If you’re looking for ideas for day trips from Bristol, this post will help!
With its location in south west England, there are countless destinations just a stone’s throw away from Bristol. There’s glorious countryside with historic sites and quaint villages, nature reserves, seaside resorts, fascinating geological structures, as well as bustling cities full of history and culture. The region has it all!
Whatever your interests may be, there’s bound to be something for you in the Bristol area. To help you decide what to do, I have provided a list of 16 great day trips from Bristol.
Read on for a summary of the main things to do in each place and for information on how to get there.
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The city of Bristol is in south west England, just under 120 miles from London. It is around a two and a half hour drive from the capital.
Trains also run from London Paddington station to Bristol. There are two train stations here: Bristol Parkway, situated on the city’s outskirts, and Bristol Temple Meads, in the centre.
The journey from London is around one hour and 20 minutes to Bristol Parkway and just over one hour and 30 minutes to Bristol Temple Meads.
Famous for the Clifton Suspension bridge, the 19th-century bridge designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel that spans the River Avon, there’s tonnes to do in Bristol.
You can visit Bristol Cathedral, explore the city and redeveloped harbourside area, climb onto the SS Great Britain ship, and visit various museums, including Aerospace Bristol. You can also get some great city views from the top of Brandon Hill.
And if you visit in August you, you may get to see hundreds of colourful hot air balloons floating in the sky as part of the International Balloon Festival.
There’s plenty to do here on a day trip or a short break. However, if you fancy visiting places outside Bristol, there are many attractions within easy reach.
Here is my round-up of 16 of the top day trips from Bristol.
Day trips from Bristol
Bath, a UNESCO World Heritage site in southwest England, is a fabulous place for a day trip from Bristol. There are plenty of sights to see, and the fact that the centre is relatively small and walkable means it’s easy to pack a lot in within a few hours.
You can also book a hop-on/ hop-off tour if time is tight.
One of the leading attractions is the Roman Baths Museum, housed on site of the old Roman baths. This gives you a chance to see the old majestic baths and learn more about the city’s Roman history, as well as life during Roman times.
Then, if you fancy a dip in a thermal bath yourself, wander up to the Thermae Bath Spa. There’s a thermal rooftop pool here that looks back across to the Bath Abbey (it’s particularly special if you visit during the dark winter nights when the city is lit up).
The city also boasts several excellent museums. These include the Jane Austen Centre, which showcases memorabilia of the author’s life, the nearby Museum of Bath Architecture, the Victoria Art Gallery, and the Fashion Museum Bath.
The city is wonderful to wander around. It’s packed full of stunning Georgian architecture: make sure you walk up to the Royal Crescent, a sweeping Georgian period arc overlooking the Royal Victoria Park.
There’s also the peaceful Parade Gardens which lie alongside the River Avon. You can pick up boat trips on the river which take you under the attractive 18th-century Pulteney Bridge.
How to get to Bath from Bristol
The drive from Bristol to Bath takes just over half an hour via the A4 road. Trains run regularly between the two cities and take on average 15 minutes.
Cheddar Gorge is a limestone gorge in Somerset’s Mendip Hills. It’s the largest gorge in England and a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is just one mile outside the small town of Cheddar.
The gorge is famous for its geological features. Notable attractions include the 500,000 year old Gough’s Cave which you clamber into to see caverns and stalactites and stalagmites poking out from the rock.
It also is home to Britain’s oldest complete skeleton known as ‘Cheddar Man’. A 45-minute audio tour provides information on the cave that you can listen to as you explore around the site.
After going down into the caves, you can walk Jacob’s Ladder to the Lookout Tower for spectacular views over the valley below. You can then carry on along the Cliff-top walk, which runs for three miles on both sides of the gorge.
And for a bit more adrenalin, you can go caving and rock climbing.
This is a great day trip from Bristol. However, it might not be for everyone. You need to descend down steep (sometimes wet) steps to get into the cave. And bear in mind that climbing Jacob’s Ladder to the Lookout Tower involves ascending over 320 steps.
