Bristol - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Bristol


The River Avon winds picturesquely through the bustling city centre of Bristol in the southwest of England, and has played a key role in the development of the city as a major English commercial port. Surrounded by charming hilly landscape and the spectacular ice-carved Avon Gorge, Bristol is an interesting mix of history, commerce and culture.

The city contains a mish-mash of architecture spanning over 400 years, much of which has been rebuilt, destroyed, relocated or vandalised over time. The City Fathers seem to have had a constant need to modernise, and today few of the city's earliest treasures remain, particularly after Bristol was severely blitzed during World War II. Although there is little or no remnant of Bristol's 11th-century origins, the city is not devoid of character by any means and there has been an attempt to restore the remaining jewels, evident in the beautiful Queen and Portland Squares. There are plenty of Georgian and Victorian churches, buildings and monuments to be seen and the city's strong maritime history can still be explored.

Bristol's busy city centre contains a number of excellent museums, galleries, parks and churches, including the Bristol Cathedral. The city receives over nine million visitors a year and as one of the current top ten UK destinations, its tourism industry is rapidly expanding. Its thriving music scene is still dominated by trip-hop (also known as the Bristol Sound), which emerged in the city in the 1980s and 1990s; and with two universities, Bristol has a thriving nightlife, plenty of restaurants and shops.

Bristol's green lung has long been the Downs. Over 400 acres of grassland stretch from Avon Gorge to the Victorian-built suburbs of the city and locals and visitors alike flock to enjoy the peace and quiet they offer. A favourite in the city is also the Bristol Zoo and Gardens and the Bristol Clifton Observatory and caves, near the eye-catching Bristol Clifton Suspension Bridge.

The diversity and muddled history of the city make it well worth the visit, and it is also a convenient distance from the nearby city of Bath, as well as the fascinating Stonehenge.

Information & Facts


Bristol's climate is as unpredictable as the rest of the United Kingdom. Situated in the south west of the country and sheltered largely by Exmoor and the Mendip Hills, Bristol is in fact one of the UK's warmest cities. Summers are usually sunny and warm, while winters are cold and wet. Summer days, however, can start out overcast and damp, clearing later, and winter days can be crisp and cold.

Getting Around

Bristol is an easy city to negotiate on foot, with plenty of attractions close to one another. There are, however, taxis, trains and an extensive bus network available. While the bus service has been criticized in the past, plans for a five-year project to transform it, reducing congestion and improving safety, are in place. There are plenty of car rental agencies available, though the city centre can get congested. Bristol is a popular place for cyclists and despite plenty of hills, the city has an excellent urban bike route. The Bristol Ferry Boat is a fun and leisurely way to explore the city; it offers leisure and commuter services on the harbour.

English is the official language, though visitors will be astonished by the variety of regional accents.

The currency is the pound (GBP), which is divided into 100 pence. ATMs are available in all towns and Visa, MasterCard and American Express are widely accepted; visitors with other cards should check with their credit card companies in advance. Foreign currency can be exchanged at bureaux de change and large hotels, however better exchange rates are likely to be found at banks. Travellers cheques are accepted in all areas frequented by tourists; they are best taken in Pounds Sterling to avoid additional charges.

Local time in the United Kingdom is GMT (GMT +1 from last Sunday in March to Saturday before last Sunday in October).

In roughly 1140, the Abbey of St Augustine was founded by Robert Fitzhardinge. Over the years, the Abbey was altered, eventually becoming the model of the Hall Church style in England. When the Abbey was finally dissolved in 1539, the Nave was demolished and rebuilt, and became what is now the landmark Bristol Cathedral. The original Abbey Gatehouse and the Chapter House, which dates back to 1165, remain and visitors can enjoy the beauty and peace of this ancient holy site and its surrounds. The Cathedral also hosts free music recitals at certain times of year. Public guided tours of the Cathedral are available every Saturday at 11am.

The Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery is an impressive collection of exhibits, objects and artwork, housed in a beautiful Edwardian Baroque building. As well as the permanent exhibits of regional, national and international artefacts, the museum hosts a range of temporary exhibitions and has a variety of different periods of artworks on display in its galleries. From natural history to the World Wildlife Gallery, decorative arts collections and archaeological displays, the Bristol City Museum and Gallery has something for everyone. The museum and gallery also plays host to various special events, workshops and children's activities throughout the year.

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