A haven for cyclists, kayakers, walkers and people escaping big-city stress, Bristol’s 450 parks and outdoor spaces offer more public green space per resident than any other city in the U.K. Enjoy a beautiful balance of the wild and the civilised, including gardens, castles, striking architecture and outdoor swimming pools. You won’t be surprised to learn that Bristol was the very first British city to be named a European Green Capital.
Make a Splash
Is there anything quite so fabulous as a swim in an open-air pool, followed by a massage, then poolside tapas and bubbly? Decide for yourself at the Lido, a glamorous pool, spa, bar and restaurant that sparkles with an authentic old-world glamour. Dating back to 1849, it’s a perfect place to spend a chilly English summer day: the pool is kept at 24 °C.
Bristol’s revitalised, colourful Harbourside is a wonderful place to take a boat tour, rent a kayak or a stand-up paddle-board, or simply enjoy the fresh air at one of the many fetching outdoor cafes.
If you’re searching for a scenic ocean beach, there are lots of options within an hour’s drive of town: try beaches at Brean, Barrow or Burnham. If you’re in the mood for an old-fashioned pier and promenade, head to the Victorian-era seaside resort of Clevedon, where rock pools and fossil hunting will enchant the kids.
The Victorians knew how to design parks, and the urban idylls of Victoria Park and St George’s Park are no exception.
With three well-maintained children’s play areas as well as tennis courts and a bowling green, Victoria Park is a perfect spot for sporty types or those with kids in tow. Yet its secret pleasure may simply be its topography: with its verdant hills, Victoria Park is simply a lovely place to wander around.
Plenty of thrills can be had at St George’s Park, with plenty of space for rollerbladers, skateboarders and BMX bikers. Kids will go gaga for the playground’s giant lizard, outfitted with timber climbing beams and tunnel slides. (There’s a toddler slide and sand pit for the little ones.) If you’re after quieter pleasures, pack a picnic to enjoy next to the pond, and keep your eye out for newly-hatched ducklings.
Relax at the Botanical Garden
Maintained by the University of Bristol, the Botanical Garden will enchant green thumbs with 4,500 species of plants, including local flora and rare native plants as well as plant collections from the Mediterranean and several other climates. From June through October, you can enjoy a slice of cake and tea on the terrace overlooking the pond. And if you visit anytime between early summer and late autumn, don’t miss the dramatic, fiery colours of the Diversity collection, which blooms along the Botanical Garden’s showpiece historic mansion.