≡ Menu

Fab FREE Things to do in Bristol and North Somerset

Bristol's Clifton Suspension Bridge with hot air balloons: Huge round up of fab free places to go and things to do in Bristol and North Somerset this summer 2021.

Welcome to the big 2024 roundup of FREE things to do and places to go in Bristol and nearby. This family-friendly guide is packed to the rafters with attractions which won’t cost you a penny to enter. I think you’ll be surprised at the great range of places, in and around Bristol, with a zero entrance fee!

While pretty much everything else seems to be getting more expensive, I did wonder if I could pull together enough budget-friendly outings to fill the guide. Of course, I needn’t have worried. This latest edition is packed with more free places to visit than ever before.

  • BRISTOL ATTRACTIONS WITH FREE ENTRY
    We have you ‘covered’ with an amazing list of child-friendly indoor attractions with free entry. (I suggest bookmarking this page as these are also great places to go in Bristol when it’s raining!)
  • FREE THINGS TO DO OUTDOORS IN AND AROUND BRISTOL
    We’re blessed with plenty of fabulous outside spaces too, of course. The section on free things to do outdoors in Bristol and nearby includes fun parks to explore, fabulous North Somerset beaches, family-friendly walks and perfect picnic areas.

FAB FREE THINGS TO DO IN BRISTOL AND NEARBY

FREE INDOOR PLACES TO GO IN BRISTOL & NORTH SOMERSET

This section features indoor attractions including museums, art galleries, archives and even a ship!

If you’re looking for free things to do in Bristol with kids when it’s raining, you’re in the right place. These under-cover days out are perfect for our unpredictable British weather. And as it doesn’t cost anything to get into these attractions, it’s not the end of the world if you just want to visit for an hour or two.

ARNOLFINI – HARBOURSIDE, BRISTOL

Go all cultural and explore an art exhibition at the Arnolfini!

The Arnolfini is an inclusive and innovative centre for contemporary arts, located in a prominent Grade II listed building on Bristol’s harbourside.

It’s free to enter, you don’t need to book and exhibitions are also free to visit.

Refreshments are on sale at The Arnolfini Café Bar. Seating is available inside or you can sit outside and enjoy views of Bristol Harbour. There’s also a bookshop, (if you think you can trust yourself!).

More details on The Arnolfini website

BLAISE MUSEUM – HENBURY, BRISTOL

Visit Blaise Museum and peruse their collection of toys, games, train sets and doll’s houses or marvel at the household contraptions which have been used by Bristolians over the last 300 years.

The Museum is set in a late eighteenth-century mansion on the Blaise Castle Estate in Henbury. It’s one of Bristol’s Free Museums and Historic Houses.

See Blaise Museum website for up-to-date opening hours and their latest programme of free family activities.

KINGS WESTON ROMAN VILLA

While you’re at Blaise, did you know you could also pick up the key to explore Kings Weston Roman Villa? This is the only Roman bath suite in Bristol and it offers a glimpse back to a time when Romans lived here.

Entry is free – you just pay a returnable deposit for the key.

Kings Weston Roman Villa Address:
Long Cross
Kings Weston Roman Villa
Lawrence Weston
Bristol BS11 0LP

To be among the first to hear about more content like this:-
Sign up to our mailing list
or
Join our Portishead & Bristol Events Facebook Group

BRISTOL ARCHIVES – CUMBERLAND BASIN, BRISTOL (via Create Centre)

Book a visit to the Bristol Archives’ search-room.

Bristol Archives looks after the records of the city of Bristol and the British Empire & Commonwealth Collection. While you’re there you could:-

  • Find out about famous Bristol families, such as the Smyth family of Ashton Court
  • Access records and documents relating to well-known companies, like Frys and Harveys
  • Peruse historic diaries and letters
  • Explore city records dating back to medieval times

What a way to bring a school project to life. Or a perfect outing if you just fancy a bit of a nose!

The search-room is open:
from Tuesday to Friday, 9.30 – 4.30
and the first two Saturdays of each month, 10 – 4

Bristol Archives contact details:
B Bond Warehouse (via Create Centre)
Smeaton Road
Bristol
BS1 6XN

+44 (0)117 922 4224

BRISTOL BLUE GLASS – ARNO’S VALE, BRISTOL

Watch the glassmakers in action at their studio in Bath Road. They craft the glass using traditional methods. No moulds are used in the process, so each piece is unique. You can ask the glassblowers if you have any questions about the process.

