Weekend in Bristol with Kids

Just returned from a weekend in Bristol with our children, I decided to write this post with all my tips on what to do and see in this amazing city in the Somerset region of England. I (or perhaps I should say we) was pleasantly surprised by the variety of activities and attractions that the city has to offer, perfect for entertaining our children and keeping them engaged throughout our stay.

From the moment we arrived in the city, we found Bristol welcoming and vibrant, with its lively city center, its tourist canal with museums, restaurants, and bars, not to mention the elegant Clifton neighborhood.

We immediately noticed that the city is incredibly family-friendly, with a wide range of entertainment options suitable for all ages: from interactive museums to open-air parks, there are plenty of fun and engaging activities that we could enjoy together with our children. In fact, the variety of experiences was so extensive that each day was a unique and unforgettable adventure for the whole family.

A weekend in Bristol is sufficient to see some of the main attractions the city has to offer. If you have time, I recommend visiting Bath as well, which is about 40 kilometers away and is served by trains and buses from Bristol. In practice, you can fly to Bristol, visit the city for 2 or 3 days, then spend another 2 or 3 days in Bath, before heading directly to Bristol airport for your return to Italy.

In Bath, I recommend taking this tour to see the most beautiful things in the city. For the transfer from Bristol airport, go to the bottom of the post to read my tips.

But let’s see what to do on a weekend in Bristol with kids.

SS Great Britain and Brunel Museum Visit

Our weekend in Bristol started with a visit to SS Great Britain, an attraction that we particularly enjoyed, especially the children. This historic ship, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and launched in 1843, transported us back in time, allowing us to immerse ourselves in the maritime life of the Victorian era. The children were excited to explore the interiors of the ship, discovering the passenger cabins, the onboard kitchens, and the common areas, all carefully restored to recreate the atmosphere of the time.

SS Great Britain  Bristol

A truly unique and unusual moment was when we had the opportunity to observe the underside of the ship, thanks to a specially designed area that allows visitors to see the structure and propulsion system of the SS Great Britain. This vast covered space and its modern technology protect the fragile iron hull of the ship, keeping the air as dry as the Arizona desert. You can walk around the entire perimeter of the ship, getting close to the hull and the propeller that made the SS Great Britain one of the most innovative ships in the world.

After exploring the SS Great Britain, we continued our visit with the Brunel Museum, dedicated to the extraordinary life and inventions of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The museum offers a fascinating overview of the life and work of this engineering genius, with interactive exhibits, scale models, and original artifacts that tell the story of his greatest works, including bridges, tunnels, and ships.

The visit to the ship and the museum lasts approximately 2 hours. I highly recommend bringing sandwiches with you that you can enjoy in one of the outdoor picnic areas or taking a refreshing break at the museum’s bar-restaurant.

Brunel Museum Bristol

Useful Information for the Visit

  • Opening Hours and Tickets: The museum is open every day from 10 am to 4 pm, but it is advisable to check the official website for updated opening hours and ticket prices.
  • Services: Several services are available for visitors, including refreshment points, souvenir shops, and toilets. Staff are available to provide information and assistance during the visit.

Bristol Aquarium

Bristol Aquarium is worth a visit on a weekend in Bristol even though, compared to other aquariums, like the one in Genoa for example, it is smaller and has fewer fish species.

Bristol Aquarium


The exhibitions at Bristol Aquarium are designed to immerse visitors in a variety of marine habitats, from the waters of the Atlantic to tropical coral reefs and beyond. With tanks faithfully recreating natural environments, visitors can get up close to a myriad of marine creatures, from colorful sea anemones to majestic sharks.

Interactive Experiences

One of the most engaging features of the aquarium is the interactive experiences it offers. Visitors can touch starfish, sea urchins, and other marine animals in designated touch tanks, making the experience even more tangible and memorable. Aquarium educators are always available to answer questions and share fascinating information about marine life.

Bristol Aquarium

Presentations and Activities

Throughout the day, Bristol Aquarium offers a series of presentations and activities to enrich visitors’ experiences. Children can participate in interactive workshops where they learn about marine ecology, ocean conservation, and much more. Live shows offer a unique opportunity to see marine animals up close and appreciate their beauty and unique behavior.

Useful Information for the Visit

  • Opening Hours: Bristol Aquarium is open every day of the year, from 10 am to 4 pm. It is advisable to check the aquarium’s official website for updated opening hours before planning your visit.
  • Tickets: Tickets for Bristol Aquarium can be purchased online or at the aquarium’s entrance. Reduced rates are available for children and families, and there are often special offers available for online purchases in advance.
  • Services: The aquarium offers toilets, refreshment points, and a souvenir shop for visitors.

