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.

Bristol is also part of the Great West Way route – find out more about outdoor activities and tips for your stay.

Colourful houses in Bristol

Colourful houses in Bristol - © Shutterstock


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.

Planning your own trip? Prepare for your trip

Use Rough Guides' trusted partners for great rates

Rough Guides Editors

written by
Rough Guides Editors

updated 07.07.2021

Ready to travel and discover

Get support from our local experts for
stress-free planning & worry-free travels

Plan my trip ⤍