15 Things Bristol Is Famous For - Updated 2024

things bristol is famous for
| 8 min read

Bristol is a city brimming with history, character, stories, and culture. Home of the iconic muralist Banksy, the town has a host of his works creating vibrant street art scene. You’ll get to enjoy a variety of dining options ranging from street food stalls to elegant waterfront dining. There’s also a bunch of cider and craft beer barges, quaint local pubs, and hip cocktail bars. Indulge in some shopping, learn about the local history at the M Shed museum, learn to Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) at the waterways, and soak in hot springs at the Bristol Lido. There’s no dearth of things to see, experience, and explore at Bristol. Planning a vacation to this offbeat city soon? Scroll down to find the things Bristol is famous for.

Quick rundown for 2024
If you have plans to visit and explore the ever-charming city of Bristol, here’s a glimpse of what’s on throughout the year:

  • Events/Festivals: Bristol is home to its iconic waterfront, which sets the scene for the much-awaited Bristol Harbour Festival, happening later in July.
  • Attractions: Wake The Tiger, the world's first "amazement park," returned this 2nd February with a much bigger offering of tantalizing installations, never-before-seen interactive rooms, and brand-new amenities to complete the experience.
  • Food Scene: Among Bristol's newest names in the food business is The Granary. Located on Welshback, it serves innovative and refreshing dishes that draw inspiration from Byzantine trade routes. BOXHALL, meanwhile, offers a much more diverse selection of high-quality foods and drinks, and is slated to open sometime this year.
  • Live Music: If you're up for a partying mood, Love Saves the Day is more likely your place to be. The EDM event returns this year on the 25th and 26th of May, promising a heavy lineup of dance acts and DJs.

1. Wallace and Gromit

Wallace and Gromit exhibition at the Science Museum
Source: Photo by Flickr user Melanie M used under CC BY 2.0

This popular UK television show was created by animator Nick Park. This Oscar-nominated show follows the titular characters Wallace, an inventor, and his pet dog Gromit. This clay stop motion show has captured the heart of the British public with its excellent storyboarding and comedy. In 2013, fiberglass sculptures of Gromit were installed in Bristol as part of a public charity art trail called Gromit Unleashed. The sculptures were then auctioned to raise money for Bristol Children’s Hospital.

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2. Ribena

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Melaneas used under CC BY-SA 4.0

A staple in lunch boxes, many kids and teens all over the UK grew up drinking Ribena. This juice brand is known for its blackcurrant-based soft drink, and the decision to use blackcurrants in drinks has an interesting history. A scientist from the University of Bristol, Vernon Charley, invented the drink as a substitute for Vitamin C since the variety of blackcurrants used were known to have high levels of this nutrient. Although the vitamin claims have been contested, Ribena still remains a popular drink in the UK.

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3. Colston bun

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

A popular sweet bread that originated in Bristol, the Colston bun is a round bread made with yeast dough, dried fruits, candied peels, and various spices such as cinnamon and ginger. It was named after the merchant Edward Colston, a popular historical figure in the city. While you may find it difficult to find a cafe or restaurant selling Colston buns in Bristol today, there are many blogs online offering variations of the recipe should you want to make it at home.

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4. Laughing gas

Empty Laughing Gas Canisters
Source: Photo by Flickr user ProMo-Cymru used under CC BY 2.0

Laughing gas, or nitrous oxide, was discovered as early as 1772 by a scientist named Joseph Priestly. Although the discovery is credited to his name, it was a chemist who worked with the Pneumatic Institution in Bristol - Humphry Davy - who tested the effects of nitrous oxide and named it “laughing gas” when he discovered that using this chemical compound caused him to laugh. While Davy noted how it could be used as an anesthetic during surgery, the use of nitrous oxide after its discovery was mostly for recreation. Today, it’s not as easy to get a hold of laughing gas due to adverse effects such as nausea, fatigue, and headaches, among others.

