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Top things to do on a Bath city break

Our guide to a city break in Bath

Down in the southwest, hugged by rolling Cotswold hills, you’ll find one of England’s most elegant cities. A spa destination since the Roman era, the city of Bath is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, full of remarkable museums, awe-inspiring architecture, luxury spas and a whole lot of literary heritage. So whether you’re a pampering addict or a Bridgerton fanatic, there are endless things to see and do on a city break to Bath.

With restrictions easing across England, please continue to follow government guidance and remember to plan ahead and check attraction websites before travelling. Take a look at our top tips on how to escape the everyday responsibly to see how you can make the most out of your day trips and breaks. 

1

Unwind in Britain’s only natural thermal waters

Thermae Bath Spa

Woman in the swimming pool, Thermae Bath Spa, Bath, Somerset, England.

According to legend, back in 863 BC, Prince Bladud, after being banished from his kingdom due to his leprosy, was cured of the disease after bathing in the muddy waters of Bath’s hot springs. Since then, Bath’s naturally warm waters have been enjoyed by the Romans, Celts and Saxons, so why not add yourself to that list by booking a session at Bath’s Thermae Spa? Submerge yourself in the steaming waters of the spa’s rooftop pool surrounded by views over the city, or laze in the Minerva Bath, named after the Roman Goddess of Health and Wisdom. Containing over 42 different minerals, the thermal waters – which reach a balmy 33.5 degrees Celsius – are so good for your skin, we wouldn’t blame you for wanting to stay in the pool all day. Cue the wrinkly fingers!

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If you have a few more pennies to spend, tap into the spa village at The Gainsborough Hotel. Located beneath a glass atrium, this spa also has two natural thermal pools, alongside saunas, a steam room and a relaxation area. Treat yourself to award-winning signature therapies that originate from the spa villages of Malaysia or book an exclusive stay in the country’s only guest rooms to offer in-bathroom access to Bath’s thermal waters. For guilt-free indulgence, book a sensory spa treatment at the Lush Spa. Feel the tension in your muscles melt away in a reviving deep-tissue massage or enjoy a holistic sound bath session – all using handmade, ethical products.

Find more spa days and breaks in Bath
2

Dine at Bath’s only Michelin-starred restaurant

Olive Tree Restaurant

Pouring jus over a dish at The Olive Tree Restaurant

A trip to somewhere new isn’t complete without a plate of good food, especially when the ingredients are sourced nearby. Olive Tree is famous for just that – fresh seasonal dishes, with produce sourced straight from the bountiful hills and farms surrounding Bath. Headed up by award-winning chef Chris Cleghorn, The Olive Tree proudly claims Bath’s only Michelin Star and serves up a choice of two intriguing menus. Tuck into the likes of raw Orkney scallops with pink grapefruit before moving onto fallow deer with tomato ketchup and black winter truffle. The restaurant caters to veggies, vegans and even kiddies, meaning everyone can get a slice of the action.

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If your budget doesn’t stretch that far, bask in Bohemian vibes at Same Same But Different. Loved by locals, this laidback café whips up hearty brunch dishes during the day and tasty pan-European tapas – like crispy sole goujons and moreish Spanish chicken and chorizo stews – in the evening. If you’re short on time, then pack in as many of Bath’s flavours as possible on a Savouring Bath tour. Stopping at teahouses, cheesemongers, bakeries and other gastronomic outlets, you’ll get to munch on a meal’s worth of samples that celebrate the city’s epicurean heritage.

Find more places to eat in Bath
3

Retrace Roman steps at Britain’s only hot springs

The Roman Baths

Roman Baths, Bath, England

Bath’s most famous attraction (and the city’s namesake) has been drawing in visitors for over 2,000 years. One of the greatest religious spas of the ancient world, the Roman Baths are built around Britain’s only hot springs and still flow with natural hot water. Retrace the steps of so many before you by exploring the ruins and the baths themselves, walking on original Roman pavements and even taking a sip of the thermal waters from the fountain in the adjoining Pump Room Restaurant – which the Romans believed had healing powers. The restaurant is also a great spot for a light lunch or afternoon tea, accompanied by live music by the Pump Room Trio or resident pianist.  

