I was recently contacted by the lovely team at GoEuro, who’ve challenged bloggers to show their readers how to visit their home cities ‘like a local’.

At first I couldn’t decide where to focus on. I’m currently based close to both historical Bath and hip Bristol, so should I pick one of those great cities, or go back to my roots and share my fave haunts from my birth city, London?

In the end I decided to choose Bristol, as London already get lots of love and as much as Bath is architecturally stunning and has its spas, Georgian and Roman heritage, I personally feel that Bristol offers visitors a lot more variety in what to see or do.

So, with no further ado, here’s my guide to experiencing 48hrs in Bristol like a local.

48 hours in Bristol – Like a Local

What to do in Bristol

Hmm, so 48 hours to explore Bristol, what to choose?! Well the three places I visit more than anywhere else have to be Bristol Zoo, the SS Great Britain and We The Curious (formely known as At Bristol).

The world’s oldest provincial zoo, you can spend at least half a day wandering around Bristol Zoo Gardens, getting up close and personal to all the wonderful creatures and discovering the great conservation work they do. I particularly adore the gorilla enclosure, as it has a glass floor that allows you to look up at the gorillas eating, playing or just having a snooze above you.

If you get visit in the summer look out for the zoo’s special ‘twilight’ opening sessions as these allow you to come see the nocturnal creatures when they are active. It also holds outdoor cinema nights – I loved watching The Goonies there!

SS Great Britain was essentially the world’s first great ocean liner and changed history. Today it’s open to the public to explore as a museum, allowing you to learn about the adventures it took and find out more about its extraordinary engineer creator, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. There are often special themed events taking place on the ship, such as a chance to climb the rigging, attend a Victorian circus or even enjoy a three-course meal onboard in the first class dining saloon!

SS Great Britain Credit: Adam Gasson
Image credit: Adam Gasson

Then, my absolute favourite attraction in Bristol has to be We The Curious (formerly known as At-Bristol). This place is essentially an interactive science museum; with hundreds of experiments you can try out covering topics like the human body, food and planet Earth. It’s fun for small and big kids alike. Upstairs you can visit the UK’s only 3D planetarium, which offers some pretty wild shows, plus for the artistic types you can try your hand at creation your very own animated film in the Aardman-sponsored area. They also have adult-only nights, each of which explores a different scientific theme. Just writing about it now is making me want to go back!

Just so you know though, there’s so much more you could check out if you have the time. While you’re at the zoo for example, wander over and see the amazing Clifton Suspension Bridge – another of Brunel’s magnificent works.

Clifton Suspension Bridge, Clifton, Bristol.

Also, be sure to just spend time wandering Bristol’s streets – especially in the Stokes’ Croft area of the city, for a chance to see the best of Bristol’s famous street art scene. Bristol was the home to Banksy, don’t you know, and you can see a lot of his earlier pieces of work all over the city!

For more inspiration, be sure to check out my post 15 Epic Things To Do In Bristol.


Where to eat in Bristol

Of course you can find all the big chains around the city, especially in the big shopping areas like Cabot Circus, but two favourite spots for locals to dine are St Nicholas’ and Wapping Wharf.

Along the streets surrounding St Nicholas’ Market (a great spot to visit for some independent shopping too btw!) are some less well known chains and independent restaurants. For great meals that won’t break the bank try out the local Cosy Club, Pata Negra for tapas, or my absolutely favourite Bristol restaurant: Pho!

But if you want to make the meal something special, I recommend going for Bristol’s best Italian, San Carlo or speciality steak restaurant The Ox. Unbelievably, all these amazing places are within a five-minute walk from each other – at most!

Wapping Wharf is a new addition to the harbourside area and is a foodie hotspot where you can find a range of independent eateries housed in old shipping containers. Cool huh? Reminds me of my special spot in Kalamaja, Tallinn – Depoo. Here’s where Bristolians come for – amongst other things, the freshest local sausages, tasty Somerset cider and artisan fish and chips.

