Brunel’s world famous Clifton Suspension Bridge is the symbol of Bristol – but how and why was it built? Cross the Avon Gorge 75 metres above the high tide mark and find out why the design of the Bridge changed so many times, how daredevil bridge builders managed to get the suspension chains from one side to the other, the impressive secret discovered 140 years after the bridge first opened - and what the mysterious Latin inscription ‘Suspensa Vix Via Fit’ really means.
Our Visitor Information Centre is situated at the Leigh Woods end of the bridge. It contains information about the competition to design the bridge, its construction and completion and how it is maintained today. You can watch a 10 minute DVD about the bridge, see objects from our collection (including streoscopic images and original souvenirs) and browse our shop, where you'll find books, postcards and souvenirs.
Entrance is free and we are open 10am-5pm daily throughout the year except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. We provide free tours from the Clifton toll booth at 3pm every Saturday and Sunday from Easter Sunday to October. If you would like to book a tour for a school or adult group, please visit our group and school visits page.
We have a small shop stocking a range of souvenir items starting from 50p - including postcards, greeting cards, keyrings, stationery, books, bone china, teatowels, teddy bears, badges, fridge magnets, fine art prints, Bristol Blue Glass and much more! The Visitor Centre is funded by donations and purchases from the shop and staffed by a team of volunteer helpers. We do not recieve any support from the local authorities - and tolls paid to cross the bridge are used to maintain the bridge itself.
Smartphone users can try our audio trail: look for the signs on the city side of the bridge between the towers and the bridge deck. Scan a QR code or enter a web address to hear three different tracks which will tell you about the history of the bridge and the local area.
The Visitor Centre is funded by your donations and purchases from the shop and is staffed by a team of knowledgable volunteers from all over the world who run the till, help with stocktaking, answer visitor's questions and lead the guided tours, as well as contributing new ideas to the running of the Visitor Centre.
Volunteers receive an induction and on-the-job training and participate in events designed to provide more information in areas of interest (the image shows volunteers exploring the Leigh Woods abutments which are not currently open to the public) so that they can help you with your queries and provide you with the information that you need when you visit.
We're also happy to take people of all ages on Work Experience. Whether you'd like to find out more about how the Visitor Centre works as part of a school programme, shadow us for your college or university project (heritage, leisure and tourism, PGCE, etc) or get some workplace experience while you are looking for a job, you can contact us here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to find us
The Visitor Centre address is Bridge Road, Leigh Woods, Bristol, BS8 3PA, but we recommend that you begin your visit by crossing the bridge and taking in the views. Please see below for travel and parking information.
Parking on-street is limited but free on both the Leigh Woods and Clifton sides of the bridge, although there is a £1 toll charge to cross the bridge in a vehicle. Visitors are kindly requested to park with consideration to our neighbours (please do not park on the footpath or block driveways) and advised to observe the parking regulations. You can cross the bridge on foot or by bicycle free of charge.
The coach drop off point is at the Sion Hill/Bridge Road crossroads about 150 metres from the bridge (look for the red phonebox at Sion Hill, postcode BS8 4AW). Please note that there is a weight limit for the bridge and there is no turning space on the approach road, so do not drive past this point.
In special circumstances, groups may arrive at the Leigh Woods side of the bridge, but please speak to us in advance about this whether you have booked a tour or are on a self guided visit. Call 0117 974 4664 for further information.
Whilst coaches are able to drop off and pick up passengers a short walk from the bridge, we ask that drivers waiting for groups park at one of the following designated locations:
Parry's Lane - The Downs, (B4054) off Westbury Road, (A4018)
Cumberland Road - Cumberland Road, BS1 6SG
Bristol City Football Club - Aston Gate, BS3 2EJ (A3029) Winterstoke Road
NCP, Dalby Avenue - Bedminster, BS3 4HH
Travelling by bus?
If you are already in the city centre, it is much easier to reach us by bus. Services 8 and 9 stop at Clifton Down Road, opposite Christ Church Clifton (near Boston Tea Party and Quadrant wine bar) and are are timetabled to go every few minutes. Take a No 8 bus from Bristol Temple Meads (BTM) railway station or at the Centre Promenade opposite the Hippodrome theatre (near the statue of Neptune.) Get off the 8 bus at Clifton Village or at Christ Church, Clifton. The Bridge is a short level walk from either of these bus stops. To make the return journey from Clifton to the city centre or station take the No 9 from Clifton Village or Christ Church.
