Bath, England: A complete guide to the city [+Map]

Bath is one of the most picturesque cities in the UK. It is located in the county of Somerset, southwest of London, and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.

Bath was undoubtedly one of my favourite cities in England. I got to know it when I was living as an au pair in London, and I have already visited it more than three times 😋.

Its Roman baths, its link with Jane Austen, its architecture and its proximity to the capital (less than 200km west of London), make it a perfect tourist destination to visit during your trip to the UK.

🗺 Things to do and see in Bath

Bath is one of the most beautiful cities in England, and a perfect day trip from London or Bristol. Here is a list of all the places you can visit in Bath for you to select the ones that catch your attention 👇.

📍 Roman Baths

In the 18th century, Bath became known as the spa city. The city became a tourist destination for the aristocrats of the time after the publication of Thomas Guidott’s book about its baths.

Hence, the most symbolic place in the city of Bath is its Roman baths.

On the site of the Roman baths there was a Celtic temple dedicated to the goddess Sulis. With the arrival of the Romans, the baths became the ideal place to enjoy the healing properties of water and worship the goddess Sulis Minerva.

The entire structure that you will see during your visit above ground level are reconstructions of the ancient baths.

When is it the best time to visit the Roman Baths in Bath?

The Roman Baths are the city’s most acclaimed tourist attraction, hence the long queues in summer.

The best time of day to visit is at sunset, when the torches are lit. I have visited the thermal baths during the day and at sunset, and I can assure you that there is no comparison: they are beautiful lit by torchlight! 😍

However, if you are travelling in high season or if you think you won’t have time to see the hot springs once the torches are lit, I advise you to see them first thing in the morning. They are the most important place in the city of Bath, and you can’t leave without seeing them in person.

🕙 Roman Baths opening hours

Their opening hours vary depending on the time of year, so I advise you to check the opening hours before you go. In principle, they are usually open from 09:00 to 18:00, last entrance at 17h; except for the summer months when they are open until 22h.

🎟 Roman Baths admission

The price of the baths is £15.50 for adults, although there are discounts for students, over 65s, children and families. A free audio guide is available.

You can also book a walking tour of Bath which includes entry to the Roman Baths and a small donation to Bath Abbey.

📍 Thermae Bath Spa

Since 2006, with the opening of Thermae Bath Spa, Bath has become the only city where visitors and residents alike can enjoy bathing in real, naturally heated spring water.

A unique experience in the city.

📍 Bath Abbey

This is another of the great symbols of the city and one of the must-see places in Bath. It reminded me a lot of Gloucester Cathedral, where some scenes from Harry Potter were filmed, also in Gothic style.

From its tower, you can get a bird’s eye view of Bath. To climb the Tower, you need to hire a Tower Tour, where a guide will take you up the 212-plus steps to get a breathtaking view of the city.

Bath Abbey is simply spectacular inside, take a look at this image👇

📍 Pulteney Bridge

Pulteney Bridge spans the River Avon and is one of the few existing inhabited bridges in the world. Its structure is quite similar familiar to the Ponte Vecchio in Florence.

On the bridge itself is The Bridge Coffee Shop, ideal for breakfast or an afternoon snack with a beautiful view. Parade Gardens also offers a beautiful view of Pulteney Bridge.

📍 Royal Crescent

Royal Crescent is characterised by its elliptical curved façade and is one of the most outstanding works of Georgian architecture in the UK. It was built as a residential complex, although some of the dwellings have now been converted into a luxury 5-star hotel:The Royal Crescent Hotel.

At No.1 Royal Crescent you’ll find a Georgian house converted into a museum, furnished in the style of the period. In each of the rooms, a volunteer tells you details about the house, as well as anecdotes from the period.

The house consists of two parts: the house itself, with its luxurious living rooms and bedrooms, and the servants’ quarters, with more modest rooms. When I visited N.1 Royal Crescent, it was December and they were celebrating Christmas Through The Ages.

Admission costs £12 for adults. They are open every day from 10:00 to 17:00. It is one of the best museums to see in Bath.

📍 Marlborough Building Bath

Just off Royal Crescent Square, you’ll find this iconic Bath postcard.

📍 The Circus

The Circus is known for its circular shape. Due to its location and inspirational location, it has been home to many illustrious figures. It is one of the examples of Palladian architecture that John Wood senior wanted to recreate in the city of Bath.

These buildings were built by John Wood senior and John Wood junior due to Bath’s rise as a spa town during the 18th century.

📍 Georgian Gardens

This is a reconstruction of a Georgian garden at one of the houses in The Circus. It can be visited free of charge.

