About Bristol

Bristol is a beautiful, friendly, multi-cultural city (of course, we are biased :-)) – a rich tapestry of history, art, culture, green spaces, food, music, entertainment and much more. It is also a very walkable city if you don’t mind hills. And you cannot avoid hills if you are in Bristol. So learn to love ‘em and walk everywhere if possible as this is a great way to experience Bristol and all it has to offer.

What's on in Bristol

It is impossible to cover everything of note or importance. There is a lot to do and we suggest looking at Visit Bristol for events and activities happening throughout the week.

Google map of Bristol points of interest for attendees and families.

Google map with Bristol points of interest

The Bristol Harbour Festival

The Bristol Harbour Festival runs from Friday, July 19 through Sunday, July 21. This free festival celebrates Bristol's harbour heritage with a variety of food, drink and entertainment.

Recommendations from the organizers

Parks and green spaces: Bristol has many parks and green spaces that are open to the public. You cannot go far without finding a small or large park or garden to appreciate. Near the conference centre, we would suggest to visit the Park on Brandon Hill where Cabot Tower is located and the Royal Fort Gardens, which are a stone’s throw from the conference location (and are part of the University of Bristol campus).

Slightly further afield, but still within a 20 minutes walk, are The Downs, a large open space that is used for walks, picnics, exercise or pretty much any outdoor activity. If you walk around The Downs to the Sea Walls, you will get lovely views of the Avon Gorge (itself an iconic part of Bristol and home to unique plant species) and the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

But there is more. You may be surprised to know that Bristol has its own Deer park just at the edge of the city. You can walk there from the conference site in about 40 minutes (and the walk takes you over the Clifton Suspension Bridge – you will note that we do not go on about the bridge too much ;) ). Ashton Court is a large parkland area with two types of deer and lovely walks and views to enjoy. If you are lucky, there may be some hot air balloons being prepped for take-off, another regular sight in Bristol, and one so iconic that there is a whole Balloon Fiesta dedicated to it. It happens in August though. So if you are staying a while, make sure you attend it (it is free, of course). Or come back another year to enjoy it.

No, we are not done yet. Not far from the Suspension Bridge and Ashton Court (again, ca. 40 minutes walk from the conference site) is the our very own forest, Leigh Woods, with an iron age fort and many trails to intentionally get lost in and enjoy this oasis pretty much in the midst of the city. Your walk will likely take you to lovely views of the Avon Gorge and, you guessed it, our bridge :-).

And, if that isn’t enough, you can always visit Blaise Castle and Kings Weston House.

All of these are great places for grown-ups, children and families to enjoy.

Art and history

No visit to Bristol can be complete without visiting the Clifton Suspension Bridge, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel (did we say we are particularly fond of the Bridge! ;) ). It is still maintained using largely the same materials and you can walk across it to enjoy views over the river Avon and the Avon Gorge. If you are going, keep walking and visit Leigh Woods or Ashton Court (see above). You can also take a small detour before the bridge and visit the Observatory and visit the Giant’s cave while there (not recommended if you do not like heights as you do end up on a platform hovering over the Avon Gorge).

The Bristol Museum and Art Gallery is very close to the conference location (about a 5 minute walk). It is free to visit and you can see Banksy’s Paint-pot Angel on display. The Gallery currently is hosting a special exhibition that features John Constable’s famous The Hay Wain (the exhibition is not free but worth a visit).

Bristol has a massive street art culture with the most famous of the street artists, Banksy, one of Bristol’s very own. There is a lot of amazing street art to enjoy as you walk around Bristol. You can also take yourself on a walking tour to see some of Banksy’s famous works. In addition to the Paint-Pot Angle in the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, Banksy’s Well Hung Lover is just on Park Street – about 10 minutes down the hill from the conference location (though you will have to walk back up!).

We also recommend to visit the Harbourside and the industrial heritage there including the M-Shed museum (free to visit) to explore Bristol’s industrial past. You can also see the cranes outsides that are still operated (just for optics) during weekends and see Brunel’s SS Great Britain, another iconic sight around Bristol. It is not free to enter but well-worth a visit (allow plenty of time).

Food and drink

Bristol has an amazing food scene and you can find lots of independent restaurants and cafes with food from many different cultures and cuisines.

There are also a number of micro-breweries to sample and, if you like, coffee (our research group is very particular on this point!) then you will not run short of cafes to patronise, including some with their own roasteries.

Around the Harbourside, the Cargo Containers and restaurants around the Wapping Wharf are always a great choice. Don’t be fooled by the containers. Some of these restaurants are on the Michelin Guide’s upcoming stars list. So sample them before they get their stars and while they are still affordable.

Near the conference location, we are not short of interesting cafes and restaurants around the Clifton Triangle or on Whiteladies Road. Sotiris’ Greek pastries and treats are lovely. You should also try Pinkman’s and their legendary sour-doughnuts. Slightly further, but within walking distance of about 20 minutes, is Clifton Village with an array of independent cafes, restaurants and shops. While there, you can enjoy Anna’s cube cakes.

If you want to try cafes with their own roasteries, head to Twoday, about 5 minutes from the conference location. Or a bit further afield, Wogan. There are too many good cafes in the conference vicinity to list. Just ask us. You will find that none of us agree on which one is the best :-).


Those of you who enjoy pounding the pavement or traversing the trails, all of the above parks and green spaces are great places for a run or jog. Beyond that, you may or may not be familiar with Parkrun, free, completely volunteer organised 5K events to run, jog or walk that happen at 9 AM on a Saturday morning all over the UK and many other countries. So if you are arriving early in Bristol or are a particularly quick runner and can make it to the PETS hike after doing a parkrun, Bristol has several parkruns locally. Ashton Court (above), Blaise Castle, Eastville Park and many more (though the others are slightly further afield). Children and families also join and there is no time limit. Everyone runs and walks at their own pace around the course. Of course, make sure you do not miss the buses for the PETS hike!


Bristol has some great cycling routes and many completely off-road. You can rent bikes to explore the area around Bristol on two wheels. There are lots of recommendations on Better by Bike including some excellent route suggestions for Bristol itself. We thoroughly recommend a ride from Bristol to Bath along the Bristol to Bath Railway Path. Yes, you can go all the way from Bristol to Bath by bike without any traffic (a couple of road crossings but these are controlled and you can ride across safely via the traffic signals). The path is also very child friendly though, of course, it is a long distance for small children to cycle all the way. We recommend starting your journey with a coffee and cake at Cakesmiths, then stopping for ice cream at Warmley Waiting Room, another stop at Bitton Station (you can enjoy lunch or a sandwich in the old railway carriages or even take a ride on the steam train) and finishing your journey with some further refreshments at Rooted. If you are feeling particularly keen, you can go on to ride through the Two Tunnels for a longer trip or return the same way (or you can bring the bikes back on the train :-)).

The above are just a few suggestions. Please do ask us if you have any queries about Bristol. We will be happy to help.