How to get to Cheddar Gorge from Bristol
It’s easy to drive to Cheddar Gorge from Bristol – which is around 18 miles away – via the A38/A371 or A37/B3135 roads. You can also catch a bus via Weston-Super-Mare, but this takes longer.
Wookey Hole is another fascinating underground experience in the Mendip Hills, just over 20 miles south of Bristol.
It is home to several incredible attractions, including an ancient cave system that dates back millions of years and a variety of interactive activities and displays. As a result, Wookey Hole is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
The main attraction here is the vast network of caves and tunnels. You can explore eight of these and see underground rivers, mysterious rock formations, and many different stalactite and stalagmite structures (one of these is known as the Witch of Wookey Hole because of its shape).
In addition to these natural wonders, you can take in the views from the Enchanted Valley and meet the life-size dinosaurs at Dinosaur Grove.
You can also visit the museum to learn about cave diving and see some of the artefacts that have been uncovered on previous cave dives at Wookey.
As with Cheddar Gorge, there’s also the opportunity to do something a bit more adventurous here.
If this sounds tempting, you can book to go climbing and abseiling in the caves. This is a great way to see the caves – and there are parts you will get to see that are not possible on a standard entrance ticket to the caves.
For families travelling with kids, there’s also plenty to keep them entertained. There are soft play areas, vintage arcades, a 4D cinema, and weekend circus shows.
How to get to Wookey Hole from Bristol
Wookey Hole is just twenty miles from the city of Bristol, a drive of roughly between 45 and 50 minutes, depending on where you start from and the traffic. You can reach the caves via the A37, A38 and A39.
If you prefer public transport, you can catch a bus from Bristol to Wells (the S12) which is just two miles away and then on to Wookey Hole.
Stonehenge is another fascinating Bristol day trip.
A prehistoric monument in Wiltshire that dates back more than 5,000 years, it is one of the world’s most iconic and recognisable sites. It draws thousands of visitors annually, especially in June during the summer solstice when the standing stones align with the sun.
It’s possible to take a guided tour or simply wander around the site on your own and explore the area at your own pace.
Either way, you’ll see the impressive and mysterious ring of standing stones – the Stone Circle – as well as the surrounding neolithic houses. There is also an exhibition in the Visitor Centre where you can learn more about the history of Stonehenge.
There are also items on display that have been uncovered through the various archaeological excavations that have taken place.
How to get to Stonehenge from Bristol
It takes around an hour and 20 minutes to drive to Stonehenge. If you want to go by public transport, you can catch a train to Salisbury (a journey of a similar duration) and then catch the bus from the train station. This takes around half an hour.
Salisbury is around 60 miles from Bristol, and given its proximity to Stonehenge (it’s just 10 miles away), it would be easy to fit in a quick visit to each in a day. You could spend a couple of hours at Stonehenge and then the rest of the time exploring Salisbury.
Salisbury is known for its cathedral, which at over 120 metres has the tallest church spire in the United Kingdom. The cathedral contains one of four original copies of the 13th-century Magna Carta that now survive.
It also has the world’s oldest mechanical working clock.
If you’re feeling energetic, climb up the 332 steps to the top of the tower for stunning views across the city.
While wandering around the city centre, you’ll see other Salisbury attractions, including its half-timbered medieval buildings. The 18th-century Mompesson House in Salisbury is an impressive National Trust property that you can tour around.
You can also explore nearby Arundell’s, the former home of the British Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath.
For more history, visit the Salisbury Museum, which has archaeological and social history displays. There are also art exhibitions and glass and ceramics displays.
How to get to Salisbury from Bristol
The drive from Salisbury to Bristol takes around one hour and 40 minutes via the A36. The city is also around an hour and 10 minutes away from Bristol by train from Bristol Temple Meads station.
