If you’re looking for interesting and unique places to visit in Britain with a fascinating story to tell – both modern and new – the beautiful and historic city of Bath in England is the perfect destination for you!
We visited during our two-week vacation to London, deciding to make use of its close distance to the city by train (80 minutes) to explore Bath on a two-night trip.
Craig and I had previously done a trip to Bath pre-kids 20 years ago and wanted to bring the girls to experience its history and beauty.
With a history that spans over 2,000 years, there are a lot of interesting things to do in Bath.
Why Visit Bath?
Bath, England is the only entire city in the UK that’s designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It’s a grandeur you can’t deny as you walk its beautiful streets lined with stunning Georgian Architecture made from local golden-colored Bath limestone.
This is one reason it has made the list, along with its fascinating Roman remains, thermal hot springs, and beautiful country surroundings.
The city was founded in the 1st Century AD by the Romans who used the natural hot springs as a thermal spa. (Although there is evidence to suggest Bath was a spiritual home for the Celtics.)
In the 18th century, King George l, ll and III helped develop it into an elegant spa city, famed in literature and art.
Over the past couple of years, Bath has been put back on top of people’s list of places to visit in England thanks to the Netflix hit, Bridgerton, which was filmed extensively in Bath – the perfect backdrop for the glamor and romance of Regency London. When released in Christmas 2020, it quickly became the network’s biggest show to have aired.
Bath is every bit as beautiful as it appears on the Bridgerton screen.
One thing I loved about Bath is the ease of getting around this city. It’s very walkable and most streets inside the historical part of the city are pedestrian streets, or see very little car traffic.
It’s a great way to soak up the vibe of Bath, experience its beauty, and get to know the local, independent stores and businesses.
And even though we had a wild weather day while in Bath – alternating between snow and sunny skies – we were not deterred from continuing to walk and explore this fine English city.
This is not an exhaustive list of things to do in Bath – of which there are many – but more suggestions as to how to make the most of two days in Bath that encompasses some of the highlights, written from our personal experience of them!
First, we’ll share the Bath attractions we loved, including some places to eat and drink, and our stunning Georgian accommodation with Bridgerton vibes. You’ll also find some travel logistics on getting to Bath and a sample two-day itinerary as we experienced Bath to help you plan out your days.
Where is Bath?
Bath is located in the Avon Valley in Somerset in the South West of England. It is surrounded by limestone hills as it is near the southern edge of the Cotswolds.
The city is just over 160 km / 100 miles from London and 12 miles from Bristol, the largest city in the South West of England. It is also only an hour east of Cardiff in Wales and an hour to Stonehenge!
That combined with its seven hills surrounding makes it an ideal base to explore much of south west Britain.
Where to Stay in Bath
In a city like Bath, part of the experience is staying in accommodation that reflects the unique beauty of Georgian architecture.
We stayed as guests at the Steam House, a luxury Georgian townhouse that has a chic modern style reflecting a Bridgerton flair.
Just like every scene in the Netflix series, this house pops with colors from the featured floral wallpaper to the photo booths draped with flowers, the vibrant colored couches and furnishings, and the little features like framed letters from Lady Whistledown.
There are five floors, and six bedrooms that can sleep up to 25 people. The bedrooms have king size beds that can be unzipped to single beds. There are also extra single beds and a few sets of full sized bunk beds for extra guests.
Each room has its own dry bath with comfy pink stools in front of gigantic mirrors with hairdryers AND hair straighteners. You’ll also have a bath tub near the window in the main room and one in the main bathroom.
We appreciated the laundry room to catch up on laundry after a week in London!
The townhouse is huge and perfect for large groups of families and people traveling together. It actually makes it an affordable and glamorous Bath accommodation choice.
The house was an easy 15-minute walk into Bath city center and was across the road from a small Tesco, and a couple of other small independent stores, and around the corner from Lady Danbury’s house and a cool neighborhood rugby pub!
It’s best to book Bath accommodation that lies within or near to the city. Bath is a very walkable city, and a car is not needed.
Take a Guided Walking Tour of Bath
A good option is to start your Bath trip with a guided walking tour. This will give you a fantastic overview of the city, including the history of Bath, some of the characters who’ve lived here, what modern bath is like, and an insight into what some of the best things to do in Bath are!
