With tons of my friends from university back in the UK having recently upped sticks and moved from London to Bristol – a growing city in the southwest of England – I really thought it was high time I went and checked out this exciting place that was stealing all my friends away from the shining lights of the capital.
And the perfect chance came on my recent summer trip back to the UK …
Desperate to combine seeing my friends with exploring more of my homeland, a trip to Bristol seemed like the perfect answer!
So off I went to explore this up and coming destination on a very sunny weekend in June.
And boy, was I impressed!
Now perhaps it was the unusual heatwave and the gorgeous blue skies that Bristol turned on for me, or perhaps it was the happy atmosphere of a joyful reunion with good friends, or perhaps it was just the huge amount of awesome stuff there was to see and do in Bristol on a budget, but whatever the reason, I totally loved my time in this UK riverside city!
In fact, it was very easy for me to see exactly why lots of my creative, clever and colourful friends have moved there.
So if you’re heading to the UK soon and want to explore more than just what London has to offer – or if you live in the UK, but want to visit a diverse and vibrant place – then let me recommend Bristol to you.
And here, by way of a great introduction is my perfect guide to 48hrs in Bristol on a budget…
- 10 Best Free Things to do in Bristol
- Perfect Itinerary for a Day Trip to Bath
- Ultimate Guide for the Best Oxford Day Trip
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Starting your day with a Bristol walking tour is the perfect way to acquaint yourself with the city’s many sides.
Personally, I recommend the Blackbeard to Banksy Tour, which run every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and will give you a wonderful insight into the heritage and street art Bristol is so famous for.
Lasting 2hrs and priced only £7 – this is one of the biggest bargains going and packed full of interesting facts and local knowledge, they are brilliantly led by local artist Duncan.
The tour starts from outside Bristol Cathedral, so pop into this amazing building first (free to enter) if you get the chance.
After the tour, I suggest heading to the award-winning St Nicholas Market for a delicious and super affordable meal from one of the many food stalls there. The city’s oldest market, this place boasts a rich heritage along with Bristol’s largest collection of independent retailers.
If you want to wash that down with something, then why not check out the Christmas Steps – one of Bristol’s oldest pubs serving some great local ales and craft beers.
Once you’ve eaten and drunk your lot, make your way down to Bristol’s Harbourside to admire the markets here and then pop on a Bristol Ferry Boat and enjoy a sail up the Avon.
You can choose how far you go on the ferry, but I recommend ending your journey at the SS Great Britain, which will cost you only (£1.70). After all, there’s nothing quite like motoring up the River Avon to Bristol’s proudest maritime monument to get into the spirit of things!
The SS Great Britain was the world’s first great ocean liner and is now Bristol’s number 1 tourist attraction (£14). It’s well worth spending a few hours exploring this iconic ship, which was built by Bristol engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1843 and has now been lovingly restored and adapted into a living museum built in and around this pioneering sea vessel.
Finish your afternoon with a stroll around M Shed – a short distance from the SS Great Britain, this is one of Bristol’s premier gallery / museums and best of all, it’s free to enter!
On your first evening in Bristol, head to Stokes Croft – the city’s rough and ready area, which boasts plenty of soul and some great characters.
Food-wise, check out the tapas selection at Bells Diner if you’re after something cheap and delicious, or else head to The Canteen, a café / bar which also offers scrumptious food, along with free live music most nights of the week.
On your 2nd day in Bristol, it’s time to explore some other areas of the city and what could be more picturesque (and more different to Stokes Croft) than the area of Clifton – probably the city’s finest and wealthiest suburb.
The best way to get to Clifton, which perhaps unsurprisingly given its name, sits at the top of a cliff overlooking the River Avon, is via an open top bus!
Priced only £13 (when booked online) for 2 consecutive days of unlimited travel, Bristol Insight Bus Tours leave the City Centre every 30 minutes and are a great way to take in the views.
Once in Clifton, why not wander the quaint high street with its boutique shops, or head to The Clifton Observatory to view the magnificent Avon Gorge, as well as their camera obscura and Giant Cave for only £4!
If you still need to work up a bit of an appetite, then strolling the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge (free) is a good way to do just that.
After which, you can enjoy a lovely picnic on Clifton Downs or else kick back and enjoy the view from the Avon Gorge Hotel, which offers great quality pub food and drinks with the most stunning backdrop.
In the afternoon, I recommend sticking around in the Clifton area and checking out the Bristol Zoo.
Great even if you haven’t got a child to tag along, you can easily spend a whole afternoon in this award-winning conservation park, strolling the gorgeous grounds for £14.
If this is a little out of your budget however, then why not check out some more of Bristol’s free attractions including The Bristol Musuem and Art Gallery, Cabot Tower or the Arnolfini!
Finish your super stay in Bristol back in the historic heart of the city.
The Old Duke is a local favourite with free live jazz most nights and you can then always pop across the road to the incredibly old Llandoger Trow pub if you fancy learning about the story behind the classic novel Robinson Crusoe.
Otherwise, the King Street Brew House is another great spot for food and drinks on the same street or there’s some other casual restaurants along the river by the Bristol Bridge too.
Top Bristol Travel Tips
How to Travel to Bristol
Flying from across Europe to Bristol can be done cheaply through the budget airline EasyJet.
Check out Skyscanner for the best deals.
Otherwise, trains can get you to Bristol from around the UK – although they can be pricey if not booked in advance.
Check out Trainline if you want to compare routes and fares, plus they have a handy journey planning feature and live departure updates, making them my one-stop shop when it comes to organising all my UK train adventures.
Cheaper than trains are coaches and buses, so check out the National Express for the best deals here.
You can also drive from London to Bristol in under 2.5 hours.
If you need to hire a car for your UK adventures, check out Discover Cars for some great deals.
How to Get Around Bristol
Walking is of course free in Bristol and very easy as the city centre is compact and accessible.
Otherwise, there is a good local bus service too, as well as bikes readily available for hire.
Uber is the way to go if you’re looking for some private transport.
Where to Stay in Bristol?
Kyle Blue is my pick of budget accommodation in Bristol, because this hostel is set within a houseboat, moored right on the River Avon – too fun!
Otherwise, YHA Bristol offers very good value and right in the heart of the city.
For more comfortable accommodation in Bristol checkout these fab mid-range and luxury options.
Travel Insurance for the UK
World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while travelling and claim online from anywhere in the world.
Alternatively, if you’re a long-term traveller, digital nomad or frequent remote worker seeking travel health cover, check out Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance policies.
Travel Money in the UK
The easy way to spend abroad with real exchange rates, no markups and no sneaky transaction fees, you can use your Wise card just like a debit card here… and it links easily with Google and Apple pay – sold! Grab yours here.
PIN IT TO PINTEREST!
Hopefully this 48hr itinerary for Bristol on a budget has shown you just how diverse and different this city is … and just how much there is to do here.
Have you visited Bristol before?
What was your favourite thing to do here?