This picturesque suburb of Bristol is home to iconic city landmarks, an excellent zoo and boutiques set inside Georgian- and Victoria-era buildings.
Commanding an idyllic setting on a hill above the bustle of central Bristol is the affluent neighborhood of Clifton. Clifton moves at its own nonchalant pace and is loved for its boutique shopping, elegant houses and village-like atmosphere. Evidence of settlements dating back to 350 B.C. have been found here, making it older than Bristol itself. Merchants moved in during the 1700s and 1800s and contributed to the splendid architectural landscape.
Start your visit with a walk across Clifton Suspension Bridge, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and opened in 1864. It affords magnificent views of the Avon Gorge, Leigh Woods National Nature Reserve and south toward the Mendip Hills. Walk from here to the nearby Clifton Observatory, an 18th-century windmill that later became an artist’s studio and is now an observation tower. The grounds of the observatory are popular among picnickers, photographers and walkers.
Experience the infectious charm of the suburb at Clifton Village shopping district. Here artists, independent fashion designers, jewelers and quaint cafés occupy Georgian mansions. Poke around antiques and handicraft stalls in the Victorian Clifton Arcade. Royal York Crescent is one of Europe’s longest terraces and one of the city’s finest ensembles of Georgian and Regency architecture.
There’s fun for all ages at Bristol Zoo Gardens, a 12-acre (5-hectare) wildlife park with over 450 animal species. Close by is Clifton Down, an area of lush green parkland ideal for escaping the crowds and playing sports. Another interesting attraction is Birdcage Walk, an arched walkway that cuts through graveyard of the ruins of a 12th-century church. Catch performances by Bristol’s university music students at the Victoria Rooms and amateur theater productions at Redgrave Theatre.
Public buses travel regularly to Clifton from Bristol City Centre. Alternatively, take a train to Clifton Down station. From Bristol Harbourside it’s just a 35-minute walk to the heart of the neighborhood. There’s also access to the estate of Ashton Court Mansion from the west side of Clifton Suspension Bridge.