The quick guide to visiting Bath
10 things to see & do
📷 by Lauren Emil
The City of Bath is a honey-hued warren of beautiful Georgian buildings, windy cobbled streets, and in some parts a network of subterranean caverns.
Cupped between the hilly Wiltshire countryside, in the thick of Jane Austen country, Bath attracts a range of visitors from spa breakers, to romantic weekend away-ers, stag & hen do-ers (although more hen parties than stags I’d say) and fly-by day trip-ers.
Bath is one of those places which has a touch of an X-Factor quality about it that you just can’t quite put your finger on. It’s a metropolis of theatres, museums, history and more quality places to eat and drink in than you can shake a stick at.
The biggest tip for visiting Bath is as soon as you know a rough idea for dates, start booking the places where you want to go as rocking up on the day without your name on a list could leave you disappointed (there are also potential early booking benefits to snap up so do some digging). Particularly for restaurants, karaoke pods and certain bars during peak times like wedding season or Christmas.
Needless to say, any kind of trip to this city will leave you utterly charmed to pieces and fervently repeating ‘when we come back here..’ over and over again – mentally planning your next visit before you’ve even left.
Here’s a round up of food, drink and general ‘tick-off-your-list’ things to do in Bath.
Take a dip amongst the rooftops at the Thermae Spa. Private treatment rooms, a little café and indoor and outdoor pools fed with the naturally warm thermal spring waters running under the city make up this particular ‘thing to do’ in Bath. As you can guess, the spa gets ridiculously busy, so booking a slot is essential whatever month you visit. If you’ve not made reservations though it is possible to get in relatively crowd-free if you start queueing up a good half-hour before the Thermae Spa opens. Get in and get out.
The absolute best time to go to have the place mostly to yourself would be midweek in the colder off-seasons. Try and wangle it so you’re up there for sunset, all snuggly under the toasty hug of the waters while dusk plays across the sky.
/ Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House
Food, history AND a quaint little chocolate-box of a building…be still my beating heart. Drop into Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House for slice of the past in the form of this legendary treat. Here’s the birthplace of the Bath Bun – although describing this iconic baked-good as a ‘bun’ is technically misleading says the folks running the show. It’s more part bun, part cake, part bread (a.k.a one rather tasty brioche style mongrel), but calling it a ‘Bath Bun’ is an alliteration masterpiece that’s just stuck – and no reservation is needed if you’re sampling the wares throughout the day (although turning up for actual lunch /afternoon tea / dinner is advised to book in advance). The buns are an excellent vehicle for savoury or sweet toppings.
Think scrambled eggs, home-made lemon curd, chocolate butter or double bacon as topping options…*dribbles on screen*
Unless otherwise stated, you will be served half a bun. You might get a top or a bottom – the tops tend to get used for sweet buns and bottoms for the savoury, although there’s no hard and fast rule. Their website quite rightly suggests that If there’s two of you, why not ask for a top and a bottom so you get to try both.
Stick with this one as from the outside the Sleight Bar looks like steps down to a grotty public toilet on the side of a not-so-pretty pub, but as always it’s what’s on the inside that counts. This is not a posy posh bar where one drink is a tenner – Bath has plenty of those – this a bar where you’ll get a side of card tricks with your cocktails …OOOOooooOOOO!!
Yep, this bar has roaming magicians. It’s cheap for drinks, attracts a down to earth crowd and is so much fun if you’re after something a little quirky. The last time I went it was as part of a hen do where we hired one of the enclaves for the whole evening (£50) and got a private magic show which blew our collective minds.
📷 by www.hareandhoundsbath.com
The hill-top pub is perfect for a spot of breakie with a view. Not only is the Hare & Hounds a gorgeous building flanked by neat gardens, exposed wooden beams and panoramic windows, the staff are wonderfully friendly plus the food is somewhat cheap in comparison to the actual quality of dishes being served.
Having eaten a full English here on three separate occasions because of the deliciously fluffy scrambled eggs and reasonable prices (£8 for the works before drinks), the incredible floor to ceiling vistas overlooking Bath city is what entices me back each time.
If you’re hardcore and want to earn your bacon, Hare & Hounds is perched on a rather steep incline to walk up to, so I’d advise hopping in/on some kind of motor vehicle to reach it.
📷 by www.hareandhoundsbath.com
The views kinda turn eating toast into a special occasion.
