The United Kingdom has so much to offer. Much more than just its most popular destinations among tourists. I asked 18 bloggers to share their favourite day trip destinations from Bristol, which are not further than 2,5-3 hours away. Be sure to take a notebook out, because some of these places are true gems!
I honestly wish I had this list during my stay in Bristol a couple of years ago, because it would have made choosing a day getaway so much easier. There is so much to see around here, so pack your bags and get ready for an adventure.
City Day Trips from Bristol:
Distance from Bristol: 13.5 miles/ 21 km
Bath is one of the most popular day trip destinations from Bristol. Thanks to its proximity (less than an hour away) and its ancient remains, Bath attracts visitors from all over the world.
One of the most interesting places here are the Roman baths, which have been turned into the modern Thermae Bath Spa – the only natural thermal hot springs in all of the UK you can bathe in.
The gorgeous Georgian architecture impresses with its honey-coloured buildings and interesting details. If you are a Jane Austen fan, you must know that she spent some years of her life living in Bath. Strolling along the streets of the city, you might actually feel like you are re-living Jane Austen’s books.
In 1987, Bath was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its compact city centre can be explored in a matter of just a few hours and is definitely a must-see. Overall, spending a day in Bath is a great decision if you are nearby.
2. Castle Combe
Contributed by John from Carpe Diemeire
Distance from Bristol: 20 miles/ 33 km
Frequently described as Britain’s prettiest village, Castle Combe is an ideal road trip destination from Bristol. Only 20 miles (30 minutes) east of Bristol, it is the crown jewel in the Area of Outstanding National Beauty that is the Cotswolds.
The entire village is constructed from Cotswolds limestone, a golden coloured stone mined from the local hills. All the buildings date back centuries, with some having been built as far back as the 13th century. The chocolate box houses, butter cross and St Andrew’s Church are the attractions you’ll most want to see on your visit. Castle Combe found fame as a set on movies Stardust and Warhorse, and show Downton Abbey. Just outside the village is the Grade II listed Manor House, now a luxury 5 star hotel in glorious surroundings. Perfect should you decide to make your stay more permanent.
Castle Combes has a nearby race track, the Castle Combe circuit. What was once a World War II airfield, is now the scene of more speed and loud engines. Annually a series of events take place, bringing thousands to the sleepy village.
Contributed by Rose from Where goes Rose?
Distance from Bristol: 73 miles/ 117 km
A fantastic day trip from Bristol is to the historic city of Oxford, a 1.5-hour drive away, or slightly longer by train or coach. A day trip to Oxford is perfect because the city is small enough that you can leisurely explore it during just one day.
There are many things to do in Oxford but you should begin with a historic walking tour of the main attractions. Start at the famous Radcliffe Camera (an Oxford University library that has become an icon for the city) and stroll under the Bridge of Sighs, before popping inside the Divinity School where a few scenes of Harry Potter were filmed.
Another Oxford essential is to go inside one of the colleges. There are 38 to choose from, with Christ Church being the most famous. Many of the smaller colleges are preferable because of their lower entrance fees and quieter nature.
For lunch, visit the Covered Market to sample world cuisine (Sasi’s Thai is particularly authentic) and finish with dessert at the original Ben’s Cookies. There are plenty of Oxford cafes where you can spend an afternoon sipping afternoon tea, or for a more active pastime, hire a punt and drift down the river. Oxford also has some fantastic museums, as well as Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland history for literature fans to explore.
Contributed by Katja from Globetotting
Distance from Bristol: 118 miles/ 190 km
One of the easiest day trips from Bristol is to London. Jump on the train from Bristol Temple Meads and 90 minutes later you’ve arrived in London Paddington. Although London is far too big to see in just one day, you can still get a good feel for the city.
An easy way to see the main sights in a short amount of time is on a hop-on-hop-off tour. There are a number to choose from and all come with commentary and planned stops at London’s most popular sights including Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and the Royal Albert Hall.
If you don’t feel like forking out on an organised bus tour then hop on a regular double decker bus instead. Fun routes include the No 11, which takes in Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral, and No. 9, which runs past Hyde Park Corner and Knightsbridge.
Another way to get a feel for the city is to take a trip on the London Eye, a giant Ferris wheel that sits on the South Bank of the River Thames. Glass pods take visitors for a slow spin offering them some of the best views in London.
Submitted by Steph & Lewis from Book It Let’s Go!
Distance from Bristol: 140 miles/ 225 km
Nottingham is a vivacious city in the Midlands, with lots of culture and history. Nottingham is 140 miles from Bristol and can be reached in 2 hours and 20 minutes by car making it an easy day trip from Bristol. There are so many exciting things to do in Nottingham that a day trip may not be enough.