Pigsty wapping wharf

Finally, I can’t talk about the locals’ Bristol without mentioning Za Za Bazaar. This place might not be the classiest of joints, but it’s huge, fun, filling – and bloody cheap! Za Za Bazaar is an all you can eat restaurant in a huge, long hall styled like an Asian night market with large neon lights. For around £15 per person (depending on what day, and time of day you go) you have free run of the restaurant, which includes dishes from around the world. There’s Indian, Chinese, Thai, Italian and Japanese to name but a few, with chefs available to make you up your very own stir fries and one stand dedicated solely to desserts.

Locals’ tip – this is the place to go on Mondays, as ‘Monday Madness’ deals include dinner for £9.99 per person and they often have 2-4-1 deals.

The best afternoon tea in Bristol?

As I’m a total afternoon tea addict I couldn’t possibly give you my personal guide to Bristol without mentioning some of the best places to stop off for afternoon tea, could I? With all this walking I’m getting you to do, I believe you totally deserve that scone, right?!

Well, two of my personal hot spots are the beautiful Hotel du Vin, found in the bustling city centre and The Bristol, down on the harbourside. Both The Bristol and Hotel du Vin offer a great afternoon tea spread – as you’ll see from our recent reviews, so I personally think the best way to pick which to visit, is by the setting you’d prefer.

afternoon tea at Hotel du vin Bristol | Ladies What Travel
G&T for dessert anyone?

Hotel du Vin is set in an old sugar house dating back to 1798, so if you’re after rustic wooden beams and history, this is your place. It has an oh-so-inviting bar too, with the most comfy leather sofas and a pile of board games enticing you to settle in for hour or two.

On the other hand, if you’re after a bright, airy setting The Bristol is perfect for you. Afternoon tea is served in the hotel’s River Grille restaurant, with its glass exterior offering fantastic views of the harbourside, including Pero’s bridge. It’s the perfect spot for a bit of people watching, if I say so myself!

The Bristol Hotel | Ladies What Travel

The best entertainment in Bristol

For a stylish evening in Bristol, you’ll want to visit some of the city’s most impressive ‘speakeasy’ style bars. There’s the Milk Thistle, which is a four floor cocktail bar with a hidden entrance, glamorous retro bar Red Light, or the gorgeous speakeasy Hyde and Co.

For a more ‘south west’ vibe though, perhaps you’d like to visit The Apple – this cider pub is actually on a moored boat!

My personal favourite thing to do is go along to the Ultimate Power club nights at The Fleece. Essentially a monthly student club night, Ultimate Power plays cheesy power ballads all night and people really get into the spirit – expect to see mullet wigs and blow up guitars galore. Go along and embrace the cheese – with drink prices as low as they are, that shouldn’t take you too long!

Where to stay

You can do a lot of great stuff in Bristol at a decent price, so why not splurge out with an overnight stay in one of Bristol’s luxury hotels. After all that exploring, you deserve a luxurious bed, right? Oh and perhaps even a roll-top bath filled with bubbles! This is on offer at Hotel du Vin, but when it comes to high-end hotels in Bristol, you’re spoilt for choice.

Bathroom suite at Hotel du vin Bristol | Ladies What Travel

I’d also recommend the Bristol Harbour Hotel. This newly renovated hotel is in the heart of St Nicholas’ and having sampled one myself, I can tell you the beds are like hugs from a teddy bear. Also I love its styling – as the building was once an old bank, and the cellar, complete with vault doors has now been turned into a stylish spa.

Find out more about Bristol’s top hotels in our Bristol luxury hotel guide post.

Bristol Harbour Hotel | Ladies What Travel

Time your visit with some of Bristol’s best festivals and events

Bristol has lots to offer all year round, but for the ultimate 48 hours in this city, I recommend visiting during two of its biggest events: the Harbour Festival and the International Balloon Fiesta.

The Harbour Festival is a weekend of music, food and events, with stalls popping up all along the harbour. Free to attend, it’s got the best buzz and you can’t help but end up with a big grin on your face.

Then, every August Bristol’s skies fill with hot air balloons thanks to the Fiesta. Again there are stalls and fun things going on during the entire festival, but a personal highlight for the locals in attending the nightglow events. It’s gotta be seen to be believed!

