Our guide to the most Instagrammable places in Bristol highlights the city’s historical landmarks, colourful graffiti, and quirky art installations. The Harbourside area alone offers plenty of photogenic spots as it overlooks the River Avon, Bristol Cathedral, and rows of colourful houses.

    Bristol has a vibrant street art scene – it’s the birthplace of world-famous artist, Banksy, so you’ll find plenty of his earliest pieces along the city’s alleyways. You can also take a short trip out of the city to the countryside, where you can find lush fields and well-preserved cottages. With so many beautiful landmarks in and around the city, you’ll have no difficulty taking photos of Bristol you can brag to your friends about.

    1

    Christmas Steps

    Take in historic views

    • Shoppers
    • Photo
    • Couples

    Christmas Steps near the city centre is a historic street in Bristol, dating back centuries to when the steps were constructed in 1669. This small side street is quaint, yet the street is lined on both sides with numerous historical buildings including 14 listed buildings. The buildings house shops selling a variety of items, in addition to a few accommodation options and a tattoo parlour. 

    The wine and spirit shop is particularly popular and fitting since the street was originally built by funds from a wine merchant. Visit during the Christmas season, and you can see a vibrant array of lights along the street as well.

    Location: Christmas Steps, Bristol BS1 5BS, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)117 925 3077

    Map
    2

    The Banksy Walking Tour

    Bristol has more Banksy tags than London or New York

    • Photo
    • Budget
    • Adventure
    • Unusual

    The mysterious urban artist known only as Banksy is heavily rumoured to come from Bristol, and the city has more artworks signed by this enigmatic figure than anywhere else in the world. You can take a walk around central Bristol and admire some of his protected urban art. 

    Starting from Harbourside, you can find works of his in Wapping Wharf, Albion Dockyard, behind the Bristol central library on Lower Lamb Street, then up Park Street to Stokes Croft, the cultural hub of the city, which has a lot more excellent urban art to discover.

    The route described will take about an hour – maybe more. Cabot Circus shopping centre is a good reference point, halfway along the route, and makes a good area for accommodation, too. Choose a hotel conveniently located close to Cabot Circus.

    3

    Foster's Almshouse

    A Burgundian Gothic building that dates back to 1483

    • Photo
    • Budget
    • History

    Foster's Almshouse is a Grade I-listed building on Colston Street, at the top of Bristol’s iconic Christmas Steps. It was founded by merchant John Foster in 1483 and rebuilt in the 19th century. The structure is Burgundian Gothic in style, modelled after the Hotel Dieu in Beaune.

    As the building is privately owned, you can only take photos of its façade. It’s one of the most photogenic buildings in central Bristol, thanks to its timber-railed balconies, dragon hoppers on the turrets, and tall brick chimneys.

    Location: Colston St, Bristol BS1 5AY, UK

    Map

    photo by Alan Parr (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    4

    Brunel’s SS Great Britain

    Learn about Britain’s maritime heritage aboard a steel-clad ocean liner

    • Families
    • Photo
    • History

    Designed by legendary inventor Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1843, the SS Great Britain changed shipbuilding forever with this revolutionary new design. Now docked in Bristol, you can explore the boat and find out more about Brunel’s inventions. 

    But this is no dusty piece of history. The past is brought to life with guides dressed in period costume and even speaking to you like you’re a sailor on the high seas. It’s fun for all ages, but we don’t recommend climbing up the rigging unless you have a head for heights.

    Location: Great Western Dockyard, Gas Ferry Rd, Bristol BS1 6TY, UK

    Open: March–October: daily from 10 am to 6 pm. November–February: daily from 10 am to 4.30 pm

    Map

    photo by Matt Buck (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    5

    Bristol Cathedral

    A Grade I-listed building with an award-winning garden

    • Photo
    • Budget
    • History

    Bristol Cathedral is an atmospheric landmark on College Green, less than half a miles north of Millennium Square. Founded in 1140, much of the structure of this Grade I-listed building was added in later years until 1888.

    You'll find plenty of photogenic areas inside and outside Bristol Cathedral. Its eastern end is a great example of a hall church, in which the nave, choir and aisles are at the same height. Check out the Romanesque abstract motif, memorials and a historic organ that decorate the late Norman chapter house.

    Location: College Green, Bristol BS1 5TJ, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)117 926 4879

    See nearby properties
    Map
    6

    The Matthew of Bristol

    A full-size replica of a 15th-century caravel

    • Photo
    • Budget
    • History

    The Matthew of Bristol, a reconstruction of John Cabot’s caravel, was built to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Cabot's 1497 voyage to what is now Canada. You can find it moored on the city’s harbourside, right in front of the M Shed museum.

    You're free to come on board and explore the upper decks, which offer expansive views of Museum Square, the River Avon and Lloyds Amphitheatre. The Matthew of Bristol also sets sail for public trips around the Floating Harbour or along the Avon Gorge. Cruises last from 50 minutes to 4 hours, depending on the trip.

    Location: Prince’s Wharf, Wapping Rd, Bristol BS1 4RN, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)117 927 6868

    Map
    7

    Blaise Hamlet

    Venture into the past

    • Photo
    • Unusual

    In 1811, a group of cottages called Blaise Hamlet were built for the employees of a local banker from Blaise Castle. In the centuries since, Blaise Hamlet has been remarkably well preserved to the point where visiting makes you feel as if you're stepping back into the 19th century. 

