Europe > Britain and Ireland > United Kingdom > England > West Country > Somerset (England) > Bath
- For other places with the same name, see Bath (disambiguation).
Bath is a historic Roman and Georgian spa city. It is famous for its hot springs, Roman period baths, Medieval heritage and stately Georgian architecture. Bath has been double UNESCO-listed as a World Heritage Site, both in its own right (in 1987) and as one of 11 "Great Spa Towns of Europe" (in 2021). Set in the rolling Somerset countryside on the southern edge of the Cotswolds, Bath (with a population around 90,000) offers a diverse range of attractions for its 4.4 million visitors each year: restaurants, theatres, cinemas, pubs and nightclubs, along with interesting museums, and a wide range of guided tours. It is also a university city.
Bath is among the oldest of England’s principal tourist destinations and has been welcoming visitors for centuries. The three hot springs within the city were sacred to the Celtic goddess Sulis, whom the Romans later identified with the goddess Minerva. Bath first achieved its status as a sacred spa site with the growth of the Roman settlement Aquae Sulis around the thermal springs. The Roman period saw a vast complex of baths constructed - the remains of these were re-discovered in the 18th century and helped fuel Bath's modern revival as a luxury resort.
Bath was a prosperous city in the Medieval period, the site of an Abbey and Cathedral (under the Bishop of Bath and Wells). The Reformation under Henry VIII created uncertainty for Bath's, although during the reign of Elizabeth I, the town was revived as a spa resort. It was during the Georgian period, however, that Bath came again into its own. Exceedingly fashionable, Bath was laid out in stately avenues, streets and crescents, encrusted with Neo-Classical public buildings.
Bath suffered a significant amount of damage during air raids in World War II. The prestigious crescents and terraces were relatively unscathed and restored where necessary, but some of the more minor Georgian and Victorian streets were demolished both after the war and during a later ill-conceived phase of development known now as the "Sack of Bath". Consequently some modern buildings pop up in unexpected places, and the locals are generally very opposed to any major building developments that are put forward. Those works are substantially complete, and a new shopping centre near the railway station has opened.
Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey is traditional reading before a visit to Bath. Austen spent some time there, and her novel is a satire of the social life of the city at the time. Many of the sites she mentioned are still able to be visited in the city today.
These smaller airports provide a much more sedate experience than the London ones. Check in queues are shorter, there are fewer people about, and it's much clearer where you have to go and what you have to do. Less stress and fewer delays than the London ones.
Bristol Airport (BRS IATA) is 35 km (22 mi) from Bath and boasts scheduled flights from many major European cities, including Amsterdam Schiphol, Barcelona El Prat, Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Paris and Prague (but not London). By public transportation there are three main options for reaching Bath.
- Catch the Flyer bus service from the airport to Bristol Temple Meads station, then the train from there to Bath; expect the journey to take about one hour, and longer between 4PM and 6PM when Bristol's roads are congested.
- Air Decker direct bus from the airport to Bath railway station. Every thirty minutes from early until late. Journey time is about 55 minutes. Single ticket £14, return £20.
- Taxi (about £40) and get to Bath in about 40 minutes.
The alternative is to use one of the London airports and travel on to Bath by train, car or bus. The most convenient are:
- Heathrow Airport is about two hours drive straight down the M4 (westbound) motorway. Alternatively the RailAir express bus service (running every 20 minutes) connects with the main London to Bath rail service at Reading rail station; expect the total journey to take slightly over two hours. Or take the train the entire way, hop on the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station and then take a train from there to Bath Spa railway station, the journey takes a little under two hours. Alternatively the National Express coach company run direct buses from Heathrow to Bath bus station.
- Gatwick Airport is about three hours drive away via the M23 (northbound), M25 (clockwise) and M4 (westbound) motorways. Alternatively a half-hourly rail service from Gatwick connects with the main London to Bath rail service at Reading rail station; expect the total journey to take slightly over two hours.
- Stansted Airport is about three hours drive away via the M11 (southbound), M25 (anti-clockwise) and M4 (westbound) motorways. By train you will need to catch a Stanstead Express train to London Liverpool Street station, the tube to London Paddington station, then follow the directions below; expect the total journey to take around 3½ hours.
- Luton Airport is about a 3-hour train ride. The Thameslink rail connects the airport to central London where you can catch a train to Bath Spa.
Wikivoyage has a guide to Rail travel in the United Kingdom.