📍 Bath Assembly rooms & Fashion Museum

Located in the same building, very close to The Circus. Bath Assembly Rooms are luxurious rooms that were the epicentre of the city in Georgian times. They are free to visit.

The Fashion Museum houses a collection of 150 costumed figures from the 16th century to the present day. More than 400 years of fashion history are collected here. Tickets cost £8.5, and there are combined tickets to visit the Roman Baths and Victoria Art Gallery for £22.5.

📍 The Jane Austen Center

Bath’s relationship with Jane Austen dates back to her first visit in 1797. Since then, with her comings and goings to one of the most famous cities in England at the time, Bath and Jane Austen have had a close relationship.

That is why a museum dedicated to the writer could not be missing in the street where she lived after her father’s death.

You can visit the museum, enjoy an afternoon tea or buy a gift in the shop. It’s up to you.

 

The Jane Austen Centre is one of the city’s best-known attractions. However, it is only recommended if you are a big fan of Jane Austen. The visit takes you on a journey through the life of the writer and her family. As well as the places in Bath that have been part of Jane Austen’s life, and her books.

In the Jane Austen Museum is one of Bath’s must-visits: The Regency Tea Room, a tea room inspired by the writer’s characters. It serves 15 different types of tea, Belgian chocolate and is much in demand for ‘Tea with Mr. Darcy‘ and ‘Lady’s Afternoon Tea’,

The shop is a must. I recommend you to become a member of the centre for free and enjoy a 10% discount in the shop.

If you are a Jane Austen lover or just want to discover Bath in a different way, Visit Bath offers this free audio tour to get to know the city through Jane Austen.

🕙 Jane Austen Museum Opening hours

The opening hours vary depending on the time of year, so check the website to find out. As a general rule, in winter it is open from 10am to 4pm, and in summer from 9:30am to 6pm.

🎟 Admission to the Jane Austen Museum 

Entry to the Jane Austen Centre costs £11. You can buy a ticket here.

📍 Queen Square

Located next to the Jane Austen Museum, this is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic on a sunny day and relax for a while before continuing your day’s sightseeing.

📍 Sally Lunn’s 

I want to recommend this little open secret of Bath that you must try on your next visit – Sally Lunn’s.

Sally Lunn’s is the oldest house in Bath, a museum and restaurant for over 300 years. Their buns are the most famous in the city, you can’t leave without trying them! There is a small shop downstairs where you can buy Sally Lunn Buns to take away.

The restaurant is usually crowded, so you’ll probably have to wait in line, but it won’t take more than 5-10 minutes.

📍 Holburne Museums

One of Bath’s great Georgian buildings. It has three floors, a charming café and is set in one of Jane Austen’s favourite gardens.

It is open daily from 10am to 5pm, and admission is £12.50.

The museum has several exhibitions, some permanent and some temporary. Although the number of objects in the permanent collection has grown over the years, most of the objects in the collection belong to William Holburne.

After the death of his brother, William inherited the family title and fortune. He left the navy and went on his great adventure in Europe. He wanted his fortune to go to the city of Bath, and it is thanks to him that this museum exists today.

When I visited, the temporary exhibitions were about Rembrandt and Matisse.

📍 Sydney Gardens

The Holburne Museum is located in these gardens. They are ideal for strolling and enjoying a small oasis of nature in the middle of Bath. As a curious fact, Jane Austen was living at number 4 Sydney Place.

📍 Prior Park

Prior Park Landscape is a landscape created by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, Ralph Allen and Alexander Pope in 18th century Bath. It is an ideal place for a day’s stroll in fine weather. It is suitable for families and can be walked in a couple of hours.

Right at the start, you are provided with a map showing the must-see stops within Prior Park, including its wonderful bridge: Palladian Bridge, one of only four in the world.

If you are not a National Trust member, entry costs £7. Dogs are allowed, and picnics are allowed too 😉.

📍 Victoria Art Gallery

This art gallery spans from the 15th century to the present day. The gallery’s collection includes diverse works by artists who have lived and worked in Bath. The entrance fee is £4 for an adult.

As a fun fact, I would like to tell you that in this museum it is possible to adopt a painting for £120 to contribute to a charity.

📍 Other places to visit in Bath

In addition to all the places suggested above, Bath has a few more to offer. Bath at Work or Bath Postal Museum might be two interesting museums for those who want to explore the city further.

Astronomy lovers will also find their place in Bath. The house where William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus on 13 March 1781 can be visited here.

And last but not least, if you want to see Bath from a unique vantage point, I recommend Alexandra Park or Beckford’s Tower.

