Getting Around Bristol

On Foot

Most locations in central Bristol (the Harbourside and Old City areas) are reasonable easily walkable, and there are plenty of attractive walking routes along the quaysides and in the pedestrianised central streets. The main rail station (Bristol Temple Meads) is a little further (about 15 mins walk) but still accessible by harbourside walkways or by bus. Bristol walking directions can be planned online with the walkit.com walking route planner.

Bike

Bristol has plenty of bike paths and routes and is at the centre of the National Cycle Network . Sustrans, which manages the network, is based in the city, and has a shop and information centre on College Green, next to the Marriott Hotel. The staff can provide information on cycle routes throughout the UK. Free cycling maps for the Avon Cycleway, Bristol and surrounding council regions (South Gloucestershire, North Somerset, Bath and North-East Somerset) can be obtained by emailing, telephoning or writing to Bristol City Council's Transport Planning Team .

By train

Bristol Temple Meads offers direct trains to many UK cities including London (Paddington). Local train services include the Severn Beach Line, and stopping services which serve Bedminster, Parson Street and Filton Abbey Wood.

The Severn Beach Line passes through Lawrence Hill and Stapleton Road in the East of the inner city, and then, Montpelier, Redland and Clifton Down in the north before heading north-west to Avonmouth and Severn Beach. The line has been voted one of the most scenic in the world by Thomas Cook, and fares are reasonable.

The Severn Beach train usually runs approximately hourly from 0600 to 2200hrs, Monday to Saturday, with a reduced Sunday service.

By bus

CitySightseeing offer open top bus tours with commentary during the summer months. 24hr and three day passes are available. The circular route takes in most of the major visitor destinations including the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol Zoo, City Docks, Temple Meads, old city and city centre.

Most bus services in Bristol are operated by First Bristol. Visitors should be warned that by and large the buses are unreliable, so if possible check the bus times on the First website as the times on Bus Stops may be dated and incorrect. As most of Bristol's hotels and places to visit are located near the city centre or are in the upmarket suburb of Clifton, First Bristol's number 8 and 9 buses are probably the most useful for visitors. They follow a route from Temple Meads station to Clifton, passing through the main shopping area (Broadmead), the city centre (also handy for the harbourside) and the West End on the way. Single-trip tickets are a flat rate of £1.55. Not widely advertised is the fact that on the 8 & 9 you can get a return within the same fare zone for the same £1.70. The zones can be confusing; ask the driver.

Visitors planning on using the bus service for anything more than one short return journey may wish to purchase a FirstDay  ticket. This will allow unlimited travel within zones 1 and 2 on most bus services for a one-off fixed fee. Currently, a FirstDay ticket will cost between £4.00 ( before 9AM Monday to Friday (except Public Holidays)) and £4.30 (any other time i.e. after 9AM Monday to Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays.)

By Boat

Because of the way the city centre is intimately interwoven with the old 'floating harbour', a boat is a good way of getting around as well as seeing a lot of interesting sights. Bristol Ferry Boat runs several ferry services around the harbour, stopping at various quays on route, and even providing a commuter service between the city centre and the main rail station.

The Bristol Packet offer city docks tours with commentaries daily during school holidays and at weekends throughout the year. They also run regular excursions to riverside tea gardens on the Avon towards Bath and Avon Gorge cruises under the Clifton Suspension Bridge to Avonmouth and back.

Number Seven Boat Trips also offer a ferry service during the summer months.

Bristol City Council offers a useful walking and public transport journey planner. Bristol is quite a hilly city, but if you don't mind walking up hills the walk can be pleasant on a fine day.

By car

Driving is probably the best way of seeing the surrounding region. A couple of the routes into Bristol during peak hours operate a car pool lane for cars with more than one occupant.

The centre of Bristol follows a one way city system, which can be frustrating and confusing for those not used to it. However with patience and practice and a lot of circling around the same areas numerous times, it does become easier.

Parking

There are plenty of NCP car parks, and street parking. The cheaper street parking is in short supply in the centre, however Queen Square can usually be counted on to have a few spaces at off-peak times.

Park and Ride

There are three Park and Ride schemes operating in Bristol, with an additional Park and Ride for the busy Christmas period based at the University of the West of England (UWE) in Frenchay. The main park and rides are at Brislington, on the A4 opposite St Brendan's school. Another is in Shirehampton and a third is at the end of the A370 Long Ashton Bypass. These are recommended due to their cheaper fares and ease of access to the busy city centre.

Taxi


Due to the heavy traffic, taxis in Bristol can be quite expensive – and don't forget to allow extra time on your journey when taking a cab. There are about 700 licensed taxis (Hackney Carriages) and these can be distinguished by roof signs and meters charged at a rate set by the council. There are a similar number of private hire vehicles (without roof signs) that need to be pre-booked. All legitimate taxis and private hire vehicles should have a predominantly yellow council-issued plate at the front and back of the vehicle. More information on taxis and private hire vehicles and a cab rank map can be found at Taxis and Minicabs in Bristol.
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