1 Bath Spa is a Victorian station on the Great Western Railway designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The station is in the city centre. It has regular inter-city and regional train services from Bristol, London, Reading, Salisbury, Southampton, Weymouth and Swindon. From London, you should travel from London Paddington station, trains run approx every 30 minutes, journey time about 1 hour 30 minutes. Train times (from any location) can be found on the National Rail Planner or by calling 0845-748-4950 from anywhere in the UK. There is a taxi rank outside the station, and the bus station is adjacent. The station is staffed from 6AM-8:30PM however the ticket office will only sell advance tickets between 8AM and 6PM (ignore the times on the national rail website they are wrong) There are no luggage lockers in the station; Bath Backpacker's Hostel in Pierrepont Street, which is a few hundred feet from the station, will look after left luggage for the day for £3.00.
The Bristol-Bath Railway Path is part of the National Cycle Network (R4) and provides a cycle corridor between the city centres of Bath and Bristol. Travel time is about 90 minutes. The path is relatively flat, and has only 2 road crossings, making it very safe. In the morning and evening it is a busy commute route, so it may be advisable to avoid these peak hours.
Get off the M4 at Junction 18, follow signs for about 10 miles (16 km). Use the Park-and-Ride facilities!
It is very easy to get lost in Bath, as a lot of it is one-way and there's a traffic system that prevents you driving from one side of the city to the other. You have to go out on an unofficial ring road and re-enter the city. Furthermore, the high population density, the lack of a city bypass and the low capacity of the old narrow streets means that congestion is often horrendous. In particular, on Saturdays the car parks will all be full, and the roads will be blocked by people queueing to get into these car parks, a problem made worse since the opening of the new Southgate car park. At peak times, it can be quicker to walk from the edge of Bath to town, rather than driving and finding somewhere to park. The short answer - don't drive in Bath.
Parking in central Bath is better than it used to be as there's a big new underground multi story under the Southgate Shopping Centre. Most of the smaller long stay car parks will be full by 8:30AM during the working week so you have to get in early. Major central multi-storey car parks are based underneath the Southgate Shopping Centre, Walcot Street, Manvers Street (near the train stations) and Charlotte Street (off Queens Square). Average 2010 rates are around £3 an hour - or the more prohibitive pay and display in central bath at £1.30p per 30 minutes in the most convenient street locations. Many parking bays are "residents parking only" so check before leaving your car. Traffic wardens are very efficient so don't even think of parking on a yellow line or going over your time limit. On Sundays and between 7PM and 8AM other days most parking is free, however check machines for exact details.
The best way to drive into town is to use the park and ride facilities when travelling into Bath for the day. You can park for free and then take a bus for £2.20 per adult return (round-trip, discounts exist) right into the city. The only downside to this is that the last bus leaves at 8:30PM, so you can't use this service if you're staying in Bath late.
3 Bath's bus station is close to the railway station and buses to most destinations outside the city leave and arrive at this location. It is served by:
Most locations in Bath are easily walkable from the city centre and stations. Bath's roads can be quite congested and driving is not particularly to be recommended for local journeys, but is probably the best way of seeing the surrounding region.
Some of Bath's shopping streets feel like pedestrian-only areas - but aren't. Have a quick look round before you follow everyone else out into the road and, if you're driving, expect pedestrians to walk out in front of you.
By public bus
Typically for British public transport, public buses are at best adequate. A popular 'Park and Ride' bus system operates from a ring of car parks around the outskirts of the city (Newbridge, Lansdown, Claverton Down and Odd Down). They will take you to the city centre, or to a number of the cities schools. Bath's buses are often quite expensive, compared with other cities. If you are going to be taking more than 1 return journey or 1 single journey in a day, it is recommended to ask the driver for a day pass instead which gives unlimited travel on that bus company's buses in Bath. This costs around £3.70 per day. There are several bus companies operating, such as WessexConnect and FareSaver, but the most useful for tourists will be buses operated by First.
By tourist bus
Tour buses complete an enjoyable circuit of main attractions - these can be picked up en route or at the main bay at 'Bog Island' (for the Skyline tour) or next to the fountain near Bath Abbey (for the city centre tour). When you see something you like just hop off at the next stop, have a look round, and hop back on the next one that comes along. Attractions en route include the historic Royal Crescent, The Circus - and some tour bus companies include a route up the winding Ralph Allen Drive past the impressive Prior Park Gardens. Tickets cost £11.50 for the 40-minute Skyline tour of the 45-minute City Centre, hop-on, hop-off service.