📍 Map with all the places to visit in Bath

Itinerary to visit Bath in one day

Depending on the time of year you travel to Bath, the length of your day will be different and your chances of making the most of the day will be different.

This itinerary is designed to be done at any time of year, starting early in the morning for breakfast at Ivy Bath Brasserie. In case you are visiting Bath on a day trip from London, you can skip this recommendation.

The route I suggest starts at the epicentre of the city: Abbey Churchyard. You can stroll along the adjacent streets such as York Street or Bath Street, as well as enter Bath Abbey.

If you are travelling in summer and don’t want to leave without seeing the baths, I recommend queuing first thing in the morning. They are usually packed in high season.

From the city centre, we will go to The Holburne Museum and Sydney Gardens, passing by Pulteney Bridge. If you don’t have enough time in Bath or are not attracted to museums, you can skip the Holourne Museum. But this part of the city is beautiful to see.

The Circus is our next stop. In this area you can visit the Bath Assembly Rooms for free, and the Fashion Museum if you are passionate about fashion. Afterwards, we will walk to the impressive Royal Crescent.

Number 1 of this housing estate houses an interesting museum where you can see what a Georgian-era house was like. From the Royal Crescent park, you will have a panoramic view of the Marlborough Building.

Just before Queen Square is Georgian Gardens, which is free to visit. And, on Gay Street is the Jane Austen Museum, for fans of the writer. In summer, Queen Square is the perfect stop for a picnic.

Although Sally Lunn’s should be your must for lunch. It’s the oldest house in town and a historic restaurant. Plus, I don’t think you’ll want to leave without trying their famous Sally Lunn’s Buns.

After you’ve wandered the streets of Bath and visited the must-see sights, it’s time to round off your visit with the Roman Baths. The best time to see them is at sunset, when the torches illuminate the site.

As I mentioned at the beginning, depending on the time of year you visit Bath, you’ll have more time to see things. For me, Prior Park is one of the most beautiful places in Bath. But it’s away from the centre, and perhaps it’s easier to visit in the summer.

Another place I would include in the list – if you have time – would be Thermae Bath Spa. I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s my to-do place in Bath.

🎄Bath at Christmas

A good time to visit Bath could be Christmas. During late November to mid-December, the city dresses up in its best clothes. In the main streets around Bath Abbey is the Bath Christmas Market

As well as visiting the Christmas market, you can enjoy a mulled wine at the Après Ski Bar, ice skate at Royal Victoria Park or play a unique game of mini golf.

Many places have events dedicated to the festive season. Check out Visit Bath to make sure you don’t miss out. For example, this year at N.1 Royal Crescent they showed you what Christmas was like in Georgian times.

🚗 Where to park in Bath

Bath is usually reached by public transport from London or Bristol. But on this latest trip to the Cotswolds, a car was a must.

The best car park in Bath is Manvers Street. It is an open-air car park, very central and usually runs out of spaces quite quickly. The price of parking ranges from £3.2 to £15, for up to 2 and 12 hours respectively.

🚌 How to get to Bath from London or Bristol

If you are travelling from anywhere in the UK, the most likely option is to transfer at Bristol station.

If you are travelling from London there are regular services from Paddington and Waterloo stations. The journey time is usually around 1 hour 45 minutes. Trains run from 5.40am until 11.30pm in the evening. There is one train every hour.

Ticket prices start from £14. It varies depending on the timetable you choose and how far in advance you buy your ticket. For timetables and fares see www.thetrainline.com

Bath station is in the city centre, so you can walk from there to any part of the city. If you choose to travel by bus from London or Bristol, National Express or Megabus operate this route.

🛌 Where to stay in Bath

Bath is a perfect day trip for one, two or however many days you feel like it. I liked Bath so much that, instead of spending just one day as I had planned, I extended the trip for another day.

If you also prefer to visit the city slowly, I recommend any of these accommodations to recharge your batteries before going back to wandering around the city. Although I warn you, it’s going to be difficult to choose which one to stay in.

Hostels: St Christopher’s Inn Bath
Apartaments: SACO Bath St James ParadeHiding Space Westgate ApartmentsGreen Park House AccomodationsAlfred City Views and Halcyon Hotel Apartments.
Cheap but nice hotelsThe Thief and The Griffin Inn
Average price hotels: Loch Fyne HotelThe County Hotel BathApex City of Bath Hotel 
Luxury hotels: The Gainsborough Bath Spa y The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa

Note: Thanks to Visit Bath for providing me with a pass to visit all Bath attractions free of charge.

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