"Alright my lover?" Top 5 Page for this destination Bristol by TheLongTone

Bristol Travel Guide: 741 reviews and 1,673 photos

Just the right size.

I've always liked Bristol as a place to visit. I do hope living here doesn't change my opinion.

The first thing I like about Bristol is that, being hilly, you are constantly offered vistas over the whole city and open countryside beyond. The result is that the city seems finite, unlike the endless suburban sprawls of other cities. Bristol is the right size: big enough to feel like a city, small enough to be on a human scale.

The second thing I like about Bristol is what one architectural writer has called it's grain . It's very much a city that has accumulated according to it's own needs, and although urban planners and traffic managers have poked their grubby little fingers in, they have not managed to spoil the shape of the city. Which is by no means to say that Bristol has no monstrous carbuncles: in fact its crammed with them. One of the more venerable ones is the Wills Memorial building, the Gothic Revival pile in the header picture. An effective full stop to the view up Park Street (as intended) but it has always reminded me of a truncated version of William Beckford's famous collapsed tower at Fonthill Abbey.
This disorder actually contributes to the charm of the place in my opinion: Bristol feels organic rather than contrived.


Shipshape and Bristol Fashion

Bristol is a curious thing, a seaport without any seaside. The sea is.... well, four or five miles down the Avon is the huge modern port of Avonmouth, where the Avon flows into the Bristol Channel, which hereabouts has the character of river estuary rather than open sea. It's not an obvious place for a port. Especially considering that the tidal range of the Avon, at around eleven metres, is among the largest in the world. This means that the course from Bristol to Avonmouth is only navigable at high tide: it is also the reason for the extensive engineering of the river to create the Floating Harbour. Which, disappointingly, is not a harbour that floats but a harbour in which the ships remain afloat all the time, rather than being stranded twice a day by the tide. This was created in the late eighteenth century by building locks on the Avon (the Cumberland Basin) and diverting the course of the river into the New Cut under the direction of the noted canal engineer William Jessop.
Even with the improvements, it?s still difficult to navigate, another major constraint being the Horseshoe Bend in the Avon near Sea Mills which places a limit on the length of ship which can make the passage.

And once out of Bristol, you have to beat your way down the Bristol Channel against the prevailing westerlies. You had to have your ship in perfect order, hence the expression 'shipshape and Bristol fashion'


Almost any visit to Bristol will involve a brush with Isambard Kingdom Brunel, great visionary engineer and a man whose name alone makes him memorable. His first works were concerned with improving the Floating Harbour, where he devised a system of coping with silting problems that is still basically in use today. This useful if visually unexciting work was soon eclipsed by more spectacular works: the saga of the Clifton suspension bridge, the enormous project of the Great Western Railway from London to Bristol, and the first two of his three mighty but ill-fated steamships, the second of which, the SS Great Britain, has, extraordinarily, survived and is now under restoration in the dock she was built in.

This photo contains two Brunel bridges: the famous suspension bridge and the disused swing-bridge span from his 1840's lock into the Cumberland Basin.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Balmy, subtropical climate,
  • Cons:Can't reveal my real thoughts because I'll get done over if I do
  • In a nutshell:Arrrr! Shipshape and Bristol fashion, me hearties.
  • Intro Updated Jul 13, 2011
  • Add to Trip Planner (?)
  • Report Abuse

Reviews (69)

Comments (18)

  • northeast80's Profile Photo
    Jun 27, 2011 at 3:26 AM

    Heard they may be sorting out the Bear Pit, about time too. When are we going to have a Bristol meet? Suvanki visits regularly, Grets lives here too. I recon it'd be worth looking into.

  • May 29, 2011 at 2:14 PM

    There are now four branches - Easton, Totterdown and Clifton. The original Montpelier café (11 years) is the only one that still serves only vegetarian. Radio 4 'Best Take Away' in 2009 & ?Best Cheap Eat? in Observer Food Magazine?s 2010.

  • sirgaw's Profile Photo
    Jun 4, 2010 at 8:18 AM

    After our little tiff over time (3 am) I thought I'd better visit your city - and where I lived from late 1946 until 1952 when I was able to get away from all those damn bridges - LOL

  • RickinDutch's Profile Photo
    May 27, 2010 at 2:21 PM

    Excellent Briistol tips! Promise renewed enthusiasm for all Bristol offers when next I see it.

  • Andrew_W_K's Profile Photo
    May 27, 2010 at 12:45 AM

    Nice tip - glad to see you did St Mary Redcliffe justice.

  • wise23girl's Profile Photo
    May 26, 2010 at 7:47 PM

    Was that you with the trolley load of Garibaldi biscuits.and home made tiramisu ?

  • Durfun's Profile Photo
    May 10, 2010 at 1:40 PM

    Fantastic Print Works facade, and Red Lodge. Cool! And the Bristol clock!!

  • lomi's Profile Photo
    Sep 25, 2009 at 9:01 AM

    Bristol! my brother used to take me to Temple Meads (steam) train spotting. Oh. Now Im showing my age.

  • mindcrime's Profile Photo
    May 31, 2009 at 9:19 AM

    I remember a poor skateboarder having a painful fall there at College Green! :) great tips, I'll return to read more...

  • uglyscot's Profile Photo
    Mar 5, 2009 at 2:32 AM

    Glad I'm not alone in not finding Bristol interesting. But your humour makes up for the lack of praise.


“If the viper is too heavy to carry, why use a python as a head-cushion?”

Online Now


Top 1,000 Travel Writer
Member Rank:
0 0 7 2 1
Forum Rank:
0 0 3 1 8

Badges & Stats in Bristol

  • 69 Reviews
  • 137 Photos
  • 8 Forum posts
  • 5,719PageViews

Have you been to Bristol?

  Share Your Travels  

Latest Activity in Bristol

Travel Interests

See All Travel Interests (5)