There are taxi ranks outside the train station and the Abbey, and Kingsmead square. Taxi firms are well advertised locally. The drivers know the city well and will entertain you with (often cranky) stories.
- 1 Roman Baths, Stall St, BA1 1LZ, ☏ . Nov-Feb: 9:30AM-5:30PM; Mar-Jun Sep-Oct: 9AM-6PM, Jul-Aug: 9AM-10PM. Built by the Romans around 2000 years ago, and rediscovered by the Victorians, the Roman Baths are the must-see tourist attraction in Bath. The baths are fuelled by England's only mineral hot springs, outputting over a million litres of hot water each day. You can wander the rooms that made up the baths, including the large open air 'Great Bath', see Roman, medieval, and Georgian architecture, and learn about the history of Bath Spa. The Baths are superbly maintained and the exhibits are filled with eye-popping archaeology. Make sure you get a taste of the "bath" water from the pump in the Georgian Pump Room restaurant. Don't forget to pick up your audio guide at the entrance. Reserve a minimum of 3 hours for a complete visit. As the most popular attraction in Bath there are often waiting lines at the entrance because only a limited number of visitors are inside at any time, so make sure to come early if possible. £16.50/adult (£17.50 mid June through August), £14.50/seniors, £10.25/child.
Come out of the Roman Baths and you will see:
- 2 Bath Abbey, 12 Kingston Buildings, BA1 1LT, ☏ , email@example.com. M 9:30AM-6PM; Tu-Sa 9AM-6PM; Su 1-2:30PM 4:30PM-5:30PM. The last Gothic church in England, started in 1499 and built on the ruins of the former Norman cathedral, this impressively large church (of small cathedral proportions) is next to the Roman Baths. A place of Australian pilgrimage: Arthur Philip, first Governor of New South Wales and founder of the city of Sydney has his burial and memorial within the Abbey. A wonderful view of Bath can be had with a trip up the Abbey tower (tours hourly, £6/adult, £3/child). Free, with accepted donations.
Come out of the main Abbey door, turn right and follow the pavement round the corner past the statue of "The Lady With The Pitcher". Pass some bookshops and a shop selling Bath Aqua Glass and cross the road to the entrance to Parade Gardens. Then follow the road to the left to see:
- 3 Pulteney Bridge & Pulteney Weir. Designed by Robert Adam and completed in 1773. It is one of only four bridges in the world with shops across the full span on both sides and overlooks the impressive Pulteney Weir. Tourist trips by boat leave from the Weir during summer months.
Cross Pulteney Bridge to see:
- 4 Great Pulteney Street. Quintessential Georgian street on the other side of Pulteney Bridge. Film location for 2005's Vanity Fair (the Reese Witherspoon version). Made for casual strolling past the Laura Place fountain, down to the Holborne Museum, around Sydney Gardens, then back up Great Pulteney Street. Below Great Pulteney Street is the Recreation Ground, home of the Bath rugby union club.
Go back in the direction of the Parade Gardens to catch a Hop On Hop Off Tourist bus to take you to:
- 5 Royal Crescent, 1 Royal Crescent, BA1 2LS. A magnificent semi-elliptical crescent of houses designed by John Wood and completed in 1774. This was the first of Bath's eight crescents, and its shape remains unique. You can visit one of the houses which has been redecorated to resemble what it would have been like at the end of the 18th century. But you don't need to go in to admire the exterior and its view over Bath. There is also a large semi-circular lawn out the front owned by the Royal Crescent residents. It is separated from Victoria Park by a ha-ha (a recessed landscape design element that creates a vertical barrier while preserving an uninterrupted view of the landscape beyond).
- Bath's other crescents. Georgian architecture at its best can be seen at Bath's handful of crescent shaped, residential streets, offering superb views over the city. The Royal Crescent is the most famous, but Camden Crescent offers the best views, Cavendish Crescent is the most petite. Lansdown Crescent and Widcombe Crescent are also fine examples.
- 6 Sion Hill. Wealthy neighbourhood in the upper part of the city that makes for a pleasant stroll. Attractive Bath stone buildings.
- 7 Sally Lunn's Refreshment House & Museum, 4 North Parade Passage, BA1 1NX, ☏ . City centre shrine to the original Bath Bun — claims to be the oldest house in Bath, and it very nearly is — the simple but enjoyable museum in cellars is free if guests take refreshment. See below under Eat.
