Top 10 Sites In The Old City Of Bath, England
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Guest post by Soham Dutta
One of the most unique cities in the South West of England, Bath has seen over 2000 years of history from its beginning as a Roman Spa to its recent Georgian revival. It is the only city in the UK with Roman-era natural hot spring baths. This living museum is a testimony to centuries of architectural change and attracts tourists from all over the UK and the World to marvel at all this beautiful town has to offer.
Bath’s city center is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, given its importance as a city of immense cultural and architectural significance. The best time to visit Bath, like the rest of the UK, are the Summer months which offer plenty of sunshine and warm weather. However, you won’t be left disappointed if you visit the town during Fall or Winter. The beautiful countryside and the rolling hills surrounding the town turn brilliant shades of red during Fall and the Bath Christmas Market is one of the best in England.
Within the confines of its historic city center as well as the neighboring regions, Bath has plenty to offer for all kinds of visitors. With easy access from the major cities around the UK via flight, train, and coach, this city deserves a place in every itinerary for the UK. Having said that, here’s my list for the top 10 things to do in Bath:
Check out the Roman Baths
The Roman Baths in the town of Bath are its prime attraction and is what lends the city its name. These 2000-year-old spa baths are fed by England’s only natural hot spring. They attract hordes of tourists around the year to witness one of Roman England’s best-preserved ruins.
The centerpiece of the Roman Bath is the open-air pool called the Great Bath. Additionally, there are several indoor rooms with pools fed by the mineral spring. The waters of these baths were claimed to have therapeutic powers. However, unlike royalty of the yore, you are not allowed to get into these waters as a visitor. What you can do, apart from seeing the baths and the ruins, is taste the mineral water from the baths at the in-house restaurant. Entrance to the Roman Baths costs 21 British Pounds during weekdays and 23 British Pounds during weekends for an adult. This price includes a multi-lingual audio guide. Check their website for more information including hours of operation and other ticket options.
Visit the Bath Abbey
The last of the Gothic Cathedrals of England, the Bath Abbey sits right in the center of the Bath’s historic old town and is adjacent to the Roman Baths. This 15th-century church offers splendid views over Bath and the surrounding countryside from the top of its Tower, accessible via a flight of 200 plus stairs. Also worth seeing are the magnificent fan vaulted ceiling and the brilliantly painted stained-glass windows.
Do check out The Great East Window inside the Abbey which tells the story of Jesus spread out over 56 scenes. Access for visitors to the church is free. However, guided tours up the tower of the cathedral cost 8 British Pounds per person. For visiting hours and to learn more about the history of the church, visit the church’s website.
See the Royal Crescent
The Royal Crescent is the magnum opus of Georgian Architecture in Bath. This Crescent-shaped building dates back to the late 18th century and consists of 30 townhouses, many of which are private residences. The No. 1 Royal Crescent is currently a museum showcasing life as it was in the Georgian Era. Its 10 rooms display period furniture, art, and artifacts and each room has its own guide. The museum also has its own Georgian themed store.
Facing the Royal Crescent is a large grassy lawn, perfect for picnics on a sunny summer day. Entrance to the No. 1 Royal Crescent cost 10 British Pounds per adult. Check out the museum website for their hours of operation and online ticket reservations.
Stroll through the Royal Victoria Park
The Royal Victoria Park in Bath is a large wooded parkland spread over 59 acres. It was inaugurated by Queen Victoria when she was only 11 years old. This large park in the city is a welcome break from the sea of tourists who throng the city center. It makes for a wonderful day out for visitors on an extended visit to Bath. The park has its own botanical gardens, tennis courts, a golf course, a skate-park, places to eat, and beautiful spots to have a picnic at. The park is free to enter and is always open.
See the city from a whole new perspective with Bath Balloons
Balloon rides over the city of Bath and England’s West Country offer a whole new perspective of the city and its surroundings. Bath Balloons offers balloon rides over Bath and the West Country both early in the morning for sunrise as well as at sunset. Flights during weekdays for a shared ride cost 125 British Pounds per person. They also offer private flights and customized themed flights. Included in the ticket is celebratory champagne post the flight, a personalized flight certificate, and an option to purchase photos taken in-flight by a professional photographer. Check out Bath Balloons website for information regarding their latest schedule for flights.
