Bristol is known for its edgy street murals and vibrant fine art scene whereas Bath is a city of tradition, stunning architecture, cultural centres and heritage museums. With our curated itinerary for a 3 days explorations of both cities, you will get the best of both worlds! From modern artworks by Yoko Ono, through ruins of ancient Roman SPA complexes, all the way to Jane Austen’s favourite park grounds – this trip takes you all the way!
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Bristol Day 1
From Bristol Airport jump on the Airport Flyer Bus and let it take you directly to the city. You can hop off at Bristol Temple Meads Train Station or Bristol Bus Station, and a single one-way adult ticket is 7 GBP. Drop off your luggage at your Bristol hotel Berkeley Suites and start exploring the city!
Founded in 1140 as St Augustine’s Abbey, Bristol Cathedral has been a place of daily prayer and Christian community events since the middle of the 12th century. The look that the cathedral has today is due to reconstructions that found place in the 15th and the 16th centuries, and the remarkable Western Twin Towers were completed in 1888.
The Cathedral is architecturally stunning, and its conception as a Gothic “Hall Church” (which means that the side aisles are the same height as the main choir) is very unusual for Britain.
Bristol Cathedral is open daily (8 AM until 5 PM from Monday to Friday and 8 AM until 3:15 PM on weekends), and the admission is free. On-site you will find a gift-shop and a café too!
Yoko Ono’s exhibition at Georgian House
Until December 31, 2019, The Georgian House Museum (part of The Bristol Museum group) is hosting an art exhibition by the legendary conceptual artist, also known for her relationship with John Lennon, Yoko Ono. The show is titled “YOKO ONO: INTERVENTIONS/2” and refers to an earlier exhibition of Ono’s videos and performance artworks in the Viennese Ernst Fuchs Museum.
The Bristol show gives a broader look into Ono’s artistic practice and includes the popular “Wish Trees”; an artistic installation where real trees are planted. Visitors can wander around Yoko Ono’s garden and they are invited to pick up one of the pieces of paper provided, write down a little wish or a prayer and hang these on the trees. This practice follows a Japanese tradition practiced in Shinto shrines.
Be mindful of the opening hours of the museum! You can visit from Saturday through Tuesday, between 11 AM – 4 PM. Entrance to the museum is free of charge, however, you can place a donation if you wish.
Climb Cabot Tower
In 1497, John Cabot embarked on a cruise from Bristol, hoping to find a route to Asia. Less than 2 months after his departure from Great Britain, he reached the Cape Breton Island (Canada). The 32-metres high Cabot Tower, with a total of 109 narrow steps, set in the beautiful parkland of Brandon Hill (Bristol’s oldest park) is a memorial of Cabot’s quest.
The tower was built in 1897, exactly 400 years after Cabot’s cruise, and between 2007 – 2011 it was shut down for renovation. The site reopened and is now welcoming tourists who want to enjoy the scenic views of Bristol and the city’s Harbourside. Open Monday to Sunday: 8:15am to 6:15pm, entry is free.
Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
The variety of displays features at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery will amaze you! On the ground floor, you will find a historical display with Egyptian mummies, but also the Exhibition Gallery and a Wildlife exposition. The first floor is dedicated to further exploration of wildlife with displays about dinosaurs and geology, and on the second floor, you will find the art galleries with paintings, pottery, glass artifacts and many more.
The Museums welcomes visitors every day but on Mondays (you can check online for special Monday-openings) between 10 AM – 5 PM, and the admission is free, however, a donation is welcome.
Lunch in Bristol
After your tour around the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, you’ll be ready for lunch. Head to Pinkmans for a quick and tasty bite! It is a bakery that focuses on building a community. Your lunch (vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options available) will refill your belly and let you connect with a fun local crowd within the Clifton Triangle.
Another recommended lunch option is Friska that has “feel great” as their motto! You will find Friska cafés around Bristol offering vegetarian, vegan, gluten- and dairy-free options. For a less traditional Bristol lunch, head to Woky Ko Jing Xu! It is a Chinese rotisserie and noodle bar that serves small nibble-friendly small plates and traditional Eastern dishes!
