Best things to do in Bath

by Jan

With its Roman heritage and Georgian architecture, you’ll find plenty of things to see and do in Bath.  Located in Somerset in the South West of England, Bath is the only UK city designated a UNESCO World Heritage City and is jam packed with history and culture.

Whether you visit the ancient Roman Baths, see the Georgian architecture, or follow in the footsteps of Jane Austen, you’ll find plenty of historic landmarks to visit.  Or for something more contemporary,  seek out the independent shops, boutique bars and outdoor spaces.

In this travel guide we’ll share all the best things to do in Bath.  We’ll tell you the top places to visit, so you can plan your own visit to Bath. 

We’ve been to Bath several times, both with kids and without, but our most recent family visit was in collaboration with Visit Bath.  Read on to discover our pick of the best things to do in Bath.

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Take a hop-on hop-off bus tour

One of the best ways to see all the top attractions in Bath is with a hop-on hop off bus tour. The sightseeing tour allows you enjoy panoramic views of Bath on an open-top, double decker bus and get off at the sights you want to visit.

There are 2 routes, the city tour and the skyline tour.  A complete tour of Bath lasts about 50 minutes, but you can get on and off as you please. This is an easy way to see the city and learn about its history.

The bus tour provides visitors with two Bath tourist maps, one for each tour.  We started with the city tour, which covers Bath’s most central attractions. The skyline tour goes out into the countryside, so you can get off and visit Bath’s natural attractions.

On both buses you’ll get a multi-lingual audio guide with information about each landmark. Your ticket is valid for 24 hours, so it’s a very useful means of transport during your stay in Bath.

Top tip: The ticket gives you discounts at some of Bath’s top attractions, like the Roman Baths, so is worth getting early on.

Visit the Roman Baths

The Roman Baths, Bath, Somerset, England
Boys looking at Roman Baths, Somerset, England

Without doubt, the top attraction in Bath is The Roman Baths, one of the must-see historic attractions in the UK.

Step back in time at this fascinating UNESCO World Heritage site to discover 2000 years of history and learn how the Romans used to live.  You can walk around the remains of the Great Bath, ancient springs, the hypocaust, and changing rooms.

Inside, you’ll see models of the temple and bath complex, as well as archaeological finds from pre-Roman and Roman Britain. Luckily, a visit to the Roman Baths comes with a handy guided audio tour.  This provides an informative narrative about all of the exhibits, taking visitors back in time to experience Roman living.  For kids, there is a child-friendly version, narrated by Michael Rosen.

The Roman Baths really is one of the best things to do in Bath, no matter what your age.

Relax at Thermae Bath Spa

If you want to enjoy some spa time for yourself, book a two-hour session at Thermae Bath Spa, Britain’s only natural thermal spa.  Enjoy spectacular views of the city of Bath from the rooftop pool, whilst you luxuriate in its warm, mineral-rich waters and bubbling jets.

Alternatively, head inside to enjoy the Minerva Bath and whirlpool or the Wellness Suite.

Please note that the Thermae Bath Spa is only for over-16s.

Explore Bath Abbey

Another of the top historic attractions in Bath is Bath Abbey, a magnificent building located next to the Roman Baths.  This is the 3rd church on the site, since the original was built in 757 AD.  Once inside, you can admire the stunning glass windows, fan-vaulted ceiling, and ornate walls and ceilings.

Click here for admission prices and opening times for Bath Abbey.  Admission includes entrance to the heritage centre.

Bath Abbey, Bath, Somerset, England
Bath Abbey, Stained Glass Window, Bath, Somerset, England

Climb the Abbey Tower

For panoramic views over the city of Bath, visitors can climb the 212 steps of the tower in Bath Abbey.  The Bath Abbey Tower tour is fully guided and lasts about 45-60 minutes.  A spiral staircase will lead you behind the scenes of the abbey to see the back of the clock face and church bells, before seeing the skyline from the top. 

The visits take place throughout the day, but are very popular, so it’s worth booking in advance.  There is an additional entrance fee for the tower tours.

Take afternoon tea in the Bath Pump Room

The Bath Pump Room was built in Georgian times and was a very popular venue for the Bath high society to go for entertainment after the spa.  The Pump Room is directly next to the Roman Baths.  Today, it is a popular restaurant offering breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea.

Go to the Circus

A row of historic townhouses called the Circus in Bath, Somerset, England

Bath is famous for its Georgian heritage and magnificent Georgian architecture.  You can see an impressive example of this at the Circus, a circle of Grade-I listed townhouses overlooking a lawn with historic plane trees. 

Designed by John Wood the Elder, who took his inspiration from the Colosseum in Rome, the Circle is an important landmark in Bath.

Stroll round the Royal Crescent

The Royal Crescent, Bath, Somerset, England

Another example of breathtaking Georgian architecture is at at one of Bath’s most iconic landmarks, the Royal Crescent. 

The Royal Crescent is a row of 30 terraced Georgian houses, which form a perfect crescent around a green.  Even today, it is probably still the most famous street in Bath.

The elegant houses are stunning,  Grade 1 listed buildings.  They were designed by John Wood the younger, son of the architect who designed the Circus!  You can get here easily from the Circus, so should visit both together.  

