SoBristol finds 27 free things to do in the city without spending a penny, catering for all ages and tastes with this definitive list.
From visiting the Bristol’s most iconic hot spots and soaking up some culture at a museum, to making farmyard friends and wandering around an exhibition, bookmark SoBristol’s hot list for a resource of totally free entertainment.
One of the city’s most iconic landmarks, Bristol Cathedral is steeped in history and boasts stunning architecture, with locals and tourists alike flocking through its doors, ready to soak up the sights – with eagle-eyed visitors able to spot areas used for the filming if BBC 2's Wolf Hall.
An array of collections spanning art, nature and history are all waiting for culture lovers visiting Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, ranging from Egyptian mummies and paintings to a gypsy caravan, while Alfred the Gorilla remains a popular highlight.
Bristol’s famous and vibrant Harbourside offers a blend of history and culture, with picturesque views and a plethora of restaurants, bars and cafés along the way. Providing a pleasant walkway between the city’s attractions, or a place to relax with friends and watch the world go by, it’s an area which can be enjoyed without a price tag.
Providing a slice of nature in the heart of the city, St Werburghs City Farm is home to a host of friendly animals waiting to meet and greet visitors of all ages. Giddy goats, cuddly rabbits, and many more farmyard pals offer entertainment, while the community garden and adventure playground cater for children and adults alike.
A true Bristol legend, world-famous graffiti artist Banksy has left his mark in and around the city, with local art lovers able to view his work along the Banksy trail. From the infamous Grim Reaper to Well Hung Lover on Park Street, there are plenty of maps online to hunt down each and every piece.
Lifelong Bristolians and visitors alike are sure to be fascinated at M Shed Museum, which celebrates the city’s fascinating past and present. With films, photographs, interactive displays, tours, and much more, the free museum promises an engaging and enjoyable experience.
An iconic Bristol landmark, Clifton Suspension Bridge is a world-famous attraction, offering panoramic views across the Avon Gorge and the city. A symbol of the city and photography hot-spot, Brunel’s bridge has a free visitor centre, guided tours, and of course, sensational sights.
A leading arts centre situated by Bristol’s Harbourside, Arnolfini hosts regular, free exhibitions, in addition to having a Reading Room complete with a comprehensive library spanning art books and magazines. With plenty to see across five exhibition spaces, and open space for relaxing outside, the venue is perfect for whiling away the hours.
With fun facilities such as a farm, gardens, play area, and more, Windmill Hill City Farm offers a peaceful oasis in Bristol, with farm animals and pets sure to be a highlight for little ones, while the community gardens provide an area for rest and relaxation.
Home to a Victorian school room, impressive Picture Room, old-fashioned toys and clothes, and more, Blaise Castle House Museum offers plenty to keep all ages entertained. With the impressive 18th century mansion seeped in history, adults can expect an interesting visit, while dress-up and trails are available for children.
Home to 850 acres of woods and parklands, Ashton Court Estate is perfect for pleasant walks, with facilities such as a picnic area, woodland garden, deer parks, and natural play area also located at the popular attraction.
Offering a brilliant programme of talented bands, The Old Duke in the centre of Bristol is renowned for its New Orleans-inspired jazz music, and allows local music lovers the chance to enjoy free, fabulous entertainment every night of the week and on Sunday lunchtimes.
Keen cyclists and walkers can enjoy some time in the great outdoors, weaving along the Bristol and Bath Railway Path. A 13-mile route between the neighbouring cities, the pleasant leisure path has a fascinating history and is home to interesting wildlife, with numerous stop-off points to explore along the way.
Offering a glimpse 400 years into the past, The Red Lodge Museum documents its interesting history, from Tudor origins to a Victorian girls’ school. Home to some of the oldest rooms in Bristol, and with regular tours, the city museum allows visitors to step into the past.
One for the kids, Felix Road Adventure Playground in Easton provides an exciting, safe space for little ones to play, with fun facilities and activities galore. Meanwhile other free playgrounds include Hengrove Park, Victoria Park, Eastville Park, and St George Park, among many others.
With plenty to see throughout 11 impressive rooms, The Georgian House Museum demonstrates what a Bristol sugar plantation and slave owner’s home could have looked like. Divided into life above, and life below stairs, the museum shows how both halves lived, from servants’ quarters to formal rooms.
Providing a peaceful haven in Bristol, Arnos Vale is a glorious, natural attraction spread across 45 acres of greenery. Home to historic sites, beautiful walks, wonderful wildlife, and a unique collection of grade II listing buildings and monuments, the unique site offers a slice of tranquillity.
With wonderful walking routes, mountain biking, family trails, and breathtaking sights, National Trust’s Leigh Woods provides a great area to explore with the whole family. Whether you’re setting off on a stroll, relaxing with a picnic, going on a foraging adventure, or searching for wildlife, there are hours of fun to be had by all.
A local landmark and Bristol’s most famous parish church, St Mary Redcliffe boasts a rich heritage and majestic Gothic architecture, which makes for a fascinating visit.
A steep climb up the twisting steps of Cabot Tower results in unrivalled 360-degree views across the city, making the effort totally worth it. And set in the heart of Bristol’s oldest park, Brandon Hill, with pretty paths, children’s play area, and a nature conservation area, the area offers plenty to do in the great outdoors.
Built and used by John Wesley, The New Room boasts the accolade of being the oldest Methodist Chapel in the world, dating back to 1739. With the chapel on the ground floor, the second floor is home to unique papers and artefacts which tells the interesting story of brothers John and Charles Wesley.
Playing live music every night of the week, The Canteen in Stokes Croft offers a relaxed environment to sit back and enjoy some terrific entertainment, with an eclectic mix of performances catering to all tastes.
A city famous for its fabulous programme of festivals, Bristol boasts an ever-increasing list of festivities going throughout the year. Some of those which can be enjoyed for free include Bristol Harbour Festival and Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, which both draw in thousands of visitors year-on-year.
A building with great historical and architectural significance, St James Priory boasts the accolade of being Bristol’s oldest building, with a fascinating heritage for visitors to discover. Used for worship to this day, there is an audio trail and downloadable leaflets about the grade I listed building available for an interesting insight.
Whether it’s a brisk walk, pleasant picnic, outdoor exercise, or embarking on a history trail, The Downs in Clifton offers a glorious space for leisure activities. Sporty types, families, and naturalists can all enjoy some downtime in the great outdoors, soaking up the sights, totally free of charge.
Situated in Millennium Square, film fans can honour one of the world’s most legendary actors by paying a visit to the Cary Grant statue. Paying tribute to the Bristol-born movie star, the life-size statue celebrates his amazing achievements and recognises the city as his hometown.
Visit Del and Rodney’s flat, wander the streets of Skins, or step back in history at Wolf Hall – Bristol is a favourite filming location, and good news for film buffs, because many of the recognisable sites are completely free to visit.
By Kathryn Godfrey
Friday 17 June 2016
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