- 8 Walcot Street. Bath's 'Camden Town' bohemia with "bargain" antiques and weekend markets.
- 9 American Museum in Britain. closed Dec 15 - Mar 16. Adult £6.50.
- 10 Beckford's Tower & Museum, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Mar-Oct: Sa Su 10:30AM-5PM. A small tower with an interesting history and museum. £4/adult, £3/concessions, £1.50/child, £9/family.
- 11 Georgian garden, ☏ . 9AM–5PM daily. Dating back to 1761, this small garden has been through multiple transformations over the years. It has now been restored to a Georgian style (c. 1770–1836), with gravel, a stone path, and simple topiaries, and is open to the public. If you're near the Royal Crescent, the garden is worth a visit to step back into the Georgian era for a few minutes. Free.
- Other attractions include Solsbury Hill, the Kennet and Avon Canal, River Avon, and St. Catherine's Court (unsure if you can visit, but you can stay there for £6500/weekend!).
Bath's parks are ideal for a summer picnic although local by-laws prevent the drinking of alcohol outdoors. Topless bathing used to be frowned upon but is becoming the norm as the regenerating city becomes more cosmopolitan. The Council maintains all parks to a high standard.
- 12 [dead link] Parade Gardens. In the heart of town overlooking the river, this is where the locals come to laze away the afternoon. Small entrance charge for visitors but free to residents. This park normally has a topical floral display and has a bandstand for music in the summer months.
- 13 [dead link] Victoria Park. 24/7. Bath's largest park in front of the Royal Crescent. Ideal for ball games or feeding the ducks. The 14 Botanical Gardens in the north-western corner of the park make for a pleasant wander. Free.
- 15 [dead link] Sydney Gardens. A free park that Jane Austen used to visit.
- Alexandra Park. A free park to the south of the city centre with fantastic views overlooking Bath.
Museums and galleries
- 16 No.1 Royal Crescent, 1 Royal Crescent, BA1 2LS, ☏ . mid-Feb until mid-Dec: M noon-5:30PM; Tu-Su 10:30AM-5:30PM. Visitors can see this grand Georgian town house redecorated and furnished to show how it might have appeared in the late 18th century. £8.50/adults, £3.50/child, £6.50/seniors, £6.50/students.
- Building of Bath Museum is in the Countess of Huntingdon's Chapel on the Paragon. One of the most fascinating museums in Bath. It gives an excellent history of the development of the Georgian city, illustrated with cut-away wooden models which give a better insight than any book into the construction and structure of Georgian houses and their furnishings. It also houses a unique collection of 18th century builder's tools. No queues, off the tourist track - but only 7 minutes walk from the Roman Baths and set in a wonderful Georgian area of the city.
- 17 Museum of Costume, Bath Assembly Rooms, Bennett Street, BA1 2QH (Adjacent to the Royal Crescent and Circus), ☏ , email@example.com. A world-class collection of contemporary and historical dress.
- 18 Holburne Museum of Arts, Great Pulteney Street. Displays the treasures collected by Sir William Holburne: superb English and continental silver, porcelain, maiolica, glass and Renaissance bronzes. The Picture Gallery contains works by Turner, Guardi, Stubbs and others plus portraits of Bath society by Thomas Gainsborough.
- 19 Jane Austen Centre, 40 Gay St, ☏ . The, Queens Square. This museum is very popular and a fascinating testament to Jane Austen's lasting appeal. As a museum it is somewhat disappointing as it is in a house where Jane never lived and contains no items with any connection to her (unless you count items from recent films).
- 20 Herschel Museum of Astronomy, 19 New King St, BA1 2BL, ☏ . An excellent museum if you are interested in the history of science and astronomy music and culture at the time when Bath was at the height of fashion; it is also a perfectly restored Georgian townhouse of the type lived in by people of 'the middling sort' and the Georgian garden is delightful. William Herschel lived here with his sister Caroline, and it was here that he discovered the planet Uranus using what was then the world's most powerful telescope that he had made himself in his workshop. The museum has a gallery for temporary exhibitions. Adult £5, concessions available.
- 21 The Museum of East Asian Art. Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. A fascinating selection of ceramics, jades, bronzes, and other art from China, Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia. £5 (£3 while the first floor gallery is closed).
