On the borders of Gloucestershire and Somerset, Bristol has harmoniously blended its mercantile roots with an innovative, modern culture, fuelled by technology-based industries, a large student population and a lively arts and media community. As well as its vibrant nightlife, the city’s sights range from medieval churches to cutting-edge attractions highlighting its scientific achievements.
Weaving through its centre, the River Avon forms part of a system of waterways that made Bristol a great inland port, in later years booming on the transatlantic trafficking of rum, tobacco and slaves. In the nineteenth century the illustrious Isambard Kingdom Brunel laid the foundations of a tradition of engineering, creating two of Bristol’s greatest monuments – the SS Great Britain and the lofty Clifton Suspension Bridge.
Opened in 2011, the superb M-Shed, housed in an old harbourside transit shed, is Bristol’s first museum dedicated to itself, past and present. It’s an enjoyable, unashamedly populist survey, full of memorabilia and anecdotes and casting light on everything from the city’s mercantile history and its role in the transatlantic slave trade to its festivals and street-life. Head out to the long terrace for fantastic harbour views.