Normal glassblowing times are between 10 and 4 (with breaks). It’s free to watch and there’s no need to book unless you’re a big party of ten or more.

Bristol Blue Glass contact details:
357-359 Bath Road
Arnos Vale
Bristol BS4 3EW
+44 (0)117 9720818

BRISTOL CENTRAL LIBRARY – BRISTOL

Join in with one of the children’s story times or other activities in the spectacular Central Library building.

Activities and events include:-

  • Baby bounce and rhyme time, for babies.
  • DIY Duplo Day, for 18 months to 4 years
  • DIY Games Day, for 2 to 17 years
  • School summer holiday activities, including crafts and author and illustrator visits (Booking is required).

Or just pop into Central Library and enjoy your surroundings while reading a book.

Open every day.

Central Library contact details:
College Green
Bristol, BS1 5TL
+44 (0)117 903 7215

FREE ACTIVITIES AT OTHER BRISTOL LIBRARIES

This handy timetable shows which Bristol libraries run free baby bounce and rhyme time and story time sessions. Storytime sessions are for age 2+. Older siblings are also welcome.

FREE ACTIVITIES AT NORTH SOMERSET LIBRARIES

North Somerset libraries hold one-off and regular events including:-

  • Rhymetime and Story Time (term time only)
  • Duplo Club – for pre-schoolers
  • Lego Club – age 4 and over
  • Code Club
  • Crafts and Games Stay and Play
  • Colouring club
  • Board Game afternoons (all ages)
  • Summer Reading Challenge for children

Find your closest North Somerset library and check event times here. You may need to book in advance for a few of the more popular sessions.

SUMMER READING CHALLENGE 2024: MARVELLOUS MAKERS

The free summer reading challenge is a great way to keep kids interested in books. The challenge runs across many public libraries during the summer holidays. You can sign them up at your local library, as long as they are participating.

When they join, they will receive a special collector’s pack and help with choosing suitable books. They’ll receive rewards to help keep them motivated as they progress through the challenge.

The summer reading challenge for 2024 is Marvellous Makers.

If it isn’t practical for you to get to a library or if your local one isn’t running it, there’s also an on-line version of the summer reading challenge

BRISTOL CATHEDRAL – COLLEGE GREEN, BRISTOL

Take a peek inside Bristol Cathedral. There’s a lot more to see than you might think!

Admire the architecture and read about the history of the building.

Take a seat and soak up the atmosphere.

Or join a service.

Click through to find out about the latest fun and free things to do when visiting Bristol Cathedral with children.

Bristol Cathedral contact details:
College Green
Bristol, BS1 5TJ
+44 (0)117 926 4879

Wondering how to keep the kids amused all summer? Check out this 2023 bumper feature that’s packed with special events, festivals, free trails & fun family activities!
Ace Things to Do in Bristol Summer 2023

Explore the collections of art, nature and history on display in the impressive Queens Road building at the top of Park Street in Bristol.

Will you spot Alfred the Gorilla? The Romany wagon? An Egyptian Mummy? Or even a dinosaur?!

If they’ve had enough of the exhibitions, little ones can enjoy the under fives’ discovery area. And of course, there’s a café in case you fancy a coffee or lunch while you’re there.

The museum shop stocks a range of pocket money items as well as gift items like prints, books and Bristol Blue Glass. Shop purchases help support the museum.

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10 to 5

Bristol Museum‘s contact details:
Queens Rd
Bristol
BS8 1RL
+44 (0)117 922 3571

CABOT TOWER – BRISTOL

Climb up the narrow, spiral steps of Cabot Tower. On a clear day, your hard work will be rewarded with fabulous, panoramic views of Bristol and the surrounding area.

Bear in mind that the climb isn’t suitable for pushchairs and requires a good level of mobility. If you decide that climbing the tower isn’t for you, Brandon Hill is still a lovely green space to visit.

CABOT TOWER OPENING TIMES

The Tower is open Monday to Sunday from 8 am.
Closing times vary throughout the year.

Expect the tower to be closed:

  • 25th December
  • 26th December
  • 1st January

CLIFTON SUSPENSION BRIDGE VISITOR CENTRE – CLIFTON, BRISTOL

Learn about the history of Brunel’s iconic bridge at Clifton Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre.

The permanent exhibition and shop are both open with free weekend tours and outdoor family events for the school holidays.

