All About Bath: 10 Best Things To Do
Bath, UK is full of history, charm, and distinctive yellow stone. The city was named for the thermal spas that the Romans built around 60AD. Today, visitors can relax in those same healing waters while enjoying the city’s romantic Georgian architecture and many attractions. Our article focuses on the 10 best things to do in Bath England.
The compact, walkable Somerset county city is an easy London day trip. Along its streets visitors will find cobblestone lanes, pedestrianized shopping districts, Bath Abbey, and many museums including the Roman Baths, Jane Austin Center, and Fashion Museum.
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its Roman ruins and stunning 18th century architecture, visitors flock to see the city’s Royal Crescent, The Circus, and Queen’s Square. Other things to do in Bath England include canal boat tours along the Avon River, and visiting the unusual Pulteney Bridge. The city is seeped in history, but feels lively with lots of green spaces that are brimming with color and busy with local festivals and markets.
The elegance of Bath’s buildings along with the city’s rich literary and artistic culture give the municipality an air of British gentility. However, there is also a hint of naughtiness found in the resort town’s many pubs and clubs. You can see Bath’s best attractions in a day, but stay longer if you can to soak in this fun city’s posh neighborhoods and panache.
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THINGS TO DO IN BATH ENGLAND
Visit the Roman Baths
Built as a shrine to the goddess Sulis, the hot springs of the Roman Baths Museum have been drawing visitors since 50-60AD. The baths provide insight into life under the Romans some 2000 years ago. The museum showcases of four main areas: A Roman Bath House, Temple, Sacred Spring, and gallery with artifacts and coins.
The collection of Roman artifacts is the biggest in Britain. One fun relic is the “curse tablet.” The tablets consist of pieces of metal inscribed with messages to the goddess Sulis. Authors “cursed” those who had wronged them (one writer cursed another for stealing his clothes!). Visitors can take a sip of the bitter hot springs water that many believed had healing powers.
Admire the Georgian Architecture of the Royal Crescent, Circus, and Queen’s Square
Bath is famous for its gorgeous architecture. This is due in part to the honey-colored limestone that the Romans, and later the Georgians, favored. “Bath Stone” shimmers in the sunlight and is known for its strength and beauty. The Royal Crescent, The Circus, and Georgian Square were built from this stone. The three landmarks are located within a 1-mile walk of the the Roman Baths, and should not be missed.
The Royal Crescent is often described as the greatest example of Georgian architecture in England. The building presents as a perfect arc around an expansive lawn. Onsite, visitors will find the Royal Crescent Hotel with a restaurant that serves lunch and afternoon tea. Also, at No. 1 Royal Crescent there is a heritage museum where guests can learn about life in the 1700’s Somerset.
A short walk takes visitors to The Circus, a circle of townhouses with three entrances and a lawn in the center. The fashionable address is considered one of the poshest in town. The pretty buildings are adorned with ornate carvings. Still further on, stroll through Queen’s Square to see more honey-colored stone and a monument to the Prince of Wales.
Say a Prayer at Bath Abbey and Climb the Ancient Spire
Bath Abbey towers over the pedestrianized walkways of the City Centre (a short distance from the Roman Baths). A church, in some form, has occupied this land since 675AD. The abbey is a classic example of medieval architecture with towering columns, intricate stained glass, many vaults, and Gothic carvings. For a small fee visitors can participate in a Tower Tour that involves climbing the spire’s 212 stairs to see the bell tower, the inside of the clock face, and fantastic city views.
Take a Boat Ride on the River Avon or a Hop-On Hop-Off Boat Tour
To escape the hustle and bustle of the city, a relaxing boat ride down the River Avon is terrific respite. Many tour operators leave from the Pulteney Bridge area. The river, and surrounding canals, meander through the heart of Bath. Alternatively, the city’s hop-on hop-off bus tours can help tourists cover a lot of ground in a short period of time, and get a nice overview of the city.
Treat Yourself to Some Traditional British Food and Ale
As an established resort town, Bath has a reputation of encouraging visitors to pleasure-seek. This includes indulging in great food and drink; specifically traditional British cuisine and ale. The Huntsman is a welcoming pub serving regional favorites from Norfolk and Dorset. Or, try Sally Lunn’s for afternoon tea and fluffy buns in the oldest house in Bath. Lastly, the Cornish Bakery serves traditional pasties (meat pies) and bread puddings (our favorite – so delicious!).
Stroll the Pulteney Bridge
A unique structure with shops along both sides of the road, the Pulteney Bridge is another iconic Georgian structure. First opened in the 1700s, the bridge is located beside Guildhall Market. It is fun to stroll the small shops and cafes of the bridge. Visitors also flock to nearby Parade Gardens where there are clear views of the river weir cascading in front of the bridge.
Visit the Jane Austen Centre or Fashion Museum
Bath has two universities, a thriving tourist industry, and many specialty museums. Two perennial favorites are the Jane Austen Centre and the Fashion Museum. Jane lived in Bath for many years and wrote two novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, while in residence. The Jane Austen Centre offers permanent exhibits (including a dress-up box) to help patrons learn more about the writer. The Fashion Museum features displays of fashion, dress, and accessories through the ages.
Shop the Cobblestone Streets of the Bath City Centre
Don't leave without taking a walk around the pedestrianized streets surrounding Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths. The cobblestone plazas are lined with small shops, specialty markets, and cafes. Treat yourself to a sweet, locate a bench, and listen to the buskers playing in the courtyards. Drink it all in, and then go buy some souvenirs. If you have time, check out the stalls of the Bath Guildhall Market across from the Pulteney Bridge.
People Watch in Victoria Park, Parade Gardens, or Prior Park
No matter where you go in Bath, there is a nearby green space to enjoy. The lovely Victoria Park sits just below the Royal Crescent. The Parade Grounds are flanked by the City Center and the Pulteney Bridge. Finally, the Prior Park Landscape Centre, with its sweeping town views, is just a short distance from the City Center. A hike through these parks will treat you to stunning British landscape architecture, and fascinating people watching.
Indulge in the Healing Powers of the Hot Springs
If your idea of vacationing is on the more luxurious side of experiential, make an appointment at the Thermae Bath Spa. Using the hot, mineral rich waters of natural Bath springs, the day spa offers treatments in a modern stone and glass facility. The spa has an open rooftop swimming pool with sweeping views of the Old Quarter. The Thermal Bath Spa is open to the public, and a short distance away from the Roman Baths.
We hope you have a most excellent day! Laura and Randy
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