- 22 The Museum of Bath at Work, Julian Road, BA1 2RH, ☏ . 10:30AM-5PM (Nov-Mar weekends only). Housed in an eighteenth-century Real Tennis Court, the museum traces the development of Bath a retailing and manufacturing centre. If you want to see a side of Bath that's not in the guidebooks, like Victorian factories, this museum is well worth a visit. £6.
- 23 Claverton Pumping Station, Ferry Lane, Claverton BA2 7BH, ☏ . This was built in 1813: the River Avon powers a 24 ft / 7 m breastshot water wheel, which lifts water 48 ft / 15 m into the canal. It fell into disuse in 1952 but was restored in the 1970s.
- 24 Saltford Brass Mill, The Shallows, Saltford BS31 3EX, ☏ . May-Oct 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month, 10:00-16:00. Zinc was mined locally from prehistoric times and copper was plentiful in the West Country: put them together and you get brass. The mill was built in 1720, with an annealing furnace to create the alloy and water-powered mills to work it.
There are many guided tours, walking tours, and audio tours of the city available. Options range for historical tours to ghost tours to pub crawls; you will find leaflets for these in most hotels, bars, and restaurants.
- Mayor of Bath Honorary Guide tour. Every day of the week. A fantastic for a free, pleasant two-hour walk around the famous Georgian city of Bath with the Mayor of Bath's Corps of Honorary Guides. This has been going since the 1930s, and visits many famous historic and architectural places within the city, delivered by enthusiastic Bathonians.
- 1 Upper Avon boat tour, Spring Gardens Road. Boat tour to 1 Bathampton and back, turning at the 17th-century Bathampton Weir and Mill. The entire tour takes about 1 hour. A single journey is £5, and return trip can be taken any time. Return ticket is £10.
Bath also makes a great base for day trips to the surrounding countryside. There are also tours that go to Stonehenge and places like Avebury, the village of Lacock, Castlecombe, and other surrounding villages throughout the Cotswolds. Go to Tourist Information next to the Abbey for brochures or to book a tour.
- 2 Theatre Royal. The historic Theatre Royal in the Sawclose, near the city centre, opened in 1805. It offers a rich programme of drama and other entertainment throughout the year, ranging from traditional pantomime at Christmas to Ayckbourn, folk singers, opera and Shakespeare. Programmes in the past few years have included a summer season mounted by the distinguished director Peter Hall. In addition to the main house, the Theatre Royal has two smaller performance spaces — the Ustinov Studio and a theatre for children, the Egg — and three restaurants, The Vaults, the 1805 Rooms and the Egg Café.
- 3 Bath Rugby Club, Recreation Ground, Spring Gardens, BA2 4DS, firstname.lastname@example.org. Professional Rugby Union club playing in the top league of English Rugby, the Gallagher Premiership. Bath also participate annually in a secondary competition, the Anglo-Welsh Cup, and regularly compete in the Heineken Cup against other top clubs from across Europe. Atmospheric city-centre ground on the banks of the River Avon right by Pultney Bridge. Games roughly every other weekend from October–May. Ticket prices for games run between £15-35 depending on seating/standing location. If you're visiting on a weekend, watching a match is very much recommended.
- The Odeon. is the biggest cinema for the biggest and newest films. It opened in 2006.
- The Little Theatre. shows arthouse and foreign films alongside the newest releases in an intimate environment.
- Tivoli Cinema. cafe bar and cinema.
- Bath Film festival. runs from late October to mid November.
Not many of these. Bath hasn't really got a suitable venue. Bands sometimes play at the Pavilion, or the Rugby Ground but it's a poor show from the city that once held the Bath Festival of Blues and Progressive Music. Some major classical events are held in Victoria Park but they're far from frequent.
Jazz music every Thursday and other live music occasionally at St James' Wine Vaults in the north of town near the Royal Crescent. The Bell Inn on Walcot Street has live music on Monday and Wednesday evenings and Sunday lunchtime, always free and busy.
The city is pretty good for local and up-and-coming bands, though, as well as street musicians.
- Moles. A live music club.
- Bath Golf Club. Excellent, free draining hilltop course. Not overly long but a good challenge for the mid-handicapper. Always in great condition. Located at Sham Castle, near Bath University.
- Tracey Park Golf Club. Appealing 27-hole parkland course between Bath and Wick (Bristol). The Crown course is superior to the Cromwell course, which has some newish holes. Nice clubhouse.
- Lansdown Golf Club. Narrow fairways are a feature of this hilltop course next to Bath racecourse: can get windy.
