Bristol, once the second most important port in the UK after London, but later badly bombed during the Second World War. Now, a bustling harbor village-city that just can’t stop reinventing itself, with a rich artistic spirit and food scene. Its industrial character and relaxed atmosphere has attracted creatives for decades shaping the city into a creative mecca. For most, Bristol is probably known for its music scene and Banksy influenced street art, but it’s equally well-reputed within the design, media and film industries. Its optimal riverside location, a stone’s throw away from London and neighboring the counties of Gloucestershire and Somerest, makes it a popular place to visit.
➳ WHERE TO have dinner in bristol
Pieminister: a real institution and much-loved Bristol brand renown for its award-winning pies made of local produce. Pop in for a best in class pie and wash it down with local ciders, craft beers and locally-made gin. Also the coffee, cakes and variety of snacks (try the cheese board) make this place a hip hangout for the hungry, artsy, Stokes Croft crowd.
Flinty Red: a much loved, informal bistro and wine bar located in the city’s upmarket Cotham Hill district. Although one of Bristol’s most acclaimed restaurants, its chill laid-back atmosphere, simple interior and sharing plates makes this place easy to return to. The menu changes daily, and the selection of wine is extensive.
Birch: this beautifully plain little restaurant run by a couple is the Southville locals' new favorite. Quirky chairs and vintage lamps contrast the otherwise minimalistic style. The menu is short, just how we love it, and changes daily. Everything is home made, even the perfect sourdough bread and hand-whipped butter. The flower decor is picked from the couple’s small piece of land, that also grows much of their produce.
The Ox: look carefully to find this well hidden cellar restaurant. Once there, enjoy impeccably prepared steaks, mouthwatering small plates of charcuterie, side dishes and desserts. If you pop by on a Sunday, don't miss the Sunday Roast which is reputed one of the best in Bristol. Also, don't forget to ask for the excellent cocktail menu.
Casamia: a simple family trattoria, turned experimental, Italian-influenced michelin starred restaurant humbly located in the sleepy suburbs of Westbury-on-Trym. The artfully plated, great value dishes are made of the best seasonal ingredients and topped with herbs from the restaurants kitchen's courtyard. Understandably, menus change often to reflect the seasons. Book far in advance.
St. Nicholas Market: This old market and glass arcade was chosen by The Guardian as one of the ten best markets in the UK. That’s a bold statement that you’ll probably agree to when you taste your way through food stalls and browse the independent stores for vintage clothes and jewelry.
Poco: relaxed tapas bar ideal for drinks, dinner or both. There's a tasty and vast variety of wines by the carafe, and its central, open kitchen serves up some delicious tapas with a genuine Spanish taste and feel. The jazz, flickering candles and cosy interior makes this place highly likable.
Rosmarino: a cute and friendly italian restaurant located in Clifton and Colston, serving great breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Stop by for a full italian feast or simply enjoy a perfect macchiato for a great start to your day.
Bravas: this superb, chill tapas bar on Cotham Hill serves simple, high quality plates perfect to share. The wooden tables, old Coffee sacks and floor to ceiling shelves filled with cookbooks, large tins of veggies and bottles of wine adds to the warm, homely feel.
➳ WHERE TO HAVE COFFEE in bristol
Small Street Espresso: we love our coffee, and anywhere we travel, finding our favorite coffee shop always tops the list of must-do’s. When we bumped into this speciality coffee shop and café, we marked the mission as completed. Small Street Espresso is a hole in the wall, using local Clifton Coffee beans, and take in guest beans on rotation.
Full Court Press cafe: speciality coffee shop named one of the best in the UK, whips up artsy flat whites and perfectly stingy espresso using world class beans. The top choice for every coffee connoisseur.
Café Kino: This Stokes Croft hipster magnet of a café is a non-profit co-operative owned and operated by its workers and volunteers. The place is atmospheric and your perfect pitstop for an afternoon Americano.
➳ WHERE TO DRINK in bristol
Hyde & Co: This speakeasy-style bar with its eclectic, low-lit vibe is a clear favorit for a sneaky cocktail. The atmosphere is old-school and seducing, with a piano in the corner and a fine selection of vintage lampshades.
Milk & Thistle: look carefully to find this bar with its easy-to-miss entrance. Sister to the above mentioned speakeasy bar, Milk & Thistle has rapidly gained a reputation as one of the hippest and most exclusive cocktail bars in Bristol.
Small bar: Some claim this small craft beer bar serves up the best beer from the South West. We don’t object. With 25 taps pouring local beer, a vast selection of unique wines, spirits and soft drinks, delicious food and bearded staff you're sure to be satisfied and beyond.
Canteen: a café, bar, restaurant and music venue, the Canteen has become a perfect melting pot and meeting place for the Bristolians. It's a relaxed space for affordable, good times and hosts free live gigs every night of the week. The place also offers a great menu of delicious food for hungry visitors.
