A few hours East of London is the lovely little town of Bath, full of historical significance and tourist attractions. There are places to walk and relax, learn and bask in the remnants of cultures long since gone.
Bristol airport is the closest to Bath and buses do run back and forth, so if arriving by plane, that’s your best bet.
If London is on your itinerary before or after Bath, you can take a coach to or from the city for around £12 that takes 2-3 hours.
Bath itself isn’t large, so walking is probably your best option, but if you’re looking to head out of the city a bit there are coaches and buses, especially to popular sites like Stonehenge which is only about 30 minutes away. If you want to take a day trip into Wales, Cardiff is about an hour and a half and is home to The Doctor Who Experience and more castles.
Enjoy Bath for Free
Royal Victoria Park and The Royal Crescent: Have a picnic or take a break on a sunny day in this wide-open space surrounded by trees, flowers and the Royal Crescent, a street of 30 terraced houses which includes a hotel and Georgian museum. Several movies have also featured the curving structure.
Historical Tours: For a guided tour, the Mayor’s Honorary Guides offer free walking tours of the city. They take about 2 hours and cover all of the historical and architectural highlights of the city but are only offered a few times a day (only once on Saturdays). If you’re more of a do-it-yourselfer, download a free world heritage site audio tour or one that guides you around Jane Austen’s Bath (Jane Austen lived there for a spell and Bath was the setting for several of her novels). Both can be found on Bath’s tourism site.
Victoria Art Gallery: The walls are covered with masterful works in this popular gallery. Permanents collections include Turner and Gainsborough and are sure to please, but even the special temporary exhibits only cost a few pounds.
Our Favorite Things
Theatre Royal: This lovely theater offers access to drama, dance, concerts, even West End productions which you can gain admission to for a small price. The theater offers a number of standby tickets for purchase on the day of every performance for only £5. If they’re sold out of those and you can manage without a seat, standing tickets are only £3.
Roman Baths: If it’s ancient history you want, this is where to find it. Audio tours are included in the admission price and you should plan to spend at least a couple hours touring the famous hot spring “baths” after which the town is named. You’ll learn about the people who lived there and used the baths, the currency they used, and their religious symbols. The admission is £12.75 (except in July and August when it’s £13.25).
Jane Austen Center: This writer’s museum pays homage to the woman who lived and wrote in Bath and even used it as a setting for several of her books. There are period costumes, facts about her life, and a great tea room and gift shop. Admission is £8. If you’re visiting in September you might also get to enjoy the Jane Austen Festival.
Stonehenge: This World Heritage Site is just a short drive or tour bus ride from Bath. Public transportation is an option, but it will take a lot longer to get there. Tour buses start at £15 and admission to the attraction is £7.80 if you go on your own. Of course, if you don’t want to pay the admission price you can still see the mysterious attraction, you’ll just be a bit farther away.
Grab a Bite
J.D. Wetherspoon is a decent pub with a good menu selection (it even has a few vegetarian options). It’s one of the only places to get “American Style” pancakes, plus there are traditional favorites like bangers and mash. Dishes are often around £8-10 but there are many for less.
Cafes are in great supply in Bath and are a great (cheap) place for a snack or quick meal. Soup and bread make a great (cheap) lunch and anytime is a good time for a mocha.
Money Saving Tips
Like London, there are several 2 for 1 offers available for Bath. These, however, are from First Great Western. Most of the included attractions are less popular ones, but it’s still an option if you’re going to be in town for a while and want to see more of the city. All you have to do is go to a rail station, buy the cheapest return ticket (tell them it’s for the 2 for 1 deals) and you’ll literally have your ticket to savings. More info can be found here.
For a much longer list of Bath attractions, including free ones, and info on prices and getting around, check out visitbath.co.uk. Enjoy your trip!