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Founded in the 7th century and built from golden Bath Stone, Bath Abbey is a fabulous example of Gothic architecture. Soak up the tranquillity of this Grade I-listed parish church whilst marvelling at the stained-glass windows, or explore the Abbey’s tower on a behind-the-scenes tour – you’ll get to see inside the bell-ringing chamber and sit behind the tower’s clock face. Continue your journey through time at the Bath Assembly Rooms – fashionable public rooms that have seen many a luxurious evening ball. Only accessible with a ticket to The Fashion Museum, the four rooms each have a specific purpose and provide a fascinating insight into where high society would go to mingle.

Find more historical places to visit in Bath
4

Hunt for treasures at Bath’s vintage market

Green Park Station, Bath

Vintage telephones at the Vintage & Antiques Market in Bath

Bath’s intriguing maze of streets, alleyways and passages lined with independent boutiques and stunning architecture are a haven for avid shoppers. Though if you have your eye on something a bit more unique, be sure to peruse the stalls at the vibrant Vintage & Antiques Market. Held on the last Sunday of every month, over 60 merchants gather inside the city’s historic Green Park Station to present their vintage wares. Rummage through everything from Edwardian jewellery to military memorabilia to antique furniture. The fun of it is never knowing quite what you’re going to find.

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Going to the spa and forgot your cozzie? Pick up a replacement from Southgate Shopping Centre, just across from Bath’s bus and train stations. Housing a range of big-name brands, this marvellous stone complex has plenty of bits and pieces to whet your appetite. The bookish should pencil in some time to visit Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights, a book shop famous for its reading spas. Retreat into your own cosy ‘bibliotherapy’ room and enjoy a chat about all things books over tea and cake. When you’re all shopped out, refuel with a legendary Bath bun from Sally Lunn’s Eating House – the bakery is located in one of the oldest buildings in the city.

Find more places to shop in Bath
5

Have a sleepover in Bath’s iconic crescent

Royal Crescent

View from a hot air balloon of the Royal Crescent, Bath, England.

For a real taste of Regency-era Bath, book a room at the five-star Royal Crescent Hotel. The epitome of Georgian grandeur, this swanky hotel is found on the iconic (yep, you guessed it) Royal Crescent. Each of the bedrooms is garnished with traditional character and charm and comes with fabulous views of the Crescent or the hotel’s glorious gardens. Take advantage of the opulent setting and soak up the sensational onsite spa, indulge in afternoon tea in the gardens and sink into a sofa beside the roaring fire in the drawing-room. And when it comes to personal touches, you’ll love the way they handwrite your name on your bedroom door.

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Court your inner artist with a stay at Abbey Hotel, an imaginative boutique hotel in the centre of Bath. Vibrant rooms that evoke the glamour of the building’s extraordinary past, inspiring wall art that honours old and new Bathonian talent and a lively ArtBar (with its curated art collection and bespoke cocktail menu) are sure to get your creativity flowing. Or opt for something completely different and spend the night somewhere out of the ordinary. Bath Narrowboats are the largest Boatel (like what they did there?) in the UK, offering boat hire of all sizes and price on the River Avon – all kitted out with all the home comforts you need for a smashing stay.

Find more places to stay in Bath
6

Explore Bath from a different perspective

River Avon

Three people paddle boarding on the River Avon

While Bath’s cobbled streets and hidden corners are typically explored on foot, it’s also possible to see the city from the water, on a stand-up paddleboarding tour with Original Wild. Paddling along the River Avon, past the Abbey and right to the weir in front of Pulteney Bridge, you’ll see a side of Bath that very few visitors experience, cram in your exercise for the day and, if you’re a complete beginner, go home with a brand-new skill under your belt.

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Leave the water behind and take to the skies to see Bath City from above on a magical hot air balloon ride. As you rise above the rooftops, you’ll drift over iconic sights like the Circus and out across the lush Somerset landscape beyond the city boundaries. Or escape to the hills surrounding Bath to take on the Skyline Walk. This circular walk along six miles of waymarked footpaths is full of hidden valleys, tranquil woodlands and unparalleled views over Bath and the Blackdown Hills in the distance. You’ll definitely deserve your dinner after this one.