Nottingham castle is worth a visit for anyone interested in history. Another historical site is Wollaton Hall, situated on the outskirts of the city, you may recognise Wollaton Hall as the setting of Wayne Manor in the 2012 Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises. Wollaton Hall is also the home to Nottingham’s natural history museum and industrial museum. Inside you can find taxidermy wildlife, learn about the flora and fauna of the local area and discover the 5 main industries that Nottingham is famous for.
Under the whole city there are a network of hand carved caves which can be seen on a caves tour or in one of the oldest pubs in the city. Wander the cobbled streets of the Lace Market and visit the National Justice museum and witness a trial re-enactment in one of the most haunted places in England.
Contributed by Richard from RJ On Tour
Distance from Bristol: 62 miles/ 100 km
The city of Worcester is a 1.5-hour train journey from Bristol Temple Meads Railway station or just over an hour’s drive. Worcester is a fantastic place to visit for a day trip, as it is a city brimming with history.
Firstly, the centrepiece of the city is its cathedral on the riverside, which has 1000 years of history within its walls. There are many museums covering the Tudor era, the English civil war and more recent history. The Commandery Museum is the former base of Charles II during the English Civil War, two of the early USA presidents visited here to celebrate the birth of modern democracy.
Worcester is also a great place for a walk, the banks of the River Severn are very picturesque. The horse racing course is alongside the river, as are many superb views of the Cathedral. There are many nice eateries where you can enjoy refreshments while visiting. One such pub is the King Charles House, which is said to be where Charles II escaped via after losing the final battle of the English Civil War in the city.
To summarise, Worcester is a great day trip for anyone that enjoys history.
7. Hay on Wye, Wales
Contributed by Laura from What’s Hot?
Distance from Bristol: 75 miles/ 120 km
Hay on Wye is a tiny town across the border into Wales that is around 1.5 hours away from Bristol. It’s known as a “book town” as the predominant thing to do there is go shopping in its bookshops (of which there are over 20!). Given how small the town is, you can’t walk far without stumbling upon another quaint bookshop. Some are inside, some are outside, all are brilliant and beautiful with pretty decent book bargains.
Some of the best Hay on Wye bookshops to visit include Addyman Books, known for its collection of old Penguin classics, Richard Booth’s, a large new bookshop with a beautiful facade (and a cinema!), and Hay Cinema Bookshop, which is simply enormous. An absolute must-visit is the bookshelves lining the walls of the old Hay castle. These books are outside and exposed to the elements and it’s such a unique and beautiful sight.
After a day of book shopping, your arms will no doubt be tired from carrying lots of heavy books. Weary travellers can enjoy some ice cream and a big mug of hot chocolate at Shepherds Ice Cream or a pint at The Old Black Lion. The Granary is a nice spot for a simple lunch and Chapters is great for a fancy dinner too.
Contributed by Stephanie from The World As I See It
Distance from Bristol: 27 miles/ 43 km
One of the best day trips from Bristol is to Glastonbury. This charming small town is an hour south of Bristol by car but you can also take the bus which takes approximately an hour and a half. You can easily spend the whole day exploring as there is a bunch of great things to do in Glastonbury. The town is steeped in legends and full of historic sites and along with that comes some quirky cafes and interesting shops.
One of the top things to do in Glastonbury is visit the Glastonbury Abbey. This 7th-century abbey is home to the ancient ruins of the once prosperous abbey, a museum showcasing the abbey’s history, and stunning grounds to wander around. But don’t forget to stop by the alleged site of where King Arthur was buried.
Another must-stop is Glastonbury Tor. Standing high above the town, and approximately a 15 minute walk from the Abbey, this is all that remains of an old church. But the climb up is worth it for sweeping 360-degree views of the area. And before you leave make one last stop at the Chalice Well! Glastonbury is a must-stop on any England itinerary.
9. Abergavenny, Wales
Contributed by Larch from The Silver Nomad
Distance from Bristol: 49 miles/ 79 km
If you travel west along the M4 from Bristol across the Severn Bridge into Wales, you will come to Abergavenny. The journey takes just over an hour through the picturesque countryside.
Due to its proximity to the English Border, Abergavenny is called the ‘Gateway to Wales’. The town is nestled between three mountains, the Skirrid, the Blorenge and the Sugar Loaf, which are excellent for climbing.
In the centre of town, visit Abergavenny Castle and Museum. Trace the history of the town back through the ages to its Roman roots with the exhibits on show. After wander through the grounds and the ruins of the Norman castle.
Close to the Castle are The Linda Vista Gardens and Castle Meadows are beautiful to walk around and full of wildlife and flowers.
If you are visiting in September, enjoy the fabulous Abergavenny Food Festival.
Just outside Abergavenny is White Castle, another normal castle ruin to see with part of the Offas Dyke Trail running past it. Also nearby is Goytre Wharf for a walk along the Monmouth and Brecon Canal.