Spotted Cow: This unpretentious but sophistication gastropub is the perfect place to chill out for some Sunday jazz. The impressive bar shakes up cocktails after your likings. Try the Long Island classic, a local favorite. Head for the spacious garden to for views and picture perfect sunsets. Also, the food is recommended.
Beerd: If you’re a fan of Camden Town Brewery and crave some craft beer and pizza, this place is for you. The interior is quirky and the staff serious about their local ale. So make sure to ask them for expert advice!
Star and Dove: an atmospheric, local pub in South Bristol, with great ales, a tasty upstairs restaurant and perfectly chilled backyard. Come here to meet locals, enjoy a drink by the roaring fire in the winter and not to be missed - the delicious Sunday Roast.
➳ WHAT TO DO in bristol
Bristol is a joy to just stroll around aimlessly. Stop for a coffee or a drink at one of the many cafés and bars, visit a flea market and chill out along the upscale and creative harbor area, visit St. Nicholas Market when hunger kicks in and watch the impressive street art of edgy Stokes Croft. If you want to have some agenda points though, here are our recommendations on what to see and do.
Arnolfini: Arnolfini is one of Europe's leading centres for contemporary arts, presenting dance, theatre, film, music and visual arts at the heart of Bristol's harbourside. Have a look at their website in advance to know what's going on when you're in town, or just stop by their galleries anytime, entry is free.
Clifton Suspension Bridge: this iconic city landmark, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, attracts visitors from all over the world due to its grandeur. The bridge that spans the Avon Gorge was completed in 1864 and is a fantastic sight. 412 m high and 75 m wide it's sure to make your jaw drop.
SS Great Britain: stepping on-board on this extraordinary steam ship made museum, lets you go back in time and explore life on board this world’s first great ocean liner. Rescued from wreckage in 1970, and now restored to its original Victorian grandeur, this is undoubtedly Bristol’s number one attraction.
Traces of Banksy: although not a current Bristol resident, Banksy was the city's leading graffiti exponent during the 1980. He left a trace nearly everywhere, there for you admire. There's no official trail to follow, but head up Park Street and look right by the bridge, and stroll around the hip Stokes Croft to spot some Banksy street art.
Cube Cinema: formed in 1998 by four artists, this independent cinema and arts centre draws an alternative crowd. There's always something going on, so head this way to give your cultural side some love.
➳ bristol AREA GUIDE
Harbour area: This old docks district is unsurprisingly the epicenter of Bristol’s upscale creative and cultural environment. Media companies, hip bars, eateries, galleries and flea markets alike flock along the banks of the Floating Harbour. Impossible to miss is also the photogenique row of pastel colored houses that wind along a cliff edge in the background. If you’re in town during summer, don’t miss the colorful Harbour Festival, bringing food, music, firework, ships, flotillas and tens of thousands of visitors to the harbor of this 'City of festivals’ each year.
Old City: Just like the nearby Harbor area, the old town is flourishing. However, the old city has a completely different character, showing off picturesque, narrow alleyways, cobbled streets and hundreds of years old houses. Despite its age, the area is recently coming alive with hip bars, restaurants, cafes, local grocers and independent stores. Don’t miss lunching at the 18th-century St. Nicholas Market.
Clifton: the upmarket village of Clifton is a lovely place to visit in Bristol, and (fun fact:) the neighborhood where Oliver's mother grew up. Admire beautiful Georgian architecture, green spaces and visit exclusive boutiques. Its restaurant, cafe and bar scene is amazing, making the area perfect for an aimless stroll. Clifton Suspension Bridge is just a short walk away, make sure not to miss it!
Stokes Croft: Bristol's most bohemian neighborhood, magnificently free of chain stores, and home to artists and people looking for an alternative way of living. Hipster coffee bars, Banksy graffiti, and unique eateries flock in the gentrified area. It's a fascinating, diverse and constantly changing area with a similar vibe to what you find in Berlin, Camden Town and Nørrebro.
➳ WHERE TO STAY in bristol
Hotel Du Vin: on arrival, you immediately sense the history of this 17th century warehouse and former sugar refinery. Today an exclusive hotel, but with its aged details carefully remained. The candle-lit and panelled dining room and atmospheric bedrooms will make you feel at home.
Avon Gorge Hotel: This historic hotel offers unparalleled views of the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge. Boasting a fantastic panorama from its Bridge Café and White Lion Bar. From its optimal location in upscale Clifton, you can easily explore the city by foot.
Brooks Guesthouse: this friendly, 22 bedroom guesthouse with an nice interior mixing antiques with modern pieces is great for a relaxed stay in Bristol. The breakfast is a foodie's dream come true, delicious with seasonal specials from local produce.