Easy day trips from Bristol by car
Escape the city for a day when next in Bristol
Car hire makes these brilliant day trips beyond the city possible
Of course, Bristol itself is brimming with things to do. But with coastline and beaches, historic towns and cities, epic green spots and iconic landmarks all in easy reach, why tie yourself to one destination?
Each journey out of the city has the bonus of passing through the scenic countryside en route, some of which is worth the drive alone. From the incredible Stonehenge to the picturesque Gower, here are seven easy day trips to take in your hire car from Bristol.
There’s more to Glastonbury than the world’s best-known festival that takes place at nearby Worthy Farm. Drive time from Bristol to this gloriously quirky Somerset town is about 1 hour and 5 minutes, which includes a stretch through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Mendip Hills.
Charming, mystical and in certain corners, a little bizarre, Glastonbury has a distinctive character. Wander between incense-filled shops that line the high street, stacked with handmade jewellery, pagan-inspired tokens, colourful clothing and more. Hike to the top of the legend-laden Glastonbury Tor for a stunning panoramic view of the Somerset countryside.
Driving distance from Bristol: 1 hour 2 mins / 25.6 miles
Stonehenge and Salisbury
Keeping with the theme of mythical sites, a 1.5 hour-long drive south of Bristol can get you to the UK’s most famous prehistoric monument, Stonehenge. Booking in advance is essential, as you’ll be allocated a 30-minute slot that you need to arrive during.
Half a day is plenty to explore the Neolithic monument and enjoy the rest of the Stonehenge experience, which gives you time to see what Salisbury has to offer. It’s just a 25-minute drive to this medieval city, where the crowning glory is the magnificent cathedral. The elegant spire is the tallest in England.
Driving distance from Bristol: 1 hour 24 mins / 45 miles
Weston-super-Mare is a favourite day trip from Bristol for families with little ones, thanks to a short drive time of just over an hour as well as the myriad fun-filled activities on offer.
The town on the Somerset coast delivers all the traditional British seaside day-out experiences: donkey rides, ice cream, fish and chips and the Grand Pier theme park which is perfect if you get caught out by English weather and need to take cover. Inside there’s arcades, rides, go-karts and more.
Driving distance from Bristol: 44 mins - 1 hour / 24.4 miles
The Gower Peninsula
If you’re willing to drive a little further, The Gower is blessed with stunning sandy beaches and swimmable water. The drive takes around 2.5 hours and you’ll be greeted with a choice of impeccable beaches, such as Rhossili Bay, which is frequently listed among the top beaches in the UK.
Spend your day surfing, walking along the picturesque coastline or firmly laid out on your beach towel relaxing among impressive surroundings. Birdwatchers will also be happy here - peregrine falcons, guillemots, razorbills, shags and others can all be spotted, so remember to pack your binoculars.
Driving distance from Bristol: 2 hours 21 mins / 108.5 miles
A selection of quaint country villages awaits you in the Cotswolds, with some of the closest destinations reachable within 30 minutes. The furthest away will be an hour and a half at the very most.
Whether you stop in at the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’ (Bourton-on-the-Water), Lacock, Chedworth, or any other village, it’s impossible not to be charmed by the characterful stone buildings and the backdrop of rolling hills. And with hiking routes galore nearby, you’ll have ample opportunities to stretch your legs after the drive there.
Driving distance from Bristol: 30 mins - 1 hour (approx.) / 40-50 miles
Forest of Dean
For woodland walks, the Forest of Dean is an hour away from Bristol by car hire. Puzzlewood is perhaps the most well-known section - it’s a magical ancient forest, thought to have been an inspiration for JRR Tolkien when writing The Lord of the Rings. Take a ride on the Dean Forest Railway while you’re here too: ‘the friendly forest line’ that stops at five locations where you can hop off and enjoy some lovely walking routes.
Come in spring for the bluebells or autumn for the orange-hued leaves that cloak the trees and forest floor. Either way, it’s stunningly beautiful.
Driving distance from Bristol: 52 mins / 32.9 miles
The birthplace of The Bard of Avon can be reached in 1 hour and 45 minutes if you stick to motorways or closer to two hours if you take a more scenic route through part of the Cotswolds.
The medieval market town has, of course, heaps to do for anyone interested in the life and legacy of Shakespeare, including the Royal Shakespeare Company, his birthplace and Anne Hathaway’s cottage. But that’s not the be-all and end-all. The town has over 800 years of history, riverside walks and boat tours, a butterfly farm and much more to fill your day with.
Driving distance from Bristol: 1 hour 42 mins / 100.0 miles