Ready, set, head to Clifton! It is a popular inner suburb of Bristol, one of the oldest parts of the city. The area is full of many idyllic alleys (filled with small shops and charming cafés) and parks perfect for a relaxed stroll.
Clifton Village and Suspension Bridge
The most popular landmark of the area and a distinctive symbol of Bristol itself is the Clifton Suspension Bridge that has been open to the public since 1864. At the Leigh Woods end of the bridge, there is a visitors’ centre with information about the bridge and a little shop. You can visit the bridge daily between 10 am – 5 pm.
In its early days, Clifton Observatory was simply a windmill on Clifton Down. Almost 200 years ago, in 1828 the mill was converted into an observatory, which was initiated by the British oil painter William West. Nowadays the site is also known for “Giant’s Cave” underneath the gorge. West discovered it in 1835 and two years later the cave was opened to public. The Giant’s Cave offers stunning views with a unique perspective of the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
Admission to the cave is £2.50 for adults, and only children above 4 years of age are allowed to visit the cave, it can be a little tight and can make some people feel a little claustrophobic at times!
The Camera Obscura is an optical instrument can be rotated 360 degrees to see live views of the bridge and surrounding areas. Admission to the Camera Obscura is £2.50 or you can get a full access pass that covers the Camera Obscura and the Cave. The site is open every day throughout the year, with longer opening hours in the summer season.
Dinner in Bristol
Stay around Clifton Village for dinner! Check out Bar 44 that serves signature tapas dishes and is your way into modern Spanish culture and cuisine in the UK. Catering to vegetarians, vegans and omnivores, Bar 44 serves both small nibbles and solid dinner portions!
Bristol Day 2
Relaxed morning in Bristol
Your first day in Bristol had a fairly intense itinerary! Take your time in the morning, relax and continue your Bristol explorations starting in the late morning.
Blackbeard to Banksy walking tour
Thursday through Sunday, starting at 11.30 AM, you can join a guided tour along the Saxon town walls to get closer to both the well-known historical sites of the city as well as highlights of Bristol’s street art. Prepare to see stunning buildings and incredible works of graffiti street art including world-famous pieces by Banksy!
It is a 2-hour long walking tour that leaves from outside the main entrance of the Cathedral. You can buy single-tickets (£8 adults and £4 children) or a combined family ticket for £20.
Lunch in Bristol
After the walking tour, refuel with a bite at St Nicholas Market. It is the oldest and most popular market in the city, and it is famous for its many different food stalls. On Tuesdays and Fridays, there are even more pop-up street food traders, and every Monday is a special Vegan and Wellness market day!
Tyntesfield – National Trust’s magnificent Victorian-Gothic House
The unique look of the Tyntesfield house that we know today is the result of William Gibbs’ remodelling of the exterior of a simple regency house that he moved into in the late 19th century. The Gothic exterior takes the visitors’ breath away, but the house is a true treasure chest inside too; abundantly decorated and tastefully furnished but the most prominent craftsmen.
At Tyntesfield you are invited to explore more than the house itself. Have a stroll through the vast gardens, learn more about the park grounds and the area surrounding the Gothic House. To explore the house, have a look around the gardens and visit the themed exhibitions that will tell you the full story about the house and the Gibbs family.
We recommend you allow around three to four hours for this visit, including travel time. Tyntesfield is 8 miles from Bristol, and you can get there by car or public transportation from The Centre in Bristol.
OR Afternoon in Bristol: Brunel’s SS Great Britain
If the weather does not support an out-of-town trip, and going to Tyntesfield becomes too much of an excursion, there are still plenty of things you can do in Bristol.
Head to the Great Western Dockyard to experience SS Great Britain, famous ship of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, one of the engineering giants of the 19th century. SS Great Britain launched in 1843; she was the largest ship in the world at the time and was proudly referred to as ‘the greatest experiment since the creation’.
