Last weekend we visited lively Bristol, a city at South West England. A good three-and-a-half hour drive from Cambridge, but that’s more than worth it, as it takes you through beautiful Cotswolds. Known for its dreamy landscapes, hills full of sheep and idyllic villages with brick houses, thatched roofs and small rivers. As we only had three days to discover Bristol, we decided to see this area from the car. Although I’m sure it will be worth spending a few days there.
On to Bristol, where we wanted to check in at the hotel as quickly as possible so we could explore the city. After days of less weather, we felt really lucky with a weekend full of sun and great temperatures. Not only perfect for all the walks that we had planned, it also makes a city even more beautiful.
Our hotel, the Hampton by Hilton, was located in the middle of the city center, adjacent to the shopping area and on the other side the areas Kingsdown and Stokes Croft, an emerging neighbourhood with a variety of restaurants, cafes and boutiques. The streets are richly decorated with murals and behind some walls you can hear music all day long. It reminded us a bit of Berlin and a few London neighborhoods .
We continued our walk towards Cotham, a nearby neighborhood which lies higher on the hill. The city has many height differences, so be prepared for climbing. Once up you reach a pleasant residential area with stately mansions and tall trees. A strong contrast with the neighbourhood where we came from but it flows very smoothly into each other. The versatility makes the city dynamic, it’s great to see that everyone is using the whole city as its best.
We intended to have dinner at Bravas a popular Spanish tapas restaurant on the Cotham Hill, but unfortunately there was only place left at the bar. Not ideal with a child we thought. A beer at the opposite pub terrace connected us with a local guy who quickly referred us to another good restaurant: Poco Tapas Bar. Indeed very nice, food and drinks mainly vegan/organic, presentation beautiful and a cozy atmosphere.
The next day we decided to explore the other part of the city and planned a long walk through the city center towards Canon’s Marsh from where you can easily enter the harbour.
It’s a beautiful part of the city where you can spend time along the water and enjoy the view. From historic boats with industrial sheds and cranes to colourful houses against the hills of Bristol.
Beyond Spike Island you can cross the bridge to Hotwells where you’ll enter the start of a steep climb up to Clifton. A characteristic neighborhood with beautiful houses, good restaurants and again a great view over the wide surroundings. For a moment you get the feeling like you’re in Southern of France.
We stuck to that feeling by having lunch at Fishers, a well-regarded fish restaurant, where you can go for a warm Fruits de Mer. Cold or hot, we love fish and shellfish. Definitely recommended, reservation is advisable.
A good continuation after an extensive lunch is a walk towards the famous and impressive Clifton Suspension Bridge. Besides a breathtaking view over the valley, there are often hot air balloons to see and you can experience what it’s like to slide down a natural slide. Be prepared for a slippery rock, so don’t try this in your best suit.
In Bristol you can easily grab an Uber, as you want to see as much of the city in one weekend it’s something you definitely should use. And so we spent the afternoon on the other side of the town in the neighbourhood St. Werburghs close to Montpelier, where we visited the Wiper and True Brewery.
Unfortunately for a short moment, as we arrived just before closing time. Something we weren’t really prepared for. – Soon some locals tipped us about another hotspot in the area: The Farm. A popular place among families with kids, as they can run around and play safely.
Unexpectedly the route towards The Farm gave us a sight into the world of a street artist in Bristol, as we passed two guys who were diligently busy tagging. Five minutes later our daughter was placing her first piece, ‘a sunshine‘. So if you’re in Bristol on the Mina Road and want to see this art piece in real life, have a look right behind the tunnel.
We end up the evening at Full Moon, close to our hotel. A creative hotspot where you can have some food and drinks during the day and where parties are organised at night. Something we were already aware of at the entrance, children are no longer welcome after 8pm. Totally understanding and certainly not a problem as we didn’t want to make it much later anyway.
As a ‘Rotterdammer‘, I saw many similarities with Bristol, in particular the contrasts and versatility between the different neighbourhoods that flow together. The dynamic felt good and tourism is still minimal. Local life is still strongly present and you can easily get involved, everyone is open and friendly and is happy to talk to you. Bristol is a quirky city with different sides and has something for everyone. A weekend-stay should be long enough, but secretly we wanted to stay one more day. Enough reason to return back another time!