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5. Llandoger Trow

Llandoger Trow
Source: Photo by Flickr user Michiel Jelijs used under CC BY 2.0

The UK is known for being home to many public houses, and this particular pub is situated on Bristol’s King Street. As it’s located near Bristol Harbor, you can well imagine Llandoger Trow being a popular stopover for both locals and visitors alike. It’s said that this is where the English writer and spy, Daniel Defoe, met Scottish privateer Alexander Selkirk and was inspired to write his famous novel, Robinson Crusoe. Although the pub itself has been closed since 2019, tourists still like to visit and take photos of this historic landmark and imagine a time where sailors and notorious Englishmen crowded the tables for a drink.

Llandoger Trow

Address: Llandoger Trow, King St, Bristol BS1 4ER, United Kingdom

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6. The enchanting waterbus service

How lucky have we been to have such wonderful weather this half term?? We expect to be VERY busy today - remember our...

Posted by Bristol Ferry on Saturday, 23 February 2019

Bristol’s docks and floating harbor were once a part of the impressive British naval forces. Now, the waterways around which Bristol was built are used by the Bristol Ferry Boats also called the waterbus. These boats operate all year round except on Christmas day. Locals and tourists can hop on and off to explore the city center, Hotwells, Temple Meads, Nova Scotia and other attractions in the Floating Harbour and harbourside. Depending on your requirements, you can buy a ticket to a specific point, a round trip ticket, all day tickets, and three-day, weekly, or monthly passes. Use this unique transport to explore Bristol.

Bristol Ferry Boats

Address: 44 The Grove, Bristol BS1 4RB, UK

Website: Bristol Ferry Boats

Price: 2 USD onwards

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7. Stunning hills

Don't forget that Mother's Day is on the 31st March - that's this Sunday! ? If you're stuck for gift ideas, why not...

Posted by Cheddar Gorge on Thursday, 28 March 2019

If you enjoy walks, hikes, treks, and other outdoor activities, then Bristol is your ideal travel destination. The town is surrounded by pristine countryside, hills, and woods that you can explore. If you have time for only one trek, then choose Cheddar Gorge for the dramatic cliffs and caverns it offers. Some of the other hills that you can explore include Observatory Hill, Mount Hill, Maes Knoll, Kings Weston Hill, St George’s Hill, and Tynemoor. Plan a visit in May to participate in the town’s month-long walking festival.

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8. A vivid graffiti scene

Source: Visit Bristol
Posted by Banksy bristol on Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What is Bristol famous for? Lots of things, one of which is being home to the famous artist Bansky. Now, Bristol has become synonymous with art and creativity. The iconic Bansky letters, cartoons, and stencils can be found on walls across the city. And, other graffiti artists like Inkie, Sepr, and SPzero76 continue this tradition.

In Nelson Street, you’ll several large-scale murals and Banksy’s famous ‘Hanging Man’ near College Green. Curated walks are the best way to explore the city’s street art scene. You can also plan your visit during Upfest, Europe’s largest street art festival. The biennial event makes a return to Bristol’s streets this summer of 2024, with new street art pieces, exhibits, and workshops for everyone of every age.

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9. Haunted tales

Posted by Haunted & Hidden Bristol Tour on Friday, 2 March 2018

Do you enjoy sitting by a bonfire and swapping ghost stories? Have a yen for the supernatural? Then this is the perfect vacation spot for you. An interesting fact about Bristol is that it’s a city is brimming with stories of hauntings, myths, and legends. The junction at the top of Pembroke Road is said to be haunted by an 18th-century highwayman called Jenkins Protheroe. The Bristol fire station, All Saints House, the Rummer Hotel are some of the many haunted houses in the city. You’ll also find stories of hidden treasure, nefarious murders, gallows, and ghosts.

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10. Bristol Sounds

Bristol Sounds
Source: Visit Bristol
Posted by Bristol Sounds on Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Heavy thumping beats, dark pulsing music, and a fusion of hip hop and electronica - the Bristol Sound is all this more. Technically, Bristol Sound refers to the unique sound evolved by several bands in Bristol during the 1980s and 90s. The Pop Group, Wild Bunch, Massive Attack, Portishead, Smith & Mighty, Pinch, and Julio Bashmore are some of the bands associated with this movement.

