Oh Bath. Mesmerising Bath. Magic shines from every building and inspiration floods your mind from every corner.
Bath may not have been Jane Austens favourite place (or at least thats what a local guide told us), but it quickly stole my heart with its charm, beauty and charisma.
The city is known as a spa town in Somerset England, and it has been attracting people from all across the globe for centuries thanks to its healing springs and baths. Nowadays the city is famous for its impressive Georgian architecture, hot springs and rich history.
Here is a quick guide on how to spend the perfect weekend in Bath and make the most of your time here. If youre planning on spending more than 2 days, theres plenty of recommendations for you too. Make sure to read till the end where I share a lovely day trip opportunity for everyone, eager to explore even beyond Bath.
Free Walking Tour of the Old Town
Dont you think its always good to have someone show you around a new city? This is what free walking tours are all about! With these tours you get to be in a group with people from all over the world, and a local guide to show you around, who is usually well-versed in the history, culture, and architecture of the place youre visiting. You also dont have an upfront cost when booking, but youre expected to pay what you thought the tour was worth at the end.
Some of your options are the Mayor of Bath Honorary Guides and Free Bath Walking Tour from Footprints tours - both wonderful 2-hour tours of the city, so be sure to check their schedule and description, and pick the one that fits your needs the best. (Keep in mind that during the pandemic there might be some changes in the operations of the tours).
Alternatively you can do a self-guided tour and go at your own pace. The local tourism organization - Bath Tourism Plus, has put out two free mobile apps with self-guided tours of Bath - World Heritage Site Audio Tour and In the Footsteps of Jane Austen Audio Tour. Depending on your interest, you can choose to do one of them, or if youre feeling motivated - why not both!?
The Roman Baths
The Roman Baths are one of the main attractions in Bath, and possibly the best preserved ancient baths in the UK. They were discovered in the 19th century and in 1987, they became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This world-famous Roman Baths complex consists of the great bath house, the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple and a museum. In fact, the bath ranks among the best-known Roman baths in the world, and is considered to have given the city its name.
Nowadays, the Roman Baths in Bath provide an amazingly comprehensive insight into the lives of the Romans in the town and around Britain. Be prepared to spend up to several hours getting lost in this magical place.
Id advise you to book your ticket in advance, as time slots get filled quickly. Ticket prices vary between £20-£28 as of 2022, depending on the time and date of your visit. You can book a ticket online from this link.
Alternatively, you can book this 2-hour guided tour of Bath with an entry to the Roman Baths.
Another must-see in Bath is the famous Pulteney Bridge. The iconic horseshoe-shaped weir can be seen on most photos of Bath - its just that picture-perfect.
The bridge was built in 1769 by the Scottish architect Robert Adam and initially served as a toll bridge and boundary between parishes.
The Palladian style of the bridge seems to be influenced by some of the great Renaissance bridges of Italy, such as the Ponte Vecchio in Florence and the Rialto in Venice.
The Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, also known as Bath Abbey, is a parish church of the Church of England and was formerly a Benedictine monastery. It was built in the 7th century and has been reorganised and rebuilt a few times since then.
The abbey is beautiful inside and out, so make sure to check out its interior as well. Once youre inside, dont forget to look up at the mesmerizing ceiling - its considered one of the finest examples of fan vaulting in the UK.
Mon - Fri: 10 am - 5:30 pm
Sat: 10 am - 6 pm
Sun: 1:15 pm - 2:30 pm; 4:30 pm - 6:15 pm
Royal Crescent and the Circus
The Circus,which was originally called Kings Circus, was built in the mid 18th century. One cannot help but admire this impressive building. An interesting fact is that, when viewed from the air, the Circus, along with Queen Square and adjoining Gay Street, form a key shape.
Its believed that the Circus is connected to the Royal Crescent by a ley-line, and their design is thought to represent the sun and the moon.
It may also come as no surprise that The Circus was home to numerous famous people over the years. Between 1759 and 1774, the artist Thomas Gainsborough lived here and used the house as a portrait studio. Nicholas Cage also lived at The Circus at some point in recent years.
Thermae Bath Spa Rooftop Pool
One of the best things one can do in Bath is to enjoy a lazy afternoon at the rooftop pool, soaking up the beautiful views over Bath.
Thermae Bath Spa is the only day spa in Britain that features Baths natural thermal waters. Along the mesmerising rooftop pool, you can also enjoy a Roman Steam Room, a Georgian Steam Room, an Infrared Sauna, an Ice Chamber, and an Celestial Relaxation Room.
If thats not enough, the Thermae Spa has an indoor Minerva Bath, as well as some spa treatments to relax your muscles from the hectic exploring.
Its important to note that children are not permitted in the New Royal Bath.
Visit Bath’s museums
Bath may not be that big, but it does have quite a few interesting museums that you can add to your itinerary. It will most likely take you more than just a weekend to see them all, so be picky and choose the one(s) that suit your interests the most!
Fashion Museum Bath - ranked among the worlds best museum collections of historical and contemporary clothing. Its recommended to get the free audio guide for the full experience.
Holburne Museum - known as the citys first public art gallery and home to fine and decorative art from artists like Gainsborough, Guardi, Stubbs and Ramsay.
The Jane Austen Centre - it allows you to go back to the Regency times and discover how the city of Bath affected Jane Austen and her writing. Youll be able to dress up, taste some typical food, write with quill pen and ink, and more.
Victoria Art Gallery - a free gallery where you can see Bath and North East Somersets collection of paintings, sculpture and other decorative arts.
Herschel Museum of Astronomy - discover how William Herschel made the lenses and telescopes, discovered the planet Uranus and much more! This house-museum is slightly more off the beaten path, but definitely a gem that needs to be explored.
Sally Lunns Museum - located in a historic building which is considered to be Baths oldest house. Its not a regular museum, but rather a kitchen museum where you can see the actual kitchen used by the Huguenot baker Sally Lunn to create the first Bath Bunn - a typical local speciality that has become more and more popular. You can also come for breakfast, lunch or dinner to try some dishes, based on the original Sally Lunn bun.
Take a boat tour along the Avon River
Experiencing a city from a few different angles will automatically make your experience so much better. This is why I recommend you to go on a boat trip and see Bath from the Avon River.
Here you can check out this lovely 45-minute sightseeing boat cruise with a complimentary glass of prosecco, which costs under 30 GBP per person.
Day trips from Bath
Wells and Cheddar Gorge
If you have more time and want to explore beyond Bath, here is an organized full day trip from Bath to Wells, Englands smallest city, and to Cheddar Gorge, where cheddar cheese is still made by hand. Of course, you could always do it on your own if you prefer it this way.
Where to stay in Bath
One of the most affordable, highly rated and uniquely looking accommodations in Bath is the No15 by GuestHouse. The location is perfect for exploring and the wall murals of each room are specially created by local artists. On top of that, the interior of every room is different, in a style that Id call a mix between vintage and modern… a very well-executed mix! Just see it for yourself. 🙂
I hope this weekend guide to Bath has been helpful and has made your planning a tad easier. Dont forget to share your impressions of this beautiful city in the comments. Lets get the conversation started!
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