Bristol is less than 120 miles from London, and once you're there, it feels like a smaller and more concentrated version of London's coolest neighborhoods packed into one city. This university town is home to thousands of students who frequent all of the local bars, cafes, and pubs, making it easy for visitors to fit right in and experience Bristol just as the Bristolians do.
The quickest and most comfortable way to get to Bristol is by train, which takes a little over an hour. However, train tickets can get pricey—especially if you're buying them at the last minute—and the bus takes a bit longer but can save you a lot of money. Driving is also an option and is a great choice if you want to road trip around the U.K., but be prepared to deal with traffic and difficult parking.
|Train||1 hour, 15 minutes||from $20||Arriving on a time crunch|
|Bus||2 hours, 55 minutes||from $6||Traveling on a budget|
|Car||2 hours, 30 minutes||118 miles (190 kilometers)||Exploring the local area|
What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From London to Bristol?
Travelers on a budget can find the best deals by taking the bus from London to Bristol. Tickets start as low as five pounds (about $6), and even same-day tickets are usually under 10 pounds if you're flexible about your departure time. You can see the schedule and book tickets by using the National Express webpage. Even though the bus takes more than twice as long as the train, Bristol is close enough to London that the bus ride isn't dreadfully long, taking about three hours in total. If you're planning to visit Bristol just for a quick weekend trip, you might prefer to select a faster means of transport.
Buses depart from London at Victoria Station, with connections to the Circle, Victoria, and District lines of the Underground. The Bristol Bus & Coach Station is located right in the central Lewin's Mead neighborhood, and just a 10-minute walk from the Old City.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get From London to Bristol?
Bristol is a major city and there are frequent direct connections from London by train. The fastest trains get you to Bristol in about 1 hour, 15 minutes while others take a little longer, so take a look at the trip duration before purchasing your ticket.
To get the best deals, look at schedules and book tickets through National Rail when train routes first open, which is about 12 weeks before the travel date. Tickets with "Advance" pricing are the cheapest options, albeit the most inflexible. You have to catch the train that departs at the time you choose, which can be difficult to plan out weeks ahead. If you want a reservation that's more accommodating, choose "Anytime" or "Off-Peak" tickets—you'll pay an extra premium, but have more freedom to choose your departure time on the day of travel.
When you are looking at the train schedule, all trains depart from Paddington Station in London, but you'll see trains that arrive at Bristol Temple Meads or Bristol Parkway. Bristol Temple Meads is just five minutes away from the city center on foot, while Bristol Parkway is seven miles away. Double-check to make sure you reserve the tickets you want.
How Long Does It Take to Drive?
Driving to Bristol takes much longer than the train, but it's slightly faster than taking the bus. The trip takes about two and a half hours, although traffic can cause serious delays. The route between London and Bristol is also one of London's major commuter routes and the main road from Heathrow Airport to London. Traffic jams that are virtual standstills can happen at any time of day. Also, parking in the center of Bristol is complicated at best, and you won't need a car in the city once you arrive. After paying for a rental, gas, and London tolls, you end up paying more money taking a car and it comes with many extra hassles.
If you're planning to road trip around Britain and continue on after Bristol—such as nearby Bath, Exeter, or Wales—then driving is a great way to explore the area and have the freedom to stop where you want. But if your itinerary only includes London and Bristol, you're better off taking the train or bus.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Bristol?
If you're looking for warm weather and sunshine, visiting between June and September are the best times to see Bristol. Winter and even spring are both chilly, but if you don't mind the cold, these are also the months with the least amount of tourists. Bristol is also a major university town, so if you visit when school isn't in term—such as summer break or the Christmas holidays—the town will be more empty, but you'll also miss out on all of the local student life.
If you visit in August, you can see one of the city's most iconic events, the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. More than 100 hot air balloons fill the skies above the city, and it's an incredible sight that's complemented with festival rides and live entertainment.
What Is There to Do in Bristol?
Bristol is one of the trendiest cities in all of Britain, and you can easily spend a week or longer just exploring its various and diverse neighborhoods. One of the most iconic attractions is the Clifton Suspension Bridge, an incredible site with breathtaking views and considered the greatest work of engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Apart from the bridge, the city is teeming with hip bars, cafes, vintage stores, and music venues. It's the hometown of world-renowned street artist Banksy, and you can see several of his works around the city. It's easy to catch a local concert, theater production, or art show because there is always something going on in Bristol. It's the type of city you plan to visit for a night or two and then you never want to leave.