Set amongst the hilly English countryside, Bath, the only place in the UK with natural hot springs and honey-coloured architecture is packed with historic sites, museums, cute cafes and rewarding walks. Explore the best places to visit in Bath on a day trip or on a weekend.
Bath has always been on my UK travel list. When I was still living in Scotland, I was frequently travelling to London and wanted to discover more of what England has to offer, not only focusing on its capital. I managed to visit more of the English cities, including Brighton, Winchester, Portsmouth and Oxford. I’ve heard stories about Bath’s remarkable Georgian architecture and, of course, the Roman Baths with the only natural hot spring in the UK. When I finally managed to spend part of my weekend in Bath in October this year, I was very happy to be able to explore this charming English town.
Bath is located in the South West England, in the country of Somerset. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the only place in the UK where you can bathe in the natural hot spa water.
There are a lot of interesting places to visit in Bath. You can go deep into the history of the town and country by visiting the Roman Baths and various museums, admire the architectural masterpieces, take a stroll along the Avon River or have an afternoon tea in several great restaurants. You can even go on a walk onto the skyline hills above Bath. Even though for its fame, Bath still managed to keep the feel of a peaceful town, where people are not in rush and most of the sights can be visited on foot.
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Bath day trip or weekend in Bath?
Bath is a short train ride from Oxford or London with frequent train and bus services. You can take a day trip to Bath or spend the whole weekend in Bath and you won’t be bored. I only managed to go for Bath day trip and I really wished I could stay longer. The weekend in Bath would be the optimal time for visiting most of the city’s attractions.
Here is the list of places to visit in Bath with the suggestions on where to eat and where to stay in Bath. I’m sure you will like it as much as I did!
The best places to visit in Bath
The Roman Baths
Any trip to Bath wouldn’t be complete without stepping back into the history of the Roman Baths. The Roman-built magnificent temple and bathing complex created around the UK’s only hot spring still flows with over a million litres of 46°C water every day.
In the original place of the Baths coming from Roman area, now there is an extensive museum with the Great Bath, smaller baths and springs, temples, including the Sulis Minerva temple, statues and exhibitions. One of the finest ancient spas in Europe allows the experience a world dating from the 1st to the 4th century AD. The first Baths were built here in 70 AD.
Unfortunately, the water in the Roman Baths can’t be consumed or even touched, because of the bacteria developing in the water. However, before the exiting the museum you have a chance to try clean and safe hot spring water from the fountain. It contains 43 minerals and with its metallic smell, it has quite an acquired taste. The spa water has been used for curative treatments for centuries. It originally included bathing in the hot waters and in the late 17th-century drinking of the spa water was recognised to treat certain health conditions. Want to be healthier? Gulp some spa water!
After visiting the Roman Baths, you can indulge yourself in the modern local cuisine in the elegant way and try afternoon tea in the Pump Rooms restaurant. During your visit there, you can also try the hot spa water at the fountain.
Get to the Baths early to avoid the queue, or book a Roman Baths and City Walking Tour (entry ticket included) to learn more about Bath’s history.
Roman Baths opening times: Vary with the season, check the Roman Baths website.
Price: £16.50 with saver options available
The Bath Abbey and the Tower tour
The Bath Abbey is a popular Bath’s attraction. Made from the honey-coloured Bath stone, in the typical Georgian way, it towers over the square, just next to the Roman Baths. While admiring the structure from the outside is worth it, I recommend going inside. The entrance is free and from there you can see the large stained-glass windows and the beautiful ceiling. However, the best part of visiting the Abbey is taking the Bath Abbey Tower tour.
This tour was one of the highlights of my time in Bath, I loved it so much, that I didn’t want to go back down. As I was the last one descending from the tower on the steep stairs, I’ve heard worried voices calling for me when I wasn’t making my appearance for a while 😉 But, y’all know, those vieeeews!
The Bath Abbey Tower tour leads you up 212 narrow spiral steps to the highest point of the building. Fortunately, you don’t do the whole climbing at once (it might make you feel a bit claustrophobic), but you stop on the way. You have an opportunity to see the back side of the operating room for the Tower Bell, look at the Bell itself and stand behind the Tower clock. You also learn a lot about the history of the Abbey, the bells and the city. And I must say, the guys running the tour, really know how to make you interested. Their witty stories and enthusiasm will make you enjoy the tour a lot.
Bath Abbey Tower tour running times: Every 45 minutes, for exact times check the Bath Abbey website
Bath Skyline Walk
Bath Skyline Walk is a great idea for a rewarding morning or afternoon activity. One of the unique things to do in Bath, the 6-mile walk is accessible for all the fitness levels and allows you to enter another world, beyond the city. The spectacular views of the Bath Skyline are worth the effort!
Avon river cruise
The river Avon meanders around Bath. To see the scenery around the town, you can take a river cruise in one of the small boats. The trips run between April and October and they start just next to Pulteney Bridge. The boat takes you down the river into the countryside until the little village of Bathampton, where you can get off and explore and then take a boat back. I was very tempted to do it, but I run out of time and the weather was very cold already.
Boat cruise running times: from April to October
The covered Pulteney Bridge was built in 18th century for William Pulteney to connect Bath to the other side of the River Avon. Thanks to the small damn, the water creates a beautiful shape that can be admired from the shore. You can stop on the bridge or literally “in the bridge” since as one of a few bridges in the world, it has shops built into its sides. There are many cute little cafes located inside the bridge, from where you can look at the water below you.
Various museums and galleries
One thing that Bath is not short of is the amount of the museums and galleries. The good news is that some of them are free of charge, For others, you need to pay, but they are all very interesting.
