With the whole city declared a World Heritage Site in 1987 and depicting the very essence of English idyll, Bath is one of my most favourite of European cities. The entire vibe is like something out of a Jane Austen novel. From the Bath buildings, to the stunning abbey, to the Ancient Roman baths, this entire city is a cultural and historical wonder.
As a walkable city, it’s easy to see the highlights of Bath in just one day (without rushing), but you can also spread your visit across the whole weekend if you prefer an even slower pace when travelling.
So, how can you spend the perfect day in Bath? What should you see? Where should you eat?
The Roman Baths
This is where you can see the Ancient Roman baths after which the city is so named.
Considered to be one of the greatest religious spas of the ancient world, Bath’s unique thermal springs allow for the perfect flow of natural hot water. When Romans settled here all those years ago, they built a reservoir to control this water and built the city around the baths themselves.
Interestingly, the Romans thought these baths were sacred, thus, threw valuable items into the water in order to please the Gods. As a thriving museum today, you can expect to see some of these rescued artefacts, including coins and jewellery as well as intricate mosaics, old stonework and ancient monuments.
You should expect to spend a couple of hours wandering around the museum, and then you can also have a delicious afternoon tea in the neighbouring Pump Rooms if you fancy it.
Tickets to the baths cost from £15.50-£17 per adult depending on when you visit. However, you can also combine a trip to the baths, Fashion Museum and Victoria Art Gallery for just £21.50.
When not open to religious services only, you are able to wander around inside this magnificent abbey located right next to the baths. From glinting stained glass windows, to intricate architecture, there is so much beauty to see in this 400+ year old abbey.
Although there is no set entry price, donations are valued to help keep this abbey thriving, protected and exquisite. Suggested donations are £4 per adult.
Home to many filming sets, especially those set in Austen’s era, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time as soon as you turn the corner onto the Royal Crescent parade. I adore the golden-coloured stone buildings in Bath as they’re so iconic to this city, and the Royal Crescent is perfect to see these types of houses.
There is a large green park space in front of the Royal Crescent, which often makes for the perfect vantage point across the whole street. Equally, standing to one side of the crescent also makes for stunning photographs, framing the houses beautifully.
Top Tip: Upon looking at the houses, on the right hand side, you’ll find an old fashioned signpost in black and gold. This can be found right in front of the Royal Crescent sign, which makes for the perfect photo opportunity.
The Jane Austen Centre
Located in the heart of Bath within an original Georgian townhouse, The Jane Austen Centre is the perfect place to learn more about this incredible author. You’ll find out more about her time spent in Bath and what effect that time had on her personality and writing.
It’s universally known that Austen spent two long visits in the city, and from 1801 to 1806, Bath was also her home. The city plays a key role within several of her novels, which suggests that Bath held a secure place in her heart.
Entry to the centre is £11 per adult, and you can spend about 1 or 2 hours here learning all about Jane Austen.
Ensure you head upstairs to the in-house Regency Tea Room, which offers you the chance to have some delicious British cakes such as Victoria Sponge, Lemon Drizzle or tea and scones. The seating area is a little small in here (the whole house is a little small after all), but you should find a space if you head here in the late afternoon or early morning. Lunchtimes should of course be avoided unless you’ve booked ahead.
Assembly Rooms & Fashion Museum
An exquisite National Trust property, The Assembly Rooms is one of the finest Georgian buildings and looks just like how you would imagine an 18th Century ballroom or walkabout room to look like.
They were opened in 1771, and were originally known as the New or Upper Rooms. They were also described at the time as “the most noble and elegant of any in the kingdom”.
Used as an entertainment room in the 18th Century, large gatherings of people would have met here to dance, drink tea, play cards or attend musical performances. Equally, they would also come here during the day to just “walk about”.
Entry to the Assembly Rooms is free, but if you want to step back in time even further, then you must also consider visiting the Fashion Museum inside the Assembly Rooms.
The Fashion Museum is internationally recognised for showcasing collections of the most perfect dresses and period fashions. Lace currently takes the centre stage in the collection, and you can easily spend about 1 hour here admiring each and every piece.
Entry to the museum is £9 per adult, but it’s also possible to get the saver ticket, which allows access to the museum, Roman Baths and Victoria Art Gallery for just £21.50 per adult.
Bath Botanical Gardens
I adore escaping to gardens, nature and green spaces during my travels (especially when exploring cities). The Bath Botanical Gardens are free to enter, and are beautiful. There are a number of paths you can follow to see various plants, flowers, trees and shrubs, as well as a number of wooden benches to help rest your feet.
These gardens are perfect for relaxing in with a good book and a picnic if you so wish. Whilst walking around, make sure you keep an eye out for original and unique gardening arrangements. When I visited, there was a very clever arrangement by the Women’s Institute in Bath of a woman soaking in a bubble bath!
Bath Skyline Walk
If you have a little longer to spend in the city, or you just fancy a sunset-induced hike, then the Bath Skyline Walk is always a good option.
As can be expected, you will have some of the best views of the city from up here, plus the ability to walk through endless meadows, secluded valleys and ancient woodlands for 6 miles.
Personally, I’d always recommend looking over the skyline at sunset, although remember to pack your torch for when it gets dark. But please only do this if you are an adept walker or experienced hiker.
Bath has some incredible shopping on offer. What could be more magical than browsing in designer boutiques amidst the ancient buildings of this incredible city?
Plus, through the months of November and December, the Bath Christmas Markets spring up all throughout the city. These markets are world renowned, and are the perfect place for finding unique gifts, fabulous fudge and tasty street food.
Keep an eye on the official website for dates each year, and just watch this captivating city turn into a winter wonderland.
Where to Eat
When exploring idyllic English towns and cities like this, my recommendation would always be tea and cake, or even the ultimate afternoon tea.
The Regency Tea Room in The Jane Austen Centre offers the chance to sip tea from quaint china cups and nibble at delightful English cakes whilst admiring the original Georgian features and architecture all around you. As far as English cakes go, be sure to try a Victoria Sponge, Lemon Drizzle or scones.
Although I’ve not yet experienced afternoon tea at The Pump Rooms myself, I have been told how incredible it is by a fellow travel blogger. This ultimate afternoon tea article details her experience plus her recommendations on what to order.
As for dinner, nothing beats having either popular pub grub in a typical English pub, or a delightfully English affair at a fine dining restaurant. For pub food, your best bet in Bath would be The Hop Pole along Upper Bristol Road, which is a super cosy and heartwarming country style pub.
For a fine dining experience, you should consider The Dower House Restaurant found along the Royal Crescent. Although do book ahead in advance as it’s very popular. You can even eat al fresco if the weather’s good!
Getting to Bath
Bath is easily accessible by car via the M4 motorway and A36 main road. However, parking in the city is not only difficult but expensive if you’re here for a full day.
Personally, I’d suggest you catch a train. The Bath Spa station is a couple of minutes walk into the centre (across the river), and serves most train lines, although you may have to change at a station on the way if travelling from afar.
Coaches and buses frequent the city regularly from surrounding areas. For instance, a regular bus from Bristol to Bath only takes about an hour.
You should now be ready to spend the perfect day in Bath! Have you also thought about visiting the luxury thermae spa overlooking the city? This is still on my own bucket list to try, but I’d love to hear from you if you think it’s worth it.
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