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SS Great Britain

Climb aboard this museum ship to learn about its long and eventful life at sea.

The SS Great Britain, permanently docked in Bristol Harbour, is one of the city’s most visited attractions. Between 150,000-170,000 people come to look at this great vessel each year. For your visit, allow a couple of hours as there is a lot to see.

Repurposed to entertain and inform, the ship contains a number of exhibitions about its past. Learn even more about the ship in the adjacent Brunel Institute, which includes the David MacGregor Library. Between these venues you can look at a full-scale working model of the ship’s engine, and read letters and diaries of the ship’s passengers. Stroll around the deck and the dockside, where facsimile cargo and crates “await” to be loaded.

The ship was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1843. It was initially a steamship shuttling passengers between Bristol and New York. At the time, it was the largest vessel anywhere in the world. Yet just three years after its launch, SS Great Britain was decommissioned. However, its story didn’t stop there. In 1881, it was used to transport immigrants to Australia. Later still, it served as a storage facility and quarantine ship in the Falkland Islands.

Today, SS Great Britain is dry-docked close to the place where it was first built. Due to the risk of rusting to the ship’s iron hull, the dock is sealed by a huge water-line glass plate. This creates humidity equal to that of the Arizona Desert.

Spend time pouring over the collections of maritime books, plans and objects in the Brunel Institute. You can also see many of Brunel’s own letters, diaries, models and drawings. Both the institute and library are open to the public and free to enter. There’s an entry fee for SS Great Britain. A single ticket allows you unlimited return visits within a 12-month period.

The SS Great Britain is at the Great Western Dockyard on Gasferry Road. It’s easily reachable from Bristol center by bus, road, ferry, or on foot. The attraction is open daily, except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the second Monday in January.


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Best Lodging Options Near SS Great Britain

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Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel CA $107
Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel

Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel

Broad Street, Bristol, England
     
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in Bristol City Centre, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of St Nicholas Market, Bristol Hippodrome Theatre and Cabot Circus Shopping Centre. University of Bristol and Clifton Suspension Bridge are also within 2 miles (3 km). Bristol Temple Meads Station is 16 minutes by foot and Bristol Clifton Down Station is 21 minutes.

    Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel
    Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel

    Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel

    College Green, Bristol, England
       
      4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in Harbourside, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of St Nicholas Market and University of Bristol. Cabot Circus Shopping Centre and Clifton Suspension Bridge are also within 2 mi (3 km). Bristol Temple Meads Station is 19 minutes by foot and Bristol Clifton Down Station is 21 minutes.

      The Bristol Hotel
      The Bristol Hotel

      The Bristol Hotel

      Prince Street, Bristol, England
         
        4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Bristol City Centre, this romantic hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Queen Square and Bristol Hippodrome Theatre. University of Bristol and St Nicholas Market are also within 1 mile (2 km). Bristol Temple Meads Station is 15 minutes by foot and Bristol Bedminster Station is 19 minutes.

        ibis Bristol Centre
        ibis Bristol Centre

        ibis Bristol Centre

        Explore Lane, Bristol, England
           
          3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Harbourside, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of We The Curious and Bristol Hippodrome Theatre. University of Bristol and St Nicholas Market are also within 1 mile (2 km). Bristol Temple Meads Station is 19 minutes by foot and Bristol Bedminster Station is 23 minutes.

          Mercure Bristol Holland House CA $115
          Mercure Bristol Holland House

          Mercure Bristol Holland House

          Redcliffe Hill, Bristol, England
             
            4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Bristol Floating Harbour, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Queen Square, Bristol Hippodrome Theatre and We The Curious. Bristol Cathedral and SS Great Britain are also within 1 mi (2 km). Bristol Temple Meads Station is 11 minutes by foot and Bristol Bedminster Station is 13 minutes.

            Future Inn Bristol CA $101
            Future Inn Bristol

            Future Inn Bristol

            Bond Street South, Bristol, England
               
              4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in the heart of Bristol, this hotel is steps away from Showcase Cinema De Lux and Cabot Circus Shopping Centre. University of Bristol and St Nicholas Market are also within 1 mile (2 km). Bristol Temple Meads Station is 14 minutes by foot and Bristol Montpelier Station is 18 minutes.

              Radisson Blu Hotel Bristol CA $136
              Radisson Blu Hotel Bristol

              Radisson Blu Hotel Bristol

              Broad Quay, Bristol & West House, Bristol, England
                 
                4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Bristol City Centre, this eco-friendly hotel is steps away from Baldwin Street and Bristol Hippodrome Theatre. University of Bristol and St Nicholas Market are also within 15 minutes. Bristol Temple Meads Station is 17 minutes by foot and Bristol Bedminster Station is 22 minutes.

                Bristol Marriott Hotel City Centre
                Bristol Marriott Hotel City Centre

                Bristol Marriott Hotel City Centre

                2 Lower Castle Street, Old Market, Bristol, England
                   
                  4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Bristol City Centre, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Castle Park and Cabot Circus Shopping Centre. St Nicholas Market and Bristol Hippodrome Theatre are also within 15 minutes. Bristol Temple Meads Station is 13 minutes by foot and Bristol Montpelier Station is 19 minutes.