Bristol regularly tops national polls picking up honours including the ‘Happiest City in the UK’ award and ‘Best place to live in Britain’ and now it’s proving to be equally popular for its online offerings where you can take a virtual tour of Bristol. A city which is culturally diverse and vibrant, home to creations by the world-famous street artist Banksy, through to the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. There’s a wealth of virtual Bristol experiences to enjoy.
Here’s our pick of the top things to see on a virtual tour of Bristol.
SS Great Britain – take a virtual tour below decks
Launched in 1843 as the ‘first great ocean liner’ SS Great Britain’s story is one of incredible journeys around the world, before being abandoned and left to rust, before a heroic rescue attempt brought her back to Bristol, to become a much loved museum ship.
Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel to run between Bristol and New York City, visitors to SS Great Britain can now see the ship returned to its former glory and discover what life on board was really like for the crew and passengers rich and poor.
You can visit this fantastic museum ship in incredible virtual reality thanks to a digital recreation here where you can step on board and rediscover the thrilling sea faring journeys of this ship which was once known as the ‘greatest experiment since the Creation’.
Fly high over virtual Bristol in a digital hot air balloon ride
Bristol is well known for its annual Hot Air Balloon Fiesta which brings balloons and crews from across the world to the city. The mass ascent is a sight to behold with nearly a hundred balloons in the sky at any one time, and with regular night glows where the balloons are tethered to the ground, the city’s link to hot air ballooning is well established.
If you fancy taking a virtual trip in a hot air balloon over the city you can do so in this time lapse video which whizzes you up into the air and over the city, for a few minutes of relaxation and thrilling views from the comfort of your own home.
A guide to the best of Banksy in a virtual tour of Bristol
The satirical and subversive street artist Banksy is synonymous with Bristol and new works continue to appear in the city to surprise and delight visitors and residents. The anonymous artist has used the city’s buildings and streets as the canvas for many of his works since the 1990s and you can still see many of them as you explore the centre and further afield. A handy app here helps you learn more about his work and his street art which appears throughout Bristol. You can use the app as a virtual guide to discover more about the enigmatic artist and how each of the pieces were created.
Digital Elizabethan – The Red Lodge goes VR
One of Bristol’s true hidden gems is The Red Lodge, an Elizabethan house situated a short walk out of the main city centre at the top of the fantastically named Christmas Steps.
The Great House where Queen Elizabeth I once stayed is long gone, but visitors to the Red Lodge will delight in the building that remains which has had many purposes through the centuries, yet remains home to incredible panelling and carved stone chimney pieces.
Even a long forgotten well in the heart of the building and rediscovered in 2010 is now part of the museum. Online visitors can discover the magical delights of this Elizabethan house in a virtual tour as part of Google Expeditions and you can visit The Red Lodge here.
We the Curious goes online
Kids and young-at-heart grown ups will love the chance to explore the world and discover more about the universe around them and their place in it, at Bristol’s much-loved science museum ‘We the Curious’.
This completely interactive space brings you up close to fantastic physics experiments, animation workshops with Aardman and planetarium shows where you can take a walk among the stars.
Take a virtual Bristol tour of The New Room – the world’s first Methodist chapel
John Wesley, the English Cleric picked Bristol as the location for his first chapel in 1739 when he was asked by two religious societies to create a ‘a new room’ for their meetings. Lit from above by an octagonal window, the New Room was built with no windows on the ground floor so that they could more easily defend themselves against mob attacks.
The chapel still exists, now surrounded by the modern city centre of Bristol and venturing inside is a fascinating opportunity to step back in time to a largely unchanged space. You can take a virtual exploration of Wesley’s New Room here and climb into the digital pulpit.
Blaise Castle is a digital delight for Austen fans
Set in over 400 acres of parkland, Blaise Castle House is a 19th Century mansion, now home to a fascinating museum of social history from the Victorian era. There are incredible displays of period costume, model trains, toys and everyday items from the kitchens.
Alongside the impressive mansion is the folly castle which featured in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey and is now looked after by a loyal group of volunteers. You can take a virtual step inside Blaise Castle and the museum with a digital tour provided by Google Expeditions here.