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Bristol’s Best Free Museums and Galleries

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See something free this January!

We all know that Christmas can be extremely expensive. We want to be entertained and entertaining - but there is no doubt that the costs of shopping and eating out can add up to something considerable. Luckily, Bristol is a city that can charm on any budget. From the fascinating remnants of a merchant past, to art galleries and museums, get out of the crowds and step into somewhere else for 2020 - wallet not needed!

Image credit: George Maguire

M Shed

Princes Wharf, Wapping Road, Bristol, BS1 4RN

Whilst the Harbourside’s timeless and industrial M Shed does host some brilliant paid for exhibitions (such as the current & excellent Wildlife Photographer of the Year), they also have some excellent rooms to explore for free. Visit the Bristol Places gallery to learn about the cities past and the events that led to its modern-day values and communities. Highlights include Bristol’s very own dinosaur (Thecodontosaurus to be precise), exhibits on WW2 preparations and the evolution of Bristol’s suburbs. Make sure to stroll around outside afterwards and marvel at the cranes (one of which was a treehouse home!), the expansive water and the nearby shopping and coffee magnet Wapping Wharf.

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The Georgian House Museum

7 Great George Street, Bristol, BS1 5RR

Bristol’s history is sadly one that is linked to the slave industry & the accompanying international trade of crops such as sugar. The Georgian House Museum shows us what a rich merchants house would have been like back in 1790. Across 11 rooms, you can navigate hidden staircases, a cold-water plunge pool and a luxurious dining room. Guaranteed to leave an impression and make you thankful for the luxuries of modern life.

Image credit: Arnolfini via Facebook


16 Narrow Quay, Bristol, BS1 4QA

The Arnolfini is Bristol’s International Centre for Contemporary Arts. Situated right next to the glorious Harbourside waters (a great place for a cider in the summer!), the building cultivates a rotating selection of exhibitions, most of which are free. Check out the beautiful bookshop or excellent Arnolfini Café Bar on the way out for some incredible Bristol Beer Factory refreshments.

Image credit: sven / a million pieces via Flickr

Queens Road, West End, Bristol, BS8 1RL

Deep in student territory and situated on ‘The Triangle’ is the magnificent Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. With three cavernous floors and halls of galleries that cover many-many topics including - the last billion years of the Earth, Somerset’s natural resources and Egyptian mummies. A visit will offer you as peaceful retreat from the busy streets outside. Make sure to take a trip up the epic Cabot Tower in the nearby Brandon Hill Park.

Image credit: Ashton Court Estate via Facebook​​​​​​​

Ashton Court Estate

Ashton Court, Long Ashton, Bristol, BS41 9JN

Whilst not necessarily a museum or gallery, I had to include Ashton Court Estate for reasons that are immediately obvious upon visiting. It’s stunning. Wild yet regal, the Estate is set over a massive and sprawling 850 acres of wood and grassland (which are home to lots of deer!). Head over on a clear yet chilly day to become deeply refreshed. The perfect antidote to Cabot Circus’s stocking filler sales!