Bath is the largest city in North East Somerset, well known for its Georgian architecture and its historic roots as a Roman-built thermal spa. Damon and I travelled here towards the end of summer for a 5 day trip and there was an abundance of things to do and places to eat. We enjoyed it so much that we’ve compiled a list of recommendations. So here it is. 9 things to do in Bath, Somerset.
1. The Roman Baths
You couldn’t visit Bath without a trip to The Roman Baths, situated in the city centre. The site, built on a natural hot spring, is steeped in history, from the Celts, to the Romans to today. The highlight of your visit will likely be the 83 square metre, now open air, Great Bath in the centre of the complex.
Free audioguides, available in over 10 languages, allow you to view the site at your own pace. We recommend leaving around 2 hours to fully experience the Roman Baths. If you want an atmospheric experience, fiery torches surrounding the Great Bath are lit in the late afternoon in winter (around 4pm) and in the early evening in summer (around 6pm).
There are a range of ticket prices and deals available. Generally, weekends are more expensive and certain times of the year are cheaper others. Summer is more expensive than spring/autumn and winter is the cheapest time of year to go. Students, seniors (65+), children and families have access to discounted ticket rates.
2. The Holburne Museum
Located at the north-east end of Great Pulteney Street, just north-east of the city centre, is the The Holburne Museum. This museum is home to a collection of fine and decorative art, built around the original collection by Thomas Holburne (1793-1874).
Whilst the shop, cafe and Sydney Pleasure Gardens are all free to enter, the museum does have an admission fee. The museum is free, however, from 3-5pm every Wednesday and from 5-9pm on the last Friday of every month. Free entry is also available for under-18’s, staff and students from Bath Spa University and the University of Bath, as well as adults accompanying a disabled visitor.
3. The Fashion Museum
Opened as The Museum of Costume in 1963, The Fashion Museum, located in The Assembly Rooms just east of The Circus, houses a contemporary and historic collection with nearly 100,000 pieces. An included audioguide, available in 12 languages, walks you through the history of fashion from Shakespearian times to today.
4. No. 1 Royal Crescent
Situated on the eastern corner of one of the most famous streets in Bath, No. 1 Royal Crescent is a historic museum designed internally to mirror that of a late 18th century Georgian townhouse. If you want to experience what it might have been like to live or work in one of these grand houses over 200 years ago, this is the place to visit.
Adult tickets cost just over £10. Discounted rates similar to those on offer by The Roman Spa and The Fashion Museum are available.
5. Thermae Bath Spa
This one is a must and is especially suitable if you’re travelling as a couple. The Thermae Bath Spa, opened in 2006, is a modern geothermal spa complex located on Hot Bath Street in the city centre. This contemporary build is the modern day equivalent of the Roman baths situated nearby.
Guests have full access to an open-air rooftop swimming pool, the Minerva Bath (a large indoor pool complete with whirlpool and lazy river), a wellness suite (with 5 distinct rooms including a Georgian steam room) and a restaurant. The geothermal spa water is naturally warm (33.5°C/92°F) and rich in minerals like calcium, sulphate and chloride.
A range of spa packages are available. The basic package (£36 weekdays, £40 weekends) includes 2 hour use of the facilities. Probably the highlight of our trip to Bath.
6. City Sightseeing Open Top Bus Tour
This open top bus tour around Bath is a great idea for a few reasons. You can enjoy the sights from the comfort of a seat, you will learn a lot about the city’s history and you can use it as a form of transportation.
Plus, even though Bath itself is quite a small city, you still get good value for money as there are two routes to choose from (city and skyline). Both are included with your ticket, which is valid for 24 hours. The city route (red) is a 50 minute loop around Bath with 17 stops and the skyline route (yellow) is a 45 minute loop in the nearby countryside with 21 stops and a great view over the city.
Tours are available daily with exceptions on the 25th/26th of December and the 1st of January.
Prices vary throughout the year but cost around £15.50 per adult, £9.50 per child, £13 per student/senior and £44 per family. Infants travel free. A free booklet with discount vouchers valid around Bath is also handed to each passenger, worth bearing in mind.
7. Walk In Prior Park Landscape Garden
This 18th century landscape garden offers breathtaking views over Bath. Prior Park, set in a sweeping valley besides Prior Park College, is owned by the National Trust. One of the park’s most prominent features is the Palladian Bridge, built in 1755.
Our advice would be to start near the top and work your way down. You can access the top end of the park from the 17th stop on the City Sightseeing Skyline tour. There is an entrance fee if you’re a non-National Trust member. Access to the property costs £7.50 per adult (£8.40 Gift Aid), £3.75 per child (£4.20 Gift Aid), £18.75 for a family (£21 Gift Aid) and £11.25 for a one adult family (£12.60 Gift Aid).
Once you’ve worked your way down to the fish ponds, you can make your way out of the park, stroll down Church Lane, turn left onto Church Street and meet the bus again at the 19th stop.
Dogs are welcome but they must be kept on leads. There is a small cafe called The Tea Shed offering refreshments (hot/soft drinks and snacks) near the fish pond. Parking is extremely limited (blue badge parking only) so visitors are advised to walk to the park from the city centre or use local transportation.
Uber is another good way to travel to Prior Park. If you sign up to Uber using our code: andrewy2730ue, you can get a free ride.
8. Boat Trip Up The River Avon
There are a range of boat tours on the River Avon (the river running through Bath city centre). We opted for the Pulteney Princess boat trip between Pulteney Bridge (near the city centre) and Bathampton (2 miles north). You can board the boat, which seats 45 passengers, at either location and the trip takes around 30 minutes each way.
The highlight of this trip was the commentary which was both informative and entertaining. Note, there was only commentary on the Bathampton to Pulteney Bridge (Bath) portion of the trip.
You can buy tickets on board. A round trip costs £9 per adult (£5 one way), £5 per child age 5-16 (£3 one way) and is free for under 5s (maximum 2 per full fare paying adult). There is a discount available for local residents, seniors and students.
9. Walk Around Bath and Take In The History
The best bit about this activity is that it’s free. Bath has a rich history dating back thousands of years. Make sure you walk around and enjoy everything from The Roman-built Baths to the 18th century Georgian architecture.
Naturally, there are some highlights which you might not want to miss. So here is our short list to tick off:
Royal Crescent - 30 Georgian terraced houses with sweeping views beyond the city.
The Circus - A historic circular street (c. 1768) with large townhouses.
Royal Victoria Park - Opened in 1830 by Princess (later Queen) Victoria.
Parade Gardens - A grade II listed park located on the banks of the River Avon.
There you have it, our list of 9 things to do in Bath, Somerset. If you liked this article, check out our food guide to Bath as well. If you have any recommendations, let us know in the comments down below.