Yes, Bristol is brilliant, but sometimes being stuck in the city can bring you down. Everyone needs a break now and again. Luckily, there are some spectacular day trips around Bristol. From heart-racing thrills to jaw-dropping scenery, whichever way you travel, there’s always something exciting or idyllic to stumble across. So, get your anorak out, put your sandwiches in the car, and treat yourself to one of these wonderful day trips from Bristol. You won’t regret taking a break from the city in one of these places.
A little obvious? Perhaps. But sometimes you need a reminder of the beauty sitting in front of your face. During the Georgian era, Bath in Somerset rivalled London for celebrity and status. The city’s streets are still lined with the finest Georgian architecture, with the Royal Crescent – overlooking Royal Victoria Park – the most important of all.
Its unique yellow look, breath-taking in the summertime, is a result of the oolitic limestone – otherwise known as Bath stone- from which most of the city is built. It’s easy to see how Jane Austen became so enamoured with the city – make sure to visit the Jane Austen Centre while in town. Another highlight includes the 7th century Bath Abbey.
Of course, no conversation surrounding the city can happen without mentioning The Roman Baths. While legend says Bath was founded in 860 BC when King Bladud cured himself of leprosy after discovering hot springs in the area. In reality, we only know that Aquae Sulis developed around the site, between 60 and 70 AD, after the Roman invasion of Britain. The Roman baths were used for public bathing until the fall of Roman rule in the 5th century. Today, more than a million visitors still come to tour the baths.
Bath is no more than a half-hour day trip from Bristol.
If you need a quick trip to the beach, then Weston-Super-Mare is one of the best day trips from Bristol. This seaside resort on the north Somerset coast is 20 miles down from Bristol with easy access from the M5, plus there’s a direct train too.
There are almost two miles of sandy beach, with a flat and level promenade running alongside it, to enjoy. While the town itself is full of independent shops, cafes and bars to explore, as well as museums, theatres and many more activities. Start packing the car with beach towels, buckets and spades, swimming costumes and windbreakers today. Jump in, the water’s fine!
It takes between half an hour to an hour to drive to Weston-Super-Mare from Bristol.
3. Cheddar Gorge
Cheddar Gorge is a dream for all thrill-seekers. Motorists can smoothly swerve through one of Britain’s most spectacular natural landmarks; rock-climbers can clamber up awe-inspiring cliffs; hikers can witness panoramic views as you loop around the edge of England’s largest gorge; and potholers delve deep into the mysterious secrets of its subterranean stalactite show caves.
While this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a Site of Special Scientific Interest supports much activity today. It also helped mankind millennia ago too. In prehistoric times, people used the caves in Cheddar Gorge for shelter for 40,000 years. Head to the Museum of Prehistory, home to the legendary Cheddar Man, to learn more.
Nearby to the gorge, you’ll also find the pretty village of Cheddar. Head here to refuel on ice cream, cider or a pub lunch. It’s also home to the iconic The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company – the only cheddar still being made in Cheddar!
Cheddar Gorge is less than an hour’s drive from Bristol.
4. Longleat Safari & Adventure Park
It was the first Safari Park outside of Africa when it opened in 1966. These stately grounds in Wiltshire are now home to over 120 species. So take a walk on the wild side with a visit to numerous giraffes, zebras, ostriches, gorillas, marmosets, crocodiles, koalas and so much more. Other attractions at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park include the biggest hedge maze in Britain, a miniature railway journeying around the Park’s scenic woodland and the children-friendly Adventure Castle.
While here, you are also invited to visit Longleat House. One of the finest examples of Elizabethan architecture. Built between 1567 and 1580, it has been lived in by sixteen generations of the Thynn family. Today it is the family home of the 8th Marquess and Marchioness of Bath. Take a guided tour of the house to learn all its ancient history.
Longleat Safari & Adventure Park should take about one and a half hours to drive to from Bristol.
5. Avebury Henge
We did consider putting Stonehenge on this list. But if we have to pick just one awe-inspiring, megalithic stone structure in Wiltshire, we would rather highlight the lesser-known one. Avebury Henge contains three stone circles around the village of Avebury and one of the largest megalithic stone circles in the world. Close to it, you will also find several other prehistoric monuments: the artificial chalk mound Silbury Hill, the West Kennet Long Barrow, and the causewayed enclosure Windmill Hill.
Avebury is of great importance to English history. But also contemporary pagans, new-age travellers, hippies and Wiltshire locals. During both Summer Solstice and Winter Solstice, hundreds of people celebrate among the stones to see in the new seasons. Expect live music, dancing, lots of fire and performances from those dressed in quirky costumes. But Avebury is worth a trip any time of year. Stop at The Red Lion in the village for a quick pitstop pint after your walk.
Avebury is about an hour’s drive from Bristol.
6. Slimbridge Wetland Centre
WWT Slimbridge is a wetland wildlife reserve midway between Bristol and Gloucester. Set up by artist and naturalist Sir Peter Scott in 1946, over 2,000 acres give a home for migrating water birds during the summer. In the winter ducks, geese and swans, as well as birds of prey such as peregrine and merlin, will visit. Species present all year round include grebes, tufted ducks, kingfishers, woodpeckers, sparrowhawks and owls.
The public is also allowed to visit all year round. Making this the best way to get up close to nature among day trips from Bristol. There are plenty of unique events and activities for all the family to get stuck into. But it’s best to check their website to see what’s on.
WTT Slimbridge is at most an hours drive from Bristol.
The Cotswolds cover 787 square miles, so there are a lot of amazing day trips from Bristol to do there! We could have picked almost any village, but went for somewhere that isn’t so close to Bristol. What makes the lovely Bourton-on-the-Water stand out is that it has its own Model Village, proper Hot Fuzz vibes! It’s a complete replica of the Cotswold-stone village with mini gardens too.
It’s also neatly nearby lots of brilliant attractions in the north of The Cotswolds. Check out The Rollright Stones near Little Rollright (can you tell we’re into megalithic monuments?). Or how about Chipping Campden’s Broadway Tower standing tall atop the site of an ancient beacon? Or maybe Chedworth Roman Villa, which was uncovered during the Victorian period with its Roman mosaic floors still preserved.
Bourton-on-the-Water is about an hour and a half from Bristol.
8. Kilve Beach
Wordsworth once noted Kilve Beach’s “delightful shore” and shortly lived at Alfoxden House. But we’re highlighting this beautiful among the best day trips from Bristol for its fossil hunting. There’ll be no sunbathing on sandy shores here, the shoreline is mostly rocky with rockpools to explore and ammonites to find. Kilve, however, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) so please don’t remove the fossils from the cliffs or bedrock.
Sitting in the heart of the Quantock Hills, Kilve is also situated near a bountiful of sloping hikes and breathtaking sights. The Coleridge Way – named after the famous poet, Samuel Coleridge – also cuts through the Quantocks. While Woodland Hill is one of the wildest and most wonderful wooded valleys in the area.
Kilve Beach is about an hour and thirty minutes from Bristol.