I recommend dedicating at least a couple of hours to visiting the aquarium to see it calmly and engaging in some activities for the children.

Bristol Aquarium

Boat Excursion with Bristol Packet

During your weekend in Bristol, treat yourself to an unforgettable experience with a boat trip with Bristol Packet. This company offers a range of cruises that allow you to explore the city and its surroundings from a completely new perspective, offering spectacular views and moments of relaxation along the River Avon.

Themed Cruises

Bristol Packet offers a variety of themed cruises, each designed to cater to different interests. You can opt for a historical cruise, during which you will discover the stories and legends surrounding Bristol, or a nature cruise, which will take you along the river landscapes and nature reserves in the area. There are also evening cruises, ideal for admiring the charming sunsets over the river. We opted for the 45-minute tour in the center of Bristol: very interesting with a knowledgeable and also friendly guide.

Boat Excursion Bristol

Iconic Views

During the boat tour on longer tours, you will have the opportunity to admire many of Bristol’s most famous attractions from a unique perspective. You can pass under historic bridges, such as the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge, and admire the imposing facades of the buildings along the river. Expert guides will provide interesting commentary on the city’s history and architecture along the way.

Bristol from the river

Useful Information for the Visit

  • Hours and Reservations: Bristol Packet offers regular cruises along the River Avon. It is advisable to consult the official website for cruise times and book in advance to secure your place on board.
  • Boarding Points: Cruises depart from various points along the River Avon, including the famous city center dock and the picturesque Bristol harbor. Be sure to check the boarding point indicated on your reservation and arrive early for check-in.
  • Duration and Costs: The duration and cost of cruises may vary depending on the type of cruise chosen. Rates are generally affordable, with options available for families and groups. We opted for the 45-minute tour in the canal that crosses Bristol, definitely recommended. The guide is live (so not a prerecorded guide) informative and helpful.
  • Onboard Services: On the boats, there is a bar service with drinks and snacks available for purchase. Toilets are also available for passengers’ convenience.

Wake the Tiger: Something Unusual in Bristol

We didn’t know what to expect from Wake the Tiger in Bristol, and it’s even harder to describe the experience after visiting this unusual yet spectacular place. It’s essentially an immersive experience that challenges the boundaries of reality and transports visitors on a fantastic and futuristic journey.

Not just a simple adventure park, but a labyrinth of exploration that winds through two distinct worlds: the Dream Factory and the OUTERverse.

Wake the Tiger Bristol

Dream Factory: Where Imagination Comes to Life

The Dream Factory is a true sensory laboratory where fantasy takes center stage. Through themed rooms, visitors are immersed in a dreamlike and surreal world, where every detail is designed to stimulate creativity and the senses.

Some of the experiences that await you in the Dream Factory:

  • The Mirror Room: A play of lights and reflections that distort reality and create a magical atmosphere.
  • The Enchanted Forest: A pathway immersed in nature, where fantastical creatures and interactive installations come to life.
  • The Art and Music Laboratory: A space where visitors can express their creativity through artistic and musical activities.
  • The Dream Hall: A relaxing environment where you can immerse yourself in a world of evocative sounds and images.

In the Dream Factory, there are no limits to imagination. Visitors are encouraged to play, explore, and interact with the surrounding environment, becoming active participants in a unique and unforgettable experience.

Wake the Tiger Bristol

OUTERverse: A Journey Through Space and Time

The OUTERverse is a futuristic and space-themed universe that transports visitors on an intergalactic adventure. Neon-lit corridors, cosmic-themed rooms, and interactive installations create a surreal atmosphere that invites exploration of the mysteries of the unknown.

Some of the experiences that await you in the OUTERverse:

  • The Command Bridge: Take control of a spaceship and navigate through the vastness of space.
  • The Alien Planet: Discover extraterrestrial fauna and flora in a fantastic and unknown world.
  • The Time Tunnel: Travel through different epochs and encounter creatures from past and future eras.
  • The Astronomical Observatory: Admire the stars and planets from a unique and fascinating perspective.

In the OUTERverse, reality blends with fantasy. Visitors are catapulted into a world of adventures and discoveries, where the unknown takes center stage.


To get a better idea of what to expect, take a look at this short video.