Then you’ll know what to return to and experience on a deeper level throughout your stay in Bath.
We booked a 90-minute guided walking tour via Get Your Guide here.
Our tour guide was friendly, knowledgeable, and made an effort to include our kids in the discussions. She had a bag of artifacts she’d pull out to help tell the story when she could. And was sure to point out any places where popular movies or TV have been filmed, like Bridgerton, or Bath Street where the new Willy Wonka was filmed only weeks before we visited. You heard it here first.
We began the tour at the Bath Abbey and Roman Baths where we learned its history beginning from the Romans through to the Medieval and Georgian times.
From there we walked up through the more modern Bath (hundreds of years old modern) where we learned more about the architectural story of Bath and its glamorous residential areas of the Circus and Royal Crescent, and the Assembly Rooms (which were closed). Had we done this tour first thing, I would have returned to see the inside of the Assembly Rooms (the glamor settings of the Bridgerton Balls!)
Bath Walking Tours
We recommend the following Bath walking tours. Click the link to book:
Experience the Ancient Roman Baths
The most well-known and popular attractions in Bath is the 2,000-year-old Roman Baths, the place of Britain’s only natural thermal waters.
It stands in the center of the city and is one of the best-preserved Roman remains in the world, and the most important north of the Alps.
Back then the beautiful city the Romans built around the baths was called Aquae Sulis.
A visit to the Roman Baths will give you a great sense of what life was like in ancient Roman times and how these healing thermal waters were a place of communal gathering and spiritual connection.
A self-guided audio tour will take you along some of the original Roman pavements to see bubbling green waters of the Great Bath and Sacred Spring, the treatment rooms and saunas, the ruins of the Temple of Sulis Minerva, and various excavated artifacts like the gilt bronzed head of the Goddess Sulis Minerva.
I really enjoyed the projected images of Roman characters which gave you a sense of what the room would have looked like. They also have an animated recreation of how the (thought to be) Gorgons head on the Temple Pediment would have looked in Roman times.
My favorite was learning about the curses, where people would write down on a piece of lead, a curse to those who had done them wrong, and then throw it into the baths, where they believed Silus Minerva would catch it and seek revenge for them!
I loved this concept of writing out your grievances and then letting them go for karma to take care of.
Plan for around two hours for this experience. We were fortunate to walk straight in, but typically, as it’s Baths’ top attraction, it can see crazy crowds. So, book ahead and get there early. (They are currently doing timed entries).
The Roman Baths are one of the best things to do in Bath England, so for first time visitors, it’s one not to miss!
NOTE: You cannot swim in the Roman Baths, the waters are now poisonous (all those curses). However, the modern Thermae Bath Spa nearby has found a way to tap into the clean part of Bath’s natural thermal springs. There is a rooftop thermal spa with great views of the city. You must be 16 years and over to visit.
The Bath Abbey
- Address: Bath BA1 1LT, United Kingdom
On the doorstep of the Roman Baths is the magnificent Bath Abbey, the last Medieval Abbey of its kind. We learned a lot of the history of this abbey on our walking tour.
The inside is meant to be filled with magnificent stone glass windows and a fan-vaulted ceiling that is said to be one of the finest in the world
You can climb the 212 stairs of the Bath Abbey for 360-degree views of Bath. We’re leaving that for our next trip to Bath.
Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein
Many visitors to Bath will dive deep into the Jane Austin story as she lived here for five years and loved it. But did you know there is another female writer in Bath who made history by creating a story that would forever change history?
Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, the first example of science fiction, wrote most of it while she briefly lived in Bath back in 1816 as a 19-year-old. You can no longer see where she lived as it was torn down once it was discovered the Roman Baths were underneath. It’s now known as The Pump Room.
A new attraction to Bath, Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein pays tribute to her by telling the story of her troubled life – including her strange marriage to Percy Shelley and friendship with Lord Bryon – and what inspired and motivated her to write the book about this much-loved creature throughout the ages.
You’ll find four floors of historical stories, unusual artifacts, special effects, and props as well as a small cinema room showing the original 11-minute silent film. See if it scares you or makes you laugh!
