Clifton Observatory and Caves

Clifton Observatory and Caves

Clifton Observatory and Caves
4
Caverns & CavesObservatories & PlanetariumsHistory Museums
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Monday
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Tuesday
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Wednesday
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Thursday
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Friday
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Saturday
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Sunday
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
About
The Clifton Observatory and Caves sits above the Avon Gorge offering superb views of the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the city of Bristol. The Observatory houses one of the only camera obscuras still open to the public in the UK. Originally built as a windmill for corn in 1766, the mill was later taken over by William West in 1828 who then converted the building into his own artist studio and installed the camera obscura, which is still working today. The camera offers a panoramic view of the surrounding area including the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Avon Gorge & Clifton Downs. During his time at the Observatory West also cut an underground passage to the Giant's Cave which was originally only accessible via the cliff face. After a short descent into the cave guests can enjoy the spectacular views along the Avon Gorge and Clifton Suspension Bridge. The Observatory is open to visitors 7 days a week from 10am - 5pm in Spring/Summer and 10am-4pm in Autumn/Winter with last entry being 15 minutes before closing time.
Suggested duration
< 1 hour
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  • Katy G
    London, United Kingdom264 contributions
    Two unique experiences
    Well worth visiting both the camera obscura and the cave with the views of the gorge and Clifton suspension bridge. The camera obscura is an amazing demonstration of how one works. The view of the bridge from the cave is amazing. Only drawback is that neither are probably possible if you have mobility issues. My partner found the cave a challenge at points, just because he's 6'2, he had to practically limbo through at one point. Worth it though.
    Visited August 2022
    Written 6 December 2022
  • dena f
    California301 contributions
    A Change of Pace
    The Observatory was fun to climb and a nice view. There's also a cafe attached that filled us up when we needed a snack but it wasn't remarkable. The cave was a tight space with stairs that were steep, natural and narrow. It would not be a good place when it's crowded as it's difficult to pass. The big kids enjoyed the story of the giants that 'made' the cave but our littlest wasn't allowed in due too the difficulty on the stairs.
    Visited January 2022
    Written 26 December 2022
  • Grover R
    Pensacola, Florida18,030 contributions
    Best Views of the Avon Gorge and Clifton Suspension Bridge
    We visited early on a frosty December morning before the observatory and caves were open. In order to make our schedule in Bath we could not wait until they opened. However, we greatly enjoyed our time in the park around the Observatory. Here you get incredible views of the Avon Gorge and Clifton Suspension Bridge. I highly recommend you take the time to visit. It is magical in the morning mist.
    Visited December 2022
    Written 31 December 2022
  • Fotheringay
    London, United Kingdom72 contributions
    Bravery Test
    Excellent attraction at a reasonable cost. The camera obscura and the building that it is housed in were both very interesting. Take a little time here to get your eyes adjusted to make the most of a visit. The trip down to the Giants Cave comes with warnings of steepness, slippery surfaces and tight spots. They are not joking! I found the hand rail essential and have never before experienced a twinge of claustrophobia and the same time as my mild vertigo. This is as close to 'caving' as I want to get, but the views and freshness at the bottom was worth it! There was even a cut out of a certain gentle man in a tall hat to welcome me when I got there.
    Visited March 2023
    Written 1 April 2023
  • Matthew Northcote
    Glasgow, United Kingdom5 contributions
    Engagement
    I hired the caves to propose to my partner. The staff were wonderful in playing along so my partner did not find out. We were able to hire the caves exclusively for ourselves. The staff set out a table afterwards to enjoy the view and share a bottle of bubbly. Fantastic staff and fantastic location.
    Visited May 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 9 May 2023
  • herefordliz
    Hereford, United Kingdom5,386 contributions
    Lovely views
    We didn't manage to go down into the caves, but we made the short walk from the road up to the observatory after a short stop for something to eat. Lovely views of the suspension bridge and the countryside around. Look forward to returning to do the caves as well.
    Visited June 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 19 June 2023
  • kyle
    York, United Kingdom15 contributions
    Decent for the price
    Yeah, pretty enjoyable. I felt £5 for full access was at the top end of what I’d pay for the experience. The observatory windows at the top are all locked, not even restricted, so any photos you want to take are through the grubby windows which was a shame. There’s a camera obscura at the top which isn’t clear enough to operate - we found it eventually and ended up showing the other people at the top how to use it and what to look for. Our tip is to let your eyes adjust to the darkness and then turn the handle until it’s near the opposite side of the door, then you’ll see the cables from the bridge and vehicles crossing. But it is very faded and, like the windows, could probably do with a good clean. The cave walk (definitely take a hard yellow hat with you) is as expected, down steps to a platform to see the bridge from another view. If you’re being picky then there could be some sort of system in place to let people know if someone is coming up or down as there’s no space to pass, and at 6ft 3 I was hunched over the the entire journey down and then back up again anyway. Worth doing it once, but no reason to return.
    Visited August 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 2 August 2023
  • Chris
    Hinckley, United Kingdom876 contributions
    Ok
    We were in the area and decided to have a walk up to here. The path up is a bit steep. When you get to the top the views are good of the surrounding area and the bridge which you can get some good pictures. The building is nice from the outside. We didn't managed to go inside on this occasion. This is a good place to visit if you are in the area
    Visited August 2023
    Written 13 August 2023
  • LightPacker76539
    9 contributions
    Very interesting.
    Loved the views from the top of the tower and the steps down to the cave ( Low height and narrow in parts, wear the helmets provided). I enjoyed the many steps down, but they are uneven so care needed. Minerals in the cave roof really stand out if you take a photo of it with flash on. The actual camera obscura is at the top of the tower in a dark room. Once your eyes have accustomed to the darkness, you can turn the reflector handle to get a view of the ground and the bridge. (Yes I know you can do the same by looking out of the window, but that's not the point of visiting).
    Visited August 2023
    Travelled solo
    Written 28 August 2023
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4.0
546 reviews
Excellent
229
Very good
203
Average
78
Poor
18
Terrible
18

