Bristol Mini Guide
Bristol is the largest port in England and this West Country city has developed a stature as the second city of the south. Just under half a million people live here and although it was bombed extensively in World War II, Bristol has been rejuvenated by successfully attracting commercial investment. Bristol airport (BRS) is one of the most modern airports in Britain and we have a range of vehicles to hire there to suit your needs.
There is some stunning countryside in this part of England and having a car is definitely the best way to see it. For instance you can drive to the nearby old Roman town of Bath
which is made up almost exclusively of listed buildings and is splendidly perched on top of a hill. Bristol is not far from South Wales and a trip along the M4 will take you over the new Severn Bridge and into the land of rugby and song. Cardiff is within 40 minutes of Bristol and the Welsh valleys are within an hour.
However, driving in the city centre of Bristol can be a bit of a nightmare due to the many one way systems although you can get free maps of the city on the Visit Bristol tourist information website. It is worth knowing too that Bristol operates some car pooling lanes, and that there are plenty of NCP car parks to use within the city.
Because Bristol has a harbour you may also want to see some of its sights by taking a ferry, and you can get from the city centre to the train station this way. The harbour was built where the Frome and Avon Rivers converge together in order to navigate the Avon Gorge on the way out to the Severn Estuary. When you are ‘harbourside’ you can see the old battleship - the SS Great Britain, stop off at the Bristol Museum on Princes Wharf or go to the Explore Science Centre and Planetarium.
Bristol is a great place to shop with the huge Cabot Circus shopping mall providing everything you could possibly want, there is even a Harvey Nichols store there. There are also a number of bars and restaurants, and because it is a student city there are nightclubs open every day of the week.
It has its own airport, Bristol International, which is located about 10 kilometres south west of the city centre and operates both easyJet and Ryanair flights among others. From here you can fly to a whole host of European destinations such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, Frankfurt and Milan, as well as cities in Britain such as Edinburgh, Dublin and Glasgow. If you are driving to Bristol come in from the M4 (from London) or M5 motorways and then take the M32 directly into the city centre. Car hire is a good idea as taxis can be quite expensive, especially if they get stuck in traffic.
The city is the principal centre of culture, employment and education in the region and was a finalist for the 2008 European Capital of Culture. Bristol has two principal railway stations, the Bristol Parkway which is located to the north of the city, and Bristol Temple Meads which is in the centre of the city. Both railway stations have direct services to many UK destinations. Bristol has good motorway connections and is served by the M4 and the M5.
Bristol is a popular tourist destination. It is the home of Isambard Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge, the SS Great Britain and Temple Meads Station. There are so many ways to explore Bristol including walking tours, open top bus tours and tours of historic buildings. Bristol has an excellent waterfront and Explore-At-Bristol is based there. This is a 21st century science centre which combines the best of hands-on activities with the very latest multi-media techniques. Good walking areas run alongside the river and boats also operate daily scenic tours.
The Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery is also worth a visit. One of Europe’s largest hot air balloon events, the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, is held annually in Bristol during the month of August. For evening entertainment the city’s principal theatre company, the Bristol Old Vic, performs at the Theatre Royal which is situated in King Street not far from the city centre. The Bristol Hippodrome theatre is right in the city centre and has great shows including West End shows, opera and ballet.
The aerospace industry plays a large part in the city’s economy and BAE Systems Airbus and Rolls-Royce are based in Filton. Concorde has now come to rest at Filton and visits can be made to view this famous icon of the air. Filton is approx 13km from the city centre and can be reached by bus or car. Bristol has two football clubs, Bristol City and Bristol Rovers together with Gloucestershire County Cricket Club and Bristol Rugby Union Club. Public travel around the city is provided by the First Group bus company.
- Bristol has been voted 'Best Place to Live in the UK' by the Sunday Times Best Places to Live Guide. To Celebrate Rhino are offering a 10% discount on any car rental in Bristol until end of April 2017. Simply book from this page and follow the instructions to redeem your discount.
- From the 20th to the 24th March you can enjoy seeing the latest in couture at Bristol Fashion Week at Bristol North Fringe. The biggest fashion show outside of London, top names show there and you can be part of it.
- This weekend is the Bristol Harbour Festival, boasting a variety of dance, circus and music acts it starts on Friday 20th July and runs until Sunday 22nd July.
- If you want a bit more variety in shopping, head down the M5 to Cribb's Causeway where you'll find one of Britain's biggest out of town shopping centres. Visit at Christmas and the shops are magical and the centre lays on lots of Christmas activities for children.