While you’re there, admire the spectacular views across Bristol and Avon Gorge and look down at the tiny cars and people below. Crossing the bridge is free for pedestrians.

And you might just want to take a photo of this most famous of Bristol landmarks!

Free things to do in Bristol with Kids - Visit Clifton Suspension Bridge visitors' centre and walk across Brunel's iconic bridge!

CREATE CENTRE – CUMBERLAND BASIN, BRISTOL

Pop into the Create Centre and have a look around their purpose-built Ecohome. Ask if one of their volunteers can take you on a free tour and learn more about sustainable living. Your visit might inspire you to incorporate some eco-friendly ideas into your own projects.

There are also exhibitions at the Create Environment Centre where you can discover how to make greener choices.

Create opening times:
Create Centre and gallery is open Mon to Fri 9 – 5
Ecohome Mon to Fri 12 – 3 pm, (open on request).

THE GEORGE MÜLLER MUSEUM – BISHOPSTON, BRISTOL

Explore The George Müller Museum!

The museum celebrates the incredible story of how George Müller cared for and educated over 10,000 orphans in Victorian Bristol.

Visits must be booked in advance:
Call The George Müller Museum on 0117 9245001 or email museum@mullers.org
45-47 Loft House, College Road, Bristol BS7 9FG
Click here to visit George Müller Museum website

KINGS WESTON ROMAN VILLA

Explore Kings Weston Roman Villa and glimpse back to a time when Romans lived in Bristol!

Kings Weston Roman Villa is free to enter but you’ll need to pay a deposit for the key. You can pick this up from Blaise Museum on the Blaise Castle Estate in Henbury.

Click here to visit The Website

THE MATTHEW – BRISTOL FLOATING HARBOUR, BY M-SHED

Step aboard The Matthew of Bristol.

The ship is a replica of the 15th-century caravel that John Cabot sailed from Bristol to discover Newfoundland in 1497. You can look around, climb the steps to the upper decks, and learn more from knowledgeable guides.

If you’re interested in learning more, about the build, launch and inaugural voyage of the replica of John Cabot’s famous ship, watch our Matthew Video

(Click through for a round-up of our entire Bristol History Series which is also currently free to watch.)

Booking is not required to visit The Matthew ship when at her mooring.
Visiting is free but donations are always welcome. 
Click here to visit The Matthew website

M-SHED – HARBOURSIDE, BRISTOL

Admire the cars, trains, buses and planes which are part of Bristol’s transport history.

Learn about how Bristolians endured WWII.

Meet our very own dinosaur!

Edward Colston’s statue forms part of a new display at M Shed to start a city-wide conversation about its future. Will you voice your opinion?

Click here to visit M-Shed website

NEW ROOM BRISTOL: JOHN WESLEY’S CHAPEL – BROADMEAD, BRISTOL

Visit the oldest Methodist building in the world.

Learn about John and Charles Wesley, the founders of Methodism, who promoted a faith rooted not just in prayer and worship, but in practical outreach designed to change society for the better.

Entry to the chapel is free. (Charges apply for museum entry). 

Click here to visit The New Room website

ST NICHOLAS MARKETS, BRISTOL

See unusual, undercover stalls and enjoy the aromas of street food at St Nicholas Markets.

A short walk from the modern shopping quarter, against the backdrop of historic architecture of The Corn Exchange and surrounding buildings, St Nicks Market has been trading right at the heart of the old city since 1743.

Is that cash you’ve been saving burning a hole in your pocket? Bristol’s largest collection of independent traders offer a range of wares and services to tempt you – from vintage fashion and vinyl records to key cutting and arts and crafts.

St Nicholas Indoor Markets are open Monday to Saturday: 9.30 am to 5 pm
Check their website for details of current traders

SPIKE ISLAND, BRISTOL

Visit the dynamic arts centre at Spike Island.

Spike Island helps support artists by offering affordable studio space and presents contemporary art exhibitions to the public.

The centre aims to be as accessible to as many people as possible and is just a short distance from the SS Great Britain and the M Shed.

Staff are available to answer questions and there’s a café and baby changing facility.

Galleries are open Wednesday to Sunday, 12–4 pm (with exceptions)
Exhibition entry is free and you do not need to book.
Please refer to their website for further information.

WESTON MUSEUM, WESTON-SUPER-MARE

Pay a visit to Weston Museum.

Learn about the unique story of Weston-super-Mare through objects from the North Somerset Collection.

