Introduction

Clifton is one of the southwest's most prestigious neighbourhoods. Set on the edge of Bristol, it's far enough away to maintain a village atmosphere, but close enough to revel in the city's cosmopolitan feel. Victorian and Georgian terraces and swathes of grassland (the Downs) make it beautiful. The Avon Gorge and Clifton Suspension Bridge make it dramatic. The spa facilities at the Bristol Lido add a touch of luxury. And one-off shops, intimate eateries, hip bars and snug pubs ensure there are plenty of diverting ways to occupy your time.

Explore

It makes sense to make straight for the Clifton Suspension Bridge – something that dramatic demands to be seen. The best approach is to walk onto it from the Clifton side and cross on foot to the visitor centre on the west bank. Schedule two to three hours to explore and try to time your visit to coincide with one of the free bridge tours.

The Clifton Observatory, complete with a rare camera obscura and gorge-side viewing platform, are worth dropping by on the east bank.

Clifton's other great attraction, the Bristol Lido will occupy half a day – time your visit carefully: its pool, sauna and spa are open to nonmembers on weekday afternoons only. At weekends you have to book a spa or eating package.

Clifton's other great delight is the village itself – make sure you allow at least half a day to discover its ornate Georgian and Victorian terraces and browse in the ranks of independent shops. Night time brings an opportunity to explore the many pubs, eateries and bars.

Highlights

  • Clifton Suspension Bridge Feeling the road sway under your feet, and watching the river flow 76m below.
  • Bristol Lido Swimming in an alfresco, naturally heated pool before de-stressing at the sauna and spa.
  • Clifton Observatory Wondering at the images projected by Clifton's rare camera obscura.
  • Giant's Cave Gripping the handrail and gazing down the plunging Avon Gorge from a cliffside platform.
  • Shopping Bargain hunting in some of the best vintage stores in the west.

Top Tips

Although the big sights are captivating, one of the most appealing things about Clifton is discovering its great urban architecture and finding your favourite hangouts. West Mall, Royal York Crescent and leafy Victoria Square are lined with fine buildings, while Portland St, Princess Victoria St and the area around Boyce's Ave are rich in cafes, pubs and bars.