M Shed

Top choice in Bristol

Set amid the iconic cranes of Bristol's dockside, this impressive museum is a treasure trove of memorabilia. It's divided into four main sections: People, Place, Life and the vast Working Exhibits outside. They provide an absorbing overview of Bristol's history – from slaves' possessions and Wallace & Gromit figurines to a Banksy artwork and a set of decks once used by Massive Attack. There are regular trips on the museum's boats, trains, and cranes; see the website for details.

It's all highly interactive and child-friendly, especially the rides on the steam and electric cranes, steam trains and tug and fire boats. Another highlight is Banksy's unsettling Grim Reaper stencil, which used to sit on the waterline of the party boat Thekla. It was removed amid much controversy and can now be found on the 1st floor. The museum also runs guided tours exploring the harbour's history.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Bristol attractions

1. Matthew

0.09 MILES

The most striking thing about this replica of the vessel in which John Cabot made his landmark voyage from Bristol to Newfoundland in 1497 is its size. At…

2. Arnolfini


At time of writing, the art galleries here were only open for special events. The ground floor houses the Front Room, a venue for talks, special events…

3. Bristol Aquarium

0.21 MILES

The underwater habitats you'll encounter here include a Bay of Rays, Coral Sea, Shark Tank and an Amazon River Zone. The underwater viewing tunnel adds…

4. We the Curious

0.22 MILES

Bristol's interactive science museum is a playful, hands-on space where 300 'exhibits' fly the flag for curiosity, scientific collaboration and creativity…

5. Bristol Cathedral

0.29 MILES

Originally founded as a 12th-century monastery church, Bristol Cathedral was heavily remodelled during the 19th century. It's one of Britain's best…

6. Castles Stencil

0.33 MILES

Hidden away down the side of the Central Library, hunt out the 2011 Banksy stencil that states 'you don't need planning permission to build castles in the…

7. Well Hung Lover


One of Banksy's best loved pieces of street art features an apparently two-timing wife, an angry husband and a naked man dangling from a window. That it…

8. Brunel Institute

0.46 MILES

A maritime archive housing a wealth of materials relating to engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the SS Great Britain and Bristol's naval history. To visit,…