It is certainly easy for anyone to come up with numerous well-known activities to do in Bristol. However, unless you live in the city, it is often harder to discover the less prominent – but just as wonderful – attractions also on offer. To make your search easier, here are 10 of the best hidden gems to do in the city.
1. Explore the Clifton Arcade
Address: Boyce’s Ave, Clifton, Bristol BS8 4AA
Hidden at the heart of Clifton Village, the Clifton Arcade is a small shopping centre home to many independent and quirky shops. From beautiful pieces of art and antiques to intricate jewellery, it is no understatement to say that you can find almost anything you’re looking for on sale. What makes the Clifton Arcade stand out from the many other unusual shops in Bristol is its stunning Victorian architecture. Built in 1878 you can still see much of the original building, allowing you to admire the architecture whilst having a browse in the shops.
2. Go down the Christmas Steps
Address: Christmas Steps & Perry Road, Bristol, BS1 5BG
Another shopping and dining area less well-known are the Christmas Steps. Nestled away behind the bustling city centre, it is often left undiscovered. Dating back to the 1600s, on these medieval steps you can find many creative shops such as shoemakers, art galleries, potteries, hairdressers and bars. A personal favourite is the board game café Chance and Counters. Chance and Counters is Bristol’s first dedicated board game café with over 600 options to choose from. It is the best way to slip away from the busy city and enjoy some time with your friends.
3. Enjoy a drink at the Red Light
1 Unity St, Bristol BS1 5HH
If you are literally looking for a hidden gem, then the 1950s style bar Red Light is the place to go. It is extremely easy to walk past the Red Light without a second thought as they have no advertising outside the building. If you do decide to go, a top tip for finding the entrance is to look for a graffiti-covered door, and phone box lit up with a red light. What’s more, to enter the bar you need to use the phone and wait for a member of staff to receive your call and open the door. How much more secretive can you get?!
4. Visit the Bristol Beer Factory Tap Room
Address: 291 North St, Long Ashton, Bristol BS3 1JP
Located outside the city centre, visiting the Bristol Beer Factory may not be at the top of someone’s bucket list of things to do in Bristol. However, for those beer lovers out there, it is definitely worth the short trip. At the Bristol Beer Factory, you can enjoy a number of locally brewed beers straight from the tap. They are continually updating their beers, and so there is always something new to try and to everyone’s taste. If you’re also interested in learning more about the production process and history of beers, then you would enjoy their brewery tours.
5. Get some gelato at Swoon
Address: 31 College Green, Bristol BS1 5TB
On a hot summers day, what better way is there to spend the day than enjoying gelato on College Green. Swoon is located perfectly – across from College Green – to do exactly that. An Italian café specialising in gelato, they offer a great selection of delicious flavours. All of their desserts are also handmade and with locally sourced ingredients. Although their deserts are on the slightly pricier side they are worth every penny; easily making it one of the best gelato shops in Bristol.
6. Watch a performance at the Wardrobe Theatre
Address: 25 West St, Bristol BS2 0DF
The theatres that come to mind for most people when they think of Bristol are the Hippodrome and the Old Vic. However, a less well-known local theatre which puts on just as impressive showcases is the Wardrobe Theatre. What makes their live performances unique is how close the audience is seated to the stage, making you feel engrossed and involved in the production. The Wardrobe Theatre also often hold plays acted out by students at Bristol University, and so it is a great way to support young talent.
7. Indulge in some music at Wanted Records
Address: 1, St Nicholas Market, Bristol BS1 1HQ
Hidden inside St Nicholas Market, Wanted Records is a great way to appreciate music from all genres and generations. The outlet specialises in vinyl’s and stock a countless number of records. Whether you are looking for an album from a classic or more obscure artist, they will definitely stock it. With their extensive collection of vinyl’s, who knows you might even find a new favourite. If you are interested in music, be sure to check them out and discover some great collectables.
8. Visit the cat café You and Meow
Address: 22 Denmark St, Bristol BS1 5DQ
Secluded behind the city centre, You and Meow was the first cat café to open its doors to Bristol. For those animal lovers out there or students who are missing their pets at home, a visit to You and Meow will satisfy your needs. Enjoy a cake and drink whilst getting close and personal with some felines. What more could you possibly want?
9. Go stargazing at We the Curious
Address: 1 Millennium Square, Anchor Rd, Bristol BS1 5DB
Concealed in a mysterious silver sphere in the middle of Millennium Square, We the Curious is often mistaken as a piece of artwork. However, once you enter the sphere, you are taken into an astonishing 3D planetarium. A guided tour will take you through the constellations and explain the history of stars. At prices as low as £3.50 it is a fun and unusual way to enjoy your evening.
10. Go for a stroll at Leigh Woods
Address: Valley Rd, Bristol BS8 3QB
An activity often assumed to be impossible and therefore forgotten about when living in the city is to immerse yourself in wildlife. Leigh Woods is a perfect way to escape the busy city, relax and enjoy the fresh air. Located near the Clifton Suspension Bridge, it means that impressively you do not have to trek for miles just to take a short break away from the city.
With Bristol being such a big city, it can be easy for many quirky activities to be left undiscovered. Hopefully, this list has helped give a glimpse of the various less well-known attractions which you can indulge yourself in and have a fantastic time doing.