Visit, Explore and Learn

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There's always something happening at Clifton Suspension Bridge! Our Visitor Centre is open 10am to 5pm every day throughout the year. We have free guided tours on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays from Easter to October - and you may spot our volunteer 'Explainers' out on the bridge in orange high-vis jackets, ready to share amazing information about the history of the bridge with you!

See our 'Events' page to find out what's on when you're visiting, use 'What's Nearby' to plan ahead and delve into our 'History' section to find out more about our wonderful bridge.

If you'd like to bring a group along, our 'Schools' and 'Groups' sections should provide you with all of the information you need to plan a successful day out!


Ten Things to do when Visiting the Clifton Suspension Bridge

1. Climb Observatory Hill
There's a spectactular view of the bridge from Observatory Hill in Clifton. Follow the footpaths to the top - and if you're feeling brave zoom back down on the Rock Slide, polished smooth by Bristolian bottoms over hundreds of years! For a small fee you can also visit the Camera Obscura and Giant's Cave at Clifton Observatory.


Observatory Hill


2. Feel the Bridge Move
Suspension bridges are designed to be flexible and this bridge is always on the move. Look up just before you cross and you may see the hangers (the long iron poles which hold the bridge deck) vibrating. Look down and you may see the bridge deck moving up and down as cars enter and leave the bridge under the tower arch. Stop in the middle and close your eyes - or line up a building in the distance with the safety rail and wait and you may experience the bridge swaying!


Clifton Suspension Bridge in high winds - November 2012 from Clifton Suspension Bridge on Vimeo.


3. Watch the Peregrine Falcons
Stand on the Leigh Woods side of the bridge during the summer months and looks across the Gorge to Clifton and you may spot our adult Peregrine Falcons hunting or new chicks fledging and learning to fly! The best viewpoint is at Sea Mills where Bristol Ornithological Club set up a peregrine watch point to protect peregrine nests and teach visitors about the birds.


Copyright Ron Knight, cc by 2.0


4. Discover the rare plants of the Avon Gorge
The Avon Gorge is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and The Avon Gorge and Downs Wildlife Trust maintain an award winning flowerbed on the Clifton side of the bridge where you'll find some of the rare plants which grow in the Avon Gorge. Visit between spring and autumn to see different species in bloom and learn all about them! Venture further afeild and explore the Downs: acres of Common Land filled with wildflower meadows and popular with walkers, dog owners and kite flyers. Pick up historical guides from our Visitor Centre or follow the routes suggested on information boards.


orchids on the Downs


5. Watch the river rise and fall
The River Avon is a tidal river, rising and falling by 13 metres. There are high tides twice a day. Look out for the wooden jetties of the White Funnel Paddle Steamers which used to run pleasure trips to Newport, Wales, in the bank on the Clifton side.


Copyright Alan Russell,


6. Pop in to the Visitor Centre
The Visitor Centre can be found in Leigh Woods. Entry is free and it's open from 10am - 5pm every day. Inside you'll find an exhibition about the history of the bridge and the people who worked on it, children's activities, toilets and a gift shop!


Visitor Centre


7. Take a free tour
Free tours of the bridge take place at 3pm every Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday between Easter and October. Meet your friendly volunteer guide at the Clifton Toll Booth!  


Bridge Tour


8. See the Bridge from below
The Avon Trail is a popular route under the Clifton Suspension Bridge for walkers, joggers and cyclists. Strap on your hiking boots and ramble through Leigh Woods to reach it. After passing underneath, you can climb back up to the bridge through Nightingale Valley or continue following the river to Pill or Portishead. Pick up some directions from the Bridge Visitor Centre.


Avon Trail


9. Enjoy the view from the Avon Gorge Hotel
Popular during long summer evenings, the White Lion Terrace at the Avon Gorge Hotel is the perfect place to relax with a cold beer or cream tea while you watch the sun set over the Suspension Bridge.


Image courtesy of Avon Gorge Hotel


10. Stay for the Illuminations
The lights on the Suspension Bridge are turned on every night half an hour before dusk and stay on until midnight. Enjoy a spectacular view of Bristol and the river too!







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