What I loved was discovering what Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein REALLY would have looked like – it’s not the green creature version that we all know.
There is only about a paragraph in the book that actually describes Frankenstein, so owners took that description to an animatronics expert who then got to work creating the monster. You can see that inside the museum.
Soon to be opening in the HOF, is an Escape Room that goes inside Victor Frankenstein’s attic laboratory. We had a brief look inside and if you love playing these games, you will love this one. You have to find the body parts to help create Frankenstein!
The thrills continue down into the basement. This fun addition to the museum is very much like tiptoeing through your favorite haunted house during Halloween. It’s filled with macabre creatures and things that shake, rattle, and jump out! Kids may find this a little frightening. Our girls raced out of there halfway through.
But, as soon as we left, Savannah messaged her friend to tell her the story of her visit to the House of Frankenstein and the scary basement. That’s always a sign of a memorable adventure!
The House of Frankenstein is a new Bath attraction. It’s one of those positive success stories born out of the pandemic, when ideas for people started to run free.
Admire The Royal Crescent
- Address: 1 Royal Cres, Bath BA1 2LR
Known to be one of the greatest examples of Georgian architecture in Britain, The Royal Crescent is another one of the unique things to do in Bath.
It’s a grand sweeping curve of 30 Grade 1 listed terraced houses, each with a view out over what once would have been rolling countryside.
On our walking tour we learned of father and son architects, John Wood Snr and John Wood Jnr who were responsible for designing much of the “newer” Bath.
They laid out many of the city’s present-day squares and crescents within its green valley and surrounding hills, which UNESCO notes as being “the deliberate creation of a beautiful city”.
John Wood Jnr is responsible for the 150m long Royal Crescent. Built between 1767 and 1774, these homes were designed with the intention to bring the countryside into the city.
Pay attention to the ha-ha, a ditch in front of the Crescent’s private lawn. Designed to create an invisible divide between the lower and upper lawns so as to not interrupt the view from Royal Victoria Park, and so the residents could look out and see cows in the lower pasture – that country feel – without them being able to walk onto the upper pasture – their private space for gathering.
No.1 Royal Crescent is the house of Lady Featherington in the Bridgerton series. It is also a historic museum where you can get a glimpse of how the wealthy lived in Georgian times. Most of the rooms are decorated and furnished just as it might have been during the period 1776-1796.
The large central house at number 16 is The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa.
Admire The Circus
- Address: Circus Place, Bath
Only a five-minute walk from the Royal Crescent is the equally grand Circus, which are three curved segments of Georgian townhouses facing a public circular lawn with the most divine plane trees in its center.
It was John Wood Snr who designed and built the Circus between 1754 and 1768 and has also been designated as a Grade I listed building.
To tie into Bath’s celtic history, Wood created The Circus to reflect Stonehenge, creating the same circular diameter of these mystical stones.
On our guided walking tour, we visited the backyard of one of these homes (No 4 Circus), which is owned by the local government to see an example of a Georgian garden. Archeologists dug it up and decided to replicate it.
It’s plain and simple with flower beds, box hedges and topiaries and plenty of space on a paved path for walking – as was the Georgian Way.
Coffee With a View on The Pulteney Bridge
- Address: 17 Pulteney Bridge, Bath
On the side of the city is the small Pulteney Bridge spanning the River Avon, built in 1774 to connect the city with the land of the Pulteney family which it wished to develop.
The bridge is only one of three bridges of its kind in the world that have shops built on both sides of the bridge.
There is a small coffee shop here, the Bridge Coffee Shop, which is a good place to rest for a while with a warm cuppa and a view of the River Avon and its weirs below.
Visit The Holburne Museum (Lady Danbury’s House)
- Address: Great Pulteney Street, Bath, BA2 4DB
- Website: Holburne.org
This stunning Georgian building is located within Bath’s beautiful Sydney Gardens, the only remaining eighteenth-century pleasure gardens in the country and overlook the famous Great Pulteney Street. Before becoming the museum in 1916 it was the popular Sydney Hotel.
If you’re a Bridgerton fan, this will be high on your list of things to do in Bath!
The Holburne Museum is otherwise known as Lady Danbury’s House. And like Bridgerton, the Sydney Hotel used to be a place for grand parties. It was also a place Jane Austin used to enjoy visiting.
