Best things to do in Bath

by Jan

If you’re planning a family break in the UK, there are lots of things to do in Bath with or without kids.  This travel guide will show you the highlights, so you can plan how to best spend your time in Bath.  Discover the top attractions, great places to visit and the best things to see and do in Bath.

Bath is a beautiful city in the county of Somerset and is world-famous for its Roman Baths and other historic attractions.  The city is rich with historical and architectural interest and became a World Heritage Site in 1987. 

Visitors could happily spend time just wandering the streets absorbing the wonder of its beautiful buildings.  Alternatively, you could take time to visit the many museums, galleries, parks and open spaces that Bath has to offer.

We visited Bath with the family in collaboration with Visit Bath.  Read on to discover our pick of the best things to do in Bath:-

Things to do in Bath

Take a hop-on hop-off bus tour

The hop-on hop off bus tour is a great way to get around Bath with kids and see all the highlights the city has to offer. 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 makes it easier to take the children to all the favourite attractions.

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

On both buses you get a guided commentary informing you about the places that it is passing. Your ticket is valid for 24 hours.

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

The Roman Baths is one of the most visited historic sites in the UK. It can get very busy, but this is not surprising, as it is one of the most amazing things to do in Bath.  This fascinating tourist attraction is probably one of the main reasons why so many people visit Bath.

Astonishingly, the Roman Baths consists of the remains of the original ancient spas used by Romans in days gone by. It is on the site of some unique thermal springs, which provide the spa with natural hot water.

Nowadays, a visit to the Roman Baths’ visit comes with a handy guided audio tour, which gives you information about all of the exhibits. It will take you back in time, so you can really imagine what it would have been like to be a Roman at the baths.  Even better, there is a child-friendly version, narrated by Michael Rosen.

Top Tip: If your children are lucky enough to have a Blue Peter badge, they can get in for free.

Worship at Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey is 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.  Entrance is free (apart from a donation) and you can admire the stunning glass windows and ornate walls and ceilings.

Whilst we were there, the children took part in an archaeological project, which involved them cleaning up some Abbey marble, recording the details and labelling it.

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

Climb the tower

Tours of Bath Abbey tower offer the chance to climb the 212 steps of the spiral staircase and see behind the scenes.  The visits happen every hour on the hour, but are very popular, so it’s worth going to book in advance.  There is a cost for these tours.

Have 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

mews of houses, the circus bath, Somerset, England

The Circus is a street of historic townhouses showing Bath’s Georgian architecture at its finest.  These magnificent houses form a circle, which divides into 3 equal segments, each facing one of the 3 entrances.  The architect was John Wood the Elder.

Stroll round the Royal Crescent

The Royal Crescent, Bath, Somerset, England

One of the entrances from the Circus leads to one of Bath’s most iconic landmarks, the Royal Crescent.  Here, you’ll find 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, who is the son of the architect who designed the Circus.

Step back in time at No 1 Royal Crescent

If you were wondering what it would have been like to live in one of these fabulous, historic houses in Georgian times, 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.

To make the visit more fun, kids get a history detectives activity pack to help them explore the house.  Once they had solved the clues, they could head downstairs to the kitchen for some Georgian games and family-friendly activities.

No 1 Royal Crescent, Bath, Somerset, England

Run around a Royal Park

If the children need a break from the many historic buildings in Bath, you should head to the Royal Victoria Park. Here you will find a great adventure playground, with a skate park and zip lines.

Additionally, if you have more time, there is a botanical garden and 18-hole mini golf course.

Visit a museum (or two)

In addition to No 1 Royal Crescent, there are an abundance of other museums in Bath.  Some are more child-friendly than others and I would suggest not doing too many in one day!

Here are the Bath museums that we went to: –

Jane Austen Centre

Jane Austen Museum gift shop, Bath, Somerset, England

At the Jane Austen Centre, you can find out everything you need to know about the life and works of the famous author, who moved to Bath with her family when her father retired.

We started by watching a short video.  Afterwards, we listened to a 10-minute introduction in to the history of Jane Austen’s large family.  We were then free to wander around the exhibits at our own pace.  Finally, there is an opportunity to dress up in the regency clothes of the Jane Austen era.

Museum of East Asian Art

This is a very small museum which houses nearly 2000 objects from East and South East Asia.  There are a lot of Chinese artefacts.

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

Bath Fashion Museum

Dressing up at the Fashion Museum, the Assembly Rooms, Bath

Bath fashion museum has a display of 100 objects, which show the changes in fashion from the 1600s to the present day.  You can follow the exhibits with an audio guide, which will inform you about the ones that take your interest.

There is also a dressing up room where children (and adults) can try on the clothes from bygone eras.

Top Tip:  If you are planning on going to some museums in Bath, buy a museums saver ticket.  This ticket will give you a discounted ticket price for the Roman Baths, Bath Fashion Museum and Victoria Art Gallery.

Pulteney Bridge

Pulteney Bridge is one of Bath’s most famous images.  This beautiful, Palladian bridge is now a Grade 1 listed building.  It’s unique, being only 1 of 4 bridges in the world with shops lining both sides.  Either side of the bridge are cafes and restaurants.

Top tip:  Go late morning if you want the best photo, as it is in shadow in the afternoon.

View of River and Pultney Bridge in Autumn, Bath

Get lost in the maze

Next to Pulteney Bridge, lies a small garden labyrinth in Beazer Garden .  This is a paving stone maze, with no hedges, but the kids enjoyed running around for 5 minutes, as they navigated to the centre.

Garden Labyrinth, Beazer Garden, Bath

Take in some art

As well as museums, there are a number of art galleries to see on a visit to Bath.

The Holburne Museum

Once you are over the Pulteney Bridge you could visit the Holburne Museum, which is in Sydney Gardens.  This was Bath’s first public gallery and has a collection of fine art paintings, including a number by Gainsborough.

In one of the rooms, there are activity drawers for children to explore.  You can also get there if you are on the skyline route of the bus tour.

Parks and gardens in Bath

Woods and Parks in Bath

As well as its fine collection of historic buildings and museums, Bath has lots of green outside spaces.  Here you can relax and enjoy the fresh air.

You can find Victoria Park Gardens and Sydney Gardens in the centre of Bath.

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

Practicalities

Accommodation in Bath

We stayed at Wentworth Guest House, which we booked through hotels.com.  We chose this hotel, as it has a large family room, which was perfect for our needs.  It is also walking-distance to Bath city centre and has free off-road parking.

Top tip:  If you arrive before check in you can leave your car, whilst you visit the town.

Eating and drinking in Bath

Moreover, not all the things to do in Bath are historical. Bath has a great shopping centre and an abundance of cafes and restaurants.

Thank you for reading.

We hope that you enjoyed reading this post and that it has inspired you make a visit to Bath.  If you have any tips of your own or questions, please comment below.

CHIMPTRIPS - Best things to do in Bath

Disclosure: 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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