Bristol audio tour: Clifton’s Origins and Architecture

Clifton’s Origins and Architecture

Walking Tour

60 mins

About the Tour

Explore some of Clifton’s celebrated and lesser-known sites on a walking tour that traces the area’s development. Once a small and isolated hamlet outside Bristol, today Clifton is a vibrant suburb.

Along the way, you’ll learn how the Hotwell Spa initially drove the hamlet’s growth, inspiring several spectacular Georgian buildings that look like they’re straight out of a Jane Austen novel. You’ll see the Clifton Suspension Bridge, a funicular railway, and several impressive squares and terraces that were built when the area was further developed during Victorian times.

There are plenty of opportunities on this walk for you to photograph iconic structures, and to people-watch as artists and students go about their lives in this eclectic village in the city. You can pause to visit the Clifton Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre, to browse the Clifton Arcade shops, to explore the Clifton Observatory with its Victorian camera obscura or St Vincent’s Caves, or for some refreshments at various points during the tour.

This one-hour walk is shaped like a figure of eight, and can also be enjoyed as two shorter walks. The route is 2 miles (3 kilometres) long and involves some hills, steps and road crossings. The commentary was produced and recorded by The Clifton & Hotwells Improvement Society.

Tour Producer


Clifton & Hotwells Improvement Society

The Clifton & Hotwells Improvement Society is a registered charity (259371) formed in 1968 to provide a counter to the prevailing planning climate that favoured new developments and roads, too often at the expense of people and historical buildings. Since then it continues to review planning and licencing applications, supporting those that will enhance the area and opposing those that will not.

The Society works with local councillors and businesses to help improve the area in matters such as refuse collection, speed limits, drinking fountains and pavement obstructions. Tree planting, seats and plaques on buildings where notable people lived also form part of our activities.

All the profits from sales of this walking tour will go to further enhancing Clifton and Hotwells. If you would like to know more about the Society, or to join as member, please have a look at our website:

Major Landmarks

  • Clifton Suspension Bridge

  • Royal York Crescent

  • The Mall

  • Avon Gorge

  • Victoria Square

Directions to Starting Point

The walk starts outside Eat a Pitta on the corner of Regent Street and Princess Victoria Street (postcode BS8 4HR).

From the Clifton Village bus stops, walk downhill on the right hand side of the road. Eat a Pitta is on the corner with Princess Victoria Street.

Show Directions
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Places to stop along the way

There are several coffee shops, restaurants and bars along the route. There are public toilets near the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Best time of day

The tour is excellent at any time of day, but be aware that many of Clifton's shops don't open until after 1000. Sunday opening of shops can be as late as 1100 and not all shops will be open.


There are no particular safety concerns in Clifton. The walk includes some steps, road crossings and hills. Pedestrian crossings are used wherever possible. The crossing of Observatory Road requires some care.


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Clifton’s Origins and Architecture