Be sure to walk around the back to see a very modern exterior with a lovely café and gorgeous gardens.
Inside the museum are exhibitions of historical and contemporary art with pieces such as renowned 18th Century portraits and Renaissance bronze sculptures.
See Where Jane Austin Lived
Jane Austin fans may be interested in seeing where she lived in Bath from 1801 – 1806. Two of her books, Persuasion and Northanger are set in Bath, a city she grew to love for its social status.
Walk right across the road from the Holburne Museum to see her terraced home at 4 Sydney Place.
We did not get a chance to visit the Jane Austen Center, but fans will want to put this on their list of Bath things to do.
The center gives a snapshot of her life during Regency times and how it affected her writing (it’s right next door to House of Frankenstein, to help your itinerary planning).
Walk along River Avon and the canals
Bath is surrounded by beautiful waterways, including the historic Kennet and Avon canal, and the iconic River Avon. It’s the perfect place for an afternoon stroll, or even a boat tour, or punting experience.
We loved that our accommodation was just a 15-minute walk into town along the picturesque Kennet and Avon canal paths.
Avon River Tours
These Avon River tours are popular with visitors to Bath. Click the link to book
Eat a Bun at Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House and Museum
No trip to Bath, England, is complete without tasting a famous Sally Lunn Bun. We were so happy to run into Sally Lunn’s Historic eating House after a freezing, and snowy, Bath guided walking tour. There is no better way to warm up than with a Bailey’s coffee and jam and scones.
Sally Lunn’s is known to be the oldest house in Bath, dating back to the 1600s.
You’ll notice its age immediately upon entering and crouching down due to the low ceilings, narrow creaking staircase, and small rooms.
The kitchen museum shows the actual kitchen used by the legendary young Huguenot baker Sally Lunn in Georgian Bath to create the first Bath Bunn, a light, flaky treat that’s part bread, part cake and topped with savory or sweet toppings.
The decision now is will you choose sweet or savory? Craig and the girls decided for sweets with a cinnamon butter topping and chocolate butter for Savannah.
As I am gluten free, I was thrilled to see they had delicious gluten free scones with jam for me. They were probably the best I’ve ever had.
So now do you want the Sally Lunn bun or the gluten free scones?
NOTE: After leaving Bath, I heard of the rival Bath Bun, which you can find in different areas of Bath. It’s smaller than the Sally Lunn Bun and contains fruit and a sugar lump and is topped with currants and sugar crystals. Taste both and let me know in the comments, which was the clear Bun winner?
Other Places to Eat in Bath (and Drink)
Bath has a vast array of places to eat and drink to suit any kind of preference. When we visit England, we love to eat at pubs, as it’s such a homely experience with fascinating history, and good food and ales.
Our focus wasn’t on food for this trip, more just grab and go to fill the belly in between attractions. I’m sure foodies will love the Bath food scene..
Here are the places we ate at and enjoyed.
Boston Tea Party: Not only will you find healthy, delicious British food here that uses quality ingredients, it’s also a business that cares about sustainability. We enjoyed a relaxed breakfast here. Either go for the traditional Big Boss English breakfast, or the more modern Sweetcorn Hash, and our kids enjoyed pancakes with bacon. There is an outside seating area on the edge of a busy Bath square perfect for people watching.
Diana’s Cafe: Across the road from the train station, we found a great breakfast spot before catching our train to Oxford. All organic, good coffee, good English breakfast, and hot chocolates.
Bill’s Restaurant: A great spot for an intimate sit down lunch with table service. Bill’s uses seasonal ingredients with an ever changing menu. They have plenty of options for dietary requirements and kids. Craig enjoyed his burger, and I my Butternut Squash and Spinach lasagna.
The Boater: We stopped in for lunch here with our friend Laurence who lives just outside of Bath. Boater is located next to Pulteney Bridge, so expect river views and a spacious beer garden. We enjoyed the window views of the SNOWY landscape from the warm interior. You’ll find typical pub fare such as fish and chips. I was satisfied with one of my favorite English meals – chips with mayo (that is fries for the Americans).
