Getting to the city
The Bristol airport (BRS) is located 13 kilometres southwest of Bristol city centre at Lulsgate Bottom of Northern Somerset. This airport was once an RAF airfield. Airlines like Ryanair, Easyjet, Thomas Cook and BMI regional operate here. Some airports in UK, Ireland, Austria, Spain, Germany, Bulgaria, US, Mexico etc have direct flights to Bristol airport. Major rail and road connections within the vicinity of this airport makes it a strategic transport hub in south western England.
You can choose from a wide range of private transport and transfer services (including airport transfers) and book online from this Viator site.
You can also take the following options to get to the Bristol city centre from Bristol airport.
Airport Flyer Express Bus connects to the city centre within half an hour. Frequency is 10 minutes and it has 24 hours service. Single journey ticket for an adult is 7 Pounds if booked online in advance and the return journey ticket costs 11 Pounds. Return journey ticket is valid for one month. Purchasing ticket on board will cost 8 Pounds and 13 Pounds for a single journey and return journey respectively. From airport this service runs via West Street and Chessel Street, Bristol Temple Meads station and then terminates at Bristol Bus Station. There is also a Flyer service to reach Weston in Somerset.
Taxi: There is a taxi booking office of Arrow Company outside the airport. It takes around 15 to 20 minutes to reach Bristol city centre. Taxi fare is around 27 Pounds for up to 4 passengers and two suitcases.
All major car hire companies are also available at airport. Car hire related details are provided below under Car Rental section.
The backbone of Bristol’s public transport system is bus the service. There are multiple operators such as First West of England, Stagecoach West, CT Plus, CT Coaches, Somerbus, Bath Bus Company, Abus, Carmel Bristol etc. Bristol is also the railway hub of West England. The Tourist Information Centre is located at E Shed Canon Road and remains open for 24 hours. They are ready to help with any public transport queries as well as currency exchange, tour bookings and ticket purchase.
Travelling from one part to another in Bristol is easy because of its vast bus network. The major operator is First West of England Company. One of the key features of First West is their Metro bus service. It offers faster and frequent service to connect all key destinations. These buses have extra pair of doors that enable smooth on-boarding/de-boarding particularly during peak hours.
You need to purchase metro bus ticket before boarding the bus. On weekdays this service is available from 6:00am and the last bus leaves at 9:30pm. The service frequency is 10 minutes during peak hours and 12 minutes during off-peak, after 7pm you will get a bus after every 20 minutes. There are also several services available for 24X7. There are night routes as well and some services run until 2:00am. For further details and timetable, visit www.firstgroup.com
Bristol is the largest railway hub of West England with its two major stations – Temple Mead Rail Station and Bristol Parkway Rail Station. The first one is located at the central part of the city while the second one is at the northern part. Trains from Temple Mead station connect Taunton to Plymouth and Exeter to Penzance. West bound trains connect Wales while East bound trains connect Bath, London, Paddington etc. Travelling northward you can reach Scotland via Birmingham.
Bristol Parkway Station connects West Country, Salisbury and South Coast along with Wales, Swindon, London and Reading. Stations are equipped with Wifi, car parks, parking for bikes etc. There are taxi ranks adjacent to the stations. Open topped City Tour buses are available at Temple Mead Station.
Bristol licensed taxis commonly known as Hackney carriage vehicles are blue coloured with illuminated taxi signs on the roof. Taxis are available at designated taxi ranks located at all important points of the city. You can hail a taxi on the streets as well. If you take a taxi out of the city boundary, you can negotiate the fare as metred fare is then not mandatory.
There are different tariffs within the city boundary and the fare structure is as follows…
- Monday to Friday, 6:00am to 10:00pm: Base fare is 2.60 Pounds, thereafter 1.80 Pounds per every mile. Waiting charge is 20 Pence per 40 seconds.
- Monday to Friday, 10:00pm to 6:00am: Base fare is 3.40 Pounds, thereafter 2.20 Pounds for every mile. Waiting charge is 20 Pence per 31 seconds.
- Saturday, Sunday day tariff: Base fare is 3.20 Pounds, thereafter 1.80 Pounds for each mile and 20 Pence for every 31 seconds of waiting.
- Weekend night tariff: Base fare is 3.40 Pounds, thereafter 2.30 pounds per mile and 20 Pence waiting charge for every 28.7 seconds.
- 12:01am to 6:00am of the following day (except Christmas and New Year days): Base fare is 3.40 Pounds , 2.70 Pounds for every mile thereafter. Waiting charge is 30 Pence for every 43 seconds.
- Christmas, New Year, 24th December 10:00pm to 27th December 6:00am, and 31st December 10:00pm until 2nd January 6:00am: Base fare is 4.40 Pounds, 3.30 Pounds per mile thereafter. Waiting charge is 30 Pence per 43 seconds.
There are several surcharges as well like 20 Pence if hired from Temple Meads Railway Station (unless pre-booked), 30 Pence for every person over 14 years of age after the first one, 20 Pence for every medium size luggage, 30 Pence for every large luggage etc.
