Bristol is a historic city packed full of culture and history - enough so that even the oldest of residents are likely to have missed every unique place within the city limits.
During its long and esteemed history, Bristol has always drawn curious visitors. Whether you are new to the area or are an old-timer, Bristol World has put together this list which we hope provides places you’ll want to spend a day or evening exploring.
From the old to the new, away from the usual sites and shopping centres, this list should lead you down rabbit holes and interesting turns with fascinating stories.
Whether you’re an urban explorer hoping to investigate the city’s long-lost nuclear bunker, built during the cold war, or looking to book a vintage cinema night just for two - here are 10 hidden gems to be found in Bristol:
1. Clifton Rocks Railway
Most of us pass by the Clifton Rocks Railway without even knowing it is there. Opened on March 11, 1893, the railway had 11,000 passengers per week within its first months of operation and 427,492 passengers in the first year. In 1922, a major road would be built outside the bottom station, almost completely blocking access. The railway was built in October 1934 though it would later become a secret transmission base for the BBC during WW2.
2. Arnos Vale Cemetery
Set up in 1837 by the Bristol General Cemetery Company, Arnos Vale Cemetery’s 45 acre site has more than 600 British and Allied soldiers, sailors and airmen from both World Wars and various older conflicts buried on its grounds. These include three recipients of Britain's highest award for valour, the Victoria Cross, and veterans who survived the battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo. Today, it is of ‘considerable ecological importance’ due to its progression from mediaeval countryside to Georgian estate to Victorian Cemetery to the present day with little-to-no chemical assistance.
3. Bristol War Rooms
The world watched on with baited breath as the Cold War played out throughout the 1950s and 60. Bristol was no different. So much so, a two-storey concrete-walled site was built in 1953 to ‘coordinate civil defence’ in the event of an atomic attack, and to protect the local authority. Found off Flowers Hill in Brislington, close to the retail park, the nuclear bunker was the war room for Home Defence Region 7, which covered Cornwall, Devon, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire. It is believed that the listed building was closed down in the early 60s and then used for storage by the then Avon County Council.
4. Chance & Counters
Located at the base of the Christmas Steps, Chance & Counters is a board game cafe perfect for a date night or group of friends with a few hours to spare. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of games on offer - a number which has steadily risen since its opening in 2016.