We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.
The latest reviews. The lowest prices. The perfect place to shop for hotels.
Map updates are paused. Zoom in to see updated info.
Reset zoom
Updating Map...
Get directions
Address: Clifton Down | Clifton, Bristol BS8 3LT, England
Phone Number:
+44 117 974 1242
10:00 - 17:00
Closed now
See all hours
Sun - Sat 10:00 - 17:00
Recommended length of visit: <1 hour

The Clifton Observatory and Caves sits above the Avon Gorge offering superb...

The Clifton Observatory and Caves sits above the Avon Gorge offering superb views of the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the city of Bristol.

The Observatory houses one of the only camera obscuras still open to the public in the UK.

Originally built as a windmill for corn in 1766, the mill was later taken over by William West in 1828 who then converted the building into his own artist studio and installed the camera obscura, which is still working today. The camera offers a panoramic view of the surrounding area including the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Avon Gorge & Clifton Downs.

During his time at the Observatory West also cut an underground passage to the Giant's Cave which was originally only accessible via the cliff face. After a short descent into the cave guests can enjoy the spectacular views along the Avon Gorge and Clifton Suspension Bridge.

The Observatory is open to visitors 7 days a week from 10am - 5pm in Spring/Summer and 10am-4pm in Autumn/Winter with last entry being 15 minutes before closing time.

read more

TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 300 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 111
  • 112
    Very good
  • 40
  • 8
  • 11
Quirky place worth a look if you're visiting the suspension bridge

We walked up to the Observatory to gain a better view of the suspension bridge. The children enjoyed the camera obscura. There are about 120 steps down (and up again) to the very... read more

Reviewed 2 days ago
Linda S
Horsham, United Kingdom
Add Photo Write a Review

300 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

Traveller rating
Traveller type
Time of year
  • More
Showing 282: English reviews
Horsham, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
21 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 days ago NEW

We walked up to the Observatory to gain a better view of the suspension bridge. The children enjoyed the camera obscura. There are about 120 steps down (and up again) to the very small cave, with views across to the suspension bridge from the precariously high platform on the side of the cliff. Interesting history to the cave but not... More 

Thank Linda S
Maraval, Trinidad
Level Contributor
276 reviews
111 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 142 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 days ago NEW via mobile

Went here on a Sunday morning, quite busy. we had seen the yellow railings half way down the cliff face and went looking for the entrance. It was in the tower on the north side of the bridge. Entrance fee is £2.50 (or combined ticket of £4 with camera obscurer) we had seen camera obscurers before and only worth doing... More 

Thank hickmagp
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviewed 1 week ago NEW

The camera obscura I admit was quite fascinating to see the skyline in real time - make sure you have a clear day. The view was nice but hard to photograph as is all windows. The cave was impressive on the way down. However there could be more warning online or when you get there to warn of the steepness... More 

Thank Lucy M
Kiskunhalas, Hungary
Level Contributor
47 reviews
25 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

We went to the observatory however I did not find it interesting. But the cave was interesting. Just to walk down on the stairs watch ur head. I think that worths the visit

Thank Szabina T
Bridgend, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
177 reviews
62 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 67 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 weeks ago via mobile

We were keen to use the camera obscura, it was a clear day so we could see all of the Clifton bridge and surrounding area. Beautiful view from up there! We then went down to the cave, an interesting little tunnel and I've always wondered where the cave pops out! I did notice there were no warning signs that there... More 

1 Thank Crishowells
Pontyclun, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
171 reviews
31 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 57 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 weeks ago via mobile

A great place to visit on a bright sunny day. Fantastic views of the Avon Gorge and Bristol. The observatory was a unique place and the cave was worth visiting. Be aware that there are a lot of steep steps to access both. It was worth the effort.

1 Thank Anthony653
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
74 reviews
42 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 March 2017

The observatory has a lens that reflects the surrounding panorama onto a table. It doesn't work, alas, on a dull day (we only saw shadows). Similarly, the 120 steps down to the cave is mildly fun, but the view onto the gorge from the cave's cliffside opening is nowhere near as good as from the hill above. It's more fun... More 

Thank D U
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
31 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed 20 March 2017 via mobile

The observatory has a camera obscured. However the location means that you see mostly trees other than the Clifton Bridge. We went on a cloudy so the image is poor and hard to see. We did not do the caves. Discount on entrance fee can be had if you have the Hop on Hop off coupons

Thank dacmelaus
Level Contributor
83 reviews
50 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 March 2017 via mobile

Been there with my 3 years old doughtier. The view and the place is super amazing!! Really relaxing & we love it! The inside there is like a magic mirror you can see what's in with full door close and dark room only. Its WOW!! There is a cave too but i couldn't go in cuz of my daughter age,... More 

1 Thank Swanlaik
Bristol, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
31 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 March 2017

It was closed, but there was no notification of this until we has climbed up to the building. Even the staff on the suspension bridge were unaware of the status as I had taken the precaution of asking them if it was open. I was assured it was, no it was not, terrible PR this.

Thank JohnBonzoDogHartley
Beth B, Manager at Clifton Observatory and Caves, responded to this review

Hi JohnBonzoDogHartley, Apologies for your experience this week. We have been closed for renovations, with a new reception area, flooring and staircase going in. The closing dates 6-10 March have been mentioned on our website and on social media so apologies you didn't see these in advance of your visit. We shall be sure to inform the Suspension Bridge team... More 

Travellers who viewed Clifton Observatory and Caves also viewed


Been to Clifton Observatory and Caves? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Questions & Answers

Here's what previous visitors have asked, with answers from representatives of Clifton Observatory and Caves and other visitors
3 questions
Ask a question
2 months ago
County Galway, Ireland
11 months ago
over a year ago

See all questions (3)

Questions? Get answers from Clifton Observatory and Caves staff and past visitors.
Posting guidelines
Typical questions asked:
  • Do I have to buy a ticket for my infant?
  • How do I get there using public transportation?
  • Is there a restaurant or café onsite?