Bristol, England

Bristol is a city in South West England. It is located 169 km (105 miles) from London, and 39 km (24 miles) from Cardiff. The city center has a population of 420,000 within a larger urban zone of over 1 million people.

Interior of Bristol Cathedral
Author: Adrian Pingstone (public domain)

Bristol is a city, unitary authority area and ceremonial county located around the River Avon in South East England. It also covers the Severn Estuary, which flows into the Bristol Channel. The area has seen human settlement going back into the palaeolithic era. The town traces its history to the beginning of the 11th century. Its name comes from Brycgstow, which means “place at the bridge”.

The location of Bristol makes it an ideal site for a port. As early as the 12th century Bristol was already an important trading port with goods being traded from here to ports in Ireland. It was one of the three largest medieval towns in England by the 14th century. Its growth was interrupted by the Black Death, which exerted a heavy toll on the town.

Bristol began to grow once more in the 17th century, with the growth of trans-Atlantic trade. This is fueled in part by the trade in African slaves. However it faces stiff competition from

Liverpool. The war with France in 1793 along with the abolition of slave trading all had a detrimental impact on Bristol.

Many of the heritage buildings in Bristol were designed by the Victorian era engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who also designed the railway and steamships for Bristol. It was also in Bristol that John Wesley founded the very first Methodist chapel in 1739.

The industrial dock areas of Bristol were redeveloped towards the end of the 20th century, allowing for the staging of the International Festival of the Sea. The dockside is now being turned into a recreational precinct of the city.

Budget Travel to Bristol

By Plane

Bristol International Airport is located 8 miles to the southwest of downtown. Budget travelers should be pleased that it is a hub for low-cost carriers such as Easyjet and Ryanair.

To leave the airport, you can take the Bristol Flyer, a bus that takes you from the airport to the city center. The journey takes around 40 minutes with the bus running at 15-minute intervals. The fate is £6.00 one way or £9.00 return.

By Train

The Bristol Temple Meads Railway Station is just 15 minutes from the city center on foot. There are train services from many major cities in Britain including

Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Plymouth, Southamption and York.

By Bus

The two main bus companies,

National Express and MegaBus have coach services between Bristol and most major cities in Britain. Of the two, the budget-class MegaBus is cheaper but takes longer (by about half an hour).

Budget Travel within Bristol

You should explore the Harbourside and Old Quarter areas of Bristol on foot. Some parts of this area is quite attractive.

Photos of Bristol

St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol
Author: Robert Brewer (Creative Commons Attribution 1.0 Generic)

Places of Interest in Bristol

  1. Corn Exchange
    18th century building in the Bristol market area.
  2. St John’s Gate
    entrance to Broad Street with medieval statues of Bristol’s founders.
  3. Christmas Steps
    Steep steps lined with specialty shops and cafés.
  4. Chapel of the Three Kings
    16th century chapel in the Old Quarter of Bristol.
  5. St Nicholas Market
    Glass shopping arcade with plenty of delicatessens.
  6. Llandoger Trow
    Inn where Daniel Defoe met his inspiration for the novel Robinson Crusoe
  7. Theatre Royal
    18th century theater in Bristol.
  8. Arnolfini
    A performing arts center in Bristol.
  9. At-Bristol
    A discovery center with an IMAX theater and wildlife center.
  10. Clifton Suspension Bridge
    19th-century bridge across the Avon gorge.
  11. Bristol Zoo Gardens
    The fifth oldest zoo in the world and the oldest outside a capital.
  12. St Mary Redcliffe
    14th-century church in Bristol.
  13. SS Great Britain
    The world’s first large iron passenger ship launched in 1843.
  14. British Empire & Commonwealth Museum
    Museum in the 1841 railway terminus showcasing the history of the British empire and the modern Commonwealth.
  15. Bristol Blue Glass Factory and Shop

    A glass workshop with a 350-year-old history.

  16. City Museum and Art Gallery
    Museum with collection that ranges from Egyptology to dinosaur fossils to the largest collection of Chinese glass outside of China.
  17. Bristol Cathedral
    Cathedral that dates back to the 12th century.

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