How to Spend a Perfect Day in Bath, England
Why Visit Bath?
Bath is often described as one of most picturesque towns in England. Bunny doesn’t disagree.
Bath has been famous since the ancient Romans decided to build a bathing and temple complex in this hot springs’ town 2000 years ago. Although the Roman baths eventually fell into ruin with the collapse of the Roman Empire, visitors have been flocking to Bath for various reasons over the centuries.
The renowned spa culture, well-preserved Roman ruins, beautiful Georgian architecture, quaint cobblestone streets, interesting museums and a lovely location surrounded by rolling green hills continue to attract tourists to Bath today. It helps that Bath is an excellent, and easily walkable, day trip destination - just a 1,5-hour train ride from central London.
Things to Do in Bath
Bunny was lucky to spend two full weeks in Bath last spring. She had plenty of time to explore the city and sniff out all the interesting spots, eateries, museums and parks. She even devoted considerable time and effort to figure out the best possible afternoon tea experience in town (such a hard job eating through all those cakes!).
As a result, she came up with a suggested one-day itinerary for anyone interested in visiting Bath for a day and experiencing the best it has to offer. Check out Bunny’s recommendations below.
Roman Baths (9am)
Start your day with the Roman Baths, Bunny says. This is the most popular site in Bath and it gets very crowded during the day. It is a mere 6-minute walk from the Bath Spa Railway Station, so it is very easy to reach as your first destination in town.
It is best to buy your tickets online (and save 10%) in advance of your visit and choose the first time slot of the day. This way, you will maximise your chances of experiencing this impressive place in relative peace and quiet.
Free use of an audioguide is included in the ticket price at the Roman baths. You can wander the complex at your own pace, listening to Bill Bryson commenting on different aspects of the Roman spa life. The baths themselves are actually below the modern street level and comprise four main features: the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House and different finds from the Roman period.
You can easily spend a couple of hours here, taking in all the information and wandering the different corners of the complex. At the end of your visit, you will even have the possibility to taste the famous spa water…
As inviting as the emerald green waters look in the photos, it is not safe (or allowed!) to swim in the Roman Baths. If you’re looking for a more traditional spa experience, try your luck at the nearby Thermae Bath Spa.
Bath Abbey (11am)
Right next to the Roman Baths lies the Bath Abbey, one of the city’s landmarks. This Gothic masterpiece is well worth a quick look, even though it is currently going through some restoration work. Luckily, the Abbey’s beautiful stained-glass windows adorned with Biblical stories are still accessible to tourists.
The best thing about the Abbey is the tower tour, Bunny says. The tour (8 GBP per person) is conducted hourly every day (except on Sundays) and gives you a more intimate experience of the Abbey as well as a lovely bird’s eye view of Bath.
The tour lasts about 45 minutes and involves climbing 212 very steep and narrow steps to the bell tower. During the tour, you will have the possibility to visit the bell chamber, sit behind the clock face and stand above the abbey’s vaulted ceiling. You will also learn about the church bells and hear quaint anecdotes from the past.
The views of Bath from the rooftop are absolutely breathtaking and you will be very pleased to have gained a fascinating behind-the-scenes tour of the abbey, Bunny says.
If you’re looking for something romantic (or planning to propose in style!), consider taking the Romantic Tower Tour. You will get the whole tower just for the two of you, completed with some champers and maybe even a sunset if you time your visit right. At 100 GBP per couple, it sounds like a classy deal to Bunny.
The Green Rocket (12pm)
By now you will have worked up an appetite and Bunny knows just the place... The Green Rocket is a 3-minute walk from the Abbey, next to the Parade Gardens, and offers excellent vegetarian food. Bunny ate there a few times during her stay in Bath and was always pleased with her meal.
The Green Rocket has quite a big menu, including a number of vegan options, and some delicious juices. Bunny particularly enjoyed the veggie burgers and various bowls on offer.
