With the weather hotting up for summer, it’s the perfect time to get outdoors and explore somewhere new - and where better than the maritime city of Bristol?
Float over historic landmarks in a hot air balloon, discover world class artists, and enjoy live music as you dine al fresco on the city’s cobbled streets. Enjoy one of the many green picnic spots or even have an outdoor swim. Bristol in the summer is simply magical.
Check out our list of our favourite things to do in Bristol in the summertime.
Bob along on a Bristol boat
One of the best ways to see the beauty of Bristol is from the sea, especially when the sun is shining! The waterways around which Bristol is built are one of the city’s best assets, filled with leisure craft, both big and small.
Bristol Ferry Boats operate waterbus services throughout the year, letting you jump on and off as you please. If you want something a little different, try the Wildlife Gorge trip which features stunning views of the Avon Gorge, soaring falcons and a running commentary from a BBC broadcaster. Or, if you’re feeling peckish, hop on board the Cream Tea Cruise, where you will enjoy a 1 hour and 45 minute voyage of the historic harbour complete with delicious Cream Tea on board…yum!
Climb Cabot Tower
Anyone who’s visited Bristol will tell you it’s a very hilly city. Not only good for the calves, the hills of Bristol present many opportunities for panoramic views of the entire city. One of the best of these can be found at the top of Cabot Tower in Bristol’s oldest park. Set in the stunning parkland of Brandon Hill, the 105ft Cabot Tower was built in 1897 and has attracted visitors with its unbeatable views ever since. Climb the steep, spiral staircase to the top to view the entire city, harbour and all.
While you’re in Brandon Hill park it’s worth spending some time enjoying the grounds. With a children’s play area, lovely garden paths and a nature conservation area, it’s a great place to take a picnic on a sunny afternoon.
Splash about at the Clifton Lido
Clifton is a very popular spot in Bristol. As well as boasting the most picturesque shopping quarter in town, it’s home to one of the best things to do in Bristol in the summer; the lido. Complete with sauna, steam room and award-winning restaurant, this is a fantastic place to come for a bit of a splash about in the summer months.
Once you’ve had a swim, take a stroll around the Clifton area and admire the wonderful Georgian architecture. Browse the up-market independent shops and boutiques and stop off at one of the cafés for a coffee and enjoy a slice of cake on the pavement while you watch the world go by.
Ride in a Hot Air Balloon
For something you’ll really want to brag to your friends about, fly up, up and away in a hot air balloon and take part in one of Bristol’s most famous sporting activities.
Bristol has long been known as the hot air ballooning capital of the UK, so there’s no better place to take to the skies. Choose a romantic ride for two, or book to fly in Europe’s biggest ballooning event, the International Bristol Balloon Fiesta (held in August each year). Either way, you’ll be able to get the best views of Bristol and the surrounding countryside as you drift above the city. Get up early for a dawn flight or book at sunset for an incredible colour-filled sky; gaze at panoramic views in an experience that you’ll never forget.
Go on a Graffiti walk
Home to one of the world’s greatest, most well-known street artists, it comes as no surprise that Bristol is covered in graffiti. In fact, as you stroll the streets of Bristol in the summer sunshine, you’ll struggle to miss Banksy’s artistic influence. Cutting-edge pieces of graffiti art decorate its streets, underpasses, back-alleys, bridges, and almost every available surface in the city. For the largest and most diverse selection, you must visit Stokes Croft, or why not book onto one of the city’s popular street art walking tours?
If you’re looking for the best of the best, head to Dean Lane skatepark in Bedminster, or if you’re feeling brave, take a look beneath the M32 flyover at the ‘halls of fame’. It’s these places that local and visiting artists are free to spend time creating impressive pieces, just for the love of it.
Enjoy the Harbour Festival
Invading the harbourside annually, from the amphitheatre to College green, the Harbour Festival is a three-day bonanza! For 2018, the festival will run from 20 – 22 July and will showcase the city’s nautical history. Discover seven areas including dance, music, children's activities, a busy on-water programme and phenomenal circus performances, there’s something for all ages!
Music takes place at several locations including the Queen Square stage, Cascade Steps and SS Great Britain. If you’re visiting Bristol with kids, College Green offers an array of child-friendly activities including storytelling, creative activities, face painting and interactive performances.
It wouldn’t be a festival without great food and drinks, and you’ll be pleased to hear there will be a range of festival markets and food stalls offering visitors a choice of culinary delights
Pedal the Bristol to Bath cycle path
With it being so hilly, you might not expect that Bristol was the UK’s first ‘cycling city’. But it’s a great place to get on two wheels. Why not venture a little further than Bristol by cycling the Bristol to Bath cycle path? Beginning in the Old Market area, a short distance from Temple Meads Station, the flat path follows the route of an old train line through serene countryside, for a very manageable 13 miles. Keep an eye out for woodpeckers, cormorants, kingfishers and herons as you cycle by!
You can discover fascinating history, stop off in little towns, go for a stroll down one of the connecting walks and trails, or refresh and refuel in one of the delightful country pubs along the way. Once you arrive in Bath, explore the beautiful spa town, cycle back to Bristol or jump on the train with your bike if you can’t face any more pedalling!
Whatever summer activity you choose to do in Bristol, you’re guaranteed a wonderful time! Don’t forget CrossCountry can take you to Bristol from all over the UK so take advantage of Advance tickets and save money, even on the day of travel, up to 15 minutes before departure.
Check out our handy Bristol destination guide for more information on how to explore this exciting town.