Attractions near Bristol - ideas for daytrips from Bristol
Bristol, while a versatile tourist destination itself, is also a great base for exploring the surrounding area in southern England (Devon and Somerset) as well as in Wales, across the Bristol Channel.
Related articles: What to see in Bristol.
The city benefits from a well-developed network of transportation links - motorways and railways - so whether you are on a self-drive holiday in Bristol or move around by train or buses, a variety of fascinating locations can be visited in Bristol area.
Bath - wealth of historic heritage
Just a 15 minutes train ride from Bristol (Temple Mead Station), Bath is an obvious choice of a Bristol daytrip destination.
Bath, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is best known for the spectacular Roman Baths complex. Bath is the only place in Britain where the phenomenon of natural hot springs can be observed; its thermal spring was considered sacred by Celts and Romans who worshiped there the goddess Sulis-Minerva. Romans developed in Bath a large bathing complex which included the main tank (Great Bath), smaller tanks used in different stages of the bathing routine (i.e.: caldarium, tepidarium and frigidarium) and a temple. Roman Baths site includes also a museum boasting an interesting collection of the spa-related artefacts from the Roman era.
The baths complex was redeveloped on many occasions and today also the 18th century Grand Pump Room can be visited.
Bathing is not allowed in the historical baths, but for visitors who would like to experience the healing powers of geothermal waters and, in general get pampered a bit, a modern spa complex -Thermae Bath Spa is just round the corner from Bath’s most famous sight.
The spa attracted prominent and wealthy of the English society to Bath, which saw its greatest development in the 18th century, when elegant residential areas were created to cater for the sophisticated visitor’s needs. The circle-shaped Georgian complex known as the Circus and the semi-circular Royal Crescent are the most important architectural landmarks of Bath. To get an idea of the opulence of the Georgian mansions visit the No. 1 Royal Crescent museum.
Do not miss out on other museums in Bath city centre:
- Jane Austen Centre
- Bath Fashion Museum
- Ora at Labora Heritage / Bath Abbey Visitor Centre
- The Holburne Museum
An hour and a half drive away from Bristol (2.5 h if you opt for public buses) Stonehenge is one of the most popular attractions in the South of England. The famous stone circle, of a function still not fully understood today, is a part of a larger Neolithic complex dating back to 3000 BC. Apart from the monumental stone structure which is linked to ancient sun worship and burial rituals you can see during your Stonehenge visit several barrows (or burial mounds) and a collection of Bronze Age artefacts.
Spend some time in the Stonehenge visitor centre to get familiar with both the historical findings and scientific theories regarding this puzzling place; without even the shortest introduction and lacing yourself in the historical context, Stonehenge may seem just a “pile of stones” and a slightly disappointing experience after a long drive from Bristol.
Salisbury - Cathedral and Old Sarum
A trip to Stonehenge can be easily combined with a visit to the historic city Salisbury (or the other way round). Stonehenge is located approx. 9 miles north of Salisbury and both locations and both road (bus) and railway links are available.
Salisbury is known for its monumental cathedral dating back to the 13th century. One of the greatest attractions of the Salisbury Cathedral (apart from the imposing early Gothic architecture) is one of the forth original copies of the Magna Carta, a royal charter issued by King John of England in 1215 safeguarding privileges, rights and liberties of the clergy and the nobles.
The original site of the first Salisbury settlement, known as Old Sarum is also worth a visit. The ruins of a walled town, a castle and the first city’s cathedral are located approx. 3 miles north of Salisbury city centre.
Longleat – a family attraction near Bristol
The Longleat estate is a seat of the Marquesses of Bath and, at the same time, home to one of the most popular tourist attractions for children in South West England: the Longleat Safari & Adventure Park.
Comprising an area of around 9000 acres, the Longleat park is a home to a large variety of exotic animal species. With the animals roaming freely in the designated areas, rather than being kept in cages, Longleat was the first safari park outside of Africa. Apart from the interaction with animals, the park offers a range of other activities for children, amongst them fun rides and other unusual attractions, as for example, the great hedge maze.
See Longleat park promotional video:
For a slightly different kind of an experience, visit the Longleat House, one of England’s greatest stately homes open for public. Built in the 16th century, the Longleat House is showcase of the finest Elizabethan architecture, and a comprehensive museum collection allowing the visitors an insight into the life of the British aristocracy. Landscaped gardens belonging to the property are also open for visitors.
Find more information on Longleat House opening hours and tickets.
Cotswolds - nature and history
Declared the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Cotswolds region, some 60 miles northeast of Bristol, is known for its picturesque villages and beautiful landscapes. The most characteristic feature of the Cotswold cottages is the architecture based on the use of yellow limestone quarried locally.
The Cotswold area is also rich in historic heritage – manor houses, abbeys, churches and museum, bearing, in particular, witness to the English Civil War.
The Cotswolds can be accessed via the M5 motorway from Bristol
Cardiff – the capital of Wales only an hour away from Bristol
Take advantage of Bristol’s great transportation links to visit the city of Cardiff, across the Bristol Channel. Train ride from Bristol (Temple Meads Station) to Cardiff takes about an hour. Just about the same time is needed to reach the Welsh capital from Bristol by car, via the M4 motorway.
See map of Bristol Channel (Mouth of the Severn) area.
Architecture landmark, both historic and modern, amongst them: Cardiff Castle, Llandaff Castle, the Pierhead Building, the Wales Millennium Centre and the Millennium Stadium.
Get a glimpse of a Cardiff sightseeing experience: