Updated: Nov 8, 2020
Whether you want to dive head-first into the romantic world of a Jane Austen novel, surrounding yourself with Georgian architecture, or feel like a Roman for the day as you walk through one of the world’s best-preserved Roman buildings, a trip to Bath has something for every curious mind. A city founded in 1AD, and now a UNESCO World Heritage site, Bath is a city that oozes history and culture from every stone. Whether you’re exploring the charming cobbled streets or enjoying a trip to a traditional tearoom, visiting historic sites or gazing upon the iconic architecture, Bath could be the closest thing to time-travel you can get! So, if you are ready to pack as much culture, history and Roman-inspired spa-time as possible into your trip to Bath, here’s a selection of unmissable things to see and do…
1. The Roman Baths
The city’s premier attraction, the Roman Baths have been attracting visitors for 2,000 years! Built around Britain's only hot springs, the bathing complex still flows with natural hot water and gives you a real feel for Roman life. Step into history and retrace the steps of so many before you. You can even take a sip of the water, which the Romans believed had healing powers! As well as the ruins and thermal baths themselves, the museum houses a selection of Roman artefacts, making this a number one-must-see spot for history lovers.
2. Thermae Bath Spa
For a spa experience unlike any other, make sure you check-in for a day of Roman-style relaxation at the Thermae Bath Spa. The spa uses the water from the three natural hot springs in Bath, the very same that supplies the Roman Baths. You can experience the historic tradition of taking these naturally warm waters for yourself, before snuggling up in fluffy white robes between relaxing treatments or visits to the aromatherapy rooms.
One of the most luxurious elements of this modern spa is the rooftop pool. Located next to Bath Abbey, it gives unrivalled panoramic views over the city – soak up the vista while you let your stresses melt away in the wonderfully warm water!
3. Bath Abbey
In the centre of the city you can find Bath Abbey, which has a history spanning hundreds of years. Founded in the 7th century and built from the famous yellow Bath Stone, Bath Abbey is a unique example of Gothic architecture.
Walk around this Grade I-listed parish church, soaking up the tranquillity whilst marvelling at the stained-glass windows and intricate stonework – this magical place really has to be seen to be believed. Discover more and explore the tower of the Abbey on a tour which guides you up the many stairs to the ‘behind the scenes’ areas. You can even sit behind the clock face and see inside the bell ringing chamber – giving you a new perspective of the building as well as fantastic birds’-eye views of the city once you reach the top!
4. Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus
A great way of seeing the sights of the city, the Hop-on Hop-off bus tour of Bath takes you around the city centre. You can see highlights such as Bath Abbey, as well as area’s picturesque Prior Park landscaped garden, Pulteney Bridge and the city’s Georgian gem, the Royal Crescent.
5. The Royal Crescent
Built between 1767 and 1775, the Royal Crescent is known for being one of the greatest examples of Georgian architecture in Britain. For fans of Jane Austen, historic design or generally beautiful spaces, this is a must-see when in Bath. Designed in a perfect sweeping crescent around a tranquil lawn, you can also explore the nearby Royal Victoria Park, too. The perfect spot for a picnic or a family photo opportunity, to walk around the Royal Crescent is to step back in time to 18th century Britain.
As well as being private homes, the Royal Crescent is now a luxury hotel and museum of Georgian life, which you can visit at No. 1 Royal Crescent.
6. The Bath Assembly Rooms
When completed in 1771, the Assembly Rooms were described as 'the most noble and elegant of any in the kingdom'. Nowadays, they give a fascinating insight into where 18th century high society would go to enjoy music, dance and mingle. Once hosting some of the most luxurious evening balls and concerts in Britain, the Assembly Rooms were mentioned by Jane Austen in both Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. After being used by the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War, the Assembly Rooms were reopened in 1938, and can be visited when booked in advance.
7. The Fashion Museum
Located just below the Assembly Rooms, the Fashion Museum is a place bursting with examples of fashion, dress and accessories from throughout the centuries. Marvel at extravagant evening dresses from the 1800s, tailored coats and elegant gloves – you can even dress up in Regency or Victorian-style clothes for both children and adults. With exhibitions happening throughout the year that give a real insight into British history and culture, if there’s ever been a time and place to live-out your period drama dreams, it’s here!
8. Pulteney Bridge
One of only four bridges in the world with shops along both sides, this bridge was designed to impress! Made for the fashionable crowds that would flock to the city in the 1700s, Pulteney Bridge has become one of Bath’s most iconic spots. Classically designed, over-looking the weirs of Bath, this is one of the most photographed parts of the city – a great spot for a postcard-perfect pic in addition to a little retail therapy in true Georgian style!
9. The Circus
If there were a prize for the most satisfying arrangement of Georgian townhouses, The Circus in Bath might just snatch gold. A set of three rows of houses, each of which curve round to form a perfect circle. Designed to be the same diameter as Stonehenge as a nod to Bath’s connection to the ancient druids, The Circus reveals the importance of Britain’s Pagan past. Make sure to keep an eye out for the emblems on the stonework, such as serpents and acorns, as you walk around this Georgian architectural gem.
10. The Jane Austen Centre
Fancy getting a deeper glimpse into the mind of Jane Austen? The Jane Austen Centre offers a permanent exhibition which will allow you discover more about the famous novelist. Learn about her strong connection to Bath, a city where she lived and that inspired her novels enormously.
One of the most exciting and interactive elements of this museum is the dressing up box! With a selection of Regency style dress, coats, bonnets, hats and parasols, there’s nothing stopping you from indulging in the ultimate Jane Austen-inspired photoshoot and unleashing your inner Elizabeth Bennett or Mr Darcy!
Attached to the museum is the Regency Tea Room, a great spot for a British bite to eat. Serving a special Ladies’ Afternoon Tea, Tea with Mr Darcy and a Lady Catherine’s Proper Cream Tea.