Brunel combined innovative technological approach with impressive size and created a ship that truly changed the course of history. With her pioneering features like a screw propeller and iron hull, SS Great Britain became the archetype for modern ship designs.
Alongside SS Great Britain you will also find “Being Brunel”, a newly opened museum dedicated to I. K. Brunel and his groundbreaking professional legacy. Your admission ticket to SS Great Britain covers the museum entry too!
Insight bus tour
If you rather feel like staying in Bristol and getting to know the inner city better, we recommend getting on the hop-on-hop-off bus! The Bristol Insight Bus Tour is fully guided, and by showing your ticket at designated partner spots around town will give you discounts and sweet deals! Sit back and enjoy; stunning works of architecture, the historic Harbourside and loads of shopping opportunities (remember, you can hop-off as much as you want) ahead of you!
M Shed Museum
The M Shed is a museum dedicated entirely to the city of Bristol! Through film, photography, storytelling and object displays it tells the story of Bristol and its development throughout times. On top of the permanent and temporary expositions, M Shed Museum has a vivid special events’ calendar. Maybe your visiting times align with a tour, a walk or a lecture?
Entrance to the museum is free of charge, and the institution is open for visitors Tuesday through Sunday, 10 AM – 5 PM.
St Nicholas Market
If you did not try it out for lunch, stop by St Nicholas market (or St Nick’s market, as locals call it). Maybe grab a post-lunch snack at one of the food stalls or shop souvenirs, nicknacks and handcrafts from the local sellers. On Fridays and Saturdays, there is “Indies Market” that gathers independent traders presenting a great range of gifts. You will find everything from original artworks and photography, to handcrafts, hand-made jewellery and vintage clothing.
Spike Island is a cool, interactive space that allows people to connect with art, learn something new, and experience the unexpected. The venue provides a home to a vibrant community of more than 70 artists, designers, arts organizations and creative individuals and businesses.
During your visit, check out the main gallery with exhibition tours, artist talks, and creative workshops. And before you go, visit Spike island’s cosy café! The gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday between noon and 5 PM, and the café is open daily!
Dinner in Bristol
For the most unique dinner experience in Bristol, head to the city’s vibrant Harbourside to check out Cargo Wapping Wharf. The site consists entirely of shipping containers that have been transformed to house eateries, shops and many more! You can choose one spot for your dinner or simply nibble your way around different restaurants and food stalls.
You are in for an all-round food tour with everything from pork delights at “Pigsty“, to a vegetarian feast at “Root” (upon request, meat can be served on the side). For a bit of celebrity vibe, go to “Woky Ko: Kaiju“ inspired by Japanese casual dining style called “Izakaya”, it’s the third restaurant of the ex-MasterChef finalist Larkin Cen.
Bath Day 3
Grab your breakfast, fuel up on coffee, and try arriving at the Temple Meads Train Station in Bristol at 9 am to embark on a journey from Bristol to Bath. The cities are less than 12 miles apart, and the train journey takes only 11 minutes! Drop off your bags at your accommodation (Z Hotel Bath) and let your Bath explorations begin, starting with some of the most popular tourist spots in the city.
The Roman Baths were an ancient, impressively decorated SPA complex with basins and saunas, and the complex even included a temple of Minerva Sulis, ruins of which (with well-preserved Roman pavements) visitors can still see today. On-site you will find a small museum showing a variety of ancient Roman artifacts.
The Roman Bath Complex is open every day, but keep in mind that ticket fares vary with the season and day of the week, so double-check the prices on the official website before you go.
Since the year 757, three different churches have occupied the site of today’s Bath Abbey. The church we see today is the work of Sir George Gilbert Scott. He was the one to transform the inside of the Abbey following his vision of Victorian Gothic architecture between 1864 – 1874.
The Abbey has been through architectural and religious reforms, it survived two World Wars, and it still stands proudly and every day it welcomes both worshippers and visitors. The visits are free, however, there is a suggested donation of £4 for adults and £2 for children and students visiting.