Alien W
716 contributions
Oct 2023 • Family
I expected more but there was not much to see. The cave is rather small and not worth it. It was nice walking on the grass though.
Written 26 October 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

LightPacker76539
9 contributions
Aug 2023 • Solo
Loved the views from the top of the tower and the steps down to the cave ( Low height and narrow in parts, wear the helmets provided). I enjoyed the many steps down, but they are uneven so care needed.
Minerals in the cave roof really stand out if you take a photo of it with flash on.
The actual camera obscura is at the top of the tower in a dark room. Once your eyes have accustomed to the darkness, you can turn the reflector handle to get a view of the ground and the bridge. (Yes I know you can do the same by looking out of the window, but that's not the point of visiting).
Written 28 August 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Chris
Hinckley, UK876 contributions
Aug 2023
We were in the area and decided to have a walk up to here. The path up is a bit steep. When you get to the top the views are good of the surrounding area and the bridge which you can get some good pictures. The building is nice from the outside. We didn't managed to go inside on this occasion.

This is a good place to visit if you are in the area
Written 13 August 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

kyle
York, UK15 contributions
Aug 2023 • Couples
Yeah, pretty enjoyable. I felt £5 for full access was at the top end of what I’d pay for the experience.

The observatory windows at the top are all locked, not even restricted, so any photos you want to take are through the grubby windows which was a shame.

There’s a camera obscura at the top which isn’t clear enough to operate - we found it eventually and ended up showing the other people at the top how to use it and what to look for. Our tip is to let your eyes adjust to the darkness and then turn the handle until it’s near the opposite side of the door, then you’ll see the cables from the bridge and vehicles crossing. But it is very faded and, like the windows, could probably do with a good clean.

The cave walk (definitely take a hard yellow hat with you) is as expected, down steps to a platform to see the bridge from another view. If you’re being picky then there could be some sort of system in place to let people know if someone is coming up or down as there’s no space to pass, and at 6ft 3 I was hunched over the the entire journey down and then back up again anyway.

Worth doing it once, but no reason to return.
Written 2 August 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

gemxx
Doncaster, UK394 contributions
Jul 2023 • Couples
Ensure you check it’s availability before you decide to do the uphill trek ! This was just another case on our trip to Bristol as a venue advertised as closed ‘due to a private party ‘ very disappointed!
Half the breakfast items in the cafe not available -
Written 2 July 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

herefordliz
Hereford, UK5,386 contributions
Jun 2023 • Couples
We didn't manage to go down into the caves, but we made the short walk from the road up to the observatory after a short stop for something to eat. Lovely views of the suspension bridge and the countryside around. Look forward to returning to do the caves as well.
Written 19 June 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Matthew Northcote
Glasgow, UK5 contributions
May 2023 • Couples
I hired the caves to propose to my partner. The staff were wonderful in playing along so my partner did not find out. We were able to hire the caves exclusively for ourselves. The staff set out a table afterwards to enjoy the view and share a bottle of bubbly. Fantastic staff and fantastic location.
Written 10 May 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

A H
6 contributions
Feb 2023 • Couples
The camera obscurer isn’t showing the image of the city as the lens needs cleaning. We were not charged to go into the tower, the caves are still charged, there are so many steps in the narrow tunnel, but worth the effort
Written 29 April 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Fotheringay
London, UK72 contributions
Mar 2023
Excellent attraction at a reasonable cost. The camera obscura and the building that it is housed in were both very interesting. Take a little time here to get your eyes adjusted to make the most of a visit.

The trip down to the Giants Cave comes with warnings of steepness, slippery surfaces and tight spots. They are not joking! I found the hand rail essential and have never before experienced a twinge of claustrophobia and the same time as my mild vertigo. This is as close to 'caving' as I want to get, but the views and freshness at the bottom was worth it! There was even a cut out of a certain gentle man in a tall hat to welcome me when I got there.
Written 1 April 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Anz
Llanelli, UK62 contributions
Feb 2023 • Family
Great views, enjoyed the walk down to the cave with amazing views. Cafe very expensive however beautiful rooftop seating area.
Written 22 February 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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CLIFTON OBSERVATORY AND CAVES: Tickets, Tours & Tips (with Photos)

Frequently Asked Questions about Clifton Observatory and Caves

Clifton Observatory and Caves is open:
  • Sun - Sat 10:00 - 16:00


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