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A Family’s Guide to Free and Budget-Friendly Attractions in Bristol

When it comes to cultural diversity, beautiful landscapes, and bustling urban life, Bristol takes the cake in England. If you’re planning a trip and looking for an array of things to do in Bristol, you’re in for a treat.

This lively city offers a great balance between historic allure and modern entertainment, perfect for explorers of all ages and interests. Dive into the treasure troves of a free museum in Bristol, discover cheap things to do in Bristol, and create unforgettable memories during family days out in Bristol. With the many fun and free things to do in Bristol, your itinerary will be brimming with excitement and enchantment.

This blog post will guide you through the best activities in Bristol, helping you curate your perfect trip.

Things to Do in Bristol

  • Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
  • Clifton Suspension Bridge
  • St Nicholas Market
  • Bristol Cathedral
  • King Street
  • Avon Valley Railway
  • Cabot Tower
  • Blaise Castle
  • The Downs
  • Haunted and Hidden Tour
  • S.S Great Britain

things to do in bristol

1. Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

Address: Queens Rd, Bristol BS8 1RL

Opening Times: 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Sunday

Explore the last billion years of Earth history, art, and nature on display at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. Situated in Clifton, the museum’s origins can be traced back to 1823. Sir Charles Robert Cockerell designed the neoclassical building. Today, it houses collections brought together more than 200 years ago.

The collection ranges from art and archaeology to industry, history and nature. You can view collections such as the Bristol Dinosaur, Chinese Ceramics of the Yuan and Ming Dynasty, Australian Art and others. Entry is free, but you must book a time slot in advance to guarantee entry into the museum and art gallery.

2. Clifton Suspension Bridge

Address: Bristol BS3 2JX

Opening Times: 24 hours a day, all year

Spanning the River Avon and Avon Gorge, the Clifton Suspension Bridge links Clifton and LeighWoods. Opened in 1864, the suspension bridge has been a toll bridge. Designed by John Hawkshaw and William Henry Barlow, it’s a Grade I Listed building and forms part of the B3129 road.

The idea of building the bridge originated in 1753. Plans were to build a stone bridge, but they revised the design and built a suspension bridge. The bridge is a distinctive landmark and appears on postcards, and websites promoting Bristol. It has also been a backdrop for several films and TV shows and a venue for the modern bungee jump in 1979.

The bridge is open 24 hours a day all year long. It’s free of charge for pedestrians and cyclists, but motor vehicles have to pay a £1 toll.

3. St Nicholas Market

Address: The Corn Exchange, Corn St, Bristol BS1 1JQ

Opening Times: 9.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday

Explore the historic architecture and quirky stalls at the vibrant St Nicholas Market in Bristol. Located in the heart of the old city, the market has the largest collection of independent retailers. Also known as “St Nicks,” the indoor market is home to over 60 retailers.

The market has been trading since 1743 and is home to a variety of businesses selling records, books, and gifts. At the Exchange Hall, you’ll find an array of stalls selling hot sauce, jewellery and others. A visit to the market is not complete without visiting the Glass Arcade eateries. Here you can find delicious food and drinks.

things to do in bristol

4. Bristol Cathedral

Address: College Green, Bristol BS1 5TJ

Opening Times: 8am to 6pm, Monday to Saturday

The Bristol Cathedral is the Church of England cathedral in Bristol. Built from 1220 to 1877, the cathedral is one of England’s medieval churches. Consecrated in 1148, they built it in the Romanesque style similar to the Notre Dame in Paris. Originally, it was St Augustine’s Abbey, but after the Dissolution of Monasteries, it became the seat of Bishop of Bristol in 1542.

The Grade I Listed building features pinnacle skyline and tall Gothic Windows. On the Eastern end, you’ve a hall church with aisles the same height as the Lierne vaults. The South of the transept contains the first pointed arches in England. It also has a historic organ and several memorials. Entry is free, but a donation of £5 is highly appreciated.

things to do in bristol

5. King Street

Address: King Street, Bristol, BS1 4EP

Opening Times: Open all year round

King Street is a 17th-century street lying South of the old town hall. Laid out in 1650, the north side of the street was first developed followed by the southern side in 1693. There are several historic buildings along the street. They include Llandoger Trow, the Old Duke, St Nicholas’ Almshouses, Number 6, Old Library and many more.

Before leaving King Street, we recommend visiting the King Street Brew House. This is an urban style pub with its own micro-brewery where they create cask and keg beers. The site is walk-in only and has a basement for parties or watching live sports. They also serve rustic 14-inch pizzas prepared with the freshest ingredients.

