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How To Spend 24 Hours In Bristol

Bristol is one of those cities that never fails to excite me. When I think I have seen it all and been everywhere there is to go, I discover something new - whether that be a new piece of street art that captures my imagination or a café that feels like it was basically designed with me in mind.

So, given my love for Bristol, when I was looking for an airport to fly from for our trip to Mallorca, there really was only one option. And that option was very much fuelled by my secret intention of turning the entirety of the day before our flight into an excuse to explore Bristol with Ava and stretch out our holiday just that little bit further. And, honestly, I am glad that I did.

What to see and do

Bristol is the kinda place where you can either fill your whole trip with visits to awesome tourist attractions or you can plan absolutely nothing and still have a great time either way. One of my favourite things to do in Bristol is just wander around and take everything in - from the harbour to the backstreets where the walls are filled with interesting street art to the colourful houses that line the horizon. But if you would like to visit Bristol with some kind of plan in place as to how you will pass the time you're there, I have a few suggestions for you.

We The Curious
We The Curious (aka Bristol Planetarium as it is formerly known) is an absolutely amazing place to visit - both for adults and for kids. It is a science museum but it is almost entirely interactive with so many interesting exhibits and, of course, a planetarium. I haven't been back there for ages (I went all the time as a kid) but everyone on Instagram seemed to say it has only gotten better when I asked for recommendations of things to do in Bristol. You can buy tickets for just the planetarium itself or a full day pass - the prices online seem to be dependent on when you are visiting so be sure to check them out there first for the best deal.

Bristol Aquarium
In all honesty, I was in two minds as to whether to include this but, I think, I would still recommend visiting the aquarium if maybe it is rainy outside or you have young kids. I paid £16 for my ticket (could have been £14 if I had booked online) and Ava went in for free. Honestly, the aquarium was a bit smaller than I was expecting but Ava absolutely loved it so I would say it was worth it just to see her enjoy it so much. They had a few large tanks with a wide variety of species of fish and some open tanks in the rainforest style area that homed things like rays, eels, and the cutest baby turtles you ever saw. I'd say, if you want to get your money's worth, make sure you find out the times of the feedings and talks as we attended one of the feedings of an open top tank and it was really interesting and engaging. Also as your ticket allows you to come and go as you wish, you could return for different talks throughout the day.

Bristol Zoo
I have been to Bristol Zoo more times than I can count but it still manages to fill up a whole day and provide me with something new and interesting to see and do every time. Bristol Zoo is located in Clifton which is a quieter - and very fancy - suburb of Bristol and the zoo itself is lovely. The animals always look well looked after and healthy as well as having enough space in their enclosures. Bristol Zoo is also a charity so the money they make from people visiting the zoo goes straight back into conservation and bettering the lives of the animals. And they have a pretty sweet gift shop too. An adult ticket costs £13 or you can opt to add on a donation which brings it up to £15.

Wander around
Yes, I am going strong with the wandering around recommendation but for good reason - there is so much to see in Bristol that you can only really experience by foot. There is the harbourside (which I often frequented pre-marriage-to-Isaac because I was seeing a guy who had a flat by the water - lemme tell you, those flats are fancy) and there are often stalls that line the street down towards the harbour selling little nick nacks and vintage clothes. On the other side of town, there is the indoor market and they sometimes have a little street market around there too. That part of the city is so full of character and is absolutely gorgeous. And everywhere you look, you are likely to come across some form of street art or interesting mural. Honestly, this is a city made for artists and creatives.

Where to eat
Now on to the actual important bit - the food! Bristol should honestly be renamed the vegan capital of the UK. There is so much variety of vegan and veggie options but also a great deal of delicious grub for those looking to hunt down a juicy burger or meat feast pizza.

The Florist
When I was planning mine and Ava's day out in Bristol, I came across The Florist on Instagram and immediately vowed that I would visit it - one way or another. Luck would have it that Ava chose to take her nap as soon as we exited the bus from the train station and arrived in town. That gave me a good hour to hot foot it up the hill to The Florist, sit down, slyly take some pictures without anyone noticing, feast on delicious goodies, and get out of there all before Ava opens her eyes. And I kinda managed it! And, lemme tell you, this place was fully worth the effort it took to actually pull off this MI5 heist style task. Every corner of this restaurant was beautifully decorated - my head was on a permanent swivel. It was quite fancy though so I am glad I went when Ava was asleep as I don't think its the kinda place that would love a screaming toddler throwing cutlery here, there, and everywhere. And the food - it was insane! I only wanted a snack so I opted for the sherbet mini donuts with peanut butter fudge and a chocolate dipping sauce. It was so unusual! The donuts were crunchy and fizzy and the sauce was amazing (but you can't go far wrong with chocolate tbf). But the absolute queen of the dish was the peanut butter fudge. It was really smooth and light and basically just tasted like sweet lumps of peanut butter. Absolutely heavenly.

Food market
This is my absolute favourite food spot in Bristol. Located beside the harbour, every Thursday there is a street food market that has a range of stalls selling delicious grub. I have been there a few times and have never been disappointed. The first time, I opted for this delicious beef brisket roll that came with pickles and horseradish sauce and it was just insanely good. Isaac can also vouch for the paella he had. The second time, I went for this Hungarian stew that came with fried potato pancakes and coleslaw - also amazing. There are so many options for all tastes - everything from vegan to hog roast can be found there - and so many different cuisines from across the globe too. Expect to spend around £7 and take cash (although some stalls have card machines).

Other recommendations
As I haven't actually eaten at a huge amount of places in Bristol other than chain restaurants (Wok To Walk is bae), I took to Instagram to get a few more recommendations and I got quite a big response. Three Brothers Burgers was recommended by a few people and, from the look of their website, I can see why. Could really go for a big, juicy burger right now. Another place that people seem to love is Pinkmans Bakery for their homemade donuts (need I go on?). I almost went there on my last trip to Bristol but opted for The Florist instead.

Where to stay
Right, let me be honest here, most of our trips to Bristol have either been day trips as we only live about an hour away or passing through trips on the way to Cardiff or Bristol Airport. When we have stayed in Bristol, we have opted for a Travelodge (which wasn't bad but I don't think it had breakfast #heartbroken) or Forge Accommodation for a cheap airport stay before an early flight. So, I don't have many recommendations of cute boutique hotels in Bristol. But, thankfully, Google does. After a little snooping around, I found a couple of places that look great. Now I can't vouch for how good they actually are but they sure do look cute in the pictures (do it for the gram if nothing else).

Bristol Harbour Hotel & Spa
The luxury one. Averaging around the £110 mark for an overnight stay - but looks like it would be perfect for a special occasion like an anniversary trip or something. And the food on their insta looks incredible too.

Mercure Grand Hotel
The fancy mid-range one. Averaging around £80+ per night, this hotel offers a bit of fanciness at a slightly more affordable price. Honestly, I am sold on Mercure hotels - they are possibly my favourite for a slightly more luxurious stay without breaking the bank.

Future Inn
The cheap and cheerful one. Central location and not too pricey. Deffo worth checking out.

Hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know your favourite things to do in Bristol.

You may also enjoy:
Cardiff Travel Guide
Things To Do In And Around Exeter
My Favourite Independent Coffee Shops In Exeter
A Local's Guide To Visiting Devon
My Top 5 Things To Do In Edinburgh

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