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Bristol is an English city that is often overlooked by tourists. This is unjustified as Bristol has a lot to offer, both in- and outside the city.
The Bristol Suspension Bridge is the city's main symbol. The bridge, built in 1880, was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and spans the Avon Gorge between Bristol and North Somerset. You can of course cross the bridge by car, but you can best admire the spectacular views when crossing it by foot.
The same Brunel designed the SS Great Britain. This ship dating from 1843 is docked in the harbor (Great Western Dock) and is nowadays one of Bristol's main attractions. Through sounds and even smells, they provide a lifelike impression of life on board of this ship. You can even try to steer the ship; virtually that is. And do you want to put yourself in the shoes of the ship's cook Tom, or the ship's cat Sinbad? Even that is possible! You have guessed right: This is not just about visiting an old ship; this is a unique experience.
The entrance fee for the Bristol Zoo is rather high, but it is one of the best zoos in the southwest of England. The gorilla colony lives on an artificial island. The star attraction is ZooRopia where you can move through the jungle via lianas, planks, bridges and ropes. That's right, think along the lines of 'Me Tarzan, you Jane'. The city's interactive science and technology museum is called At-Bristol. It is especially fun for families with children who can perform many experiments themselves. New installations are added to the museum on a regular basis.
For centuries, Bristol has been known as the center for glassware. In the Bristol Blue Glass Factory you learn how glass is made and they offer glass-blowing demonstrations. You can also try it yourself and you will discover that it is extremely difficult.
Cabot Circus is Bristol's best-known shopping mall, which was opened in 2008. This is literally a one-stop shop and shopaholics can indulge themselves. It also houses many cafés and restaurants to quench your thirst or have a bite to eat in between shopping.
When you are done shopping, you can leave the city behind for a minute in Ashton Court, Bristol's large city park. They often organize events, like the Ashton Court Festival in summer, the Bristol Balloon Festival and the International Kite Festival.
Bristol is an excellent starting point for trips in the city's surroundings, like for example a trip to Cheddar Gorge, which is sometimes called Great-Britain's second-largest natural attraction (the Dan yr Ogof Caves are number 1). The gorge is located in the Mendip Hills in Somerset. In the two main limestone caves – Gough’s and Cox’s – live different species of bats and you can see gorgeous stalagmites and stalactites. They already made cheese in these caves in prehistoric times. Children are kept busy in another cave with the Crystal Quest. Those who do not suffer claustrophobia can visit the Wookey Hole, also in Mendip Hills. It is a very narrow cave with the fossil Witch of Wookey Hole, who, according to a legend, was turned into a stone by a monk.
Do you fancy a day at the beach? In that case you can drive in your rental car to Weston Super Mare, southwest of Bristol. On this beach, children can take a donkey ride and during summer months, T4 Party's are held in the evening. These are big music events, which draw thousands of people.
The fairylike Berkeley Castle was built in the twelfth century to keep the Welsh out, although they did not succeed at the time. The castle's history and the many battles that were fought are unfolded during the guided tours. In the garden you'll find the Tropical Butterfly House, where you can not only see colorful butterflies but also the world's largest moth.
Driving in Bristol's center can be somewhat confusing as many streets are one-way streets. There are many parking garages around the center, but they are rather expensive. It is cheaper to park your rental car at one of the three Park & Ride lots (Long Ashton, Portway and Bath Road), from where you can take public transportation to travel to the center.
The airport, Bristol International Airport, is located 13 kilometers southwest of the city. From the city center you can reach the airport by rental car via Bridgewater Road (A38).