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Museum Guide to Bristol

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Bristol is an extremely creative and innovative city, and so, as you might expect, it has a fabulous museum scene. Combining a fascinating maritime and engineering past (think Brunel), with a modern and forward thinking future (think Banksy and the Slow Food movement), it's a great place to spend a few days soaking up the unique culture, and you are guaranteed to leave feeling energised and inspired.

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Like a Local

10 Places

4 City Tips

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Map

10 Places

M Shed

Speciality Museums

Brunel's SS Great Britain

Speciality Museums

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Bridges

Clifton Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre

Visitor Centres

Arnolfini

Art Galleries

The Architecture Centre

Architectural Buildings, Speciality Museums

We The Curious

Science Museums, Observatories & Planetariums

The Georgian House Museum

Historic Sites, Speciality Museums, History Museums

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

Art Museums, History Museums, Art Galleries

Royal West of England Academy

Art Galleries

Amy B's City Tips

  • A lot of the museums listed here are free to visit.
  • Whilst the city centre is car-friendly, think outside the box and explore like a local. Travel around on foot, by bike, ferry or even hot air balloon.
  • Bristol has great rail links to the rest of the UK. Use Bristol Temple Meads station to access the city centre - Bristol Parkway is slightly further out.
  • Most museums open daily, but almost all will shut over the Christmas and New Year bank holidays.
  • M Shed
    Speciality Museums
    See more photos
    Amy B Says:

    Bristol's redeveloped city docks is the buzzing entertainment centre for Bristolians and visitors alike, and you literally won't be able to miss the M Shed, housed in a disused dockside transit shed on the south side of the floating harbour. Celebrating all things Bristol, it is the perfect place to start your cultural tour of the city.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Trendsetter
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • M Shed is free and open every day except Monday, from 10am - 5pm (6pm at the weekend).
    • Check the M Shed website "What's On" guide for details of the great paid-for events they frequently arrange. These include walking tours, a steam tug boat trip, and a ride on a dockside steam train.
    • It is 20 minutes walk from Bristol Temple Meads train station to M Shed, or you can catch a ferry (with Bristol Ferry Boats) from the station, which takes 15 minutes.
    • As well as the great permanent exhibitions about Bristol's places and people and dockside working exhibits, there are good touring and temporary exhibitions held at M Shed too.
    • Don't miss famous piece, the "Grim Reaper", by local graffiti artist Banksy, now on permanent display at M Shed after being removed from the Thekla ship and nightclub venue.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #24 of 166 things to do in Bristol
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Wild Life Photographer of the year 2018 08/12/2018
    • a little gem 07/12/2018
    • M Shed
    Address:
    Wapping Road
    Bristol BS1 4RN
    England
    Phone:
    +44 117 352 6600
    Hours:
    Tue - Sun
    10:00 am - 5:00 pm
    Other:
  • Brunel's SS Great Britain
    Speciality Museums
    See more photos
    Amy B Says:

    Visit the Great Western Dockyard, ten minutes' walk west along the south side of the harbour from M Shed, to marvel at Brunel's steamship SS Great Britain. Housed in the dry dock where she was originally built in 1839, a visit aboard the ship includes entry to the fascinating Dockyard Museum, which tells the ship's story.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • The ship and museum are open from 10am - 5.30pm (with an early close at 4.30pm in autumn and winter).
    • If you have time, check out the Brunel Institute and David MacGregor Library, situated adjacent to the Dockyard Museum. These house world-class maritime books, plans, objects, and documents.
    • Get into the nautical spirit by taking the ferry to visit the SS Great Britain. It leaves from the Waterfront every 40 minutes, and takes 10 minutes to make the journey.
    • There is a fee to enter, but your ticket allows you unlimited re-entry for the next year!
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 166 things to do in Bristol
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • amazing 10/12/2018
    • Experience 10/12/2018
    • Brunel's SS Great Britain
    Address:
    Great Western Dockyard Gas Ferry Road
    Gas Ferry Road
    Bristol BS1 6TY
    England
    Phone:
    +44 117 926 0680
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 am - 4:30 pm
    Other:
  • Clifton Suspension Bridge
    Bridges
    See more photos
    Amy B Says:

    Brunel's other great gift to Bristol, the Suspension Bridge, is absolutely stunning and a must-see while you are in the city. Cross the Bridge first to really appreciate it before heading inside to the Visitor Centre.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • It is a 30 minute walk from the SS Great Britain to the Suspension Bridge, or a 10 minute cycle. Otherwise, you can grab a number 8/9 bus to Clifton Village from the city centre.
    • Pedestrians and cyclists can cross the Bridge for free - there is a small charge for cars and motorbikes. (It has been a toll bridge since opening in 1864).
    • Guides offer free tours of the Bridge. To take advantage of these, wait at the Clifton side toll booth at 3pm on Saturday, Sunday, or bank holidays during the spring and summer.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #4 of 166 things to do in Bristol
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • wonderful if slightlu unnerving view 10/12/2018
    • Spectacular 10/12/2018
    • Clifton Suspension Bridge
    Address:
    Suspension Bridge Road
    Leigh Woods
    Bristol BS8 4AP
    England
    Phone:
    +44 117 974 4664
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 am - 5:00 pm
    Other:
  • Clifton Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre
    Visitor Centres
    See more photos
    Amy B Says:

    For more information and insights into the history of the Suspension Bridge, head to the Visitor Centre at the Leigh Woods end. It is free to enter and really informative. Discover all about the original Bridge design competition, its build and ongoing maintenance.

    Good for
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Open daily from 10am - 5pm (except Christmas and New Year bank holidays).
    • University of West England students have produced the "Bridge Tales" app. Download this using the centre's public WiFi for some great audio visual content, including a walking tour.
    • The centre is family-friendly, with a baby change, buggy store, and a lift to the first floor.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #17 of 166 things to do in Bristol
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Cfifton Susppension Bridge 11/12/2018
    • Brilliant - bright and welcoming and full of facts 06/12/2018
    • Clifton Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre
    Address:
    Toll House East Suspension Bridge Road
    Leigh Woods
    Bristol BS8 3PA
    England
    Phone:
    +44 117 974 4664
    Other:
  • Arnolfini
    Art Galleries
    See more photos
    Amy B Says:

    Back at the Harbourside you'll find the Arnolfini arts centre and gallery. Housed in a Grade II listed converted tea warehouse, it is free to enter the building and exhibition spaces, and there's an excellent arts shop and the Reading Room library to explore while you're there.

    Good for
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Trendsetter
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • The Arnolfini has a great bar. If it's sunny, grab a locally produced cider in a plastic glass to take outside, and enjoy it whilst dangling your feet over the harbour wall.
    • The contemporary art offerings include film, sound, photography, drawing and sculpture - often by local artists - as well as off-site walks and tours. Check the website for details.
    • Opening times for the exhibition galleries vary, so check the website in advance. The shop is open Tuesday - Sunday 11am to 6pm, and the cafe 10am to 10pm (only until 9pm Sunday and Monday).
    • The Reading Room is only open Thursdays and Fridays from 11am to 6pm.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #46 of 166 things to do in Bristol
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Coffee at the Arnolfini 15/10/2018
    • Very disappointed 28/09/2018
    • Arnolfini
    Address:
    16 Narrow Quay
    Bristol BS1 4QA
    England
    Phone:
    +44 117 917 2300
    Hours:
    Tue - Sun
    11:00 am - 6:00 pm
    Other:
  • The Architecture Centre
    Architectural Buildings, Speciality Museums
    See more photos
    Amy B Says:

    The Architecture Centre is right next door to the Arnolfini on the Harbourside. The organisation hosts exhibitions and talks, and also carries out some fascinating youth and outreach projects, championing better buildings and places for all.

    Good for
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • The Gallery is free and open to the public Wednesday to Sunday from 11am to 5pm (from midday on Saturday and Sunday).
    • Parking in the area is limited so it is best to walk here. It's 15 minutes' walk from Bristol Temple Meads train station, or you can catch the ferry.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #85 of 166 things to do in Bristol
    • Grand parents and grand childrens pm 12/02/2018
    • Drop in if you're passing 29/01/2018
    • The Architecture Centre
    Address:
    16 Narrow Quay
    Bristol BS1 4QA
    England
    Phone:
    +44 117 922 1540
    Hours:
    Wed - Fri
    11:00 am - 5:00 pm
    Sat - Sun
    12:00 pm - 5:00 pm
    Other:
  • We The Curious
    Science Museums, Observatories & Planetariums
    See more photos
    Amy B Says:

    At-Bristol is a fantastic science and discovery centre based in Millennium Square on the north side of the harbour. The family-friendly centre has some great, interactive exhibits, as well as a 3D planetarium. Millennium Square itself is also a lovely place for visitors of all ages to spend some time. The area boasts water features, sculptures and a BBC big screen, and keep an eye out as many of the city's festivals and events are held here.

