Despite its size and industrial connections, since arriving here almost three years ago I have come to view Bristol as an unexpectedly beautiful city. From its famous brightly coloured houses, its glorious gorge cutting through the landscape and its patches of welcome greenery supplied by its parks, fields and woods to the majestic old buildings towering high amongst the tower blocks, Bristol’s skyline is truly remarkable. This post is about my favourite spots to admire the beauty of Bristol by day and by night.
By Day: Climb to the top of Cabot Tower to take in the sights
For this daytime sightseeing trip, head to the oldest park in Bristol, Brandon Hill. This beautiful hillside park is a perfect picnic spot with flowers, trees and water features so pack some snacks, maybe a flask of something hot (or, once the weather is a little more forgiving, bring a couple of beers) and enjoy the panoramic views of Bristol. Climb up the cramped, steep, spiral staircase and emerge at the top of the 105ft tower, built in the 1890s to commemorate explorer John Cabot and his voyage to Canada. The tower itself can be seen towering over the city with its winged angel on top – especially at night time when it flashes. From here you can see to Clifton with its iconic bridge, the harbour side dotted with boats, the spires of the Wills Memorial building and its Museum neighbour and beyond. Remember to bring your camera with you – this is the epitome of a kodak moment.
Opening Times: From early morning until dusk. 8am – 4pm Winter. 8am- 7pm Summer.
Bring: Your camera. A Picnic.
Address: Brandon Hill Park, Park Street, Bristol, BS1 5RR.
Access via Great George St., Jacob Wells Road and Berkeley Square.
On your way home, why not pop into Rocotillos, Clifton’s own American 50’s style diner (featured in the TV show, ‘Skins’), for one of the BEST milkshakes in Bristol. Chocolate and Hazelnut or Cookie Dough are strong choices, but pick from a wide wide selection – including some alcoholic ones and some which sound pretty mad, but are definitely delicious. They also have an extensive menu of breakfasts (including the highly popular American pancakes), lunches and coffees. Plus, the place itself, complete with booths, mirrors and twizzly retro stools, is so reminiscent of Grease that it gets me humming Summer Lovin’ every time. Check them out!
Milkshake: A little more or a little less than £4.00
Opening Times: Mon-Wed 08.00 – 18.00. Thu – Sat 08.00 – 19.00. Sunday 10.00-17.00
Address: 1 Queens Row, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 1EZ
By Night: See the city lights from the Clifton Observatory
Venture up above the Suspension Bridge to the Clifton Observatory and take in the views of Bristol by night. There is something literally magical about seeing the city lights shining beneath you while sitting under the stars, especially with Brunel’s “first love”, the bridge, lit up in the foreground and the outstanding gorge and Avon river winding its way below. It is my go-to place to watch Fireworks on Bonfire Night as you can see them going off all over the city, and in the summer the fireworks display for the Balloon Fiesta over at Ashton Court is also viewable from this spot. Maybe grab some take away fish and chips from Clifton’s (medium-expensive) chippy in the village and if you’re feeling impulsive, buy a bottle of prosecco to accompany your dinner! Enjoy!
Opening Times: Always
Bring: Food? Drinks? Gloves?
Address: Clifton Down, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 3LT. (Right next to the Suspension Bridge)
Now’s your chance to pop into the famous Coronation Tap! Clifton’s only cider house, first mentioned in documents in the early 1800s, the Cori Tap is a top destination for anyone over the legal drinking age (bring your ID if you look under 25 because they can be fairly strict at the door). With an enormous selection of ciders, including their very own WORLD FAMOUS ‘Exhibition’, and a calendar full of music events, you’re in for a good night. If you’re feeling daring undertake the legendary Cori-Challenge and attempt to drink 10 Exhibitions before 10pm. However, a word of warning: this stuff is deceptively tasty and yet is so potent that they sell it only by the half pint! You’re not a true Bristolian until you’ve got at least three half-remembered yet mortifying anecdotes to tell about a night at the Cori. Let me know your records! I once managed 5 and the rest of the evening is a blur…
An exhibition: £2.50
Opening Times: Mon-Fri 17.30, Saturday and Sunday 19.00 – and they usually close about midnight. Get there early-ish if you want a seat, otherwise expect to be standing against a wall somewhere! It can get VERY busy.
Address: The Coronation Tap, 8 Sion Place, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 4AX.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of my Bristol-based blog posts! Perhaps check out THIS one about my Harbourside Highlights.