George Maguire

Bristol’s Top 4 Harbourside Attractions

George Maguire

Bristol is renowned for its charm, its diversity and its creativity. Part historic trading port, part start-up incubator, this is a water-side city that is so obviously youthful, yet still fundamentally rooted in its history. A flagbearer of this juxtaposition of ‘new and old’ is Bristol’s Harbourside; an ex merchant sailor dock set adjacent to the city centre, now brimming with new ventures in retail, food and markets. Whilst modern re-developments such as Wapping Wharf are certainly drawing in sightseers, Bristol’s Harbourside offers a variety of museums that are well worth your time. From a magnificent first-of-its kind Victorian Ship to a state of the art interactive science centre, there is much to see.

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
Situated at the top of the iconic Park Street (also the home of a Banksy) and a short walk from the waterfront is the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. Reminiscent of London’s Natural History Museum, the attraction is currently a home to a plethora of dinosaurs, Leonardo da Vinci drawings, African and Japanese prints and a host of Egyptian mummies. Set in such a beautiful building, such a vibrant student scene, and with free entry; you really can’t go wrong. Once you have had your share of the art, history and nature (often a combination of the three), make sure to check out the world famous (well, Bristol famous) Eat a Pitta located directly opposite the main entrance. 

We the Curious
Running parallel to the waterfront is We the Curious (formerly known as At-Bristol Science Centre), the natural home of all things science and discovery. With 300 hands-on exhibits, this is a haven for anyone with a sense of curiosity. Forget the burdens of adulthood and wonder ‘what if?’ with highly interactive exhibits such as hydroponics farms and animation from Aardman (the genius behind Wallace & Gromit). A catalyst for minds, young and old, this ‘indoor festival’ sheds the usual rules of museum-hood as you are encouraged to touch everything, run around, play and generally – have a good time. Make sure to check out the 3D Planetarium, which hosts stargazing sessions and help you wrap your head around the scale of the cosmos.

Brunel’s SS Great Britain
A creation of one of Bristol’s most famous deceased, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, this first of its kind steam ship is Bristol’s number one attraction. Reachable by a quick river taxi, this reputable ship is far more than a decrepit relic. Having being painstakingly restored to its former glory in 1970, the vessel now serves a different clientele, as a brought to life reference of Victorian sailor life. Excellent and friendly staff will guide you through the ship from all angles, stopping by the cabins of the wealthy and poor alike. A highlight for many is to be found below, with its iconic ‘glass’ water where you can see and touch the hull. All in all, a lovely respite from the hustle and bustle of Bristol and a great slab of British heritage. 

The Watershed
Bristol’s premiere film and creative technology destination, The Watershed is located amongst the Harbourside’s busy promenade, just minutes from the city centre. The Watershed is a social enterprise and charity, although it is surely best known for its celebration of independent films. With three comfy cinemas and a happy atmosphere, put your feet up and dive into one of the current pictures on offer. A very pleasant and spacious café-come-bar can be found upstairs with alluring, romantic views across the water. Visit after dark and you will not be disappointed.

Image credits: all George Maguire 

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