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7

Live out your Bridgerton dreams at The Fashion Museum

Fashion Museum Bath

Regency-style dresses in The Fashion Museum, Bath

Did you know that Bath has more museums per square mile than any other English city? Well, with that newfound fact lodged in your mind, be sure to make the most of Bath’s cultural offering with a trip to The Fashion Museum. Located underneath the Assembly Rooms, this beautiful museum is bursting with almost 100,000 examples of fashion, dress and accessories from throughout history, from extravagant 19th-century evening gowns to Shakespearean-era gloves and fashions by today’s leading designers. You can even live out your period drama dreams by dressing up in a range of Regency or Victorian-style clothes and costumes. Here, the kids aren’t the only ones that get to have all the fun.

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Just down the road, you’ll find the Herschel Museum of Astronomy where, in 1781, distinguished astronomer William Herschel, using a telescope of his own design, discovered the planet Uranus. Learn more about the Herschel family’s achievements by exploring the restored house, filled with telescopes and quirky inventions. Or scratch the surface of America’s complex history at the American Museum & Gardens. After exploring its collection of cultural art and objects, take a wander through the old Italianate-style pleasure gardens and parkland – the views here are hard to beat.

Discover more of Bath’s museums
8

Uncover the stories behind literary classics

Jane Austen Centre

Visitors and staff in period costume outside The Jane Austen Centre, a museum chronicling the life and times of the famous writer, Jane Austen, Bath, Somerset, England.

Jane Austen, who lived in Bath between 1801 and 1806, made such an impression on the city that the novelist has been immortalised through annual festivals and even her own museum. At the Jane Austen Centre, you’ll get to immerse yourself in the life of the Pride & Prejudice author, learn about her connection to Bath from guides dressed in Regency costume and unleash your inner Elizabeth Bennett or Mr Darcy with an ultimate Jane Austen-inspired photoshoot, accessorized with Regency-style bonnets, hats and parasols. Attached to the centre is the Regency Tea Room, a popular haunt for British teatime classics. If you visit in September, your trip may align with the annual Jane Austen Festival, where locals and visitors alike can partake in a grand costumed promenade, attend an evening ball and listen to talks on Jane Austen’s masterpieces. 

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Walk in the footsteps of Daphne or the Duke on a Bridgerton-themed tour of Bath. While Netflix’ hit show (based on a series of books of the same name) revolves around London’s high society, much of Bridgerton was actually filmed in Bath. Join Brit Movie Tours’ two-hour walking tour of the city’s filming locations to discover how Bath was transformed into 1813 London and hear all the gossip from what went on behind the scenes. If tales of England’s gentry isn’t your cup of tea, delve into a somewhat darker story at the brand-new Shelley’s House of Frankenstein (opening 30th June). Filled with interactive elements and unusual artefacts, you’ll discover Mary Shelley’s tragic past and the real story behind the monster from the world’s first sci-fi novel.

Find out more about Bath’s literary heritage
9

Try something different on your Bath city break

Noya's Kitchen

Bowl of pho at Noya's Kitchen in Bath

Bath also has a range of hands-on experiences you can really get stuck into. At Noya’s Kitchen, for example, you can get a taste of Vietnam with a full-blown cookery lesson. In the relaxed setting of the private dining area, Noya will teach you how to use specialist Asian ingredients and fresh, exotic herbs and spices to create a characterful four-course Vietnamese menu. After putting your chef’s skills to the test, you can sit back and chow down on your creations, Vietnamese beer in hand. Can’t get enough of the aromatic dishes? The restaurant has lunch sittings, Pho & Curry Nights and weekly five-course supper clubs.

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For souvenir collectors, a Bath Aqua Glass workshop is a must. Perfect the methods of this ancient art by creating your own glass bauble; you’ll get to gather molten glass, apply your colour, shape the glass with specialist tools and finish off with a glass loop. Or turn your hand to stained glass, where you’ll learn everything from colour palettes to soldering. Or release your inner bartender on a gin cocktail masterclass at the Bath Gin Company. Guided by an expert mixologist, you’ll be allowed behind the bar to help create three flavourful cocktails using Bath Distillery Gin.

Find more hands-on experiences in Bath
19 May 2021(last updated)

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  • 1

    Thermae Bath Spa

  • 2

    Olive Tree Restaurant

  • 3

    The Roman Baths

  • 4

    Green Park Station, Bath

  • 5

    Royal Crescent

  • 6

    River Avon

  • 7

    Fashion Museum Bath

  • 8

    Jane Austen Centre

  • 9

    Noya's Kitchen

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