Pulteney Bridge (1pm)
After lunch, it’s time to stretch your legs again. The famous Pulteney Bridge awaits less than a 5-minute walk from the Green Rocket.
Pulteney Bridge has spanned the River Avon since 1774. It is one of only four bridges left in the world that have shops across their full span on both sides (the three others can be found in Venice, Florence and Erfurt in Germany).
It is fun to hop around the bridge and check out the shops and cafes along the way. You can get the best photos from the Grand Parade on the southern side, but it is also interesting to walk around the northern side of the bridge for a different perspective, Bunny says.
If you’re interested in souvenirs, Bath Guildhall Market next to the bridge sells all sorts of trinkets. It is the oldest shopping venue in the city and retains some of its Old World charm.
Jane Austen Centre (2pm)
Next, it’s time for some Jane Austen magic. Jane Austen is probably the best-known Bath resident. She spent extended periods of her life in Bath in the early 19th century and there is a special museum in town dedicated to her life and work.
The Jane Austen Centre is a 7-minute walk from Bath Guildhall Market and located in a Georgian townhouse right next to the house where Jane used to live in Bath. It is a must-see for any Jane Austen fan.
Costumed characters, including a doorman in top hat at the entrance, greet and guide you throughout your visit in the Centre. You will learn about Jane’s life in Bath, both from the permanent exhibition and a short film, but you can also pose for photos in period clothing, try using an authentic quill and ink and meet Bunny’s heartthrob, Mr. Darcy (in wax form) from Pride and Prejudice.
There is even a cute little cafe, Regency Room, upstairs where you can indulge your sweet tooth in an appropriate Jane Austen environment.
Bunny's Book Tip
Two of Jane Austen’s novels are set in Bath, but if you haven’t read anything by her before, pick up a copy of Pride and Prejudice and fall in love with the arrogant Mr. Darcy and the witty Elizabeth. It’s one of Bunny’s favourite books.
The Circus & Royal Crescent (3pm)
After you have gotten your fill of Jane Austen, walk up Gay Street (3 mins) to arrive at The Circus. This is another architectural gem in Bath: a circular formation of cute Georgian townhouses, designed by John Wood the Elder of the father-son duo behind many of Bath’s architectural wonders.
From The Circus, it is another short walk (5 mins) to Royal Crescent. This is another formation of Georgian-style houses, this time in crescent shape, designed by John Wood the Younger. House No. 1 now contains a museum while No. 16 houses the Royal Crescent Hotel. Many of the other houses remain residential.
High Tea at Royal Crescent Hotel (3:30pm)
If you managed to avoid the afternoon tea offers at the Jane Austen Centre, Royal Crescent Hotel is the place in Bath for your high tea. Make a reservation in advance and be prepared to be wowed, Bunny says.
Afternoon Tea at Royal Crescent Hotel is quite an exquisite affair. If the weather allows, you will be able to enjoy your tea in the beautifully manicured gardens, with bird song as your delightful soundtrack.
The Bunnies chose the classic sweet afternoon tea and the vegetarian version of the savoury afternoon tea, sharing the finger sandwiches, scones and pastries between them. It was a sumptuous offering that they devoured with great pleasure, whilst enjoying the environment and the impeccable service. (According to the waiter, the Bunnies were the first customers ever to finish every morsel on their plates!)
You will not be craving any dinner afterwards, that’s for sure, Bunny says. At most, you may want to drop in on one of the traditional pubs to complete your Bath experience with an English pint on your way back to the railway station. Luckily for your cake-filled belly, it is an easy 15-minute downhill stroll, with plenty of pubs along the way…
Bath is one of the cutest, if not the cutest, historic town in England. It is full of great architecture, interesting sights, great character, nice places to eat, English charm, sumptuous afternoon tea offers and more.
It also happens to be a perfect day trip destination because the bus and train stations are so conveniently located and you can easily walk everywhere in town.
One day will give you enough time to check out the main sights in town but Bunny also highly recommends that you stay longer, if you can. Bunny certainly loved her two weeks in town!