Day Trips from Bristol in Nature:
10. Cheddar Gorge
Contributed by Suzanne from Meandering Wild
Distance from Bristol: 20 miles/ 32 km
Cheddar Gorge is the deepest gorge in England with the road following the curves and turns of the gorge all the way to the top of the hills. Cheddar village is small with a few tourist shops and restaurants. However the cliffs of the gorge are the main attraction. Under the hills are a series of deep caves that were once open to the public but are now closed. If you want to explore the caves then you need to go on a caving expedition which run from the village.
After driving up through the gorge looking out for the wild goats and sheep and stopping to look up at the sheer height of the cliffs there are a number of walks from the village up into the surrounding hills with views across the Somerset Levels and down into the gorge.
Cheddar Gorge is located 35miles south from Bristol on the edge of the Mendip Hills. The journey takes about 45minutes following the main A38 from Bristol city centre towards Taunton before turning onto the A370 towards Wells. It is possible to get to Cheddar by public transport but it involves multiple trains or buses and takes nearly two hours.
11. Gower Peninsula, South Wales
Contributed by Ben Holbrook from DriftwoodJournals.com
Distance from Bristol: 94 miles/ 150 km
Located a little under two hours from Bristol, South Wales’ glorious Gower peninsula was the UK’s first ever official AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).
Its craggy cliffs overlook a seemingly endless stretch of unspoiled coastline, where surfers, seals, dolphins and sailors play among the waves.
Hike with wild ponies out to the emblematic Worm’s Head island at Rhossili Bay, frequently cited as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Explore the cosy country pubs – the King’s Head, the King Arthur, the Welcome – or traverse the sprawling common to seek out castles, cute cafes and fish & chips in the colourful seaside village of Mumbles.
Lounge on a sun terrace with a coffee or cocktail at Langland Bay, or take to the famous Wales Coastal Path to explore even more of the Gower peninsula’s best beaches, including the fabled Brandy Cove, where smugglers used to bring their illicit contraband ashore. Croeso i Gymru! It really is a different world entirely!
12. Forest of Dean
Contributed by Annabel from Smudged Postcard
Distance from Bristol: 47 miles/ 75 km
If you want to escape the city, the Forest of Dean is a great destination for a rural day trip from Bristol. The Forest of Dean is approximately an hour’s drive from Bristol (35 miles), close to the Welsh border, best accessed via the Severn Bridge.
The Forest of Dean is a huge swathe of woodland with attractions for everyone. If you’re visiting the Forest of Dean with kids, you should head for the delightfully magical Puzzlewood – filming location for a range of TV shows and movies including Doctor Who and Merlin.
If you’re after a more cultural experience, the beautiful Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail is well worth investigating – it features interesting art installations hidden among the trees. For a more active day out, take to the water – the River Wye cuts through the forest and kayaking is extremely popular – the scenery is fantastic.
For refreshments, ensure you book a table at the Saracen’s Head Inn on the banks of the River Wye, the food there is excellent. If you decide to stay overnight, the pub offers bed and breakfast.
13. Malvern Hills
Contributed by Paul from Anywhere We Roam
Distance from Bristol: 64 miles/ 103 km
The Malvern Hills are an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty located near the market village of Ledbury. The sweeping countryside views and series of small mountains make it an ideal day trip from Bristol to get outside and enjoy nature.
Eastnor Castle is a 19th century folly in a beautiful location at the foothills of the mountains. Tour the extravagant state rooms and richly decorated halls for an insight into the lifestyle of the elite in the 1820s. Also at the foothills of the mountain is the market town of Ledbury. With romantic black and white timber buildings and cobbled laneways, the town is full of charm.
The best way to enjoy the area is on one of the many easy walks in the Malvern Hills. Hike from the castle back down to Ledbury to see beautiful country views.
Ledbury is 65 miles from Bristol. There are a few train services, however several changes are required, so the best way to get to the Malvern Hills is by car which takes around 1 hour 15 minutes.
Contributed by Anisa from Two Traveling Texans
Distance from Bristol: 45 miles/ 72 km
Stonehenge is one of the most famous ancient sites in the world. It’s one of those places you need to visit in person to fully appreciate. See the size of the stones and imagine how it was built 4000 years ago.
Start your visit to Stonehenge with a stop at the Visitor’s Center to learn more about the history of the monument. There is also a the model village and an interactive exhibit where you can try moving a sarsen stone.
From there, you can take a bus or walk the mile to the stone circle. There is an audio tour of the stone circle that is full of interesting information. Before visiting, I did realize that the circle is aligned with the summer solstice sunrise and winter solstice sunset.
As it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in England, you need to book Stonehenge tickets advance. English Heritage and National Trust members can visit for free but still must get tickets online. If you are not a member, it is £19.50 for adults and £11.70 for kids. There are also family and VIP tour tickets available.
