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Address: Clifton Down | Clifton, Bristol BS8 3LT, England
Phone Number:
+44 117 974 1242
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Open now
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Sun - Sat 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Recommended length of visit: <1 hour

The Clifton Observatory and Caves sits above the Avon Gorge offering superb...

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 only two 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 obscuras, 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 Ghyston's / 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.

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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 294 reviews
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    Very good
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Heritage Visit

A great place to visit on a bright sunny day. Fantastic views of the Avon Gorge and Bristol. The observatory was a unique place and the cave was worth visiting. Be aware that... read more

4 of 5 bubblesReviewed 2 days ago
Pontyclun, United Kingdom
via mobile
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294 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 277: English reviews
Pontyclun, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
169 reviews
31 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 56 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 days ago NEW via mobile

A great place to visit on a bright sunny day. Fantastic views of the Avon Gorge and Bristol. The observatory was a unique place and the cave was worth visiting. Be aware that there are a lot of steep steps to access both. It was worth the effort.

Thank Anthony653
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
74 reviews
42 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 week ago

The observatory has a lens that reflects the surrounding panorama onto a table. It doesn't work, alas, on a dull day (we only saw shadows). Similarly, the 120 steps down to the cave is mildly fun, but the view onto the gorge from the cave's cliffside opening is nowhere near as good as from the hill above. It's more fun... More 

Thank D U
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
31 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

The observatory has a camera obscured. However the location means that you see mostly trees other than the Clifton Bridge. We went on a cloudy so the image is poor and hard to see. We did not do the caves. Discount on entrance fee can be had if you have the Hop on Hop off coupons

Thank dacmelaus
Level Contributor
83 reviews
50 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

Been there with my 3 years old doughtier. The view and the place is super amazing!! Really relaxing & we love it! The inside there is like a magic mirror you can see what's in with full door close and dark room only. Its WOW!! There is a cave too but i couldn't go in cuz of my daughter age,... More 

Thank Swanlaik
Bristol, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
31 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 weeks ago

It was closed, but there was no notification of this until we has climbed up to the building. Even the staff on the suspension bridge were unaware of the status as I had taken the precaution of asking them if it was open. I was assured it was, no it was not, terrible PR this.

Thank JohnBonzoDogHartley
Beth B, Manager at Clifton Observatory and Caves, responded to this review

Hi JohnBonzoDogHartley, Apologies for your experience this week. We have been closed for renovations, with a new reception area, flooring and staircase going in. The closing dates 6-10 March have been mentioned on our website and on social media so apologies you didn't see these in advance of your visit. We shall be sure to inform the Suspension Bridge team... More 

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
137 reviews
97 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 108 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 weeks ago

Visited this interesting historic building with my sister in February. It is two attractions in one location each of which costs 2 pounds to visit. Unfortunately the day of our visit was quite cloudy and therefore we could see very little in the old observatory. Diappointed that we were not told this when we arrived. The caves turned out to... More 

Thank Johneo_ca
Blackpool, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
370 reviews
160 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 473 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 weeks ago

Camera obsecura and the views marvellous. Cave journey very difficult, but from the viewpoint can get a different view of the suspension bridge.

Thank Prem K
Level Contributor
79 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 weeks ago via mobile

If you are in Clifton looking at the suspension bridge it's worth a a visit, but nothing exceptional really. I had hoped that the cave which opens out into the gorge partway down the cliff face would give an unusual view of the bridge, but unfortunately you can only see part of it from the viewing balcony. The cave access... More 

Thank Nigel P
Manchester, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
245 reviews
78 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 84 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 21, 2017

This was built by an artist and it is said now that many artists used Camera Obscuras to draw and paint realistically. It is worth climbing up the steps to see that first, shutting the doors to keep out the daylight and turning the handle to see the views below - the River, Suspension Bridge, Gorge and people walking below.... More 

Thank B F
Bristol, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
17 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 14, 2017

The camera obscura is amazing and gives 360 degree views. Great to go to the viewing platform to see the gorge and suspension bridge from a new angle.

Thank hikinggirl2017

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