We love Bristol. The capital of the southwest of England, the city can trace its written history back to 1051, yet it's as vibrant and dynamic a place as you could wish for. It has everything you expect form a large urban centre – culture, shopping, cultural diversity, great food – yet it's still one of the most welcoming and relaxed cities in Britain, with a laid-back vibe that attracts both jaded Londoners for life and others just in search of the perfect weekend break.
Whether you enjoy looking at art in a gallery or just wandering around and admiring what you can find on the city's streets, you’ll find plenty to attract you in Bristol, and it;s not just about fusty old masters. The Arnolfini Gallery, based in an old tea warehouse, celebrates the best of cutting-edge contemporary art, while you could also follow a trail of works by the prolific and renowned local street artist, Bansky (his work also features in the local Bristol Museum, along with that of more traditional painters).
Bristol used to be a thriving port and the city’s maritime heritage is celebrated down at the harbour side, in particular aboard the SS Great Britain – Isambard Kingdom Brunel's famous steam ship, which is nowadays one of the city's best family attractions. Look in also on the M Shed, also on the harbour, which tells the story of the city and its people, in particular Bristol’s long association with the sea. You may notice also that Bristol is the home of Wallace and Gromit, who's statues sometime dot the waterfront as a reminder that their creators Aardman Studios, are also based in this part of town, and are soon to host studio tours.
Bristol has reputation as a destination for ‘foodies’, and we reckon it's well-deserved. One of our favourite places is the Pieminister pie shop – a Bristol institution since 2003, as is the rather wonderful Harvey’s Cellars (though for considerably longer), whose tapas bar, gallery and museum is living proof that sherry is not just for grannies. Find some time, too, to stroll around yummy St Nicholas Market, while if you want to take the weight off your feet there's not better place - lunch or dinner - than the waterfront Olive Shed.
How to get to Bristol
Bristol is easy to reach from any part of the UK, by car, by train and indeed by air – you could travel to Bristol with fantastic flights from Flybe and make some real savings if you book in advance , Bristol hosts great events right throughout the year, including the fabulous Harbourside Festival in July and the increasingly well-attended Balloon Fiesta in August, so it pays to plan ahead.