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Things to do in Bristol

Why visit Bristol?

Nestled in the South West of England, Bristol is just a couple of hours from London, Birmingham and Exeter - but the city has far more going for it than convenient geography.

From entertainment, shopping and restaurants to history and culture, the city is bursting at the seams with things to do and see alongside your go karting experience. Head to Cabot Circus for everything you could want from a modern retail and entertainment centre, or soak up the city's independent culture towards Park Street and Gloucester Road.

In fact, it's the city's independent nature that has everyone clamouring for more. Foodies can immerse themselves in a sort of flavour nirvana with all the indie restaurants across the city and if you find time for a spot of shopping, you'll find boutiques full to the brim with local brands and goods. You'll also find an assortment of city festivals taking place across the year.

The city's museums, art galleries and creative spaces are another huge draw to the area. Thanks to the likes of Banksy, Bristol is a global hub for street art – so be sure to take a Banksy tour, or just take a wander down Nelson Street to check out the latest vibrant additions to the city's walls.

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Places to stay

As you can see, there's more than enough to get stuck into on a visit to Bristol - so it can really pay to stay over to get the most out of your time in the city.

Along with the many country hotels that sit just outside of the city centre, more generous budgets can benefit from luxury in the very heart of the city. The Bristol  Marriott Royal Hotel is something of an institution, and sits looking out over the very attractive College Green area of the city. Bristol is also home to a Radisson Blu, a DoubleTree by Hilton, a collection of Mercure Hotels, and a couple of more boutique options - namely the Hotel du Vin, and The Grand Hotel Bristol.

For more budget-friendly options, you'll also find a range of Premier Inns, Holiday Inns, Future Inns and an Ibis.

But, when you're in Bristol, why not live like a Bristolian? If conventional hotels aren't really your thing, you'll find a great range of properties just a hop, skip and a jump from the city centre on Air BnB. You might even find that opting to hire a house with a group works out cheaper than a hotel anyway - not to mention the hip, understated locations you might find yourselves staying in.

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Nightlife

Nightlife is one thing that Bristol certainly is not lacking. Whatever kind of night you're looking to have, there's guaranteed to be a bar or club to keep you happy. From Illusions Magic Bar (where the likes of Derren Brown have been known to perform in the early days) to the 'hidden' prohibition-style bars that require a knock on a seemingly obsolete door, there's plenty of Bristol-branded obscure to go around.

If music is your thing, heavy music-appreciators have to check out The Hatchet. Here, you'll find 300 years of pub history paired with metal and heavy rock nights - the best mix! The Thekla is a popular spot for gigs and alternative nights out too (yes, it is a venue on a boat!), and you'll find equally as popular, if more conventional night-out entertainment around the city's Waterfront and Commercial Street areas. Just make sure you explore Bristol's nightlife after go karting and not the night before!

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Food and drink

Bristol's food and drink scene is blossoming. Now, more than ever, you'll find restaurants and cafes from all over the world. For truly unique flavours and surprising dishes, be sure to head to Gloucester Road.

Here, you'll find fiercely independent restaurants featuring everything from epic burger (you can't miss Atomic Burger) to Indian food like you've never had it before from Hari Krishnan's Kitchen. Explore mezzes at Biblos, or head a little further into town, and enjoy the best Greek Cypriot food you'll ever eat at the hidden restaurant in the back of The Cyprus Kebab House on St Michael's Hill - just don't let it's takeaway exterior scare you away!

If you're looking to stay a little more central on your trip to Bristol, you'll find plenty of excellent eateries along Commercial Street, Park Street and Park Row, and up towards the Clifton Triangle. Head to the famous floating harbour to find the best cider in the city (look for The Stable if you're hoping to pair your drinks with some locally-sourced food, or head to The Apple boat for a slightly sticky but authentic Bristol cider experience).

For something familiar, you'll find the restaurant brands you know and love in Cabot Circus, Broadmead and Millennium Square.

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Art

As mentioned above, when in Bristol, art is by no means gallery after gallery full of oil landscapes and archaic portraits. Though there are great collections on those kinds of things on display at the Bristol Museum, Bristol's art scene is incredibly modern.

For a regular calendar of special exhibitions, head to the Arnolfini on the waterfront. Paired with an excellent café and bookshop, there's three floors of free-to-enter goodness to explore. Head up the hill towards Clifton, and you'll find the Royal West of England Academy (RWA) which hosts a huge variety of artworks, as well as a range of workshops.

As popular as the galleries are, there's no escaping the impact that Banksy has had on the city. The mysterious and illusive Bristol-born artist has both decorated the streets with his own handiwork and has inspired many other talented street artists to do the same. Take your group off on a Banky walking tour to see some of his most recognisable works, or wander through Stokes Croft or Nelson Street to see some not Banksy, but equally as impressive pieces in the flesh. Bristol is also home to Europe's largest street art and graffiti festival, Upfest.

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Days out

Whether you're exploring the city with a bunch of mates or your family, there's plenty to do as a group within the city.

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, and M Shed both sit right in the heart of the city, and have fantastic exhibitions in place to teach young and old alike about the history of Bristol. You'll also find a variety of walking tours that can tell you more about the city too - from ghost walks to pirate walks!

If you've got little ones to entertain, you can do no better than a trip to Bristol Zoo Gardens. Sitting in the heart of the sought-after Clifton area, the zoo might well be surrounded by impressive Victorian homes, but there is still a huge range of creatures and critters to meet, from bats and meerkats to lions and gorillas!

There are also plenty of sights to see in the city, too. The iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge is perhaps one of the most recognisable Bristol landmarks - head up to the bridge, and you'll find a green space with a park for the little ones, as well as the Clifton Observatory.

You'll get great views over the city with a walk up through Brandon Hill to Cabot Tower. On a clear day, you can see miles around (if you can brave the steps to the top!) and the hill beneath is a lovely green space that's a prime picnic location.

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Bristol for Stag and Hens

When it comes to looking for a location to host a stag or hen do, the sheer variety on offer in Bristol makes it a perfect choice.

If you're in search of a quiet celebration, Bristol is home to some of the country's most unique spas - like Lido in Clifton, which combines Norwegian spa traditions with a beautiful restaurant - and a plethora of shopping areas if you're more in search of some retail therapy.

A wide range of bars and clubs will also gladly cater for stag and hen groups - so why not try and turn your hand to cocktail making for the night in a drinks-making masterclass? If you fancy running a little riot, there are some brilliant comedy clubs and karaoke bars in the city too - perfect for letting your hair down.

Thrill-seekers among you will relish the paintballing sites near to the airport, and you can even take to the water with a host of water sports that are available from near the floating harbour. Away from guns and kayaking, you'll find TeamSport's Bristol Track an absolute winner - come and try the multi-level track, and attempt to best our highest ever scores of just over 30 seconds a lap!

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