It’s a city that has a starring role in England’s maritime history, but it also offers modern colour. Bristol’s highlights include street art and top-class restaurants – Banksy and Rick Stein both grew up there – as well as UFO sightings.
Bristol was founded in 1,000 AD and within a few decades was home to one of England’s first mints, so it has been a special place for Britons for quite some time. Over the centuries the city has also been an important port and a hub for quality shipbuilding, since poorly built, fully laden vessels couldn’t cope with resting on the muddy bed of the River Avon at low tide.
Today, Bristol is a port city of 400,000 and has a tonne of history, but it’s brimming with modern stuff, too. It has a good airport, high-speed trains, luxury hotels, two world-class universities, and a vibrant arts and music scene. Each July, it’s home to Upfest, Europe’s biggest street art festival. Hundreds of artists apply to be part of it, and the successful entrants get to paint in more than 50 venues throughout the city.
This is especially fitting given that renowned street artist Banksy grew up in Bristol, and it was on its walls that his works began mysteriously appearing in the 1980s. A self-guided walking tour is one of the best ways to see some of his most famous pieces.