Bristol isn’t a huge city by any stretch of the imagination, but like anywhere new it does take some getting used to. We’ve put together a handy little guide to many of its most important areas, from the waters of the centre to the rebellious tendencies of its surrounding districts.
You’ll likely find yourself here first, so where else to start? Bristol’s Harbourside is positively drowning (maybe not the right word) in history, a living testament to the past, present and future of this city that continues to surprise in a variety of ways. The Floating Harbour itself opened in 1809 and transformed Bristol in the process — the area is now home to many of the city’s best restaurants and bars, not to mention an absolute mass of attractions.
The clue is in the name. Just a short walk from the Harbourside lies Bristol’s Old City, where cobblestones still reign supreme and the majority of the architecture is from a very different time indeed. This is where we love to head once the sun goes down, especially to King Street, while the area is full of churches, castles, parks and towers.
Every city worth its salt has a place like Clifton. The perfect mix of history and gentrification, this ultra-cool area is all Georgian architecture and verdant stretches of natural brilliance, usually punctuated by yet another piece of marvellous engineering. The Clifton Suspension Bridge is the area’s main event, but don’t sleep on its restaurants, its gardens, its shopping and its pubs.
The artistic heart of Bristol. Stokes Croft is real life, where invigorating street art meets the most glaring indictment of Tory austerity, where hipsters and the homeless engage in conversation about just where the hell this country is going. You’ll find some of the city’s best street art here, along with a mass of live music venues and seriously good food — more often than not cooked from the heart by independent establishments. Be aware that Stokes Croft is actually the name of a road and not the area, but it is generally used for everything around this part of town.
More of, well, a road than a district, Gloucester Road is the largest independent shopping street in Europe and therefore demanding of a mention. It runs through St Andrew’s, Bishopston and Horfield, and is quite the experience. The Old Market is nearby.