- Entry Hill. Municipal, nine-hole learners course. Not bad now that the trees have grown up. Superb views over Bath.
Visitors to Bath wanting to enjoy a summer afternoon watching cricket have some lovely grounds that welcome spectators for Saturday and Sunday fixtures:
- Bath Cricket Club, North Parade Bridge Road, BA2 4EX, ☏ , email@example.com. Nestled in the 'bowl' beside the River Avon, the Bath Cricket Club has an imperious setting. The church on South Parade offers a picture perfect background. Located on North Parade, five minutes walk from the train station. Bath Cricket Club are one of the stronger regional league sides.
- 4 Lansdown Cricket Club. Former early 1970s home of Viv Richards, Lansdown Cricket Club is an equally attractive ground at the upper end of Bath. Located at Combe Park, next to the Royal United Hospital (near Weston village). Bus number 14 runs to Weston from Bath town centre).
Football generally plays 2nd fiddle to Rugby Union in Bath, although there are one non-league club in the city:
- Bath City Football Club. City play in the fine surroundings of Twerton Park, a traditional 'English-style' football ground and well worth a visit. They have just been promoted to the Conference, the 5th tier of English football. Average gate is around 800 and rising. Typical ticket prices are around £10 per adult and £4 per child.
Bath is a small city surrounded by lovely countryside. The National Trust's Bath Skyline Walk provides excellent views of the city — or you can wander along the canal for 40 minutes to the George Inn at Bathampton for good food in a delightful setting.
Bath is a small city surrounded by lovely countryside for a horse ride.
- 5 Wellow Trekking Centre, Little Horse Croft Farm, Ford Rd, Wellow (15-minute drive out of town), ☏ . This is one of the best experiences you can have as the countryside and horses are wonderful, they have 50 more than horses and can cater for all ages. Prices are extremely reasonable.
Bath is the only place in Britain where you can bathe in hot natural waters. You can't leap into the Roman Baths but you can pamper yourself at the Thermae Bath Spa across the road. The "Thermae Bath Spa" is a modern spa in the heart of Bath one block over from the original Roman Baths. It is a four-storey day spa, that uses the "healing waters" to sooth and relax. The waters are filtered but remain warm in the indoor and outdoor roof pool. A great way to spend an afternoon or evening relaxing in the warm waters looking out over the city architecture. They offer everything from massages to a "kraken stove" steam bath but just spending a couple of hours soaking in the indoor pool, steam baths and roof deck outdoor pool is great fun.
Read a detective novel set in Bath
Two authors have written a series of detective novels set in the city: Christopher Lee's started with The Killing of Sally Keemer and Peter Lovesey's first was The Last Detective. You can buy them in 1 Waterstone's bookshop at the top of Milsom Street.
Bath is home to the University of Bath, a very well respected institution that focuses on the sciences, engineering and social sciences. Bath University has world-class sports facilities used by British olympic athletes. It is located at the top of Bathwick hill, about one mile east of the city centre.
Bath acquired its second university, called Bath Spa University, in 2005. The main campus is in a rural setting at Newton Park to the west of the city.
As with most tourism-heavy cities in the United Kingdom, Bath has a selection of language schools, and colleges for international students. Some of these institutions include International House [dead link] and Bath Academy.
The Ministry of Defence was a major local employer until 2012. The city has a large technology, finance, and property sector. Outside that Bathonians are generally employed in lower paid tourist, retail and dining industries. The universities and hospital are also large employers. Future Publishing, a large magazine and media company, has many offices in Bath.
The 2010 Southgate Shopping Centre is constructed in a mock Georgian style and features a selection of mid-to-upper range clothing chains plus some pretty good places to eat. It is opposite the railway and bus station but offers little of interest for the tourist as it provides predominantly mainstream retailers available in many high streets in Britain. This was a historic area up until the 1960s when it was demolished due to persistent flooding problems.
Boutique shopping can be found in the North part of the centre, notable for its art and antique showrooms. Head up Milsom Street to George Street and beyond. Bath claims to have one of the highest percentages of independent shops in any British high-street. You will enjoy wandering around but you're unlikely to buy much. There are no "must have" souveniers to buy in Bath.
Walcot Street to the north-east of the centre has been designated the "artisan quarter" by the Council and has a number of independent stores.
- 2 Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights, 14-15 John St, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M–Sa 9:30AM–5:30PM, Su 11AM–5PM. Slightly quirky indie bookshop with a particularly interesting selection. Don't forget to go upstairs to see the sections on the first floor.
