Being a tourist is all about the prospect of the new, exciting and unknown, soaking up the soul of a place and seeking out the things which distinguish it from anywhere else.
The trend for ‘living like a local’ when travelling works just as well the other way round. Being a tourist in your home city can reveal so many fascinating discoveries that it can change your entire experience of living there and help you see it in a whole new light.
As part of Visit Bristol’s #SummerinBristol campaign I was presented with a media pass and whole host of offers from their partners promising some of the best summer experiences the city has to offer. For me, with my love of travelling and passion for Bristol, this was akin to being gifted the keys to the city and made be go a bit giddy as there is SO much to do in the city and surrounding area this summer.
If you feel like you want to get away but don’t have enough time or money, perhaps you want to try something new, or simply find a way to entertain the kids, being a tourist in your own city can be the best option. Here are five ways to become a tourist in your own city this #SummerinBristol:
Vegan, budget, Michelin-starred – you could say that food is the way to Bristol’s heart and the perfect way to get a flavour of its character.
Bristol’s independent food places are thrusting the city towards the gastronomical limelight, the craft beer scene is fearlessly taking on London and the city’s gin distilleries have refined their juniper-based art (amen to that). It’s amongst these gourmet hotspots that you’ll find passionate locals, a loyal foodie following, restaurants boasting mega views or more modest establishments serving up excellent grub.
Learn the history behind where you live
Bristol has a rich and fascinating history – some of it dark and unfathomable (the city’s links with the slave trade), some of it concocted from legend (who knows the tale of Avona and the Bristol Giants?), some of it so astonishing that it will make you want to sing from the rooftops with pride.
Bristol’s attractions, museums and cultural venues tell the story of the city and its people, creating immersive experiences for visitors to discover the captivating facts behind the city’s history – from iconic landmarks to haunted pubs, its UNESCO city of film status to Banksy’s legacy and why Brunel and balloons are now synonymous with the city.
Go for a wander
Walking around a city is one of the best ways to get to know it. Bristol is small enough that you can tick off some of the best attractions, viewpoints, shops, restaurants and bars quite easily on foot.
What’s more, the city’s multi-coloured houses, buzzing Harbourside, general geography (we all love the steep hills right?), parks and gardens make it a fascinating place to wander around.
Take a street art, food or theatre walking tour, or delve into the abutments of Clifton Suspension Bridge to really get acquainted with Bristol.
#SummerinBristol suggestions: Clifton Suspension Bridge Vaults tour, Where the Wall street art tour, Show of Strength theatre walks, Arnos Vale Cemetery, Ashton Court Estate, University of Bristol Botanic Garden.
Go out of your comfort zone and try a new experience
You may have trotted around on foot, tackled public transport or driven your way around the city, but have you tried paddleboarding, mountain biking or catching an open-top bus (complete with factual commentary about the city) to get from A to B?
There are numerous ways to mix up your journey and see Bristol from a new perspective, get in some exercise and even try some local delicacies while you’re at it.
What about challenging yourself to climbing the rigging of the SS Great Britain or high wire adventure at the Wild Place Project? Perhaps you’re not usually much of a culture vulture, so why not visit some of the city’s free art galleries, go and see a theatre show, or rock up glitter-clad to one of the many festivals – you never know, you might be converted!
#SummerinBristol suggestions: cycle with Pedal Progression, Bristol Insight open-top bus tours, paddleboarding with SUP Bristol, Bristol Ferry Boats, RWA, Royal Photographic Society, Arnolfini, Valley Fest.
Go on a day trip
There is a wealth of things to see and do in the city, but Bristol also makes a great base to explore the South West. The UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath is just 13 minutes by train from Bristol.
There are seaside towns, ancient castles, wildlife attractions, world-famous beauty spots, underground caves, family days out, National Trust properties and museums all within an hour of the city.
Hashtag your adventures around the city with #SummerinBristol to share your highlights
All photos by Angharad Paull