The capital of South West England, the city of Bristol offers stunning day trips to other iconic cities as well as the beautiful British countryside, and is the ideal base to explore the region further. From the striking city of Bath to the picturesque hills of the Cotswolds, the dramatic cliffs of Cheddar Gorge and the wild landscape of the Brecon Beacons, day trips starting from Bristol offer an escape for everyone.
While the destinations are proposed as day trips, you can also make individual trips and stay longer at each, or turn them into a South West tour. Most suggested day trips are to the heart of the British countryside and are not easily accessible by public transport. Travelling by car is sometimes the easiest option.
1. Striking Bath
Bath is one of the most beautiful cities in the UK and is located close to Bristol, 15 minutes away by train or 30 minutes by car. Given their close proximity, you can’t visit Bristol without exploring Bath also. The two cities enjoy different ambiences, yet both boast splendid Georgian architecture.
The striking city of Bath was first built by the Romans and then by the Georgians. As a result, you can enjoy stunning examples of Roman, medieval and Georgian architecture throughout the city. From the Roman Baths to Bath Abbey, the Royal Crescent, the Circus, Pulteney Bridge and Royal Victoria Park, Bath is filled with wonders waiting to be explored.
Bath is also known for the setting of two Jane Austen novels. From Milsom Street to the Assembly Rooms, Camden Crescent, Great Pulteney Street and Sydney Gardens, you can travel back in time to Jane Austen’s Bath and walk through the pages of her novels. Find out more with the Bath travel guides.
2. The picturesque Cotswolds
Exploring the Cotswolds is one of the best day trips you can make starting from Bristol. Located north of the city, the Cotswolds feature picturesque villages, rolling hills and enchanting valleys. You’ll soon find yourself enthralled by the Cotswolds’ charming British quintessence and beautiful English countryside.
One of the top attractions to visit in the Cotswolds is the chocolate-box villages. Featuring quaint honey-coloured cottages and picture-perfect cobbled streets, the Cotswold villages are a sight for sore eyes. Among many others, the top villages to visit include Castle Combe, Malmesbury, Uley, Painswick, Lower Slaughter, Stanton and Chipping Campden. Find out more with the Cotswolds travel guides.
Travelling from village to village, you’ll get a glimpse of the bountiful Cotswold hills and enchanting valleys. However, the best way to explore the Cotswold countryside is to walk along the stunning country paths and discover the breathtaking scenery. The Cotswolds offer many walks along ridges, over hills, across valleys and through woodland, all offering striking views. Find out more with the Cotswold walk guides.
3. Dramatic Cheddar Gorge
Located in the Mendip Hills in the heart of Somerset, Cheddar Gorge is another top day trip from Bristol. A 40-minute drive away, Cheddar Gorge is the largest gorge in England and offers dramatic limestone cliffs and spectacular views.
The best way to explore Cheddar Gorge is to walk along the cliff edge. The Cheddar Gorge Cliff Top walk starts from the village of Cheddar and leads you along the cliff top on both sides of the gorge. From the heights of Cheddar Gorge, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the spectacular rugged cliffs, as well as the Somerset hills, the town of Cheddar, Glastonbury Tor and the Bristol Channel.
Another way to explore the dramatic gorge is to drive (or walk) along the bottom of the valley and marvel at the arresting cliffs. Cheddar Gorge offers a feast for the eyes from both the top and the bottom of cliffs. Find out more with the Cheddar Gorge walk guide.
4. The breathtaking Mendip Hills
Located to the south of Bristol, the Mendip Hills boast rocky peaks, breathtaking scenery and stunning walks. Designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the Mendips are another top day trip from Bristol, perfect for nature lovers and walk enthusiasts.
The Mendip Hills offer many walks through quaint villages and lush woods, and along country lanes and grassy ridges. Throughout the walks, and especially from the peaks, you can admire the Mendip Hills, the Somerset Levels, the Bristol Channel and even North Devon and South Wales. From Crook Peak to Ebbor Gorge and Black Down, check out the Somerset walk guides.
The Mendip Hills can also be explored by car, from the winding valley of Cheddar Gorge to the shimmering lake of Blagdon. Driving along the delightful country roads, you can discover quaint Somerset villages and beautiful rolling countryside.
5. Arresting Wells
The arresting city of Wells offers a serene escape to striking architecture, charming British quintessence and rolling hills, and is one of the best day trips from Bristol. Located in the heart of Somerset and a 50-minute drive from Bristol, Wells is a medieval town with stunning landmarks.
The key attraction in Wells is its majestic cathedral. The Gothic cathedral features an arresting facade, scissor arches, a honeycomb ceiling and Gothic cloisters, and is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture. Next to the cathedral, Vicars’ Close is the most enchanting lane in England and a key place to visit in Wells. The medieval lane boasts a double row of gorgeous cottages.
The Bishop’s Palace is another top attraction in Wells. This medieval palace offers enchanting gardens, a delightful moat and ramparts. In addition, a city tour of Wells wouldn’t be complete without a stroll through the town’s medieval streets to admire the typical market square and the quaint cottages. Find out more with the Best of Wells city guide.
6. The lush Wye Valley
Caught between England and Wales, the Wye Valley features an enchanting vale, the serene River Wye, lush rolling hills and luscious forests. The perfect day trip from Bristol, the Wye Valley is crowned an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and offers striking scenery.
From Bristol, Chepstow is the gateway to the Wye Valley. The market town features an imposing Norman castle, charming medieval streets and an intriguing town wall and gate, and is worth a visit. From there, the best way to discover the Wye Valley is to drive across the enchanting vale, walk along the River Wye and over the rolling hills, and explore the delightful market towns.
Nested in the heart of the Wye Valley, Tintern Abbey boasts striking archways and magnificent Gothic windows, and is a key landmark. For the best views of the arresting Cistercian abbey and the stunning valley, you can walk up to the Devil’s Pulpit, a viewpoint on the hill overlooking Tintern Abbey. Find out more with the Wye Valley travel guide.
7. The wild Brecon Beacons
One of my favourite day trips from Bristol is to the Brecon Beacons. Located in South Wales, 1 ½ hours away from Bristol, the Brecon Beacons National Park features wild moorlands, rocky peaks and magnificent scenery that make your heart melt and your soul sing.
By simply driving through the national park, you’ll discover the wilderness and majesty that characterises the Brecon Beacons. But to truly explore the soul of the Brecon Beacons, you need to walk along the captivating country paths and up the breathtaking mountains.
From the well-known Pen y Fan (the highest peak in southern Britain) to the Waterfall County and Llyn y Fan Fach, the Brecon Beacons offer some of the best walks in the UK. As you stroll along wild moorland and up rocky mountains, you can enjoy splendid views stretching over the Brecon Beacons, South Wales and even South West England. Find out more with the Brecon Beacons walk guides.
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