Some of the best museums in Bath include:
Assembly Rooms and Fashion Museum
I really enjoyed my visit to the Fashion Museum. I’m not a fashion blogger or not even a fashion travel blogger. I should probably leave the talk about fashion to them, but, well, I liked the displays in the Fashion Museum. The exhibitions go through different epochs and types of dresses that were worn by people at that time.
I was lucky enough to attend a temporary exhibition with the dresses coming from the Royal family. Every dress was telling a story and was well connected to the lives of the Royals, who wore them. I could only dream to own one of the dresses displayed there. Maybe in my next life. When I’m a princess (the one in the hiking shoes, you know).
Fashion Museum Opening times: 10.30am-5pm
Jane Austen Centre
Jane Austen Centre created in honour of the Bath’s most famous resident is a great place to get an insight into Jane Austen’s life, her time in Bath and the effect it had on her writing. It’s worth a visit if you are Jane Austen fan, but the display is rather small and the entrance fee a bit high.
Opening times: 10am – 4pm
Royal Crescent and Circus
Built in the 18th century, the Royal Crescent is Bath’s world-famous landmark. The set of thirty identical Georgian townhouses curves around the lush park and a perfectly cut lawn. Next to the Royal Crescent you can find a similar set of terraced houses, lied out in the perfectly circular shape, which gave the street the name “The Circus”. Both the Circus and Royal Crescent are great locations for photos and a good opportunity to discover more of Bath’s history.
No. 1 Royal Crescent
The first house in Bath’s Royal Crescent was designed as a luxurious accommodation for aristocrats and royalty visiting the city. Now, it has been turned into the museum and it’s the only house in the Royal Crescent that is open to the public. You can step into the past and experience a bit of the Georgian splendour, with the authentic furniture and decoration of the rooms.
Opening times: 10am-5pm.
Price: From £5.10-£10.30
Relax in the Bath Spa
Bath has been famous as a spa destination thanks to the natural hot springs running through the city. You can try them yourself at the Bath’s original natural thermal spa Thermae Bath Spa. The heated rooftop pool with the stunning views of the Bath’s landscape looks like a dream.
I haven’t tried the spa, as it was a bit out of my budget, and I didn’t have much time (Ya know, my type of spa is more like the natural hot springs in Iceland or local hammam in Morocco). But if you spend a weekend in Bath and want to indulge in the local hot springs, you should definitely try it. And then tell me how it was 😉
Where to eat and drink in Bath?
Have a dinner in one of the “secret” restaurants
In between the Royal Crescent and the Circus, lies the Circus Restaurant. It was voted No.4 in the UK by “The Times” in the article about “20 secret restaurants that foodies love”. The menu changes frequently and the restaurant uses only the seasonal and local produce. I can confirm that the food is really good and the atmosphere is relaxed.
Have a bite in a green cafe
I love vegan products, especially the raw cakes, but I am not a vegan myself. This doesn’t prevent me from searching for healthy, yummy vegan treats everywhere I go. I’ve learnt that those types of restaurants normally have raw cakes, that are pretty much guilt-free. They’re made from fruit with no sugar and they are so delicious. When I found the Green Rocket vegan cafe in Bath, I was very eager to try their cakes. Hmmm, it turned out their food was so good and I ordered so much that there was no more space for the cake. Well, next time. I can highly recommend visiting the Green Rocket cafe for their great coffee, matcha latte and a wide selection of healthy vegan food (they even have vegan cheese and vegan mayo – yum!).
If you’re not a fan of the vegan places and you’d rather have some meaty options – there is plenty other places in Bath to choose from.
Try Sally Lunn bun in the Historic Eating House
The most famous local delicacy from Bath, the Sally bunn, can only be tasted in the Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House. The bun is a kind of brioche spread with butter or cream. The building dates all the way back to 1482, which makes it one of the oldest ones in Bath. You can visit the historic kitchen and the museum to learn how the house was serving refreshments to travellers since Roman times. Sally Lunn’s is also open for lunches and dinner, but do make a reservation as it’s always very busy.
Stock up with local products in Guildhall
I love buying the local produce anywhere I travel. The Bath Guildhall market is a perfect place for that. It has been in operation since the Middle Ages, which makes it well over 800 years. Today, on the market you can find everything from the local cheeses, meats, jams, pastries, pies and also non-food items, clothes and souvenirs.
Have a take-away-mulled-cider
This probably made me happier than I should admit. When you live in Norway, where alcohol prices are outrageous and drinking on the street is illegal, small things like these can make your day. I’ve seen the sign about take-away mulled cider in the Stables on the street (apparently the home to the cider, pies and pizza). I went in and took my mulled alcoholic cider in a paper cup for £3.5 to warm myself up on the way to the station. Perfect end to the perfect day they say ;-). If you’re in Bath – stop by for the cider treat.
Visit Bath Gin Distillery
Bath Gin Distillery is a Bath’s first distillery for over 250 years. If you love gin, the visit to the distillery and the Canary Gin Bar is a must. Very popular on weekend nights!
Where to stay in Bath?
Bath can be a city more on the pricey side when it comes to accommodation, especially in the historic centre.
Budget accommodation in Bath:
If you are on the budget, you can find one of the best deals on the Bath’s University student accommodation. The biggest availability of the rooms is during the summer when the students are gone, but you can also find some of the rooms throughout the year. The campus is located around a mile from the city centre but there are buses running between the two. Rooms start at £36 per night. Check the availability here.
Read more about UK destinations:
Would you like to visit Bath? Do you know any other things to do in Bath? Would you like to do a day trip to Bath or rather stay the whole weekend in Bath? Let me know in the comments!
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