Bristol Balloon Fiesta Credit: Angharad Paull
Image credit: Angharad Paull

Are you going to visit then?

So what do you think, has this inspired you to come visit Bristol like a local? Perhaps you’re a local yourself and have some other recommendations you’d add to the list? Do let me know by sharing your thoughts in the comments below!


Experience Bristol Like a Local | Ladies What Travel

This post is our entry into GoEuro’s #likealocal competition – we hope you enjoyed it!





Wander Mum
Oregon Girl Around the World

36 thoughts on “Experience Bristol ‘Like A Local’

  1. I’ve got so much love for Bristol! I’ve visited quite a few times in recent years but just for overnight stays with little opportunity to explore. That needs to change! You’ve reminded me of so many places I’d like to see and revisit! #MondayEscapes

  2. Bristol sounds amazing. I know my kids would love the zoo and the food scene sounds awesome. I’ve always wanted to visit a balloon festival. #MondayEscapes

  3. I studied at Bristol Uni, and your post is bringing it all back. Except the hotels, and Hotel du Vin. I’ve heard great things about it, but I couldn’t have afforded their lovely afternoon tea back then 🙂 #MondayEscapes

    1. I feel your pain Nell, I went to uni in London and although I lived in such an amazing city I coudn’t hardly afford to do anything there! Well worth returning and treating yourself now though! 😉

  4. I have been doing this with my mum. Each week we have been visiting Bristol and have so far been to the Museum, The M Shed, SS Great Britain and also Arnos Vale Cemetery. On our way walking we have looked at the old Castle walls in Castle Park and the bombed Church which has a lovely garden by a homeless charity. Have loads more places to visit yet and also Bath and looking forward to visiting them all.

    1. Oh how lovely Joanne. Hmm now I’m thinking it might be nice to do something like that with my mum when she comes visiting next.

  5. I visited Bristol last year and loved it! We sat on The Apple and had a cider, such a cool little place. And of course, the Clifton Suspension Bridge is a must-visit! #citytripping

  6. I have only ever visited the SS Great Britain, the most recent occasion at Easter this year.

    I have always fancied exploring Bristol but have never got around to it. Your post has inspired me to take time to visit 🙂

  7. They used to hold the ballon festival near us but movies it away many years ago so sad as our boys would have loved it! Bristol looks so fab and that afternoon tea wow, I do love an afternoon tea. Thanks so much for linking up #Mondayescapes

  8. This looks great! I’ve been wanting to visit Bristol for a while now!! I think it would be a great combo with Bath!

  9. Awww I love Bristol. I used to visit often when I was a student many moons ago. Being afraid of heights the Clifton Suspension Bridge was always more manageable after a pint of cider… Love to go back soon. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

  10. I actually never really considered bristol in my England travels, but your post changed my mind! Looks like the city’s got a lot to offer – and i might start with the zoo gardens, since i am niquely in love with zoos all over the world

    1. That’s so cool to hear Theresa, I hope you get to fit it in! It’s quite a compact zoo, but a really lovely one. I like that they highlight all their conservation work so well. 🙂

  11. So many great ideas here, Keri, and it’s always best to get a local’s advice on what to see and where to eat. One of my best friends works at the university so we’ll be visiting Bristol again soon. Last time we went around SS Great Britain which was amazing. I’d love to go to the interactive science centre with the kids and try some of the great restaurants you’ve mentioned. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

    1. Well as the interactive science centre’s just had a big overhaul I can imagine now’s a really good time to visit! K

  12. I think my little ones would love to run around a science museum and as for me I’m finding myself drooling over the sound of the food. #FarawayFiles

  13. Oh I love this! It is so nice to get an insider’s guide to a city. I think it is actually harder to write because you know so much that it’s difficult to decide what to include. I would love to see the street art culture – I’m a wee bit obsessed. Thanks so much for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

    1. Oh yeah – so difficult to decide Erin! Bristol’s great for street art, I think you’d really love it then! x

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