Brunel's SS Great Britain
The luxury liner is now a major visitor attraction. Visits are self-guided, and tickets—which can be in advance or at the door—include access to the original dry dock, the Dockyard Museum, the Being Brunel exhibit, and the ship itself. On the ship, you can peek into the luxury dining room, view cramped third-class cabins, and walk the deck. Adrenaline-hungry travelers may want to upgrade to try the Go Aloft! experience, which involves climbing the rigging like the crew of the past would have done.
Things to know before you go
- If you don’t get to see everything you want, come back another day—tickets are valid for a year.
- Allow 3–4 hours to properly explore.
- Much of the site, including the dry dock, the Dockyard Museum, and the ship itself, is wheelchair-accessible.
- Two cafés at the site sell hot and cold drinks, as well as snacks and meals. In honor of the ship’s designer, visitors by the name of Isambard go free.
How to get there
The SS Great Britain sits in the Great Western Dockyard in Bristol’s historic harbor. It’s about a 20-minute walk from Bristol city center and a 30-minute walk from Bristol Temple Meads station. The Metrobus m2 route—which runs between Long Ashton and the city center—also stops nearby.
When to get there
The museum ship is busiest on weekends and during school vacations. Visit midweek during school term time for a quieter experience.
The Story of Brunel’s SS Great Britain
Originally built to serve as a passenger liner, the SS Great Britain made several transatlantic voyages between Bristol and New York. The high costs of this crossing proved difficult to sustain, and the ship was sold off to another buyer who used it to carry emigrants to Australia. In the 1880s, it was transformed into a cargo ship and was eventually abandoned in the Falklands, only to be rescued in the 1970s and towed back to Bristol for restoration.