Walking around the Bristol harbourside is a great way to explore our beautiful city and give your dog a good walk. It is full of history, eateries and events.
Alltrails has a great 4.3 km route mapped that I highly recommend: Bristol Harbourside Walk – Bristol, England | AllTrails.
Along this route you will see famous sites such as the Matthew, the SS Great Britain, Brunel’s Buttery (local favourite for a quick bacon sandwich and coffee), the Lloyds Amphitheatre, and much more. You can easily step off the route to explore Millennium square with AtBristol (not dog friendly, but fun to walk around), the centre with water fountains that dogs love, Corn Street, and the Bristol city centre food markets (open most days including Saturdays). If you wander a little further up Corn Street you will see St Nick’s Market too (dogs allowed in the outside market, guide dogs only in the actual building). See below for further information.
We love this route and have walked it more times than we care to admit. There are always new things to see and explore!
History of the harbour
It might surprise you to learn that the harbour itself is man-made. The ebb and flow of the high tides in the deep channel would often leave ships stranded in thick mud. In 1804 construction of the floating harbour started with the introduction of dams, locks and the cumberland basin. This construction ensures that the water levels remain stable.
After the decline of the ship building trade (remnants of which can be seen around the harbour including a small ship building yard museum) the harbourside fell into disrepair. In the 20th century major redevelopment projects were commissioned to develop the harbour into the vibrant tourist attraction that it is today.
Dog-friendly things to do around Bristol Harbour
Bristol Harbour is full of history and activities including:
- The Matthew – you can see this replica boat and even take your pooch on a trip (if no food is being served)
- SS Great Britain – you can usually see this ship while walking around the harbour. Unfortunately only service dogs are allowed on the site.
- All Aboard Watersports – you can enjoy watching people sailing, waterboarding, kayaking, canoeing and/or competitions. You will only be able to participate if you leave your pooch at home (sorry).
- Bristol Harbour Festival – the free annual music and food festival that is dog-friendly!
- The MShed – a Bristol museum that has numerous exhibitions including a fantastic annual nature photography exhibit. Only assistance dogs are allowed inside, but you can sit with your dog in the cafe’s outside area and enjoy some of the exhibition in the window displays.
- Millennium Square – there’s always events happening in this square that are usually dog-friendly.
- Bristol City Centre Promenade (‘The Fountains’) – water area and seating in the heart of Bristol’s bustling centre.
- Queens Square – this is a beautiful Georgian park that dogs love exploring.
- St Nick’s Market – this is a gorgeous Victorian market place with an indoor area (not dog-friendly) and an expansive outdoor area (dog-friendly).
Dog-friendly places to eat around Bristol Harbour
You really are spoiled for choice here!
- Wapping Wharf (pictured) – lots of amazing places to eat in funky cargo containers or to takeaway
- Brunel’s buttery – local favourite for tasty food to go (e.g. bacon sandwiches)
- The Harbourside Market -different food stalls each time from local restaurants and providers
- St Nick’s outdoor market – mainly street food stalls
- The Pump House – you can watch the All Aboard Watersports activities from the outdoor area
- The Ostrich Inn – great outdoor space for spring/summer
- The Cottage Inn – a favourite with dog-owners; perfect spot to watch watersports in the Summer and a large cosy fireplace inside for the winter
- And many more.