For its size, Bath has an excellent choice of eateries for any budget and taste. Mainstream restaurant chains are present as well as many independents. Within the city centre there are Italian, French, Thai, Nepali, Indian, Spanish, Turkish, Japanese and fusion restaurants. There are also specialist fish, steak, and gourmet restaurants. Most pubs sell food at lunchtime and in the evening. The list below is far from exhaustive:
- Sally Lunn's Refreshment House & Museum, 4 North Parade Passage, ☏ . Taste the original Sally Lunn Bun, not to be confused with the more famous Bath Bun, a small round bun containing sugar and currants. Good lunch time fare - and very popular so you may have to queue at peak times.
- King William Pub & Dining Rooms, London Rd, ☏ . Small gastropub, the mussels are highly recommended.
- 1 Hudson Bar & Grill, 14 London St,BA1 5BU, ☏ . Great steak and seafood in stylish surroundings.
- 2 Boston Tea Party, 19 Kingsmead Square, BA1 2AE, ☏ . Bustling little cafe with great sandwiches and what is possibly the best coffee in Bath. It can be difficult to get somewhere to sit.
- 3 The Bath Priory Hotel, Weston Road, BA1 2XT, ☏ , email@example.com. Top notch food, along with top-tier prices.
- The Moon & Sixpence, 6a Broad Street (off Milsom Street), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Open from 11AM daily, lunch noon-2:15PM, dinner 5:30PM–10:30PM. Attractive restaurant .
- 4 Yak Yeti Yak, 12 Pierrepont St, ☏ . Open for lunch noon-2PM Sa Su, dinner Tu-Su 5PM–10PM. A unique family-run Nepalese restaurant in an ornately decked out basement. Reasonably priced and delicious. In keeping with the atmosphere the service can be rather laid back (or some have said, inconsistent). They offer an extensive vegetarian/vegan selection. Book in advance for a Friday or Saturday dinner.
- 5 Firehouse Rotisserie, 2 John St, Kingsmead, BA1 2JL, ☏ . Open M-Sa noon-2:30PM lunch and 6PM-11PM dinner. Creative Californian restaurant, again off Milsom Street. Service can be somewhat aloof and pretentious - nice but expensive nosh.
- 6 Raphael, Upper Borough Walls, Kingsmead, BA1 1RN, ☏ . Open M-Sa 11AM-11PM, Su noon-10:30PM. Reinvented as a classy nouveau French restaurant. Situated near Theatre Royal.
- Browns, Orange Grove (over the road from Bath Abbey), ☏ . One of a (usually but not always!) reliable chain of middle-market restaurants with branches in many of the most attractive towns in southern England including Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford, and Windsor.
- Strada, Sawclose (next to the Theatre Royal), ☏ . Once the home of Richard 'Beau' Nash, who was one of the main influences on Bath's evolution in the first half of the eighteenth century from a dirty, bawdy, uncivil and decidedly un-smart provincial town into the hugely fashionable and (relatively) polite spa resort reminiscent of Georgian Bath. Italian food.
- The Elder on South Parade, opened in 2021, is British cooking especially game. It's open W-Su 12:30-2:30PM, 6-9:30PM.
- 7 The Green Rocket, 1 Pierrepont St, ☏ . M Tu 9AM–4:30PM, W–Sa 9AM–4:30PM and 6PM–9:30PM, Su 10AM–4:30PM. Large vegan cafe serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. £12-14.
Bath is well served in this department. Generally all of them are good and one is exceptional:
- The Eastern Eye, ☏ . 8A Quiet Street, City centre restaurant set in a huge Georgian room. Excellent food and service. Highly recommended. Book ahead unless you're going very early evening. Service charge (tip) is included in the bill.
- Sukothai, 90a Walcot St, ☏ . Authentic Thai food in pleasant surroundings and at a reasonable price.
- Mai Thai, 6 Pierrepont St, ☏ . Excellent quality Thai Food and good service. Conveniently situated close to the station. It often busy so booking is essential at weekends and recommended at other times.
- One Fish, Two Fish (North Parade). Cosy cellar restaurant- class act.
- Fish n' Chips (Upper Boro Walls). If you want somewhere cheap to eat this is it; great fish n' chips for not much money (less than £2). There's no seating inside, just a counter, so you can stand there or take it with you. It's just west of Union Street, on the right side of Upper Boro Walls.