The Curfew: Our accommodation recommended The Curfew as their favorite place to eat in Bath. Sadly, the kitchen was closed due to the chef having COVID. But, we did stop for a drink. I was thrilled they had gluten free beer. It has a cozy, sophisticated Georgian vibe with a wooden paneled bar, beamed ceilings, high windows, nooks and crannies to sit in.
Slug and Lettuce: Here you’ll find that modern floral color style with Bridgerton vibes. They have a kids’ menu with £4.99 kid’s meals that includes a drink and dessert. Be sure to eat before 8pm, as kids aren’t allowed after that time when it becomes the place for young’uns to party! There’s a great menu for adults too with a huge variety. I loved my butternut squash tagine.
The Pulteney Arms: While most pubs are kid-friendly, we were glad the girls stayed in the house when we popped in here for a drink and some take out. It was packed with local rugby players – well we assume that, as it is known as a rugby pub. Bath Rugby Club is one of the oldest in existence in the UK. It was small and cozy with a great neighborhood vibe.
Best Coffee in Bath: Colonna & Smalls
We’re always on the hunt for good coffee. When I read that Colonna & Small’s is known to have some of the best coffee in the country, I led us straight there. This bespoke coffee shop that gives love and attention to the craft, will serve you up a delicious creamy cup of coffee in any style you like.
2-Day Bath Itinerary:
Below is the itinerary schedule we followed, except I switched around the House of Frankenstein and Bath Walking Tour for you, as I think that’s a better order to do it in. And you may wish to choose different dining experiences.
Of course, change this to best suit your interests and time in Bath.
- Arrive by rail from London (noon)
- Lunch at Bills Restaurant
- Bath Guided Walking Tour (incorporated the Circus and Royal Crescent)
- Assembly Rooms
- Check into The Steam House
- Walk along canals and through city center
- Drink at The Curfew (and maybe dinner)
- Alternatively Dinner at The Slug and Lettuce
- Bridgerton on the TV and couch in the house
- Breakfast at Boston Tea Party
- Coffee at Colanna & Smalls
- The Roman Baths
- Walk through Bath
- Coffee Pulteney Bridge
- Holburne Museum and Jane Austin House
- Lunch at the Boater
- House of Frankenstein
- Sally Lunn Bunn
- Back to house (it was snowing so we wanted to stay warm and dry!)
- Drink at The Pulteney Arms (with take out dinner)
- Netflix on the couch
Getting to Bath
The best way to get to Bath is by train. It’s about 80-minutes direct from London (Paddington Station). We booked our train tickets via TrainLine on a Great Western Railway service.
We also caught a train from Bath to Oxford, which is an option if you are coming from that direction. That was just over an hour but did include one stop and change.
The Bath Spa train station is located within the city. From there we walked 15-minutes in either direction to our accommodation and related sites.
There are places across from the station where you can store your luggage if you arrive too early for check-in (which is very useful as you don’t want to drag your luggage around the cobblestone streets of Bath all day).
A car is not needed or recommended to get to Bath.
One of the things you’ll love about Bath is the noticeable absence of cars. In an effort to reduce high levels of pollution the city of Bath has created a Clean Air Zone. You will be charged a fee of £9 if driving a higher emission vehicle in the zone. See more details here.
Bravo. That means cleaner air and fewer cars within the city center making it feel almost like a pedestrian only city.
Plus, car rental in the UK is expensive, fuel prices are high, and cars tend to be smaller (to fit on smaller village roads), which can pose a problem if you are traveling in a group with a lot of luggage. For all our train tickets from London > Bath > Oxford > London we paid around $220 for the four of us. Car rental for 6 days was going to be about $1,500.
If you are on a UK road trip and are driving, there are 3 Park and Ride services in Bath, offering buses into the city. That way you avoid the tax and try to park in the city center.
National Express is also an option if you want to catch the bus.
If you insist on renting a car, check rates here with RentalCars.com If renting a car from Central London, you will have to pay a Congestion surcharge of £15 per day you are in the zone (i.e. pick up and drop off = an extra £30).
I hope this post helps you have a wonderful trip to Bath. We have fond memories of our visit, and look forward to returning for more. Leave a comment below if you have any questions, or tips of your own, about Bath, England?