Oxford is a beautiful historic city and one of the top day trips from Bristol. There’s a lot to see here, so if you are going for just the day, I’d suggest you plan what you want to see in advance.
As Oxford is a famous university city, one of the best things to do is wander around and admire the university buildings. Try to see Christ Church College, one of Oxford’s most attractive historic buildings. It has gorgeous architecture (which includes the Tom Tower bell tower).
If you do want to see some of the university, you can book walking tours with a local guide that will take you around the main attractions. These include the iconic Bodlein library and the Radcliffe Camera, a magnificent dome which is a library built to house the Radcliffe family’s personal collection.
For those interested in art and culture, it’s worth a visit to the Ashmolean Museum. The museum has a superb range of Greek and Roman artefacts, 18th-century paintings from Europe, and impressive collections of Chinese art and modern British art.
For natural history, visit Oxford’s Museum of Natural History, which has a vast collection of objects and examples of extinct animals and birds (the remains of the ‘Oxford Dodo’ and of dinosaurs are here).
There’s also the University Church of St Mary with its stained-glass windows. And you can admire the Bridge of Sighs that connects the buildings on two sides of a narrow street.
If you’re up for an outdoor activity, the peaceful Botanic Garden and Arboretum is a good place to start.
You can also head out along the river for a gentle afternoon stroll, hire a punt or book a boat trip to take a tour of the city from the water.
How to get to Oxford from Bristol
You can drive to Oxford in around an hour and a half via the M4. Trains run to Oxford from Bristol Temple Meads station and take around an hour and twenty minutes, including a change of train at Didcot Parkway.
Tyntesfield House (originally Tyntes Place) is a Victorian Gothic building that is now part of a National Trust estate. It is just seven miles outside of Bristol and is an ideal place for a day out.
The main house and gardens are the highlight of the estate, with the former featuring ornate interiors. You can wander through various grand rooms, including the dining room, drawing room, oratory, chapel, and boudoir, and learn about the history of the Gibbs family who once lived here.
You can also look at the library, which still houses thousands of books.
Outside, there are extensive and beautiful gardens with different sections to explore. Among these is a rose garden on the hillside, a kitchen garden that dates back to the 1860s, an orangery, and an arboretum (apparently called ‘Paradise’ by the Gibbs family).
In the more formal gardens on the estate, it is said that over 10,000 flowers bloom during the summer season.
How to get to Tyntesfield House from Bristol
The easiest way to get to the estate is by car, a journey of less than 20 minutes; head for the B3128. You can also get there by public transport on the X6 bus from Bristol.
Located in the heart of Somerset, Wells is England’s smallest city. But despite its diminutive size, it’s filled with attractions and cultural landmarks to explore.
The city is particularly renowned for its impressive cathedral and quaint cobbled streets. The cathedral was constructed between the 12th and 15th century and is “the earliest English cathedral to be built in the Gothic style”.
It has several unique features inside, not least a collection of stained glass, the Wells Clock, and its interior ‘scissor arches’. It’s definitely worth popping in here.
The Bishop’s Palace is another must-visit attraction in Wells. The 13th-century palace sits in 14 acres of gardens and is surrounded by a moat, where you’ll see the resident swans.
The gardens include parterres and lawns, an arboretum, flower gardens, a community garden, and a pond with a water wheel.
If you enter the palace, you can walk across the ancient drawbridge and into the rooms that the bishops lived in. You can take a peek into the chapel, see the Great Hall and climb up to the ramparts.
This is a great thing to do to take in the views across the area (you can apparently see out to the Mendip Hills and Glastonbury Tor).
Aside from the cathedral and palace, you can wander around Vicar’s Close on a trip to Wells. This is next to the cathedral, so it’s easy to combine a visit to both. The close is regarded as the last fully medieval street left in the country.
There is also the Wells and Mendip Museum which houses several collections documenting the area’s past – items from nearby cave excavations, fossils and rocks uncovered nearby, old embroideries, and displays on the history of Wells.