6. Avon Valley Railway

Address: Bitton Station, Bath Road, Bitton Bristol, BS30 6HD

Opening Times: 9.30am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm, Saturday to Sunday

Visit the beautifully restored Victorian station at Bitton and take a ride in a heritage cottage. Opened in 1869, the Avon Valley Railway was a thorough route between the South Coast and Birmingham. It was later linked to the Dorset and Somerset railway. Sadly, they closed it under the Beeching Axe of the 1960s.

More than 40 years later, a bunch of volunteers restored three miles of track, carriages and locomotives. Today, you can hear the sound of steam engines once again along the Avon Valley.

7. Cabot Tower

Address: Brandon Hill Park, Park St, Bristol BS1 5RR

Opening Times: 8am to 5.15pm, Monday to Sunday

Situated in a public park on Brandon Hill is the Cabot Tower. Built in the 1890s, the tower commemorates the 400th anniversary of John Cabot’s journey from Bristol to Canada. They laid the tower’s foundation stone in June 1897 and completed it in 1898. A lift was originally planned for the tower but was never installed.

The tower is 105 feet high and consists of a spiral case and two viewing platforms. Supported by diagonal buttresses, the tower has an octagonal spirelet top with a carved winged figure and ball finial. Entry is free.

8. Blaise Castle

Address: Kings Weston Rd, Bristol BS10 7QS

Opening Times: 7.30am to 8.15pm, Monday to Friday

Blaise Castle is a 650 acre Grade II listed parkland built-in 1766 near Henbury, Bristol. Built for John Harford, they opened the castle in 1798, which was first inhabited by Neolithic farmers. But there is definitive evidence for Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman activity.

The site has several features such as the Blaise Castle House Museum, Blaise Hamlet, Blaise Castle and plant nursery. Other facilities include a children’s play area, café, picnic areas, one cricket pitch, lily pond and even a grassed space for sport. Entry is free, but on major event days, they restrict admission.

9. The Downs

Address: Stoke Rd, Bristol BS9 1FG

Opening Times: 8am to 5pm, all year round

Near the English Channel off the east Kent coast in the southern North Sea is a roadstead called The Downs. In 1639, a Spanish fleet got destroyed by the Dutch navy during the Battle of the Downs.

During World War I, German destroyers made frequent raids against ships. However, Royal Navy vessels patrolled the area and discouraged counterattacks. Today, cross Channel ferries and other ships seek shelter at the Downs.

The Downs consists of Durdham Down and Clifton Down. Together, they represent protected parkland within walking distance of major attractions.

10. Haunted and Hidden Tour

Opening Times: Every Friday at 8pm

Learn about the darker side of Bristol thanks to the Haunted and Hidden walking tour. This entertaining and informative tour won the 2021 Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence. The tour takes visitors to some of Bristol’s creepier and darker historical locations.

It features a visit to Bristol’s famous Haunted Cinema, the 16tth century Haunted House and other TV and filming locations. You also get to hear about Clifton’s ghostly Dwarf Highwayman, see where a cook chased a ghost and more. The tour departs from Bristol Cathedral every Friday night at 8pm.

11. S.S Great Britain

Address: Great Western Dockyard, Gas Ferry Rd, Bristol BS1 6TY

Opening Times: 10am to 4.30pm, Thursday to Sunday

The S.S Great Britain is one of the iconic museum ships in the UK. The former passenger steamship was the longest passenger ship worldwide between 1845 and 1854. Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, it had a displacement of 3,400 tons and is 322 ft(98m) in length.

Formerly powered by two inclined 2 cylinder engines, they launched it in 1843. But the high cost of running the ship forced the owners out of business. In 1852, they sold the ship for salvage and repairs.

Later, she carried thousands of immigrants to Australia between 1852 to 1881, but now she is part of the National Historic Fleet. The museum ship attracts between 150,000 to 200,000 visitors annually. Entry is free, but you’ve to book a time slot in advance.


Bristol’s rich tapestry of history, culture, and modern vibrancy makes it an ideal destination for a diverse range of interests and budgets. From its multitude of free museums in Bristol to cheap things to do in Bristol, there’s a match for everyone, especially those travelling on a budget.

Furthermore, with countless options for family days out in Bristol, you can ensure that every family member, no matter their age, will find something that tickles their fancy. As this post has demonstrated, the range of fun things to do in Bristol is almost endless. It’s not just about ticking off the tourist hotspots but truly immersing yourself in the city’s spirit through a myriad of activities in Bristol.

So, go ahead and plan your visit to Bristol, a city that effortlessly combines tradition and innovation, promising a unique and memorable experience.

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