Useful Information about Wake the Tiger

  • Website: wakethetiger.com
  • Address: 140 Albert Road, Bristol BS2 0XJ, England
  • Opening Hours: Vary depending on the season, please check the website
  • Prices: Starting from £16 for adults and £12 for children


  • Book your ticket online in advance to avoid queues.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and layered clothing (some rooms can be very warm).
  • Bring a water bottle.
  • If you have young children, make sure to keep an eye on them during activities, otherwise, you’re guaranteed to lose them.
  • It takes about 2 hours to visit the entire site.
  • There is a themed restaurant for lunch or just a coffee.
Wake the Tiger Bristol

Clifton Bridge, Observatory, and Giant’s Cave

The Clifton Observatory, located in the Clifton neighborhood, is an iconic Bristol attraction that offers not only breathtaking views of the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge but also the opportunity to explore the mysterious Giant’s Cave. This historic building, constructed in 1766 as an observation tower, has become a famous landmark and a place of interest for visitors of all ages.

Clifton Suspension Bridge

History and Architecture

The Clifton Observatory has a fascinating history dating back to the 18th century. Originally used as a signaling tower for sailors, it has over time become an iconic symbol of the city.

It’s worth visiting for the following reasons

  • Panoramic Views: One of the main attractions of the Clifton Observatory is the extraordinary panoramic view of the Avon Gorge and the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge.
  • Camera Obscura: Inside the Observatory, visitors can explore a historic camera obscura, which offers a unique and fascinating perspective on the surrounding environment. Through the use of ancient optical techniques, you can observe real-time images reflected on the screen by the lens placed on the dome.
  • Local History and Culture: The Clifton Observatory has a rich history dating back to the 19th century. It has been used in the past as a meteorological and astronomical observation point. Exploring the Observatory offers an opportunity to immerse yourself in local history and understand the role it has played in the life of the Bristol community over the centuries.
  • Educational Experiences: The Clifton Observatory also offers educational experiences for visitors of all ages. Through interactive exhibits and detailed explanations, visitors can learn more about the science, geology, and natural history of the region.
Clifton Bristol

The Mysterious Giant’s Cave

One of the most intriguing attractions of the Clifton Observatory is the Giant’s Cave. Here are some reasons why it’s worth visiting:

Underground Exploration: The Giant’s Cave is a network of underground caves that extends beneath the rocky terrain of the Clifton Observatory. With your entrance ticket, you’ll walk through a single underground tunnel that leads to an opening in the rock from which you can admire the Clifton Bridge. The route is not suitable for those suffering from claustrophobia as the tunnel is narrow. It takes about 5 minutes to walk to the opening overlooking the bridge.

History and Legends: The Giant’s Cave is shrouded in many legends and mysterious stories dating back centuries. It is said that the cave has hosted mythical creatures and legendary characters throughout history.

You can visit the cave on your own, as in our case, or with a guided tour.

Useful Information for Your Visit

  • Opening Hours: Spring/Summer (from March onwards) – 10:00-17:00 (last entry 16:45); Autumn/Winter (from October onwards) – 10:00-16:00 (last entry 15:45).
  • Admission Tickets: Paid entry, with different rates for adults, children, families, and concessions.
  • Website: https://cliftonobservatory.com

Bristol Zoo Gardens

I would like to mention that we didn’t visit Bristol Zoo due to time and organization constraints, but we plan to go there on our next visit to Bristol. However, I thought it would be useful to include it in things to do on a weekend in Bristol because we received a lot of positive feedback about the zoo. I also realize that zoos are a controversial topic, and many prefer to avoid them for ethical reasons. However, it’s important to consider that such institutions can also play a significant role in the conservation of endangered species and in educating the public about biodiversity and the need to protect wild animals and their natural habitats.

In any case, Bristol Zoo Gardens boasts a wide range of animals from around the world, including lions, gorillas, penguins, lemurs, and much more. Children will have the opportunity to explore the realistic habitats of these animals, learning about their natural environment and observing the unique behaviors of each species.

The zoo also offers a variety of interactive activities designed to actively engage children. There are outdoor play areas, such as slides and swings, where children can burn off energy and have fun. Additionally, there are interactive spaces where children can learn more about animals through games, quizzes, and demonstrations.

Animal Encounters

Bristol Zoo regularly offers special animal encounters, where children can get up close to creatures such as spiders, snakes, turtles, and other domestic animals. These encounters provide a unique opportunity for children to learn more about animals and interact directly with them under the supervision of the zoo’s experienced staff.

