Bristol Tourist Attractions

The city of Bristol is blessed with a huge number of tourist attractions. From its thousands of Grade II and 51 Grade I listed buildings within the city limits to the splendid Tudor mansions situated just on the outskirts of the city center, Bristol is a hobby historian's dream.

Both modern and old tourist attractions serve to make Bristol a favourite with visitors to the UK. It's close proximity to Bath Spa, that ancient Roman marvel and its heritage as one of the UK's most important maritime centers have guaranteed Bristol a place in British history.

Among the highlights of the many Bristol tourist attractions are the Zoo and Gardens, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery on Queen's Road, Blaise Castle House and Museum, Ashton Court Mansion House and gardens, where the international hot air ballooning fiesta is held every year. Other highlights include Bristol Harbour and the annual Harbour Festival as well as Colston Hall, which is the south west region's largest concert venue, not to mention the River Avon, alongside which Bristol was built.

Historical cities of interest located within a short drive of Bristol are the aforementioned Bath Spa, Gloucester and Salisbury in Wiltshire. Among the "out-of-town" Bristol tourist attractions the family favourite Longleat Safari Park outshines even Bristol Zoo and gardens.

Salisbury Cathedral and its adjacent Cathedral Close are right in the heart of the ancient city, which in 1220 was originally called New Sarum, but is now known as Salisbury. Famous as a beautiful ancient monument Salisbury Cathedral also boasts the country's best preserved copy of the four surviving editions of the Magna Carta as well as a large mechanical clock. Installed in Salisbury Cathedral in 1386 it is the oldest surviving mechanical clock in Britain.

A drive to historic Gloucester in Gloucestershire is certainly worth the car rental fee, although it is also possible to travel via National Express coaches to this wonderful place. Boasting many wonderful Grade I and II buildings, Gloucester is located approximately 32 miles/51 km north-east of Bristol and was founded in AD 97 by the Romans. Gloucester was later granted its first charter in 1155 by King Henry II. Apart from the beautiful Gloucester Cathedral the city center also has many medieval and Tudor buildings to offer.

Gloucester Cathedral starred in no fewer than three of the Harry Potter movies, when its corridors stood in for Hogwarts School of Wizardry. The cathedral dates back to 681 and was dedicated to St Peter. A splendid timbered house from 1450 can be found at the New Inn in Northgate Street. It was constructed with massive external galleries and features several courtyards.

Bristol is a perfect example of how the industrial revolution shaped the country and how advances made by Victorian engineering created the Britain we see today. Dedicated to the works of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, arguably Britain's most famous engineer, the National Brunel Archive is housed on the world's first great ocean liner, the SS Great Britain, which Brunel designed and built. Another one of his creations, the Clifton Suspension Bridge, which was built in 1831, also belongs to the highlights of Bristol tourist attractions.

A favourite with visitors of all ages is the At-Bristol 21st century Science and Technology Center, boasting fun and great hands-on activities for kids as well as interactive exhibits for every age to enjoy.

Bristol Zoo and Bristol Aquarium, which is located in the vibrant Harbourside area of the city, also rank highly in visitors affections. From Gorilla Island to the wonderful gardens, play areas, children's assault course and picnic areas, Bristol Zoo has something for everybody's taste.

Berkeley Castle on the outskirts of the city is a well preserved 12th century castle with beautiful gardens, where horticulturists can marvel at the plant collections and children can run free...and what child could ever say no to a trip on the Avon Valley Railway steam train that trundles through the lovely North Somerset countryside?

A drive into the countryside surrounding Bristol takes visitors to two other great tourist attractions: the WWT Slimbridge Wetlands and Center, home to the largest collection of flamingos, geese, ducks and swans this country has to offer and to Avon Gorge, home to several unique plant species. The beautiful area surrounding the gorge is protected and known as the Downs and Leigh Woods. Natural history enthusiasts of all ages will love a day out in the Greater Bristol countryside.

The city of Bristol is situated in a limestone area, which stretches from the Mendip Hills to the south and the Cotswolds to the north east. The rivers Avon and Frome filter through this limestone build-up to the underlying clay layers, creating the city's characteristic hilly landscape, ideal for a drive, followed by a walk and a picnic.

The River Avon runs from Bath Spa in the east, through flood plains and pastures which were marshy before humans began settling in the area now known as Bristol some 60,000 years ago. To the west the force of the river and glacial melt waters from the last ice age created the Avon Gorge as well as the gorge that runs through the Blaise Castle House estate.

For further information on Bristol tourist attractions please visit the official tourist office website at

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