One of my resolutions for 2018 was to see more of the UK; so often we place our focus on jetting off to sunnier climates, rather than enjoying what our own shores have to offer, and I feel like it’s taken me three decades to realise how many amazing destinations we’re fortunate to have so close. Bath is one of those places that I’ve learned to appreciate more the older I’ve grown, mainly because when I went to Uni down the road in Bristol I thought it a boring place for old people and tea parties. Now I’m probably one of those old people who likes tea parties, Bath has become one of my favourite places to visit – but there’s so much more to offer than scones and spas. Having been here for my hen party in 2017, I wanted to visit again to discover more about the beautiful destination and see another side to it (that doesn’t involve shots of sambuca and 241 cocktails.) So we booked ourselves an AirBnB and off we went to spend three days wandering the streets and drinking lots of that aforementioned tea… If you’re thinking of doing the same, then here are some best things to see and do in Bath and how to spend a weekend in the glorious city.
1. Wander along the river.
One of the best things to do on a sunny afternoon is simply follow the flow of the river and see where it takes you. Bath is actually a really small city and can easily be walked top to bottom in around thirty minutes, but taking the long leisurely route provides an amazing opportunity to take in the views and see it from a fresh perspective.
2. Stop by Pulteney Bridge.
This eighteenth century masterpiece has become one of the biggest tourist destinations, thanks to the surrounding shops and view over the horseshoe shaped weir below. It’s really quite breathtaking and the perfect place to take a photo or two.
3. Relax at the Thermae Spa.
Uniquely the water that fills the baths contains over 42 minerals and trace elements that help leave skin super smooth and soft, while they’re thought to provide overall wellbeing and health benefits too. Take in the views over the city from the rooftop pool (it does get very busy so be prepared to go either early or late if you want more space!) or relax in the various enclosed baths and steam rooms below. It’s worth a trip to Bath just for this. (I wrote a full review here after I visited in 2016.)
4. Climb Bath Abbey.
Built in the seventh century, this impressive building looks over the whole of Bath and can be seen from pretty much anywhere you go. Although the huge stain glass windows inside are impressive, it’s being able to climb up to the top (via the abbey roof and bell tower) that’s really a treat for the eyes. It’s a long way up and involves very small spaces, but once you make it up to the highest point you’ll be glad you made the effort.
5. Munch on Sally Lunn’s famous bunns.
Claimed to be the oldest house in Bath, Sally Lunn was famous in her time (the 1680’s FYI) for creating these special bunns that were a cross between a bread roll and brioche. On the same spot is now a famous tea house, where you can get your giant bunn served with all manner of sweet and savoury toppings; it’s surprisingly affordable, plus you can get them to takeaway if you want to enjoy them at home too.
6. Discover the boutique shops and restaurants.
Bath has so many fabulous little shops and independent restaurants, being one of the destinations that still celebrates and supports local businesses. Although a lot of the usual chains exist here, the pleasure is in discovering a tiny little shop and buying up their wares. Do your research before you visit too, as many of the more celebrated restaurants get booked up weeks in advance.
7. Visit the Roman Baths.
Not to be mistaken for the same thing as the Thermae Spa (it took me three visits to realise this!) the original Roman Baths can’t actually be bathed in. Essentially a museum and ancient ruins combined, you’re taken through a journey of discovery before you even get a glimpse of the famous baths below – but it’s worth the wait. This is absolutely the number one tourist destination and the queues are known to be hours long, but if you book in advance and visit in the evening you can practically walk straight in; we booked our slot to be just as the sun was setting, providing the most incredible light and seamlessly blending into the lanterns that are lit during peak season. You can even get a glass of prosecco to enjoy while chatting to an authentic Roman too!
8. Take in the architecture.
You can’t get away from famous landmarks such as the Royal Crescent, but Bath has so much more to offer than one or two hot spots. My advice is just to wander around and look up, because you’ll never know what you’ll spot. The limestone buildings are beautiful, but it’s often the detail or intricate statues and arches that make Bath such a unique place to visit.
Bath is such a beautifully historic city, with so much to do and see; it’s the perfect place to spend a weekend or even visit for the day if you’re close enough. (It’s only about 90 minutes by train from London!)
Do you have any other top things to do in Bath?