You will find the fare chart inside every taxi. You can dial 0117 378 1212 to call a taxi.
Tickets and Pass
There are multiple public transport companies that provide bus services in Bristol and its surrounding areas. Fare structure is almost same and most of them accept BristolRider card.
One adult Single Ticket for zone 1 (city centre area) is 1 Pound and it is valid for maximum 3 stops.
A Day Ticket costs 3.80 Pounds and it can be purchased from the bus driver. It offers unlimited ride by bus for 24 hours.
A Weekly Ticket is 15 Pounds and valid for 7 days. Ticket can be purchased from the bus driver.
A 10 Trip Ticket costs 21 Pounds and you can purchase it from the bus driver.
BristolRider is a paper ticket which is accepted by multiple bus operators. This ticket allows you to travel by buses for unlimited times within the validity period of the ticket. It is valid within roughly 9 and half kilometres radius of Bristol city centre. BristolRider tickets can be purchased from bus drivers and it is not available online.
Following bus companies accept BristolRider ticket- Metro buses and normal buses run by First West of England, Eurotaxis, Stagecoach West, CT Plus, CT Coaches, Somerbus, Bath Bus Company, Abus and Carmel Bristol.
BristolRider Day ticket is valid until 2:59am of the following day and BristolRider Week ticket is valid until 2.59am of the 8th day. This ticket is not accepted by Airport Flyer A1, Express Coaches, tour buses and X5 line of Carmel Bristol service. A day ticket for an adult costs 4.50 Pounds and 3.50 Pounds for a child under 16 while the weekly ticket costs 20 Pounds and 15.50 Pounds respectively.
Avon Rider ticket coverage is more than BristolRider ticket. It covers the entire zone of former county of Avon under which comes Bath and Northeast Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. This ticket is accepted by all the companies that accept BristolRider ticket plus Arleen Coaches, Bath & NE Somerset Passenger Transport, Citistar, Crossville and Fare Saver. Validity period is same as BristolRider ticket and it is available on the buses of the above mentioned companies.
Avon Rider ticket is not accepted by A1, A3 routes, tour buses and Express coaches. Avon rider Day ticket for an adult is 7.20 Pounds and 5.50 Pounds for a child. Weekly ticket costs 32.50 Pounds and 24.50 Pounds for an adult and a child respectively.
Freedom Travelpass allows unlimited travel by both bus and trains within its validity period. There are 4 zones, Zone A is Bristol area for which the day pass costs 6 Pounds and weekly pass 27 pounds. Zone AB is Bristol and its suburbs and the day pass is 11.50 Pounds whereas the weekly pass is 50 Pounds. Zone AC covers Bristol and Bath and its day pass costs 11.50 Pounds and the weekly pass 50 pounds.
Zone ABD covers Bristol and its suburbs with Weston-super- Mare. The day pass for these zones is 13.50 Pounds and the weekly pass is 59 pounds. Zone ABCD covers all Bristol, Bath and Weston area. Day pass for these zones is 18 Pounds and weekly pass is 76 pounds. You can purchase the pass on bus, at railway stations under these zones, form a travel shop and from the conductor guard on board a train.
An m ticket is required to board a metro bus. It can’t be purchased from the driver. You can either use your rider card or purchase it by downloading First m Ticket app on your smartphone. There are 2 zones for metro bus. A single journey ticket for a single zone costs 1.50 Pounds and for both the zones it is 2.50 Pounds. A day ticket is 4 Pounds (valid for both zones) and a weekly ticket costs 17 Pounds (both zones).
Bath is only 10 minutes away from Bristol by train. This UNESCO world heritage site is ideal for a day trip for culture and history lovers.
Slimbridge is another great day-trip destination from Bristol. You can spend a rejuvenating day there on the shore of a water body and amidst greenery. Take a train from Temple Meads to Cam and Dursley, from there take bus line 60 to reach the place. Journey time by train is 34 minutes thereafter 3 minutes by bus. You can also go all the way from Bristol by bus… take line 60 bus from Kingsdown, Stokes Croft. Bus journey is around 1 hour 5 minutes but it’s cheaper than train.
The Cotswolds is another fascinating destination for a day trip from Bristol. Water sports lovers should not miss the water park there with plenty of opportunities to do kayaking or paddle boating. Also visit the pretty villages at Cotswolds. Take a train from Temple Meads to Didcot Parkway from there to Moreton-in-Marsh via Oxford, after that it is a 12 minutes’ walk to reach the Cotswolds. Journey time is approximately 3 hours.
A day trip to Stonehenge from Bristol would be a great experience too. This prehistoric monument in Wiltshire has its own magic. You can visit Stonehenge from 9:00am to 6:00pm. Take a National Express Bus from Bristol Marlborough Street to Wilton, it takes around 2 hours and 40 minutes. From Wilton you will get various local transports to reach Stonehenge within 15 minutes.