    Every building in the hamlet is a Grade I listed building with dormer windows and brick chimneys. The cottages encircle a village green, which features its own sundial. You'll even find Victorian cottage gardens that are notably well-maintained. Just keep in mind that these cottages are owned by the National Trust, so you can only view them from the green.

    Location: Hallen Rd, Henbury, Bristol BS10 7QY, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)1275 461900

    Map

    photo by C P Smith (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    8

    University of Bristol Botanic Garden

    More than 4,500 plant species from around the world

    • Families
    • Photo

    The University of Bristol Botanic Garden covers 5 acres of natural space, with over 4,500 plant species. Here, you’ll find 4 distinct collections covering plant evolution, local flora, and rare native, Mediterranean and useful plants – plus a 6,888-sq-ft glasshouse.

    Among the many rare plants found at the University of Bristol Botanic Garden are the Wollemi Pine, Chilean monkey puzzle, and giant Amazon waterlilies. You can also explore the UK’s largest collection of traditional Chinese medicinal herbs. Blooming flowers during the summer months make for vibrant Instagram shots but you can also find evergreen trees and plants inside the glasshouse.

    Location: Stoke Park Rd, Stoke Bishop, Bristol BS9 1JG, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)117 428 2041

    Map

    photo by Rodw (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    9

    Bristol Marina

    Boats and colourful houses lining the River Avon

    • Photo
    • Budget

    Nautical fans often visit Bristol Marina for the fleet of berthed boats bobbing on the River Avon. It’s one of the most photographed spots in the city, as you’ll see many colourful houses in the background.

    Although you can explore Hotwell Road and Cliftonwood to see the homes up close, the marina provides an excellent vantage point for capturing the structures’ reflection on the river. As Bristol Marina is mostly open-air, the best time to visit is on a clear day – explore on foot to see many historical sites along the way.

    Location: Bristol Marina, Bristol, UK

    Map
    10

    Cabot Tower

    This 104-ft tower offers 360-degree views for free

    • Photo
    • Budget
    • Couples

    Standing proudly on the top of a hill in Brandon Park, Cabot Tower is one of the best viewpoints in Bristol. It was built in the 1890s to honour the 400th anniversary of explorer John Cabot’s discovery of the land that would become Canada.

    The steep, narrow stairs are quite tricky, so be careful when climbing up and down. It’s a very romantic spot, with more than a passing resemblance to Rapunzel’s tower from the Brothers Grimm fairy tale. Brandon Park is walking distance from the city centre.

    Location: Brandon Hill Park, Great George St, Harbourside, Bristol BS1 5RR, UK

    Open: Daily 8.15 am to 6.15 pm (hours vary by season)

    Phone: +44 (0)117 922 3719

    Map
    11

    M Shed

    A free museum with colourful exhibits on Bristol’s history

    • Families
    • Photo
    • Budget
    • History

    The M Shed showcases over 2,000 years of Bristol’s history, people and culture through interactive exhibits, digitalised films and 3,000 artefacts. Located in Princes Wharf, the museum occupies a restored 1950s transit shed and has working exhibits on the harbourside.

    While you can find many interesting displays inside the 3-storey museum, many of the M Shed’s most photographed spots are outdoors. Must-sees include Banksy’s Grim Reaper mural, 4 large cargo cranes, The Matthew of Bristol sailing ship, and vintage locomotives. You can also head to the top floor for expansive views of the harbour and Bristol’s cityscape.

    Location: Princes Wharf, Wapping Rd, Bristol BS1 4RN, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)117 352 6600

    See nearby properties
    Map

    photo by Tiia Monto (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    12

    Clifton Suspension Bridge

    Take a picnic to Clifton Observatory to look down on the famous bridge

    • Families
    • Photo
    • Budget
    • Couples

    A famous Brunel design and perhaps his most famous for local Bristolians, the Clifton Suspension Bridge has spawned countless copies across the world. The best place to see this proud example of British engineering brilliance cross the Avon Gorge is from the Clifton Observatory, on the hills above the bridge. This popular picnic spot gets busy in summer, when you’ll find people playing football and flying kites.

    Location: Bridge Rd, Bristol BS8 3PA, UK

    See nearby properties
    Map
    13

    Stokes Croft

    Find quirky street art in Bristol's cultural quarter

    • Photo
    • Budget

    Stokes Croft is widely known as the cultural quarter of Bristol, as its streets are lined with art galleries, creative studios, and quirky stores. The neighbourhood looks like an outdoor art museum thanks to vibrant graffiti covering its many walls and alleys.

    Most of the street art in Stokes Craft is ever-changing, though works by iconic artists like Inkie and Banksy tend to be permanent. A must-see is Banksy’s 1999 mural The Mild, Mild West, which depicts a teddy bear throwing a Molotov cocktail at riot police. It’s best to explore the area on foot – you might find a well-hidden masterpiece for your Instagram feed.

    Location: Stokes Croft, Bristol, UK

    photo by Tiia Monto (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    Penny Wong | Compulsive Traveller

    Start planning your trip

    Keep exploring

    Maps