It wasn’t until I was hunting around for which university I wanted to go to that I first visited Bath, I remember seeing a prospectus for the University of Bath and noticing how much they focused on STEM subjects and thinking “hey, this could be a cool one to go check out” – boy, am I so glad I did!
I’m not exaggerating when I say I fell, and continue to fall, in love with this beautiful City. Bath is a world heritage site famous for a poetic blend of historic Roman and Georgian architecture and for being the previous home to such literary greats as Jane Austen and Mary Shelley (yep, Frankenstein was written here).
You may also recognise some of its sights from TV and cinema screens, with the city acting as a backdrop for Bridgerton, The Duchess, Poldark and Les Miserables to name just a few – and as one final name drop, Maisie Williams (a.k.a. Arya from Game of Thrones) is from Bath!
Ok ok intense boasting about my city aside, I think it’s clear to see that Bath is very close to my heart and so, after studying here for 4 years, I decided to stick around and call it home. Therefore you could say I’m quite the expert on things to do around the area.
So, without further ado, here are my best things to see with a day in Bath
1. Bath Abbey
Take a look at any photo or artwork of the city and you will notice that Bath Abbey often features front and centre. Originally built in the 7th century, the Abbey features stunning stained glass windows and a puzzlework fan vaulted ceiling – make sure you look up once inside!
You can also embark on a tower tour which takes you to see the working bells, sit right behind the clock face and travel up to the roof of the building for stunning views of the city.
The surrounding courtyard is a lovely place to sit and take in the atmosphere, maybe with a coffee and a cake from one of my favourite cafe’s in Bath, Mjölk.
A little side note: I actually graduated in Bath Abbey! It was a gorgeous, but also a very warm summers day and I can confirm after sitting inside a roasting hot building in my graduation cap and gown for a few hours I was ready to not go back inside the Abbey for quite some time – here’s a pic of me on that day.
2. The Roman Baths
It’d be impossible to write a blog focused on Bath and not talk about The Roman Baths, it’s literally what the city is named after and is one of the best preserved Roman remains in the world.
The first time I visited here I remember getting real Doctor Who tardis vibes, it really doesn’t look like much from the outside but it’s so much more than meets the eye. There’s an interactive museum paired with many of the original chambers you can walk through, as well as the main baths themselves of course.
Up until the 70’s people would actually go swimming in these waters, however, this is now definitely not allowed due to the dangers associated with swimming in a mostly stagnant pool with 2,000 year old algae – ancient Roman diseases? No thanks!
However, if you’re looking at taking a dip in one of the geothermal pools in Bath, you can head to the Thermae Bath Spa. While this hasn’t made a place on this list it’s definitely worth a visit if you have a little longer in the city to relax and unwind.
3. Royal Crescent
I mean this place was famous enough already, but since Bridgerton hit the Netflix screens it’s become even more recognisable as an iconic representation of Bath architecture.
Honestly, I dont have much to say about the Royal Crescent other than it’s just a really really nice place to visit. If you’re staying the night and wish to splurge a little you can opt to stay in the Royal Crescent Hotel, a luxury I’ve sadly never experienced but a girl can dream!
A fun little story about the Crescent involves Miss Wellesley-Colley in the 1970’s. Traditionally, all the houses had to look uniform with matching white-painted doors. However, she wasn’t having any of it and painted her door bright yellow. She had to fight off two enforcement orders from the council but to this day the yellow door remains, what a legend.
4. The Circus
Right next to the Crescent you’ll find a circular group of houses called the Circus, controversial opinion but I actually prefer the Circus!
Designed by architect John Wood in the 1700s who was known to admire Druids and believed Bath to have been the centre of Druid activity, the Circus has the same diameter as popular landmark Stonehenge in Salisbury.
It’s also thought that the Circus and the Crescent represent the sun and moon respectively, and as a final fun fact… Nicholas Cage used to live here.
Wait no I lied here’s the actual final fun fact: if you stand right in the centre of the Circus and clap (or really, make any sort of loud noise) you’ll hear a perfect echo bouncing off all the buildings around you, fun right?
5. Pulteney bridge
This is one of only four bridges in the world that remains inhabited (whether that’s for living, eating, drinking you name it… essentially ‘bridges with buildings’). The other three being:
- Ponte Vecchio in Florence
- Rialto Bridge in Venice
- Krämerbrücke in Erfurt
As a hommage to it’s Florence counterpart, there’s a lovely Italian restaurant right next to Pulteney Bridge, suitably named ‘Ponte Vecchio’.
The bridge itself is filled with cute little independent shops and restaurants, it also leads on to Great Pulteney Street which is an obnoxiously large but very beautiful street featuring The Holburne Museum at the end.
6. The Weir
Right infront of Pulteney Bridge you’ll spot the Weir, which in boring terms is there to prevent flooding but in more fun terms it features in the 2012 film adaptation of Les Miserables.
You remember that scene where Inspector Javert commits suicide by jumping into the River Seine? Yeah, that was here.
There are a few places where you can get great views of both the Weir and Pulteney Bridge, all of which making for excellent photo opportunites. I’ve marked them on a map below but here’s a little more information:
- The Parade Gardens – A very pretty manicured gardens that cost a small fee of £2 for entry, the gardens are generally a nice place to visit in Bath but also offer views over to the Weir and Pulteney Bridge.
- The Canal – A free alternative, you can reach the canal path on the other side of The Parade Gardens by heading down the staircase on Pulteney Bridge which leads you out to the most spectacular views of the scenery (of the three, I think this one’s my favourite, the two previous images were both taken from here).
- North Parade Bridge – Just opposite Pulteney Bridge is another, far less famous, bridge. I know this bridge mainly for being the host of my beloved university nightclub of choice ‘Po Na Na’s’ and the home of some wonderful restaurants including Sotto Sotto and Opa. The most scenic way to reach this viewpoint is to walk along the canal as described above then pop up the spiral staircase on the other end and boom, wonderful views.
7. Alexandra Park
Hands down my all time favourite place in Bath has to be Alexandra Park. Prepare yourself for quite a steep climb up but once you reach the top you’re rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views across the city and the rolling hills beyond.
It’s around a 20 minute walk from the City Centre however I think it’s more than worth the walk. To get there you can cross over the bridge behind the train station and walk up Lyncombe Hill until you see a sign for the steps up to Alexandra Park. You can also use google for undoubtedly better instructions, I don’t mind.
8. Botanical Gardens
Next to the Royal Crescent is Royal Victoria Park, within which is contained the lovely Bath Botanical Gardens. Now it’s worth pointing out that while this is open all year round, it’s very much a ‘depending on the time of year’ based recommendation. It’s completely free to enter and in the Spring/Summer seasons is absolutely full of gorgeous blooms and sweet scents.
There are a few different sections within the garden, my personal favourite is the WI Garden which is totally made up of edible plants and flowers and even features it’s own bathtub.
Now honestly I could add so many more things to this list BUT this guide is only supposed to last you for 24 hours and I think there’s already more than enough to see. Here’s a handy google map you can use to help get a better idea of whereabouts the points I’ve mentioned are within the city and to help you plan your route:
There are also so many fantastic cafes, restaurants and museums you can go and visit too so keep your eye out for future Bath-based guides!
The Chaos Diaries
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