I’m a big fan of city breaks – I’d rather be looking around an unfamiliar city than spending all day on a beach somewhere, and I rarely spend more than a couple of days in each city I visit, which gave me the idea to condense my trips down into an itinerary that could be completed in 24 hours. As my Bristol trip was just over 24 hours long (we arrived at about 3pm and left the following day at 9:30pm) but the first day was taken up by work for our student newspaper, I thought this would be an excellent way to start this series of blog posts, knowing that this can easily be achieved in under a day.
Start your day with breakfast and a brief mooch around Cabot Circus, aiming to leave for around 12:30 if your departure from the city is around 9pm, as ours was. Cabot Circus is a great shopping centre, with all your standard high street favourites and a few stores rarely seen on UK high streets such as Scandinavian clothing store Monki, a personal favourite. Our hotel was conveniently located near Cabot Circus and we chose to start the day with a Patisserie Valerie breakfast, though there’s a wide selection of cafe’s and restaurants to dine in.
After you’ve seen your fill of Cabot Circus, head over the street to Bristol Castle Park, a beautiful place to pass a few minutes, or longer if you have time to spare, and a surprise respite during our visit. I knew our route took us past the castle area but didn’t realise how beautiful it would be. We didn’t see the ruins of the castle itself, but had a walk around St Peter’s Church, which was destroyed during World War II and is now a memorial to citizens of Bristol killed during the war and maintained as a small public garden area.
After a brief walk around this beautiful church, head over to St Nicholas’ Market to wander round a couple of old second hand bookstores, and buy sweets from the old fashioned sweet shop. St Nicholas’ Market is buzzing with a huge variety of stalls, selling all kinds of crafts, foods and clothes. Having recently eaten, we didn’t get very excited by the food stalls on offer, though if you started your day earlier than us (and let’s be honest, you probably did), you may be feeling hungry and want to take advantage of the wide variety of foods on offer.
Once you’ve fully explored the market, start heading over towards the north-west area of the city, heading for the Bristol Museum and Art Galley. We ended up going via the Christmassteps, a very picturesque little alleyway with some lovely old buildings. We also took a slight detour down Colston Street to Bloom & Curll – as English students neither of us wanted to miss an opportunity to visit an independent bookstore when we’d be passing so close by. I purchased a copy of James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and much to my delight, my purchase was wrapped in brown paper and sealed with a Bloom & Curll sticker. Once we arrived at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, we discovered that as students we could enter the Greyson Perry exhibition on for free, and obtained tickets. Sadly this exhibition is now gone, but the exhibition rooms are in near-constant use, so chances are something equally as exciting will be available to examine. The Museum and Art Gallery spans three floors, with the majority being free to enter, and you can easily spend a couple of hours browsing the galleries at your own speed. You can also make use of the cafe, if you feel you need a sit down and bite to eat or a quick drink. By this point we were feeling a little peckish as we hadn’t had any lunch, so by mid-afternoon we found ourselves leaving the Museum and Art Gallery on the hunt for food.
This is the point at which you’ll want to start heading towards the harbour, preferably via Park Street, which features our chosen lunch spot, Boston Tea Party, as well as several vintage and independent shops that we popped in and out of on our way down the road. The cathedral is worth a walk past as well, and as it’s on the way to the harbour, you can tick that off your list as well. The Arnolfini Gallery by the harbour has a small shop of art books that we perused, and I purchased a beautiful title by Fitzcarraldo Editions that I have yet to read. They also have a front room available as a public workspace, featuring a selection of magazines and art books for those passing time there to make use of. There is also a selection of events on at any given time that you may wish to look into attending.
Depending on the time and weather you may want to sit and appreciate the beauty of the harbour before taking your pick of the restaurants available by the harbour. We had quite a bit of time to kill, so sat on the side of the harbour for almost an hour, reading and listening to music. Then we headed to Las Iguanas for a meal before we made our way back over to Temple Meads station to catch our train.
Featured image also of St Peter’s Church. All photos taken and edited by myself, please do not reuse without permission.