  • Opening Hours: Bristol Zoo Gardens is open every day of the year, except Christmas Day. Opening hours are from 10 am to 4 pm, but it’s advisable to check the zoo’s official website for the most up-to-date hours.
  • Tickets: Tickets for Bristol Zoo can be purchased online or at the zoo entrance. Reduced rates are available for children and families, and there are often special offers available for online purchase in advance. Prices range from £15 for adults to £11 for children up to 14 years old.
  • Services: Bristol Zoo offers a variety of services to make your stay as comfortable as possible. There are dining and picnic areas, toilets, a souvenir shop, and refreshment areas to cool off during your visit.
  • Accessibility: Bristol Zoo is committed to being accessible to all people, including those with disabilities or special needs. The zoo offers wheelchair access, accessible bathrooms, and other facilities to ensure a comfortable visit for all visitors.

Where to Eat in Bristol

I feel comfortable recommending Pieminister Broad Quay if you have a limited budget but still want to eat relatively well. This restaurant is very casual and located in the city center. Pieminister Broad Quay is part of a chain of British restaurants that offers a unique and tasty culinary experience, perfect for the whole family. Their menu is based on delicious pies filled with fresh and high-quality ingredients, available in a variety of flavors to please every palate. Prices start from £9 for a pie, for example.

In addition to pies, you can also order:

  • Starters: Selection of cured meats, cheeses, vegetables, and other appetizers.
  • Desserts: Delicious desserts like apple crumble, chocolate cake, and cheesecake.
  • Drinks: Wide selection of non-alcoholic, alcoholic beverages, and coffee.
Pieminister Broad Quay

Where to Stay in Bristol

Bristol offers a wide range of accommodation options, suitable for different tastes and budgets. Here are some options in the neighborhoods to stay in for a weekend in Bristol.

  • City Center: If you want to be in the heart of the action, there are numerous hotels and bed and breakfasts in the center of Bristol, close to major tourist attractions, restaurants, and shops.
  • Clifton: Where we stayed. This elegant and charming neighborhood offers boutique hotels and charming bed and breakfasts. Clifton is known for its Georgian buildings and the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge, offering a relaxed atmosphere while still being close to the city center.
  • Harbourside: If you prefer a view of the harbor or canal, you might consider staying near the Harbourside. Here you will find a variety of accommodations, from large hotels to small bed and breakfasts, with a convenient location to explore the harbor area.
  • Southville and Bedminster: These neighborhoods, located just outside the city center, offer a quieter and alternative atmosphere. You’ll find a selection of cozy and welcoming accommodations, often managed by local owners.

If you are traveling with family, I recommend Beaufort House Apartments in Clifton, which, as I mentioned before, is the most beautiful and characteristic area of the city. These apartments are an excellent choice for the following reasons:

  • Central Location, a 10-minute walk from the center.
  • Comfort and Space: Spacious and well-furnished apartment with a fully equipped kitchen, living area, and bedrooms.
  • Services: Beaufort House Apartments offer various services such as free Wi-Fi, daily apartment cleaning.
  • Panoramic View: Some apartments offer a panoramic view of the city or the river.
  • Positive Reviews: Many travelers have left positive reviews on Booking.com about their experience at Beaufort House Apartments, highlighting the convenience, cleanliness, and hospitality.

We had a good experience, and if you have any questions about it, leave a comment on the post, and I’ll respond directly there or by email.

Beaufort House Apartments in Clifton Bristol
Beaufort House Apartments in Clifton

Useful Information for a Weekend in Bristol

For transfer from Bristol Airport, there are 2 options: shuttle bus or taxi. Personally, I recommend the shuttle bus because it’s fast, direct, and takes you to the city center. In this case, you buy the ticket directly on the bus, and the stop is located at the arrivals exit. The price is £12 round trip per person or £25 for a family of 4, also round trip. The bus accepts credit cards for payments.

Remember that to visit the UK, you need a passport valid for more than 6 months, so check that everything is in order.

You can pay practically anywhere with a credit card, but there are also ATMs at the airport if you prefer cash. I use Wise account when I’m abroad because it allows free withdrawals at ATMs when abroad. To learn more, click here.

In Conclusion

A weekend in Bristol is a fantastic opportunity to discover the beauty and charm of this vibrant city, rich in history, culture, and entertainment. With its family-friendly attractions, picturesque landscapes, and lively atmosphere, Bristol has something to offer for visitors of all ages, making it the perfect destination for a memorable family getaway.

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