Did you know that you can stay in a spa hotel in Bath’s Royal Crescent?  The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa is an original coach house with 18th century style décor, a relaxation pool, and cocktail bar.  It sounds amazing!

Step back in time at No 1 Royal Crescent

If you are wondering what it would have been like to live in one of these fabulous, Georgian houses, then take a visit to No 1 Royal Crescent.  This was the first house built in the crescent and has now been transformed into a museum.  It has been furnished to show the lifestyle of Henry Sandford, a wealthy man in 18th Century Bath.

If you’re visiting with kids, the history detectives activity pack is a great way to help them explore the house.  Once they’ve solved the clues, head downstairs to the kitchen for more family-friendly activities and Georgian games.

No 1 Royal Crescent, Bath, Somerset, England

Take a walk in a Royal Park

If you’re looking for some green space in Bath, head to the Royal Victoria Park. 

Just a short distance from the Crescent and Circus, the park is a beautiful stretch of parkland.  You can visit the botanical gardens, play crazy golf, or feed the ducks.

If you’re visiting with kids, this is a good place to let off steam.  Children will love the adventure playground, with its skate park and zip lines.

If you have more time, you could head outside of Bath’s city centre to the Prior Park Landscape Garden or the National Trust Woodland Play Area.  Both of these are accessible via the skyline bus tour.

Visit the Jane Austen Centre

Jane Austen Museum gift shop, Bath, Somerset, England

One of the most popular museums in Bath is the Jane Austen Centre.  The museum celebrates Bath’s most famous resident, author Jane Austen, who moved to Bath with her family when her father retired.

The museum visit starts with a short video, giving a potted history of Austen’s life.  Afterwards, you can do a self-guided tour of the museum to discover the how Jane’s time in Bath impacted her literary works.  Finally, there is an opportunity to dress up in the Regency clothes of the Jane Austen era.

Any ardent Jane Austen fans should visit Bath in September, when they hold the largest Jane Austen Festival in the world.  Join other Austen devotees in 10 days of walks, costumed balls, talks and theatrical performances.

Cross the Pulteney Bridge

View of River and Pultney Bridge in Autumn, Bath

One of Bath’s most famous landmarks is Pulteney Bridge, as beautiful, Grade-1 listed Palladian bridge.

Pulteney Bridge is unique, being only one of only four bridges in the world with shops lining both sides.  Either side of the bridge are cafes and restaurants.

Top tip:  For the best photo, visit Pulteney Bridge late morning, as it is in shadow in the afternoon.

Explore the Holburne Museum

If you are an art-lover, take a visit to the Holburne Museum in Sydney Gardens.  This was Bath’s first public gallery and has a collection of fine art paintings, including a number by Gainsborough.

You can get there by walking over the Pulteney Bridge or on the hop-on-hop-off bus.

Pop into the Museum of East Asian Art

One of the more unusual museums in Bath is the Museum of East Asian Art. 

Although it’s only small, the museum houses a collection of nearly 2000 artefacts from East and South East Asia. 

Artefact from Museum of East Asian Art, Bath, Somerset, England

Visit Bath Christmas Market

From the end of November, you can visit the Christmas Market in Bath.  Bath Christmas Market is a magical, festive event with street entertainment, ice-skating, and other seasonal activities.

With over 170 traditional chalets, selling products, gifts and food, Bath Christmas market is one of the best in the UK.

Practical information for your visit to Bath

Accommodation in Bath

For luxury accommodation in Bath, book the Gainsborough Bath Spa Hotel, a five-star hotel with its own naturally heated spa complex.  Another good If you prefer a boutique hotel, Bathen House is a period property near the Crescent.  Or you could stay at the Bath Priory, a country house just outside the city centre.

For budget places to stay in Bath, try the Z Hotel, which has a prime location in the city centre or Bath’s YHA.

Getting to Bath

By train

The train station is called Bath Spa.  Regular high-speed trains leave from London Paddington.  However, there are also cheaper, slower trains from London Waterloo.

If you are coming from other major cities, you will find frequent trains via Bristol.

The city centre is a 10-minute walk from the station.

By car

  • From the M4 – Leave the M4 at Junction 18 and take the A46 towards Bath
  • From Bristol – Take the A4 into Bath
  • From the South West – Take the M5 and M4

A coach trip

If you want to do a day trip from London, you could join a coach tour, which includes a stop at Stonehenge.

Getting around Bath

Bath is a compact city, so it is easy to explore by foot.  If you wish to go to some of the attractions on the outskirts, you could take a bus.  There are regular buses which travel across the city and to nearby villages.

How long do I need for a visit to Bath?

You could visit Bath’s top attractions in a day, but to really get a feel for the place a weekend would be better.  Obviously, you could go for longer and visit some of the heritage attractions in the surrounding area, such as Stonehenge.

We'd love to hear from you

We hope you’ve enjoyed our round up of the best things to do in Bath?  We’d love to hear your comments below.

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*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links – any purchases you make are unaffected but I may receive a small commission. (Read our full Disclosure Policy)

Whilst we fully self funded our accommodation and trip to Bath, Visit Bath kindly provided a press pass.  This enabled us to visit many of the attractions within the city and to ride the Bus tour. All opinions and tips are however my own, based on our experience.

All rights reserved © Chimptrips. Republishing this article and/or any of its contents (text, photography, links, etc.), in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited.

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