8: BRISTOL CENTRE - CLIFTON
Bristol Temple Meads - Centre - Clifton - Redland - Centre - Bristol Temple Meads
9: CLIFTON – BRISTOL CENTRE
Bristol Temple Meads - Centre - Redland - Clifton - Centre - Bristol Temple Meads
357, 358 and 359 to Portishead stop along the A369 at the Clifton Lodge entrance of the Ashton Court Estate.
357: BRISTOL – PORTISHEAD
Hotwells, Bower Ashton, Abbots Leigh, Portbury Wharf, West Hill
358: BRISTOL - PORTISHEAD
Hotwells, Bower Ashton, Abbots Leigh, Pill, Easton-in-Gordano, West Hill, Redcliffe Bay
359: BRISTOL - PORTISHEAD
Hotwells, Bower Ashton, Abbots Leigh, Pill, Easton-in-Gordano, Sheepway, Redcliffe
If you're planning on using the buses to get around during your visit, you can download the free First Bus smartphone app for timetable information and journey planning.
Service 505 provides a Park and Ride service between Long Ashton Park & Ride site, Clifton, Bristol Zoo, Redland and Southmead Hospital. The site is located just off the A370 traveling into Bristol from North Somerset, Postcode: BS3 2HB
Parking is free if you're using the bus and you don't need to display a ticket in your car. There are 1,500 parking spaces at the Long Ashton site. The car park is locked at 2130 (Monday to Friday) 2100 (Saturday) and overnight parking is not permitted.
City Sightseeing Bus
From February to December (daily from Easter to October) a City Sightseeing Open Top bus service operates at frequent intervals. Hop on the City Sightseeing bus at Bristol Temple Meads, near Bristol bus station or on Bristol City Centre. The nearest stop to the Bridge is stop 9.
CITY SIGHTSEEING BUS STOPS
City Centre Broad Quay – At Bristol & Aquarium – Hotwells – Baltic Wharf – ss Great Britain – Downs Sea Walls – Downs Ladies Mile – Bristol Zoo Gardens – Clifton Village – Victoria Square – Victoria Rooms – City Museum – Park Street – City Centre Broad Quay – Bristol Bridge Indoor Market – Cabot Circus Harvey Nicholls - Victoria Street Novotel Hotel – Bristol Temple Meads Station – St Mary Redcliffe – Prince Street – City Centre Broad Quay.
(See also the link on our 'Links' page).
Information for cyclists
Crossing the Bridge on a push bike is free and there are cycle lanes on the approaches to the Bridge at both sides which allow you to bypass the toll barriers. Please be aware of traffic and lowering barriers as you merge back into traffic for your crossing. There are bike racks next to the Visitor Centre for your convenience - and popular cycle and mountain bike trails at nearby Ashton Court.
Prefer to walk?
To reach us on foot, you can follow the Avon Trail from Bristol City Centre, Pill - or even Bath.
If you enjoy shorter walks or would like to bring your dog along on your day out, put your boots on and ask us about some of the great walks in our area. We've got maps and leaflets with routes you can follow, whether you'd prefer to go across the Downs, into the woods or find a nice route back into the city centre.
Visitors with mobility issues
There is a disabled parking space next to the Leigh Woods toll booth which blue badge holders are welcome to use. The Visitor Information Centre has an access ramp and the bridge itself is all on one level - but is 214m or 712ft long.
Bringing the children?
If you're researching a school project, we stock historic postcards (50p each), an Information Leaflet filled with useful facts and figures (60p), an Activity Pack filled with helpful information (£2.00) and a Bridge guidebook (£4.95). You can take a photo with our cut out of Brunel - and don't forget to quiz our knowledgable volunteers!
We are members of the Children's University, so if you're planning a visit don't forget to bring your passport and get it stamped! Younger children might enjoy our bridge jigsaws - and for older children there's a 'design a bridge' worksheet. If you'd like to explore the exhibition, ask us for a copy of the 'Kids Kwiz'!
We also support the Max Card, making great attractions across the UK more accessible to looked-after children, their friends and family.
Our free tours, which run from Easter to October every Saturday and Sunday at 3pm start from the Clifton Toll Booth and are suitable for a family audience.
Keep in touch