Today, it is a five-night mid-summer event by Crosstown Concerts. It is held on the iconic Harbourside in Bristol. This amazing event for all age groups offers different genres including popular music, heritage, indie-rock and electronic. In celebration of its 10th anniversary, Bristol Sounds’s 2024 iteration extends the fun to more than seven days, from 22nd to 30th June.

Bristol Sounds

Address: Lloyd’s Amphitheatre, Bristol, BS1 5LL

Website: Bristol Sounds

Takes place: June

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11. The Downs

The Downs refers to a huge collection of protected limestone downland parkland at the edge of Bristol city. It comprises Clifton Down and Durdham Down. This is the best place in the country for stargazing. On quiet days, it is ideal for a relaxed picnic and late-night walks.

On other periods, however, The Downs plays host to a wide array of activities for everyone. You’ll find plenty of charity runs, circuses, festivals, art events, funfairs, and sponsored abseiling events being held here. Among the hotly anticipated events held on the Downs this 2024 is the homecoming concert of renowned British dance producers Massive Attack on 25th August. The act’s ambitious gig there will follow sustainable practices, with aims to reduce as much carbon footprint as possible.

The Downs

Address: Clifton, Bristol

Website: The Downs

Opening hours: 24/7

Price: Free

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12. Record shops

Posted by Wanted Records on Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Bristol is one of the UK’s most vibrant musical cities. And when visiting the city, you must stop by the famous record stores and buy some albums to remember your trip by. Idle Hands located in the creative hub, Stokes Croft, stocks an eclectic mix and feels like the living room of a bohemian musician. At Wanted Records in St Nicholas Market, you’ll find some offbeat and rare psych, reggae, African, jazz, and soul music. Other popular record stores include Centre For Better Grooves, Prime Cuts, Payback, PK Music Exchange, and Plastic Wax.

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13. Clifton Suspension Bridge

Clifton suspension bridge
Source: Pixabay

The most iconic sight of Bristol, the beautiful Clifton Suspension Bridge was built during 1864. It links Clifton in Bristol to Leigh Woods in North Somerset. Since the bridge opened to the public, it has been funded through tolls. At the Leigh Woods end of the bridge, there is a visitors center where you can learn how the bridge was designed, constructed, and how it is maintained.

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Address: Bridge Rd, Leigh Woods, Bristol BS8 3PA, UK

Website: Clifton Suspension Bridge

Opening hours: 24/7

Price: 1.27 USD toll

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14. Bristol Museums

Bristol Museums consists of Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, M Shed, The Georgian House Museum, The Red Lodge Museum, and Blaise Museum. At the museums, you can learn about national and international archeology as well as the local natural history. The art galleries display works from across art styles and periods. The mummies and 3000-year-old Assyrian Relief wall decoration in the Egyptology gallery is one of their most popular displays.

They also offer multi-week exhibitions, workshops, and drop-in gallery curator talks. There is a mix of free and paid events. Such events include the upcoming display of the Edward Colston statue at M Shed on March 2024. Following its unceremonious removal at the height of Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, the statue returns to public consciousness as part of an exhibit that highlights racial injustice.

Bristol Museums

Website: Bristol Museums

Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 10am - 6pm (closed on Mon)

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15. Fun filled Bristol balloon fiesta (from USD 574.0)

Plan your visit to coincide with the Bristol Balloon Fiesta held in August. This festival is one of the things Bristol is famous for, since it’s Europe’s biggest hot air balloon event with mass launches at sunrise and sunset. The four-day event is a sight to behold: the skyline is dotted with hot air balloons, there are trade stands, fairground rides, and host of other entertainment. Typically, on the first and last day of the event, there are fireworks and a grand celebration.

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Bristol Balloon Fiesta Champagne Flight from Bristol

Duration: 4 hours

26 reviews

Book a seat to Bristol

Bristol is the UK’s most colorful and quirky town. Once you have walked the streets of this historic city, you’ll remember it forever. This culturally-rich city offers plenty of options and even the pickiest travelers are sure to fall in love with it. The best part is that visitors can enjoy the ocean, the exotic countryside, and the vibrant city life - a bit of all world.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Seema Misra is an artist and writer. She has over nine years of experience in various writing fields including instructional design, editing, technical writing, business writing, travel writing,...Read more

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