Best Day Trips from Bristol
While it may be hard to believe, there are, in fact, some rather decent places to visit outside of Bristol. With the city offering so much to locals and visitors, venturing further afield is often forgotten about. But this would be a terrible mistake given Bristol is the neighbour of some absolutely fantastic historic and cultural must-visits.
Surrounded by spectacular British countryside, quaint villages, seaside towns, and sites of cultural significance, Bristol is a great base for exploring further afield.
Of course, you’re going to need to get there too. From Bristol, this is best achieved by car, coach, or train. With great network links, Bristol makes this a breeze.
With that said, here are the best day trips from Bristol. Get exploring!
Beautiful Georgian city just a short journey from Bristol
Just a short train ride east from Bristol Temple Meads is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bath. Being so close to Bristol the two cities are considered cousins to locals of both with each bringing a different flavour to the area, connected by the River Avon.
Taking a day trip to Bath means you’re in for a day of sightseeing, shopping, and great food. A beautiful Georgian city, Bath is rich in history and fantastic architecture, including the Royal Crescent, a sweeping row of terraced houses built in 1774 and designed by the renowned architect John Wood.
Of course, no visit to Bath would be complete without a trip to the famous Roman Baths either. Here you can see for yourself what put this location on the map, with the Romans finding a place to worship Gods, relax, and socialise.
As well as the multitude of historic buildings, museums, and places to visit, Bath is home to some of the country’s very best restaurants and independent shops. One of the most interesting here is Sotto Sotto, near the Medieval Bath Abbey. This Italian restaurant is well worth a look in relying on quality, fresh ingredients and has been regularly voted amongst the best restaurants in the city.
Getting to Bath from Bristol is easy. It is within cycling distance using the Bristol to Bath cycle path, by car using the A4, or by train from Bristol Temple Meads.
Caves and caverns with plenty of history
Often overlooked as a day trip destination is the fabulous Cheddar Gorge. Offering a day full of history, education, fun, and a bit of whimsy, the Gorge is one of the UK’s most underrated attractions. And, for Bristolians, is right on your doorstep.
Cheddar Gorge is most easily reached by a car being just a 30-45 minute drive away via the A38. You’ll want to set off early as there is plenty to do here, with clifftop walks, caves, family-adventure quests, and more. The area itself is a protected Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, occupied for thousands of years.
Iconic to the region are Cheddar’s two massive caves: Cox’s Cave and Gough’s Cave. Cox’s Cave is now used as an adventure explaining the plight of early humankind. You’ll get the chance to follow in the footsteps of our ancestors as you work your way through the cavernous spaces, discovering the tools and ingenuity they needed to survive the harsh prehistoric landscape. Using projectors, sound, and lighting, Cox’s cave brings things to life.
Gough’s Cave is one for the geology fans out there. Home to the UK’s most impressive collection of hanging stalactites, the cave’s natural formation is explained as you proceed with plenty of interesting info. You’ll also come face to face with the UK’s oldest skeleton, known as the Cheddar Man which was discovered right here in Gough’s Cave.
With tonnes more on offer here, including food and drink you’ll need a full day to get the most out of this destination.
Wildlife sanctuary and exhibits with house and gardens
With a host of well-cared-for and rescued animals, Longleat Safari and Adventure Park make for a fantastic day trip from Bristol. Just 30 miles from the city centre, Longleat can be easily be reached within an hour.
Just like a real safari, you’ll be driving through the habitats of some of the world’s most interesting, dangerous, and cutest animals. You can use your own vehicle (convertibles not recommended) or purchase a ticket for one of the on-site bus tours. Either way, you’re going to find yourself face to face with monkeys, zebras, lions, hippos, cute koalas, and elephants.
One of the stars of the show here is Anne, a circus elephant that was rescued by Longleat and now enjoys her very own luxurious environment. While Anne’s former mistreatment means she is a bit timid, especially around other elephants, she is always welcome for a wave from visitors. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, there’s even the opportunity to hand feed the giraffes!
After you’ve finished your tour of the animal habitats, Longleat has plenty more up its sleeve. Around the park you’ll find mazes to get lost in, a boat cruise to enjoy, the house and gardens that are there for exploring, as well as a kid’s adventure zone to tire them out before the journey back.
Iconic hill and Grade 1 listed structure with spectacular views
If you’re looking for a day out surrounded by rolling countryside and breathtaking views then you’ll want to head for Glastonbury Tor. Just 26 miles from Bristol, the Tor can easily be reached by car in under an hour.
Steeped in myth and legend, this 158m high iconic hill has drawn people towards it for centuries. Most outlandish amongst these stories is that beneath the hill is a secret cave which allows those who pass through it to enter the realm of fairies, Annwn, and the Celtic netherworld Gwyn ab Nudd. There, the cauldron of rebirth is said to be, with the promise of everlasting life.
More likely is that you’ll take a Tor Walk. These circular routes are all around 2 miles long. They all involve a trek up the relatively steep hill to the tower that adorns it. This tower is all that remains from the 15th Century church that once stood there, St Michael’s and still bears some of the decoration from that period.
From the top, you’ll be greeted with fantastic views of the surrounding countryside, towns and villages, including Glastonbury and Yeovil. Some routes even take you down into Glastonbury itself, perfect for a spot of lunch while you’re there.
Various walks can be found online (http://www.gps-routes.co.uk/routes/home.nsf/RoutesLinksWalks/glastonbury-tor-walking-route) or by hiking apps (https://www.alltrails.com/).
Epic aviation museum celebrating the Royal Navy’s flight history
About an hour’s drive from Bristol is Fleet Air Arm Museum, which is home to Europe’s largest naval aviation collection. Located in Yeovilton, the museum is one of the most impressive you’ll ever visit. Describing itself as a place where “museum meets theatre,” this massive indoor space offers visitors the chance to explore the flying arm of the Royal Navy through exhibits and the planes themselves.
The museum is home to four enormous exhibit halls with over 2 million records, and 30 thousand pieces of history on display. Within the four halls, you can see fighter jets, helicopters, commercial planes, historic planes, and even the British Concorde, which you can board and see inside first-hand.
Making this a must-visit is the Aircraft Carrier Experience, an award-winning display where you get to experience a helicopter fly-by in a simulated flight. Using enormous projections you’ll experience landing on the WW2 aircraft carrier the HMS Ark Royal and go within its island control rooms and bridge.
With the location still a hotbed of flight activity, you’re also more than likely to encounter some real-life planes coming and going!
While it can be hard to drag yourself away from Bristol, with plenty on the doorstep waiting to be explored there’s no reason not to venture out now and then and see what else is out there!