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Bristol

Bristol is on the rise. Derelict docks are becoming leisure venues, heritage attractions ooze imagination and a world-class street-art scene adds colour and spice.

History

From Clifton's iconic suspension bridge to Brunel's groundbreaking SS Great Britain, via steam boats and trains, Bristol is a city awash with the past. And it's engagingly exhibited too. Here history goes beyond being 'hands-on' – it's 'climb on' and 'ride in'. Clamber up the rigging of a mighty ship, have a trip in a massive crane, don a hard hat to scramble beneath the Clifton Suspension Bridge, chug about in a tug. Then there's the M Shed museum's insightful approach to learning which cleverly juxtaposes past with near-present and gets us thinking about the links between the two.

Art & Culture

Bristol is known for its offbeat, alternative character thanks to the counterculture vibe of some neighbourhoods and a famously vivid street art scene. That's down in large part to the works left behind by the city's most notorious son, the mischievous muralist Banksy – touring them is a multi-coloured highlight of any trip. In communities like Stokes Croft you'll find a wealth of art collectives and community-run cafes, while a range of festivals and the city's music venues, first-class theatre and an art-house cinema help keep the culture dial set to high.

Food & Drink

All over Bristol you'll find eateries dishing up food that's local, ethical and creatively prepared. You can enjoy everything from romantic, French-themed dining to fabulously cheap gourmet pies – good budget meals are particularly well represented, with a wealth of hip cafes, canteens and espresso bars. The central market is packed with street food stalls, the harbour area delivers fine waterfront dining, while Clifton has the kind of excellent neighbourhood eateries you'd be a regular at back home. Then there's the drink – Bristol's watering holes encompass cider and craft beer barges, cosy locals' pubs and achingly cool cocktail bars.

Active & Outdoors

Perhaps surprisingly for one of England's largest cities, Bristol offers exciting ways to explore outdoors. Although the docks aren't used so much now for trade, the waterways remain – here you can learn to Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) and paddle kayaks and canoes. In Bristol you can soak in naturally heated waters – like the more famous neighbouring city of Bath, Bristol also sits on hot springs, enjoy them at the Bristol Lido. The nearby Avon Gorge offers excellent climbing, Bloc is one of the southwest's best bouldering walls, and the Bristol & Bath Railway Path offers 13 miles of cycle trails.

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