Strike a pose near the Pulteney Bridge
This must-see bridge in Bath is one of the only four in the world which have shops on them across their entire length. It is one of Bath’s most photographed sites and is a fine example of Georgian architecture. Check out the many shops lining the bridge on either side of the narrow road. Or simply choose to unwind at a cafe on the bridge with a beautiful view of the River Avon. This bridge, incidentally, was also the location where a scene from the movie Les Miserables was shot in 2012.
The best photos of the bridge itself can be taken from the Parade Gardens nearby. The bridge is open 24/7 and is free for everyone to enter.
Cruise on the River Avon on an electric launch boat
Cruising on the River Avon between Bath and Bradford upon Avon is a great alternative way of seeing the city and its surrounding countryside. Boat tours operate both as join-in cruises at scheduled hours, as well as private tours, which you can customize the way you want them to be.
Lady Lena is one such boat cruise on the River Avon worth a mention as it is the oldest river launch boat in existence. It is only available for private charters. I would recommend this for large groups wishing to get away from the crowds. Tours on the Lady Lena can be booked for any length between 2 hours to 6 hours. It can accommodate up to 10 guests. Tour prices start at 120 British Pounds for 2 guests. You can customize your boat tour with add-on tea parities and champagne on board. Check out their website for booking options and availability.
Experience the sheer beauty of the Prior Park Landscape Gardens
Located just outside the city of Bath, the Prior Park Landscape Gardens in the Prior Park Estate is a former deer park. It was transformed by poet Alexander Pope into a landscaped garden in the 1720s. It offers sweeping views of Bath from its hilltop location and features beautifully manicured lawns and swan-filled lakes. The Palladian Bridge within the park is a great spot to get those perfect photos from your trip. The park is currently managed by the National Trust of England.
You may choose to walk up to the park from the city center via a 35-minute easy uphill trail. There is also the option for availing the First Bus No. 2 which goes from the city center all the way up to the Prior Park. Entry to the park for adults costs 5 British Pounds. For more information, including the hours during which the park is open and other ticket options, visit the National Trust website.
Witness magic at the Krowd Keepers: Magic Theater
This tiny little theatre in Bath is a gem most day-trippers seem to overlook. Every Friday and Saturday, Krowd Keepers plays hosts to world-class magicians at its award-winning theater. The shows are 1.5 hours in length and start at 8 PM. Tickets cost 8 British Pounds per person. I would highly recommend it to visitors who plan to spend at least a night in Bath and are looking for a fun experience for the evening. Find the latest schedule for shows on the Krowd Keepers website.
Gaze at the stars from the Herschel Museum of Astronomy
The Herschel Museum of Astronomy in Bath is the former home of astronomer William Herschel, known his discovery of the planet Uranus in 1781. William Herschel was also an accomplished musician and this 18th-century Georgian townhouse turned museum showcases Herschel’s workshop, his music room, and the various tools he worked with. A fun activity to take part in is the solar and stargazing events held in the museum garden. This is the same garden where William Herschel discovered Uranus with a self-made telescope.
Admission to the museum costs 6.7 British Pounds while the events in the garden are priced extra. I would recommend this activity for all budding astronomers and anyone remotely interested in the stars and the planets. Do check out their website for the latest schedule of events and options for a prior reservation.
How to get to Bath?
National Express provides direct coach services from London and from the South Western coast of England to Bath. Great Western Railways provides easy train connectivity from London’s Paddington Station and from Portsmouth in the south. Bristol is just 15 minutes away by frequent trains from Bath and it further connects to destinations all across the UK and Europe.
Among the many historical sights that England has to offer, Bath stands out as one with a long history and plenty to see in a compact city centre. While most of the sights can easily be covered in a day, my recommendation would be to spend at least 2 days in the city and even to spend a whole weekend in Bath. This gives you ample time to experience the city, be part of all that is to do in the evenings, and see the beautiful countryside surrounding Bath.
About the Author
I’m Soham Dutta, a travel enthusiast from India. When I am not working my 9-to-5, I love exploring travel niches and chasing off-the-beaten-path adventures. I have traveled extensively across Europe and South-East Asia. I also create travel guides and itineraries to help others plan their perfect trip. Read my guides and find travel inspiration at https://www.countingthemiles.com.