An element of Bath’s practical urban engineering has now become one of its main tourist attractions! In 1603 a weir was built on the River Avon to prevent the river from flooding the town. Contemporary visitors will not be able to see the architectural wonder from the middle ages though; the Weir was completely rebuilt in the early 1970s.
This restoration has given the Weir a more effective (and now iconic) V-shape design. The Weir is located down from the Pulteney Bridge, a great place for a relaxed stroll with some sightseeing.
Let a stunning collection of fine art in the Holburne Museum take your breath away. Highlights from the permanent art collection include embroidery, sculptures and paintings by Flemish masters. The temporary exhibitions showcase both contemporary artworks and classical pieces borrowed from other collections around the world.
The museum is open daily and has a vivid events’ calendar, so check the website before your visit. Maybe your dates align with an interesting creative workshop!
Right behind the Holburne Museum, you will find the Sydney Gardens, the oldest park in Bath! It used to be frequently visited by the famous author Jane Austen who lived directly opposite the park grounds. The park contains gardens, lawns, playground areas and open-air event spaces for performances and summer cinema. It is a perfect place for a relaxed stroll before lunch!
Lunch in Bath
Working with local suppliers and serving a beautiful selection of vegan cakes, Good Day Café is a great place for a quick bite. If you want a taste of the local culture too, check out Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House. It is a world-famous eatery situated in a historic building; one of the oldest houses in town!
In the mood for a wood-fire pizza? Head to Bath Pizza Co at Green Park Station; they offer special lunch deals and discounts! Some of the most famous lunch-sets in Bath (available Tuesday through Saturday) are served in Noya’s Kitchen! The menu changes regularly, but the unique Vietnamese twist and beautiful presentation are always guaranteed!
The Jane Austen Centre
Head to the Jane Austen Centre to discover more about Austen’s experience and her life in the city from 1801 – 1806. The centre features a permanent exhibition, but also a unique, charmingly decorated gift shop where you can purchase local souvenirs as well as novels, CDs and DVDs associated with Jane Austen.
Originally referred to as “King’s Circus”, the Circus is an incredible masterpiece of Georgian architecture. Its construction began in 1754, and the design was completed in 1768. During your visit, try standing in the middle of The Circus. The view will impress you but it is also likely that you will find a spot where anything you say echos!
No.1 Royal Crescent
No. 1 Royal Crescent is a museum that houses permanent and temporary exhibitions but also hosts events and workshops for different age groups. The museum is furnished and decorated just as it might have been in the years 1776-1796. You will see historic furniture as well as art and daily objects from Bath’s fashionable 18th-century residents. The museum is open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM, and entry tickets for adults ate 10.60 GBP.
There are room guides in almost all of the rooms in the house that will explain what the room was used for, the room guides are all volunteers and aren’t paid at all, they just have a great passion for history. I think it’s really great to have room guides, rather than paper guides for each room (which they also have), it makes it more interactive and they point out things that you might not otherwise notice.
Fashion Museum Bath
Previously known as “The Museum of Costume”, Bath’s Fashion Museum presents a world-class collection of contemporary and historical garments. The institution was founded by Doris Langley Moore. Moore was a designer, collector, scholar and a writer, who generously gifted her famous costume collection to the city of Bath.
Today the museum presents historical exhibitions, offers interactive tours and even hosts workshops! The Fashion Museum is open every day from 10.30 AM, and it is recommended you allow between 1.5 – 2 hours for your visit. Check the museum website for detailed ticket prices and packages; if you book online in advance, you will receive a discount!
Dinner in Bath
Let your dinner be the cherry on top of your Bristol and Bath explorations. If you are craving for fish and chips or grilled seafood, check out The Scallop Shell. Green Park Brasserie is a lively bar and restaurant with live music performances from Wednesday through Saturday night. They offer a special discounted dinner menu for early birds!
If you want to finish your day with a nicely prepared drink, head to Framptons for happy hour cocktails, an intriguing dinner menu and a great vibe. Gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options available, but if you want a fully plant-based dining experience, make your way to Acorn Vegetarian Kitchen with a la carte and specially curated set-menu options.