How to get to Wells from Bristol
Wells is around 20 miles from Bristol and takes around 45 minutes to drive. You can take either the A37 or A38 road.
There are no direct trains between the cities, but you can take a bus if you prefer public transport. The 376 bus runs from Bristol Bus Station to Wells Bus Station with a journey time of around an hour and a quarter.
Weston Super Mare is a vibrant seaside town in north Somerset, around 45 minutes from Bristol. It’s perfect for a day-trip if you’re looking for some fresh coastal air and some seaside fun.
It has a long sandy beach that stretches for two miles on which you can partake in a range of traditional seaside activities. There are funfair rides, donkey rides, water sports, and a water play park.
The Grand Pier also houses various fun activities such as arcades and fairground rides.
It also has Britain’s smallest rollercoaster, arcades, an indoor theme park, and mini golf. These are all overlooked by 40 metre high Weston Wheel which you can ride on and look out over the local area.
The town is a short walk away from the seafront and has plenty of other things to occupy you on a day out. Aside from the typical selection of high street shops if you fancy some retail therapy, there is the Weston Museum, the place to go to if you want to learn about the town’s history.
There is also a helicopter museum with more than 100 aircraft from around the world. You can also have fun spotting the street art that appears in various spots throughout the town as part of the Weston Wallz project.
How to get to Weston-Super-Mare from Bristol
Weston-Super-Mare is just over 20 miles from Bristol so this is an easy day trip. You can drive via the M5 or take the train. Trains from Bristol Temple Meads station take around half an hour.
Less than 15 miles from Bristol, and north of Weston-Super-Mare, is the coastal town of Clevedon. This is a great day out from Bristol and offers plenty of activities perfect for adults and children alike.
Clevedon beach is an ideal spot to take a stroll. There is an old 19th-century Victorian pier here: walk to the pagoda at the end for somewhere to have a quick cuppa or ice cream before exploring further.
Then, if you want to take a dip, you could head to Marine Lake, “the world’s largest sea water infinity pool”. This covers an area of 15,000 square metres which is supplied by water from the Bristol Channel.
You can swim, hire boats, or for something a bit different, go crabbing or try out zorbing.
Alternatively, you could visit Clevedon Court, a 14th-century National Trust property with a large collection of art and furniture. There is also an attractive 18th-century terraced garden adjoining the house.
Or, if you fancy learning a bit more about the history of Clevedon, you can wander through some of the historic sites marked on this map. The circular route takes you through the town, out towards the seafront and the pier, and onto Marine Lake.
How to get to Clevedon from Bristol
If you’re driving from Bristol, take the B1328. The drive tends to be just over 30 minutes.
If you’re travelling by train, go to Yatton station, a journey of around 15 to 20 minutes. You’ll then need to take a taxi the rest of the way or catch a bus (the bus journey is only 10 minutes, but check times in advance as there can be relatively lengthy gaps between buses).
The X6 and X7 buses also go to Clevedon from Bristol Bus Station. These take less than an hour to reach the town.
Castle Combe is a small village in the Cotswolds about 20 miles away from Bristol. It is often quoted as being the “prettiest village in England” and has often been used as the setting for films and TV shows.
When you arrive, you will experience a quaint historic village (and can snap some great photos!) rather than cramming in a lot of sightseeing.
That said, there are a few things to do here. There are pretty little streets and the River Bybrook to stroll along, a 13th-century church which, uniquely, has a faceless clock, and cute little tea rooms.
You can also head off on a walk to get to know the surroundings.
This website provides options for three different walks. They cover a mile-long walk around the village, a three-and-a-half woodland walk, and a six-mile walk through the Cotswolds to the nearby village of Ford.
How to get to Castle Combe from Bristol
It’s just over half an hour to drive to Castle Coombe. It is harder to reach the village by public transportation, although you can take the train to nearby Chippenham, which is less than half an hour in duration. You can then swap to the number 95 bus or take a taxi.
Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire is a Norman castle sitting within a 6,000 acre estate that dates back to the 12th century.
The fortress castle, which was built as protection from invaders coming across the border from Wales, is easy to visit on a day out from Bristol – it is less than 20 miles to the north of the city and an easy drive away.
When you visit, you can go inside the castle and learn more about its history. The old historic rooms are fascinating.
You can look in the old keep with its dungeon and guard room, go into the medieval kitchen and step into the King’s Gallery. This is where King Edward II was murdered in 1327. There’s also the huge Great Hall, two chapels, and even a beer cellar!
As you explore the castle, you can see the collection of items amassed by the Berkeley family, who have lived here throughout its history. These include the bedspread used by Elizabeth I, and the cabin chest that belonged to Sir Francis Drake. There is also a range of works of art in the Picture Gallery.
Terraced gardens surround the castle, which are worth spending some time in. Some highlights of these include the lily pond, a Walled Garden (the cafe and gift shop are here), and the Great Lawn.
One section is also labelled the “bowling green” where it is said Queen Elizabeth I played bowls.
How to get to Berkeley Castle from Bristol
The drive to Berkeley Castle from Bristol is just over half an hour via the M5 motorway.
You can also catch a train to Cam and Dursley station. This journey also takes just over half an hour, but note that trains only run once an hour. From the station, it’s then a short taxi ride away.
Cardiff, the capital city of Wales, is steeped in history and culture. It is less than an hour from Bristol by train and another of the top day trips from Bristol.
The city is home to various attractions, from ancient monuments to modern sites.
Fans of Doctor Who will love this Doctor Who walking tour which takes you around the main sights that were used in the filming of the show.
One of its most iconic attractions is Cardiff Castle – a medieval castle standing in the heart of the city. It was originally built by the Normans in 1081 and has undergone many changes since then.
The eye-catching Norman Keep remains, however (this is similar to the Round Tower at Windsor Castle); if you climb the steps to the top, there are stunning views across the area. You can also go into the apartments and see the opulent rooms inside.
Right by the castle is Bute Park, the castle park. This spans 130 acres and contains gardens, woodland, and trails, as well as tea rooms that you can stop off in. It’s a perfect place to take a stroll after visiting Cardiff Castle.
Cardiff Bay is also worth visiting. It’s a large development (the largest waterfront development of its type in Europe).
There are restaurants, bars, and shops here, and this is the place to go if you want to take a boat ride around the area or onto the River Severn. There’s also a wetland centre here, and Techniquest, an interesting interactive science centre.
A little further away (and probably one to put on your list if you have more than one day in Cardiff) is one of the nearby national parks, the Brecon Beacons National Park.
This has the highest peak in South Wales – Pen y Fan – which reaches a height of almost 900 metres, and has some of the best hikes in the region.
You can book trips to the Brecon Beacons here.
How to get to Cardiff from Bristol
Cardiff can be reached by car in around an hour via the M4. You can also catch the train from both Bristol Parkway and Bristol Temple Meads station.
There are three to four trains an hour, which take between 35 and 55 minutes (the Bristol Parkway trains are the quicker trains).
Slimbridge Wetlands Centre
Slimbridge Wetlands Centre is an incredible wildlife reserve located on the banks of the River Severn, around 25 miles to the north of Bristol. This wetland sanctuary covers an area of 650 acres and is a haven for hundreds of thousands of birds with its ponds, marshes, and waterlogged meadows and grassland.
By visiting the Wetlands Centre you can get some exercise, fresh air and spot the local wildlife. It’s a must-see for nature lovers or if you’re an ornithologist.
The Estuary Tower Hide near the Visitor Centre is a good place to get some views and spot some birds. It has two floors where you can get some amazing views and speak to volunteers who can help identify any you see.
In total, there are 13 hides around the area that all provide great views of parts of the wetlands.
If you time it right, you can also attend talks during your visit. Among these are talks on amphibians and the various bird species that frequent the wetlands.