    Good for
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Plan to spend a few hours in At-Bristol to get the most from your admission fee. It's open 10am - 5pm (6pm during school holidays and at the weekend), and there's a cafe and a shop onsite.
    • The Planetarium, the UK's first in 3D, is brilliant. For an extra admission charge there are special shows for kids both under and over the age of six, as well as special nighttime events for over 16s.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #19 of 166 things to do in Bristol
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Educational 04/12/2018
    • Brilliant Day out! 27/11/2018
    • We The Curious
    Address:
    Anchor Road
    Harbourside
    Bristol BS1 5DB
    England
    Phone:
    +44 117 915 1000
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    10:00 am - 5:00 pm
    Sat - Sun
    10:00 am - 6:00 pm
    Other:
  • The Georgian House Museum
    Historic Sites, Speciality Museums, History Museums
    See more photos
    Amy B Says:

    Ten minutes' walk up the hill from At-Bristol is the lovely Georgian House Museum, located on Great George Street. This 1790s building is set up as a period house museum and is free to enter. A real step back in time to the Bristol of times gone by, kids of all ages are bound to love it.

    Good for
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • While you are in the area, Cabot Tower in Brandon Hill Park is another great stop - you can climb the tower for stunning views over the city.
    • It's worth spending some time on Park Street - there are some great cafes, shoe shops, and vintage clothes stores to explore if you want a break from all that culture!
    • There are 11 rooms spread over four floors of the building, so it does take a while to have a proper nose about.
    • Opening hours vary depending on the season. In the summer it's closed on Mondays, but otherwise open 10.30am to 4pm. In autumn, it's open at the weekend, and on Wednesday and Thursdays only.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #16 of 166 things to do in Bristol
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • A beautiful and informative place 10/12/2018
    • Brilliant little find, free and factual 06/11/2018
    • The Georgian House Museum
    Address:
    7 Great George Street
    Bristol BS1 5RR
    England
    Phone:
    +44 117 921 1362
    Other:
  • Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
    Art Museums, History Museums, Art Galleries
    See more photos
    Amy B Says:

    An absolutely stunning and imposing building at the top of Park Street on Queens Road, the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery is a treasure trove of art, archaeology and geology. Natural history exhibits housed here include the obligatory dinosaurs, lots of fossils, and some great Egyptian displays that are sure to keep the kids entertained.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Another free museum - thanks Bristol!
    • Don't miss Alfred the gorilla, the gypsy caravan, the well-preserved scelidosaurs, and the Bristol diamonds - all on the second floor.
    • The museum has a good cafe serving fair-trade, organic, locally sourced, homemade food (as in most food outlets in the city!). The special morning offer of a drink and a teacake is especially great value!
    • Open 10am to 5pm daily (until 6pm at the weekend).
    • The museum is situated right by the main University of Bristol buildings.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #22 of 166 things to do in Bristol
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Art 11/12/2018
    • Lovely museum, great temporary exhibitions 10/12/2018
    • Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
    Address:
    Queens Road
    Clifton
    Bristol BS8 1RL
    England
    Phone:
    +44 117 922 3571
    Hours:
    Tue - Sun
    10:00 am - 5:00 pm
    Other:
  • Royal West of England Academy
    Art Galleries
    See more photos
    Amy B Says:

    Bristol's finest and leading art gallery, the Royal West of England Academy, champions art and design, and is well worth a visit for a number of reasons. Just five minutes' walk up Queens Street from the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, it is home to some great pieces of British artwork, including works by Turner and Constable, as well as a fantastic arts shop and a good cafe.

    Good for
    • Trendsetter
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Look out for the annual "Open" exhibition in the autumn, which features works across all art forms contributed by new and emerging artists.
    • There is a fee to enter, but under 16s go free.
    • Open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am - 6pm, and 11am - 5pm on Sunday. It is open on some bank holiday Mondays, so check the website in advance if your visit falls on one of these.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #41 of 166 things to do in Bristol
    • Always interesting exhibitions 31/10/2018
    • Time out 24/10/2018
    • Royal West of England Academy
    Address:
    Queens Road
    Clifton
    Bristol BS8 1PX
    England
    Phone:
    +44 117 973 5129
    Hours:
    Sun
    11:00 am - 5:00 pm
    Tue - Sat
    10:00 am - 6:00 pm
    Other:
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