By | 16th January 2018

Do you a car in Bristol?

Do you need a car in Bristol > Should you rent a car in Bristol UK > Bristol ( BRS )
Car: Do you need a car in 4? No car: Is it worth hiring a car in 4? Slider: Should you rent a car in 4? Should you rent a car in 4?

Bristol car hire quick facts

Cheapest rate for one week Based on cheapest economy car hire deal with no added extras. [full notes - basic costs]



  • Price alone isn't the only factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Bristol but clearly it's an important one. See our "why" section for more figures.
How much should I expect to pay in the peak season? Based on cheapest deal during the summer holiday season. (Unless otherwise noted) [full notes - seasonal variations]




  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "whynot" section for more suggestions.
Free parking score Based on the number of hotels which offer free parking.Total 128 - of which 58 have free parking. [full notes - parking]




  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "whynot" section for more suggestions.

Bristol public transport quick facts

"Top trumps" train score

Higher scores go to the systems which take you to the most amazing places.



  • [full notes - top trumps trains]
  • A good rail system doesn't mean you shouldn't hire a car, but it often means you have a decent range of options.

Overall public transport score {coming shortly}

This is a more practical rating based on bus and rail travel.



  • [full notes - overall transit] buses | trams | metro | local & regional rail | national rail
  • Is public transport in Bristol good value, or is it worth hiring a car just because it is cheaper overall?

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score {coming shortly}

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around Bristol



Need, worth & should!

Whether you have come here asking "do I need a car in Bristol", "is it worth hiring a car in Bristol", or whether or not you "should" hire a car here, these are all slight variations on a similar theme:

Do you need a car in Bristol?

This is essentially based on whether or not public transport and other "non car" options are good enough to get around and beyond the city.

Is it worth hiring a car in Bristol?

Is car hire good value, especially during the peak season? How does this compare with transit fares?

Should you rent a car in Bristol?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?

Do you need a car in Bristol? Introduction

When someone asks "Do you need a car in Bristol?", this often breaks down to two key questions:

  1. Can you actually get around using public transport, or is a car all but essential?
  2. Is it worth hiring a car in Bristol? Is it good value for money, compared with non-car options?

Over the next few sections, we wil look at the pros and cons of driving in Bristol as a tourist, and ultimately weigh these up, so we can answer the key question of Should you rent a car in Bristol?

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Why should you rent a car in Bristol?

What are the main reasons for hiring a car here? Do you just want to drive locally? Do you want to go further afield, or should you even look at taking a road trip?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Bristol?

  1. A hire car will give you access to visit many more places in South West England. If you are flying in for a slightly longer break, then Bristol’s network of flight routes makes it the best arrival point for exploring Devon and Cornwall, as well as nearby Avon and Somerset.
  2. Public transport to and from Bristol airport really isn’t that great — apart from the half hourly express bus service to Bristol city centre, and a link with Weston-super-Mare, very few other public transport options are available. To get anywhere else, you will need to connect via Bristol Temple Meads station, or Bristol bus station first. There is no direct coach link from Bristol airport to Bath.
  3. Getting from Bristol airport to Cardiff by public transport is a nuisance, and there is no view to appreciate if you take the train through the Severn Tunnel. You can enjoy a much more dramatic view from either of the Severn Road Bridges. Note — if you are doing a driving tour into South Wales from Bristol, you can avoid paying the toll by driving out through Ross on Wye, and back over the Severn Bridges, as it is free to travel from Wales back into England — of course, we don’t recommend this diversion just to avoid the toll fee, but if you are heading in this direction anyway, this is the best way to go.
  4. A car will make it much easier to enjoy nearby Cheddar Caves and Gorge and Wookey Hole Caves.

Why not? Visiting Bristol without a car

What is public transport like in Bristol? What about local conditions for walking or cycling? Can you rely on public transport and maybe a few taxis for most or all of your trip? Are there some times of year when it's easier to get by without a car than others? When should you rent a car in Bristol?

  1. Bristol was rated by Dorling Kindersley as one of the world’s top 10 city to visit in 2009 — so there is plenty to see in the city itself, without needing to venture out much further.
  2. Bristol is a superb city to walk around, there is no need to even use buses to enjoy most of what the city has to offer.
  3. Our top recommendation would be to walk out to Brunel’s Clifton suspension Bridge, and enjoy the stunning views this affords. Although you can drive across the bridge, you can appreciate it much more (and avoid the toll of course) by walking across.
  4. Don’t forget to visit the Clifton Observatory and caves when visiting the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
  5. Beautiful Bath is just a short hop from Bristol, and this is an easy and enjoyable train ride.
  6. Better still, why not cycle between Bristol and Bath, and enjoy the first cycle route set up by Sustrans.

Further information:



Our slider ratings range from 0 (it isn't even possible to hire a car, e.g. Hong Kong) through to 10 (you really must rent a car here, e.g. Phoenix, Tampa). However, most places are somewhere inbetween these extremes, and this is where it gets more interesting! Further ratings breakdowns, including a much more detailed public transport rating, are currently being added. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

Do you a car in Bristol?

So ultimately, where do you need to hire a car in Bristol? This isn’t just about saying you don’t need a car in Bristol city centre, but you should get one outside it – quite the opposite! One of the great driving experiences in the city would be to take your hire car across the Clifton Suspension Bridge (although you can of course just walk it). Outside the city, Brunel’s rail network also opens up some amazing pleaces to see both from the train and as destinations to reach. On top of this, the Bristol and Bath cycle path, combined with the Two Tunnels route and canal routes in Bath creates a genuinely world-class cycling network, a description we would apply to very few other places in the UK.

All of this adds up to making Bristol a very solid “no car” city in our books – but what do you think?

Would you hire a car in Bristol?

Have you driven in Bristol? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Bristol?

Do you need a car in Bristol? For some or all of the time? 

Tell us what you think using the comments section below:

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