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Top attractions to visit in Bristol

Bristol, a city steeped in history, is a hub of cultural and artistic richness. The city is home to several world-class museums and galleries, showcasing an array of exhibitions and displays that tell the story of Bristol’s past and its place in the world. In this article, we’ll be exploring the best museums and galleries that should be on every visitor’s list when visiting Bristol.

M Shed

This museum is dedicated to Bristol’s rich social and industrial history, showcasing everything from its maritime heritage to its role as a hub of modern urban life. From steam trains to vintage cars, the museum’s collection provides an insight into the city’s past and its place in the world.

The Georgian House Museum

This elegant townhouse, built in 1790, provides a glimpse into what life was like in Bristol during the Georgian era. The museum’s interior is a mix of opulence and simplicity, showcasing the lifestyle of the upper-class residents of the time. Visitors can explore its rooms, which are still furnished with period pieces, and learn about the city’s history.

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

The museum holds a diverse collection of art and artefacts from around the world, including items from ancient civilisations, natural history, and modern and contemporary art. Visitors can see works by famous artists such as Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh and Auguste Rodin, as well as an extensive collection of local and regional artefacts.

Arnolfini

This contemporary arts centre is one of the most renowned cultural institutions in the South West of England. It presents a diverse program of exhibitions, performances, screenings, and events, showcasing the work of some of the most exciting artists and thinkers of our time. The gallery’s avant-garde architecture and its position on the water’s edge make it a stunning location to spend an afternoon.

The Royal West of England Academy

This prestigious art institution is dedicated to promoting and exhibiting the work of artists from the South West of England. Visitors can see an extensive collection of contemporary art, including paintings, sculpture, and photography, as well as a program of exhibitions, workshops, and talks.

Clifton Suspension Bridge. Photo by Nathan Riley

Clifton Suspension Bridge

The Clifton Suspension Bridge is an iconic landmark, engineering marvel and a symbol of the city. The bridge spans the Avon Gorge and offers breath-taking views of the city and its surroundings. Certainly worth a detour from the city centre to the leafy suburbs of Clifton.

SS Great Britain. Photo by Ben Garratt

SS Great Britain

This historic ship is the brainchild of the legendary engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel and was once the largest and most advanced steamship of its time. Visitors can explore the ship and learn about its fascinating history, including its role as a passenger liner, emigrant ship and more.

Bristol Zoo Gardens

A super attraction for families and home to over 400 species of animals from around the world, including gorillas, meerkats, tigers, and more. Visitors can also explore its lush gardens and learn about the conservation efforts of the zoo.

Bristol Cathedral

Bristol Cathedral

This historic cathedral is one of the oldest and most beautiful in the country, offering visitors a glimpse into the city’s religious heritage. Its stunning stained-glass windows and ornate stone carvings are a must-see.

Bristol Aquarium

This underwater wonderland is home to over 40 different species of marine life, including rays, sharks, seahorses, and more. Visitors can explore its interactive exhibits and learn about the fascinating world of marine life.

Bristol is most definitely one of the bohemian cities in the UK and offers a rich and diverse cultural landscape. From its historic museums and galleries showcasing the city’s past, to its contemporary arts centres presenting the works of some of the most exciting artists and thinkers of our time (Banksy was born here in 1974 and there is plenty of his work on show), visitors will find plenty to see and do in this vibrant city. Whether you’re an art lover or a history buff, Bristol’s museums and galleries are a must-visit for anyone looking to deepen their understanding of this fascinating city.

About the author

Having worked across the heritage and tourism sector for over 10 years, Monty Beaumont is an expert when it comes to discovering new places to visit and great days out for the whole family. 

He has previously worked for the National Trust as a General Manager in Cornwall, coordinated the complex operations of running a castle in Devon and the mastered the intricacies of providing exceptional hospitality and service at some of the finest historic houses in the UK. 

As part of his vision and drive for Monty’s Guide, Monty travels across the country to find new places to visit and explore, and sharing his finding on montysguide.com, which is used by 1,000s of people each week to find their next great day out.

His experience and knowledge of the historic and cultural sector gives him a unique insight into the elements that make tourism and learning so important in our quest to understanding more about our heritage.

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