Open Tuesday to Saturday 10 am – 4 pm
Please refer to their website for further information.


FREE OUTDOOR THINGS TO DO IN BRISTOL & NORTH SOMERSET

In this section, we cover all sorts of outdoor outings. Looking for a fabulous walk in North Somerset? The perfect park or woodland for a picnic? Want to know where to find a beach near Bristol? You’ll find them all here.

ABBOTS POOL, ABBOTS LEIGH, BRISTOL

Get back to nature at Abbots Pool.

On the outskirts of Bristol. Abbots Pool features woodland with a large pond. Check out our Abbots Pool video for more info.

Free car parking but no other facilities.
Click here for more information on Abbots Pool

ASHTON COURT ESTATE – LONG ASHTON, BRISTOL

See the deer at Ashton Court Estate!

Come along to one of the amazing free events held here – most notably Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.

Take your pick of 850 acres of woodland and grassland for walking, cycling or having a picnic.

If you’re feeling energetic, you could join one of the free park runs which are held here every Saturday at 9 am. Register here

If you DO want to put your hand in your pocket, you could play golf or ride on the super-cute Ashton Court miniature railway. See the Bristol Model Engineers website for railway days.

Free entry (except during certain special events) but there is a small parking fee for vehicles.

Ashton Court Courtyard Café, Golf café and toilet facilities are available.
Click here to visit Ashton Court Estate Website

BLAISE CASTLE ESTATE – LAWRENCE WESTON, BRISTOL

650 acres of parkland with extensive children’s play areas as well as a museum, castle and café.

Admission is free, however, access may be restricted on major event days.

Blaise Castle Estate is open every day from 7.30 am.
Closing times vary throughout the year
Blaise Castle Estate, Kings Weston Rd, Lawrence Weston, Bristol BS10 7QS
Click here to visit Blaise Castle Estate Website

BRANDON HILL – BRISTOL

Climb up Brandon Hill and admire the views over Bristol.

Brandon Hill is a popular, hilly park with fabulous views from Cabot Tower. Facilities include a dog-free play area for under twelves, a nature park, toilets and outdoor exercise stations.

Brandon Hill is always open

CLIFTON NATURAL ROCK SLIDE – BRISTOL

Slide down Clifton’s natural slide.

Near Clifton Observatory and The Suspension Bridge, the natural slide is set back from the road. Listen out for laughter and screams and you’ll know you’re nearby!

It’s a fairly steep ride and generations of Bristolians and visitors have worn the rock smooth with their bottoms. There are more textured sections that can slow you down too, so join the sliders at your discretion! I wouldn’t do it now with my dodgy back, but yes, of course, I was brave enough when I was a child!

LEIGH WOODS NATIONAL TRUST – BRISTOL

Go on a Wild Woodland Adventure at Leigh Woods!

Alternatively, you can walk, run or mountain bike in this attractive National Trust woodland and SSSI near Clifton Suspension Bridge.

You could make a day of it and eat your lunch in the picnic area. You might even get to sit on the carved wooden sofa.

– You can walk dogs at Leigh Woods, however, the woods are home to grazing animals such as cows and deer, so do keep your dog under control.
– There’s a dog poo bin at the North Road entrance.
Click here to visit Leigh Woods Website

OLDBURY COURT AND SNUFF MILLS – FILTON/STAPLETON

Take a walk down by the riverside.

There’s a lot to do at Oldbury Court, Snuff Mills and Vassals Park. Enjoy parkland and woodland with The River Frome running through it, plus sports areas, children’s play park, café facilities and toilets. Great for picnics and riverside walks.

Car parking at OIdbury Court Estate (BS16 2JH) and Snuff Mills (BS16 1DL)

Admission is free and Oldbury Court Estate is open at all times.
Car parks are closed on Dec 25th.
Click here to visit Oldbury Court Estate Website

ST WERBURGHS CITY FARM

Meet the pigs at the small-holding at St Werburghs City Farm.

While you’re there you could also check out the community gardens and allotments or spend some pennies in the farm café.

Free to enter but a donation is welcomed, if possible.
Limited opening hours at present.
Click here to visit St Werburghs City Farm Website

THE STRAWBERRY LINE

Cycle along The Strawberry Line from Yatton Station.

The whole 9-mile long track takes you from Yatton to Cheddar. The majority of it is traffic-free and fairly flat.

