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Bristol, England Travel Guide

Bristol is on the rise. Abandoned docks have become places of entertainment, historical attractions breathe imagination and a top-notch street art scene brings color and spice. From Clifton’s legendary suspension bridge to Brunels SS Great Britain, steamships and trains, Bristol is a city steeped in history. And it’s exposed in an attractive way too.

Throughout Bristol you will find restaurants that serve ethical, local, and creative cuisine. Visitors can enjoy everything from romantic dinners, a French theme to fabulously affordable gourmet cakes – inexpensive meals with numerous canteens, cafes, and espresso bars are particularly well represented. Here are top must-see attractions in Bristol, England.

Brunels SS Great Britain 

This powerful and innovative steamboat was designed in 1843 by the engineering wizard Isambard Kingdom Brunel. You can walk around the kitchen, the dining room, the surgeon’s quarters and see a huge replica steamboat at work. The highlights are passing under the “sea of glass” on which the ship sits to see the propeller and the rigging of Go Aloft! Climb. The new Being Brunel exhibition has restored the design office where Brunel along with his team worked on the creation of the ship.

M Shed

Located in the middle of Bristol Pier’s famous cranes, this magnificent museum is a treasure trove of memories. It is divided into 4 main sections: Life, Place, People, and large exhibits for working outdoors. They offer a fascinating glimpse into the history of Bristol, from the possessions of slaves and Wallace & Gromit figures to a work of art and a deck game by Banksy. There are regular crane, train, and boat trips from the museum (£2 – £6); more information is available on the website.

Clifton Suspension Bridge

The most photographed and famous landmark in Clifton is the suspension bridge of Clifton which spans the gorges of Avon. It was designed by engineer Isambard Brunel with construction starting in 1836, although before its completion in 1864 Brunel had died. You are free to cross on foot or by bicycle; motorists pay a fee of £ 1. There is a visitor center close to the tower on the west side of Leigh Woods. The free tours of the bridges are excellent.

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

A few surprises await you in this classic and old Edwardian museum. Look for the artwork by famous street artist Banksy Paint-Pot Angel in the lobby; a grave statue with a pot of pink paint over its head is said to question our expectations of museum exhibitions and the value of art. It is also a reminder of the artist’s extremely popular exhibition here in 2009. Directly above is the Bristol Boxkite, a prototype of a double-decker powered by a propeller hanging from the ceiling. 

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