A weekend in Clifton Village, Bristol: from elegant Georgian streets to our favourite cake shops and coffee bars.
Photography by Tayla Nebesky for Maze.
Clifton brings a refined charm to Bristol – a city that has been named the happiest in the UK, the best place to live for under 25s (outside of London), a top food destination, vegan hotspot and Britain’s first-ever Green Capital. Perched at the top of the city and bordered by the River Avon, Clifton has the distinct advantage of being close to both the centre and the perimeter of Bristol. It is an area that is quite unique, and one of those places that never fails to impress. To help you find your way around our favourite neighbourhood, we’ve compiled a list of insider tips, packed with good food and inspiring architecture. These are the best things to see and do around Clifton.
With its array of Georgian, Regency and Victorian villas, arranged in stately crescents and painted in pretty pastel colours, Clifton delights residents and visitors alike. Stroll along the raised pavements of Royal York Crescent, reputed to be the longest in Europe, before looping around Sion Hill where elegant Georgian townhouses with wrought-iron balconies overlook the nearby suspension bridge. A short stroll down The Mall will complete your architectural tour, where the impressive vistas of Caledonia Place and West Mall offer the best place to pore over the grand Georgian buildings.
After a leisurely stroll, coffee is a must. The Mall Deli and Chandos will serve you well, but if you’re after something more substantial, head to Spicer + Cole. With extensive breakfast and lunch menus chalked up on the blackboards each day Spicer + Cole has gained a loyal following and a good reputation for delivering a solid brunch. Almost all the food they serve is prepared fresh in their kitchens, sourced from local suppliers including the Severn Project, Bruton Dairy, Ruby & White Butchers, Bertinet Bakery in Bath, and Extract Coffee in St Werburghs. But a word of warning: it can get pretty busy on the weekends as everyone jostles for the delicious cakes, pastries, quiches and focaccia piled high on the long wooden counter each morning.
Feeling refreshed, head over to Boyce’s Avenue to ogle the array of ingredients at Reg the Veg - a treasure trove of fresh fruits, veggies, flowers. This little gem is a Clifton institution and is happily located just a stone’s throw from one of the prettiest cake shops around.
With more macarons than you can dream of, Anna is serious about sweets. Pick up a box of colourful confectionary and take in the beautiful aromas of cakes baking. The cake designers have expanded out into the cafe due to high demand, take a peek around the corner and watch them work away.
Over the road, in place of the former Papersmiths, Sunday General is a destination store for foodies with a well curated choice of deli options and some of the best bread around. With an emphasis on slow living and supporting small producers who have a purpose bigger than profit, this is an independent store and bakery that should be on everyone’s list.
After soaking up the food delights of Boyces Anenue, head to Blossom for some floral inspiration. Their range of beautiful fresh and dried flowers are displayed alongside a selection of houseplants and gifts, making this neighbourhood florist an excellent pit-stop for botanical enthusiasts.
Loop back into the heart of the village where you will find the newest kid on the block, Livingstone St. Ives. This contemporary art gallery has set up shop in a Georgian townhouse next door to Maze. Founded by Alicia Livingstone, the gallery displays a curated edit of artwork associated with Cornwall and its artistic heritage. White, minimalist décor serves as the backdrop to artworks inside this townhouse gallery, spread over six floors. With two existing spaces in St Ives and Perranporth, Alicia was inspired by Bristol’s cosmopolitan arts and cultural scene, making it a relevant and important centre for emerging artists.
Time to squeeze in a quick bite before a stroll on the Downs, so head just up the road where Milk Bun promises good food and good times. Grab a table and enjoy gourmet burgers made from the finest grass-fed aged meat, or vegan friendly alternatives, all complemented by the secret signature bun recipe. Patty pundits will relish the milk buns that are made on the premises each day –– soft, slightly sweet and as light as air. A bun against which others will be judged.
Feeling like a walk? Finish your day with a walk on the wide-open spaces of the Downs. Just minutes from the shops and cafes of Clifton Village, this expansive green space borders the eastern side of Avon Gorge, affording incredible views of Brunel’s Suspension Bridge with Peregrine Falcons swooping below. From this vantage, you can enjoy some of the finest vistas in Bristol, from the hillside terraces, to the harbourside below and the rolling Somerset hills beyond the city’s limits.
And of course, don't forget to visit us when you're in the neighbourhood for your fashion and homewares fix.