We found that cycling a short section of The Strawberry Line was a great introduction for younger riders. You would of course need to make your own judgement about the abilities of your party and exercise caution. If you chose to complete the whole route, there are sections where you’d need to ride or cross busy roads.

The Strawberry Line cycle track. One of the great free things to do in North Somerset outdoors.

Look out for the cider apple orchards, Cheddar Gorge and refreshment stops along the way!

Parking is available for a small fee at Yatton Station.
Here you’ll also find a café, toilets and Strawberry Line Cycles which offers a range of traditional and adaptive bikes to rent.
Click here to visit The Strawberry Line Website

WESTON-SUPER-MARE, CLEVEDON AND PORTISHEAD BEACHES

Visit one of our beaches on the North Somerset coast.

Being beside the sea is one of my favourite free things to do! Read about our visit to one of the beaches in Portishead.

There’s no need to travel very far. Why not stay local and save petrol while enjoying some of the free things to do in North Somerset instead?

Explore the coastal path between Clevedon and Portishead. There are several beaches to stop at along the way but bear in mind that there are no facilities on this stretch.

Portishead beach and lighthouse on the Clevedon to Portishead Coastal Path

(The ground is uneven, sloping and narrow and there are steep drops in places, so you’ll need to judge whether your party is capable of tackling this safely. Parts of the route aren’t suitable for pushchairs or anyone with limited mobility.)

For safety advice when visiting a beach or coastal path, check out the government’s Coastguard Safety information.

TIPS FOR FREE DAYS OUT IN BRISTOL

As always, please check with the destination or organiser for up-to-date information before you travel in case of cancellations, closures or errors. I’ve added website links wherever I can to make this as easy as possible for you.

Remember that even without an entry fee, you’ll still need to factor in any other expenses such as meals out, travel costs, parking charges or food. Occasionally venues ask for a small voluntary donation.

FREE BUT CLOSED AT TIME OF WRITING

THE GEORGIAN HOUSE MUSEUM

Due to re-open 12th June 2023

In the meantime:
You can view this free Georgian House 360 tour.
Click here to visit The Georgian Museum Website and to check re-opening date

THE RED LODGE MUSEUM

Due to re-open 19th June 2023

In the meantime, check out Red Lodge 360 virtual tour
Click here to visit The Red Lodge Museum Website and to check re-opening date

SEE MONSTER, WESTON SUPER MARE

NOW CLOSED FOR GOOD

Fancy going to see the SEE MONSTER in Weston super Mare but not sure what to expect & whether it’s worth a visit? Then read our fab family review with top tips for visiting this free attraction located at Weston-super-Mare’s Tropicana. But you’ll have to hurry as it’s only due to stay in Weston until Nov 20th 2022.

Open every day from 9 am to 9 pm. Last entry is at 8 pm
It’s free to enter See Monster and free to go up the platform.
Booking is not required.
Temporary attraction – closes on Nov 20th 2022

Phew! So there we have it. I hope you find our guide to free things to do in Bristol and North Somerset helpful. I’ll continue adding more to this article so please let me know if you have ideas of anywhere else you think I should include.

I’ll be adding to this guide over the next few weeks, as I have much more to include. If you’re interested in MORE FREE PLACES TO VISIT IN AND AROUND BRISTOL, do make sure you bookmark it!

Please share with your friends and help them discover more free places to visit in and around Bristol too!

Don’t fancy cooking after all those activities? Then check out the following articles:-
Ultimate Guide to Afternoon Tea in and around Bristol
Portishead Takeaway Ultimate Guide
Portishead Restaurants: Where to Eat in Portishead and Nearby

To hear about more content like this:-
Join the Portishead & Bristol Events Facebook Group

Follow on social media (by clicking on the pink social media icons)

Buy me a coffee (or a glass of fizz!) to help fuel me in making more of these articles!

PIN: FREE THINGS TO DO IN BRISTOL & NORTH SOMERSET FOR LATER!

Many thanks to COBEN ASSOCIATES ACCOUNTANCY PRACTICE (AKA the husband), for sponsoring our guide to free things to do in and around Bristol with kids.

Please drop me a line if you’d like to support one of our roundups and be featured on Practically Perfect Mums.

AFFILIATE LINKS: This website contains affiliate links which means that, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Affiliate links are marked with an asterisk (*)

Thanks for your support if you make a purchase through one of my affiliate links.

0 comments… add one

Please do leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.