Unfortunately, you can’t take a train to Stonehenge as there is no train station. You can take a bus from Bristol to Salisbury and change to another bus to Stonehenge. It’s easiest to drive (via the A36) which takes a little more than an hour.
15. Brecon Beacons National Park
Contributed by Shobha from Just Go Places
Distance from Bristol: 76 miles/ 122 km
With nearly 350,000 acres of wild and dramatic landscape, the Brecon Beacons National Park is one of three national parks in Wales. The highest mountain in Southern Britain, Pen Y Fan is located in the Brecon Beacons. Local boy, George Everest, after whom Mt. Everest is named, discovered his love of the great outdoors clambering around this national park.
The Brecon Beacons is an outdoor lovers’ paradise. There are lots of hiking and biking trails. Blenaevon is an example of a discontinued ironworks and a UNESCO world heritage site due to its relevance in the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century. There is also the National Botanical Garden of Wales to visit. Family visitors will like the Brecon Mountain Railway and the British Birds of Prey Centre.
The Brecon Beacons have had settlements for thousands of years from the early Celts to the Romans. Brecon, the main town in the national park has a population of about 20,000. It’s a charming town full of inns and pubs catering to the many visitors who come through the park.
About 75 miles from Bristol, the Brecon Beacons National Park is a little less than a 2 hour drive.
Day trips from Bristol to beautiful areas
Contributed by Jessie from Pocket Wanderings
Distance from Bristol: 55 miles/ 88 km
The Cotswolds is a beautiful pocket of rural England and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. With its rolling green hills, honey-coloured villages, and grand stately homes, it’s easy to see why the Cotswolds should be top of your UK travel bucket list.
Easily accessible from Bristol, the Cotswolds is only a 50 minute drive away. There is no direct train link, but you can get a train to Cheltenham Spa and then a taxi to the Cotswolds.
There are plenty of pretty villages dotted around the Cotswolds, all ready to be explored. Some of the most well-known include Bourton-on-Water, Burford, and Chedworth. Another enticing pull of the area is its fresh local produce and exceptional restaurants, making it a perfect day trip for foodies. If you’re after something more adrenaline fuelled, then the Cotswolds is also home to the largest privately owned mountain bike facility in the country.
A particularly notable annual event is on spring bank holiday, when the locals chase a wheel of double Glousester down a steep hill in the Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake. It’s dangerous and bonkers, but it attracts a lot of international media attention.
Contributed by Kathryn from Wandering Bird
Distance from Bristol: 84 miles/ 135 km
If you’re looking for somewhere fun to visit on a day trip from Bristol, head south and spend some time exploring the magnificent Devon coastline.
North Devon is an unexpected treat. There are some wonderful bays and beaches to explore, as well as cute harbours. The north side has the best waves- perfect for surfing and confident swimmers, but there are some quieter beaches with golden sand and shallower play areas for kids.
The best way to explore this area is with your own vehicle, especially coming from Bristol. You can get a train from Bristol to Devon, but getting to the coast afterwards will be a pain, so you’re much better planning a Devon road trip for the day. It takes about 2 hours (105 miles) to drive from Bristol to Saunton Sands, one of the most popular beaches in Devon. Nearby, there is also Braunton, Ilfracombe and Barnstaple to explore. If you get time, don’t forget to have fish and chips from Squires in Braunton- it’s an institution (and delicious!)
18. West Bay
Contributed by Emma from Travel on a time budget
Distance from Bristol: 61 miles/ 98 km
At just over 50 miles from Bristol, West Bay on the Dorset coast is a lovely day out for all the family. A traditional coastal town, it has a small pier and compact harbour, with huts where you can buy ice cream, seafood, and fish and chips. There is also a long seafront promenade to wander along. Just off this, kids will love the noisy amusement arcade and the chance for some fun if you’re visiting on a wet and windy day.
Without doubt however, is the stunning coastline here. Part of the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage site that runs through Devon and Dorset, West Bay is perfect for hiking or cliff top walks.
The main place to do this is from the town’s East Beach. Here there is a steep craggy cliff that rises almost vertically up. The climb up the cliff is steep, but it’s fairly short, and definitely worth it for the incredible views you get out to sea and back over the town.
The beach itself is a place to search for fossils or in summer, a place for a picnic. Or you could day trip to other nearby places. Lyme Regis in particular is worth the effort, with its 14th century Cobb wall, Victorian promenade, and teashops galore where you can sample a traditional west country cream tea.
You can reach West Bay by car in under two hours. You can also get there by train and bus via Weymouth.
I hope you found something for yourself and decided on your next day trip from Bristol. All of these places are beautiful and I wish you to be able to visit each one of them at some point. Make sure to save the post if you found it useful.
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