What to Do in Bristol, UK

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Clifton Rocks Railway

Trace the road that runs along the River Avon and you’ll spot the entrance of this abandoned subterranean funicular tunnel built by entrepreneur George Newnes in 1893 as part of a plan to link his hilltop Clifton Spa with the port below. Its working days were short-lived; by the 1920s cars had made it redundant – that was until the Second World War, when locals took refuge from bombs in the tunnels and the BBC set up an emergency studio in its lower chamber. Since restoration work began in 2008, the site often opens for tours. Check online.

Address

1 Sion Hill, BS8 4DQ

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M Shed

To get an overview of the city, head to M Shed, where a collection of more than 3,000 artefacts tell the story of Bristol through the centuries, including the city’s role in the misery of the slave trade and the story of the Windrush Generation. Highlights include the huge Window on Bristol futuristic mural by Andy Council and Luke Palmer, and Banksy’s Grim Reaper.

Address

Princes Wharf, BS1 4RN

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Bristol Harbour Railway

Breath in a haze of steam on board the Bristol Harbour Railway which first opened in 1872. Today, it runs for just a mile of the original line, though that’s enough to get a feel for Bristol’s great industrial and trading past, with Brunel’s magnificent SS Great Britain serving as a highlight of the journey. Also look out for Brunel’s swing bridges and the massive B Bond Warehouse, built to store tobacco during the boom in the early 20th century.

Address

Wapping Road, BS1 4RN

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Art

Watershed opened in 1982 as the UK’s first dedicated media centre and remains the place to go for arthouse cinema. Across the water, you’ll find Arnolfini, Bristol’s leader in experimental arts for more than 50 years; every installation and exhibition sure to be a talking point.

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Lido

On a warm day, there’s nothing nicer than hanging out at Clifton’s Grade II-listed Victorian Lido built in 1849, hidden away down a leafy residential street. The grand Egyptian entrance will give you a clue to how decadent the place once was, and the heated outside pool is the oldest in the UK. Revamped in 2005, it has a lovely spa, restaurant and bar.

Address

Oakfield Place, BS8 2BJ

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Walking tours

In this city of hills, Bristol offers lots of great walking tours. Bristol Free Walking Tour offers a pay-what-you-like service. These guys will whisk you from Banksy’s Well Hung Lover (which depicts a naked man hanging by his fingertips from a windowsill) to the spot where local boy Cary Grant was born. The Black History walking tour of St Pauls is also one of the best, organised by Bristol Museum.