Bath has long been one of England’s great draws for visitors arriving from overseas. This World Heritage city offers all of the impressive architecture, fascinating history and British culture any visitor could crave. Add to this Bath’s sheer beauty and it’s no wonder this ancient city garners so much attention. Follow our guide to getting the most out of your stay by seeking out our favourite places to visit in Bath.
The Roman Baths
The extraordinarily well-preserved Roman Baths lie below street level in the heart of the city, separated into four main areas: The Sacred Spring, Roman Temple, Roman Bath House and a museum that showcases artefacts while telling the story behind the complex. Walk around the open air Great Bath – a steaming pool surrounded by stone pillars – and try some of the spring water from the Spa Water Foundation, which is said to have curative properties.
Completed in 1774, the Grade I listed Pulteney Bridge was built to connect the city with the land on the other side of the River Avon. Taking inspiration from Venetian architect Andrea Palladio, designer Robert Adam built the bridge in the Palladian style with shops lining each side, making it only one of four bridges of its kind in the world. Now, the bridge is home to specialist shops from antiques dealers to florists.
With its richness of Georgian architecture, Bath is classified a World Heritage Site. And one of the most famous of these architectural sites is The Circus, which takes its name from the word oval or circle in Latin; as this Latin name suggests, these Grade I listed townhouses are build around a circular space, one townhouse of which was home to the artist Thomas Gainsborough. The townhouses of Royal Crescent are also built in this style, with No. 1 now acting as a museum. Perhaps the most impressive site for its architecture, though, is Bath Abbey. Open to visitors throughout each day, the abbey is just footsteps away from the Roman Baths.
Museums and Galleries
Jane Austen lived in Bath for five years, setting two of her novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, in the city. The Jane Austen Centre tells the story of her time here, with costumed characters to bring the displays to life. In the Grade II listed Victoria Art Gallery, meanwhile, visitors can wander through both permanent and temporary exhibitions of paintings, sculptures, friezes and decorative arts. The gallery even offers behind the scenes tours on selected days, giving visitors the chance to see the artworks in the gallery’s storeroom.
Situated alongside the Roman Baths, The Pump Room is resoundingly popular as one of the best places to visit in Bath. The restaurant’s afternoon tea comes with a selection of both savoury and sweet teatime treats, with the option of adding on Champagne. The Jane Austen Centre also houses its own restaurant – the period-style Regency Tea Room – serving up both afternoon and cream teas, with staff dressed in costume in-keeping with the Jane Austen theme. Try the ‘Tea with Mr Darcy’, or ‘Ladies’ Afternoon Tea’.
Public Gardens and Parks
The 57-acre Royal Victoria Park lies close to the centre of Bath, making it an easy diversion. Opened in 1830 by Queen Victoria, the park has plenty of history to uncover through monuments and its botanical gardens, as well as offering a bowling green, open-air concerts and a boating pond. Alexandra Park – opened in 1902 and named in honour of Queen Alexandra – is situated above the city at the top of Beechen Cliffs, making it an exceptional spot for views across the entire city.
Cover image of Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths © iStock / narvikk.