You can also join guided tours led by experienced wardens who can give you fascinating facts about the birds and their habitats. And in the winter, there are feeding sessions for the wild birds which you can watch from one of the heated observatories.
You should also pop into the Scott House Museum during your visit. This was the home of Sir Peter Scott, who founded the WWT, another branch of which is in Barnes in London.
How to get to Slimbridge Wetlands Centre from Bristol
The drive from Bristol is between half an hour and three-quarters of an hour. You can also take a train to Cam and Dursley train station and then it’s five minutes in a taxi.
The Fleet Air Arm museum
If you like aircraft or military history, the Fleet Air Arm museum is a fantastic day trip.
The museum showcases the story of British Naval Aviation, from its embryonic days in 1909 to today’s cutting-edge operations.
Located at the Royal Naval Air Station in Yeovilton, Somerset, the museum has four halls with exhibitions that showcase over 90 aircraft and display thousands of artefacts. This makes it the biggest naval aviation museum in the whole of Europe.
I didn’t live too far away when I was growing up and vividly remember visiting the museum and the excitement of clambering aboard different aircraft. Most memorable for me was the rarity of stepping into the first British Concorde.
Last year, a new experience also opened: you can now learn about aircraft carriers, see the flight deck and witness the challenges of take-off and landing from a moving vessel.
There is also currently an exhibition to commemorate the Falklands Conflict in the 1980s, another on the Women’s Royal Navy Service, and another on the 100 years of the Search and Rescue service.
How to get to the Fleet Air Arm Museum from Bristol
The Fleet Air Arm Museum is just over 30 miles south of Bristol at the Royal Naval Air Station (or HMS Heron). By car you can reach it on the B3151 via the A303 and A37. It is around an hour’s drive from Bristol.
You can also travel by train from Bristol Temple Meads station to Yeovil Pen Mill station. From there you will need to get a taxi the rest of the way.
Longleat Safari Park
Longleat Safari Park is the perfect day trip from Bristol for the whole family. Located in Warminster in Wiltshire, it’s one of the UK’s most popular safari parks. Here you can get up close and personal with some of nature’s most majestic creatures. In all, there are over 120 animal species here.
Longleat offers a wide range of activities for you to enjoy on your day out.
As you walk around, you’ll see some of your favourite animals, and some of the enclosures even allow you to walk through them and interact with some of the creatures. For example, you can walk through the meerkat pen and experience them darting between your feet or buy food and feed the lorikeets in their aviary.
When you want to rest your feet, try out the boat safari on the river to see the sea lions and hippos in the water and to spot the gorillas along the river banks.
Or hop on the Longleat miniature railway for a 12-minute ride through the surrounding woodland.
Perhaps most famously, you can drive around the safari park in your own vehicle to see if you can spot the animals roaming around Longleat estate. There are lions, cheetahs, elephants, zebra, monkeys, giraffes, and deer, to name but a few.
This is a unique and fun way to see the animals – but be prepared for them to come up close to your car, or even jump on it!
If you don’t have your own car, a Safari bus will take you around. This leaves twice a day and lasts for two hours.
If a trip around the grounds is not enough, you can also take a one-hour guided tour of Longleat House, a 16th-century grand house with a wealth of history. The tour takes you around the house’s main rooms and to see its various artistic collections.
Other things to do at Longleat include testing your skills of escape in the maze, booking a VIP animal experience, and for children, clambering around the adventure castle and seeing the animals in the farmyard.
How to get to Longleat Safari Park from Bristol
Longleat is around 30 miles from Bristol, a drive of around an hour. You can also travel by train from Bristol Temple Meads station to Warminster station (a journey of 48 minutes) and then catch a taxi for the remaining five miles.
Day trips from Bristol
These are just a handful of suggestions for top day trips from Bristol – but they are definitely ones you should put on your list.
For ideas for other places to visit in southern Britain, check out some of my other posts: