10 hidden gems in Bristol
From historic open-air swimming pools to music festivals and movie screenings in caves underneath the city, there’s so much more to Bristol than the Suspension Bridge – if you only know where to look!
1. The Lido
Tucked away in the beautiful area of Clifton, Bristol Lido is a stunning open-air swimming pool surrounded by traditional wooden-door changing rooms, a sun deck, a spa and a chic bar and restaurant. When the sun’s out, this restored historic gem is the perfect place to take a dip and enjoy that relaxed holiday feeling, without having to leave the city.
2. St Nick’s Night Market
During the day, the UK’s largest indoor market, St Nick’s Market, overflows with local jewellery, craft stalls and mouth watering street food, but what’s less widely known is that during some Friday summer evenings, the stalls open late and the St Nick’s Night Market begins. Local street performers, musicians, circus acts and DJs take over this part of the old town for an evening of great food and entertainment.
3. 20th Century Flicks
Bristol is home to a huge film scene, with some of the UK’s biggest players in the film and documentary industry based here. The Watershed, a large cinema, bar and restaurant overlooking the harborside, shows critically acclaimed films and is very popular. Little-known 20th Century Flicks, however, is seventh heaven for classic movie fans. This tiny store rents out over 20,000 movies on DVD, and has two intimate 11- or 18-seat cinemas available for private hire, to give you and your friends an old-school movie experience like nowhere else in Bristol.
4. Redcliffe Caves
Unbeknownst to many Bristol locals, a whole series of man-made caves run underneath the Redcliffe area near the harborside. Since their construction in the middle ages, the caves have had many roles in Bristol’s history, beginning as a place to mine sand for glass and pottery production to being used as a storage space and even as a place for housing prisoners. These days, the caves are mostly closed, but open a few times a year to host spectacula rand unique movie or music experiences.
5. Chance & Counters
Tucked away overlooking the historic Christmas Steps, Chance & Counters is Bristol’s only quirky board game café. Whether you’re seeking shelter from a rainy afternoon or you’re spending an evening playing monopoly with one of the café’s local craft beers, this cosy hangout is a great place to challenge your friends. With over 600 different games to choose from, ranging from old-school classics to modern designs, there’s always something to tempt everyone’s competitive side!
6. The Milk Thistle
Now, this bar is quite literally a hidden gem. Almost totally disguised from the outside, most people passing by on the street would never take notice of the sign-less, painted black door in the plain red brick building on Colston Avenue. But those who knock on this door are rewarded with entrance to one of Bristol’s coolest speakeasy bars. Spanning four floors of a historic building in the heart of town, this stylish prohibition-era bar is one of the best cocktail bars around – but shush, don’t tell everyone!
7. Underfall Yard
Life in Bristol has long revolved around the harbor and the Underfall Yard celebrates the city’s rich history of shipbuilding. Old machinery sits on display in the old wooden buildings where construction was once thriving, while new generations of craftsmen and boat builders work in the yard next door. Once a year, Bristol’s iconic wooden historic ship, The Matthew, which sails through the harbor daily, is hauled out upon the dry docks here for maintenance.
8. Clifton Arcade
In Clifton Village, there’s no shortage of grand architecture and coffee shops located in historic buildings. With seating spilling out onto the street, Primrose Café is a popular brunch spot, but behind it lies this area of Bristol’s cutest collection of shops – the Clifton Arcade. Tucked away, this beautiful Victorian arcade is home to independent card shops, vintage clothing and jewellery stores and craft stores, making it the perfect place for a lazy Sunday or a spot of unique souvenir-purchasing.
9. Blaise Castle Estate & Hamlet
A little out-of-town, Blaise Castle is an impressive folly and 18th-century mansion house, and the surrounding estate is a popular spot for a country walk. But a small, picturesque hamlet was also built in the 19th century near the entrance with cute cottages that have been restored and are very pretty to visit.
10. The Full Moon and Attic
Located in the heart of Bristol’s creative district, Stokes Croft, this thriving pub boasts a huge outdoor seating area and puts on some of the city’s best music nights. showcases local and emerging musicians, so you could spend an afternoon drinking West Country ciders and listening to a folk band from nearby, or dancing the night away to the sounds of Bristol’s latest up-and-coming DJs.