Cruising in Bristol
Take an opportunity to appreciate Bristol’s great attractions from a cruise. Boats connecting the key points along the harbour are operated by Bristol Ferry Boats and Number Seven Boats. You can take a boat to any key destination. Bristol Packet (www.bristolpacket.co.uk ) offers a nice guided trip along the Avon river up to Bath. The Avon River Cruises (avonrivercruises.com) give you option for dining with music. There are also sunset cruises with dance parties on board.
Boats of Bristol Ferry Boats Company (www.bristolferry.com) leave hourly from Cannon’s Road dock located near tourist office. From there you can visit Millennium Square, The SS Great Britain, Temple Quay (for Temple Mead Station), Bristol Marina, Castle Park, Welsh Back, Hotwells and Mardyke. Fare depends on distance of your travel.
For package tours and cruises check the cruise companies sites given above.
Open top red bus is the best option to take a city tour and the tour is known as Bristol Insight tour. There are two ways to take this tour. You can take package tour with their guides for assistance or you can simply hop on and off at any stops (total of 9) and explore on your own. There are two routes, one is Clifton Village and West End Loop and the other one is Old city and Cabot circus Loop. The main attractions of the first route are The SS Great Britain, Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol Zoo Garden, Clifton Village and City Museum and Art Gallery. Attractions on the second route are St. Mary Radcliffe Church, Bristol Bridge, Temple Area, Cabot Circus Shopping District, Castle Park and Temple Meads Railway Station. The service frequency of these open top buses is 75 minutes.
Purchase a one day ticket at 15 Pounds that allows unlimited travel for a full day. There is also one Bus/Boat combo ticket that extends to a second full day. An adult combo ticket costs 20 Pounds. Discounts are also available with the tickets while shopping or dining (check their partners). You can purchase ticket online at www.bristolinsight.co.uk.
A great touring option is to take a free walking tour with Bristol Free Walking Tour group. Main points covered includes The Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol Cathedral, Banksys’ Graffiti Art, Clifton Village, Bristol Harbour, Cabot Tower, The SS Great Britain, a Victorian shopping Arcade, One of the longest terraces in Europe, Cary Grant’s former hangouts and several more. For further queries visit bristolfreewalkingtour.com/
Biking In Bristol
Bristol is aptly named as the Green capital of Europe. England’s first cycling city became biker’s haven since 2008 with lots of dedicated biking tracks and trails.
The Festival Way trail, from Bristol Harbour side to Millennium Park is around 14.5 kilometres via famous Ashton Estate.
The first ever cycling trail that was introduced as part of National Cycle Network of UK was Bristol and Bath Railway Path. This popular trail runs from Bristol Harbour side to historic Bath over 26 kilometres.
Since carrying bicycles on urban trains are allowed, you can take your bike and travel to Yatton to ride on another fascinating bike route known as The Strawberry Line. This 18 kilometres trail passes through Thatcher’s Cider orchard. At the end point of this trail is Cheddar Gorge and Caves.
Looking for a mountain biking trail? Then head to Ashton Court, not too far from the city centre. From there take the trail to Leigh Woods, also a very popular trail.
Bike hire rate depends upon models (single rider bike, double rider bike or folding bike). Rate starts from 16 Pounds a day. You can also download YoBike app and rent a bike through it. It is a cheaper option. Following are few well-known bike rental companies in Bristol.
- Cycle the City: www.cyclethecity.org
- Bristol Bicycles: www.bristolbicycles.co.uk
- Better By Bike: betterbybike.info
- YoBike app: yobike.com
Like other European cities, Bristol too is no exception when it comes to renting a car… all the major global players are present here. But unlike many other European cities Parking in Bristol is not a big issue. You will find many car parks in and around the city with enough parking spaces. A tall multi storied car park accommodates over 2500 cars located near Cabot Circus shopping area.
The Park and Ride option is also available. Park your car for free in the designated free parking zones and take a bus to move around. There are 4 directions where Park and Ride facilities are available. Towards the northwest from Bristol city the designated parkings are at Portway, City Centre Bristol Zoo and Clifton, towards southwest at Long Ashton, towards southeast at Brislington and towards northeast the parkings are at Lyde Garden, West England University and Science Park. The hiring rate starts from as low as 15 Pounds per day. Following are a few well-known car rental companies…
- Europcar: europcar.co.uk
- Sixt Rent a Car: sixt.co.uk
- Hertz: hertz.co.uk/rentacar/reservation/
- Avis: avis.co.uk
- Alamo: alamo.co.uk/uk/bristol/
Scooter or Motorbike is also a good option for roaming around Bristol, Bath and Weston. Many global rental companies operate here. The hiring rate starts from 49 pounds a day. Here are few such companies…
- Ace Motorcycle: acemotorcycletraining.co.uk
- Riders Motorcycles: ridersmotorcycles.com
- Eagle Rider: eaglerider.com
- Yell Limited: www.yell.com