Banksy, Bristol is considered a global capital for street art, with artists from around the world traveling to literally paint the town. You don’t have to be a connoisseur to find this tour around the inner city and Stokes Croft neighbourhood fascinating. Learn the origin and history of the discipline and see original Banksys in their natural habitat.
Tickets from £9.80 per person
11.30 Explore the fancy end of town
Bristol is a truly diverse city, which you’ll see firsthand during the 10-minute cab ride from edgy Stokes Croft to the city’s poshest neighbourhood Clifton. Poet John Betjeman described the area as “the handsomest suburb in Europe” and it’s easy to see why. Georgian and Victorian mansions line the streets, while manicured gardens and well-heeled locals will make you feel like an extra on Location, Location, Location. The high street offers plenty of independent boutiques selling everything from cheese and wine to furniture and antiques.
12.00 Have a (posh) pub lunch
Head to the recently refurbed White Lion for lunch with a view. As part of the newly refurbed Avon Gorge Hotel, the White Lion serves iconic British fare — think fish finger sarnies and hot chip butties with curry sauce — and seriously good (not to mention HUGE) pizzas. If the weathers permits, the terrace overlooking the Avon Gorge and Clifton Suspension Bridge is the perfect spot to kick back and stay for another round of drinks.
Sarnies start at £9.00
3.00 Take afternoon tea
OK technically lunch may have only been an hour or two ago but it would be a travesty to miss out on the quintessentially British tradition of High Tea. The Ivy is every bit as fabulous as its London counterpart. Here the tea and champagne flow freely, while immaculately presented waiters serve cucumber sandwiches and scones with jam and cream. Marble chequerboard floors, banquette seating and outrageously posh clientele make it a must-visit for interiors lovers and people watchers alike.
Afternoon tea from £17.95
4.30 Step back in time
Head back down the hill past the famous University of Bristol to the harbour, and jump on a ferry to sail across to one of the city’s most famous attractions the SS Great Britain. The 19th-century ship was “the world’s first great ocean liner” carrying thousands of people in the mid-1800s immigrating to Australia. In fact, it’s estimated almost half a million Aussies can trace their ancestors back to a voyage on the SS Great Britain. You can wander around the ship which has been restored to show what life was like on the two-month voyage to Australia. A few steps away, a fully immersive multimedia exhibition on Brunel, the famous engineer who designed and built the SS GB, has just opened to rave reviews too.
Tickets start from £16.50
6.30 Veg out at Root
Walk along the water at Wapping Wharf to Cargo where some of the city’s best restaurants, bars and shops have taken up residence… in shipping containers! Here you’ll find one of Bristol’s buzziest restaurants, Root, a laidback share-plate kind of place where local, seasonal vegetables take centre stage (although there is a handful of meat dishes if you’re feeling carnivorous). We recommend sticking to the veg-based dishes which showcases the flair and restraint from Chef Rob Howell. Order a few plates, a glass of wine and relax as your conversation no doubt turns to, “is there some way we could move to Bristol?” Don’t be alarmed if it does…you’re only human.
Chef Rob Howell's menu focusses on local, seasonal produce at Root. Photo by Ed Schofield.
For more ideas on what to see and where to stay in Bristol, head to visitbristol.co.uk
British Airways flies direct to London Heathrow daily from Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.
Trains run from London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads all day. Tickets start from £34.90
Make a weekend of it and book a room at the Bristol Harbour Hotel and Spa.