📷 by www.cathedralandchurchshops.com
Ah, Bath Abbey, a limestone mammoth of imposing Gothic architecture, shooting up from the main tourist hub of Bath. If anything the Abbey is a perfect marker / meet up point for groups running around the city doing different things. It’s exceptionally photogenic and has a rich history to get stuck into. The Abbey is right next to the Roman Baths and The Pump Room. It’s also free to get into but a small donation is suggested (and is a nice thing to do). You could pay a little extra on the day and join a Tower Tour around the bell chambers.
/ Have a walk round The Royal Crescent
The star of many period dramas both on the small and the big screens, The Royal Crescent is a sweeping Georgian terrace of Grade I listed houses overlooking Royal Victoria Park. It’s an iconic Bath landmark and an absolute must-see during your visit.
A walk and a gaze is completely free, plus there’s lots of information about the buildings dotted around the place. Feeling flush? Stay at The Royal Crescent Hotel and pamper yourself in the swanky spa (like, it’s seriously chic). There’s an afternoon tea option if you want to experience some fancy without blowing a hole in your bank account. Or you know, just have a gin at the bar.
If fabrics and textiles are your thing, then the Fashion Museum will rock your socks off as a unique thing to do in Bath. Holding a world-class collection of historic and modern dress, you’ll walk through the core exhibition as well as temporary curated pieces (Lace in Fashion is on from now until January 2018. One highlight includes a navy blue lace dress worn by Léa Seydoux in the James Bond, Spectre 😍😍). The museum has a dress-up area for those wanting to see if they can pull off a Georgian bonnet and ruffles and morning sketch sessions on the first Saturday of every month.
📷 by www.bath.co.uk
The Pulteney Bridge is a site you’ll encounter pottering around the centre of the city, just a short walk from the abbey. Heralded as one of the world’s most romantic bridges, it’s part of a handful of historic connections with shops built into it. Constructed in 18th century with the purpose of joining Bath with the land on the other side of the River Avon (and making some serious cash for the bridge’s backer, William Pulteney who would charge people to cross it), the bridge now days is an insta-worthy Bath icon.
Get your snaps done in the morning as in the afternoon Pulteney Bridge is in the shadows, it’s best viewed from Parade. The bridge is also a good start / finish point for a night-time stroll with someone special too, as there are plenty of cosy places to eat and drink nearby.
📷 by www.rosesandrolltops.co.uk
OK so not technically in Bath but it’s near Bath (hint in the full name). The Pig is a small independent chain of upmarket yet quirky hotels who are big on utilising good local food and good (sometimes local) wine. And when I say wine, I mean this place has wine for daaaayyys.
The Pig near Bath has an air of eccentric old English gent about it. Furnished a bit ‘mock-Victorian’ with glittering stately chandeliers, printed wallpaper to die for and scatterings of designer furniture that have been made to look ‘worn’, but an inkling tells you somehow just one threadbare chintzy sofa costs more than the average car. It’s at a pricier end of the scale but there’s no pretence here though. Spend £6 or £6,000 you’ll still be treated like royalty.
(Pssst…you don’t have to stay here to experience The Pig, popping in for drink or bite to eat is totally fine.)
📷 by www.romanbaths.co.uk
Last but by no means least, a trip to Bath would not be complete without dropping by the Roman Baths. A complex of steaming pools framed by crumbly ruins. You’ll see the remains of the ancient temple, fascinating artefacts (although they wouldn’t look out of place if being sold from some trendy garden centre) and shells of Roman changing rooms and saunas below the modern street level. Have a sip of the mineral spring waters while here if you get a chance.
Naturally, this is one of Bath’s busiest sight’s to see so getting your timing right is pretty crucial too. It’s recommended that an early doors start is the best course of action to avoid the crowds. Going mid-week will further decrease the throngs of people.
Obviously being the glorious city that it is, Bath has 24679 million more restaurants, bars and stuff to see and do but I’d end up with claw-hands from incessant typing.
And I kinda need my hands.
Here are some other notable bits.
Watch hot air balloons take off at Royal Victoria Park / Have afternoon tea at the Pump Rooms / Dinner at Clayton’s Kitchen / Drinks at Sub 13 / Walk or cycle along the canal / Visit The Dark Horse, one of the world’s best bars / Brace the crowds at Bath Christmas Market / Catch a show at the Theatre Royal / Learn a little about Jane Austen
Finally, if driving, start or cap off your trip to Bath with a stop at Stonehenge.
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