Snacks & treats
- 8 Fudge Kitchen, 110 Abbey Churchyard, BA1 1LY, ☏ . Some of the best fudge you'll eat, and a discount for school children. Watch the different fudge flavours being made and then try a piece before you buy. You certainly won't regret going in there. The shop also caters for special occasions like weddings and offers a range of gifts.
- 9 Ben's Cookies, 21 Union Passage, BA1 1RD, ☏ . Popular with young locals, not exactly cheap but definitely worth it for a wide selection of melt-in-the-mouth cookies.
- 10 David Thayer's Ice Cream Shop, 8 York St, BA1 1NG (Overlooking the south side of the Abbey - look out for the giant ice cream cone.), ☏ . Famous in the local area for its selection of traditional ice cream, with some more unusual flavours too. Can get extremely busy on a hot summer's day so expect to queue. For real ice cream lovers, the six-scoop 'Belly Buster' is highly recommended.
Head to Kingsmead Square for burgers, kebabs, etc. The following are a cut above the post-pub takeaways and are highly recommended:
- Schwartz Brothers Burgers. Absolutely the best in town. Excellent veggie burgers. Highly recommended. Take away only- eat on the benches in Kingsmead Square. They also have an outlet in Walcot Street.
- 11 Sea Foods Fish and Chip Shop, 38 Kingsmead St, BA1 2AA. M-Sa 11:30AM-11PM, Su noon-8PM. Has been serving traditional fish and chips for over 50 years. Eat in or take-away- seats 60.
- Mr. D's. A small McDonald's-like burger stand, whose burgers and shakes are quite like how they used to taste in the 1960s.
- 12 La Baguette, 3 Stall St, BA1 1QL (This tiny shop can often be identified by the queue trailing out of the door.). A popular sandwich shop on Stall Street, a minute walk from the Abbey. Sandwiches are handmade using crunchy baguettes usually for cheaper than a convenience store sandwich.
- The Whole Bagel, Upper Borough Walls (just off the High Street). An excellent place to get a quick lunchtime snack. They have a large variety of bagels which are 'freshly baked everyday' filled with fresh local ingredients.
- Mission Burrito, 4 New St. 10AM-10PM. Based on a Californian franchise, it offers much more flavour than the usual foreign attempts at Mexican. £4-£6.
- 13 Taka Taka, 34 Broad St, BA1 5LP, ☏ . 11:00-03:00 daily. Greek fast food serving great souvlaki with chips and mixed vegetables, along with a variety of other Greek specialties in large portions. No indoor seating available. £4.50.
- Bath Buns are buttery buns with large bits of sugar and raisins on top and can be bought at any bakers.
- Sally Lunn's Buns are bigger, with no sugar and raisins, and can be enjoyed at Sally Lunn's Refreshment House with sweet or savoury fillings
- Bath Oliver Biscuits are available worldwide from supermarkets and delis.
Bath, has a huge array of pubs and bars to choose from, ranging from the very traditional pubs serving real ale to the typical trendy bars:
The most notable pubs:
- [www.theporter.co.uk The Porter], 15A George St, ☏ . Very popular pub with fantastic vegetarian food. Open later than many of the pubs in Bath, with DJs at the weekends.
- 1 The Salamander, 3 John St, BA1 2JL, ☏ . A tithe house of Bath Ales.
- 2 The Raven, 7 Queen St, BA1 1HE (a short crawl from The Salamander), ☏ . Friendly pub with a good selection of real ales. Famous for its hearty pies 'n' mash and for having a good selection of less traditional board games (ask at the upstairs bar).
- 3 The Old Green Tree, 12 Green St, BA1 2JZ, ☏ . Very small, characterful old pub. Squeeze through the door, elbow your way to the bar and order some real ale or cider.
- 4 The Bell, 103 Walcot St, BA1 5BW, ☏ . The heartbeat of Bath's bohemian quarter. With a superb array of real ale, regular live music and a great atmosphere. A large pub garden at the rear.
- 5 The Star Inn, 23 Vineyards, BA1 5NA (on the Paragon), ☏ . noon-9:30. A tithe house for Abbey Ales. The same now as it was 100 years ago. The small rooms, wooden benches, and old coin games offer a genuine atmosphere. This very much a locals pub, but a very friendly one... just try not to let yourself get hustled at the games!
- 6 The Rising Sun Inn, 3-4, Grove St, Bathwick, BA2 6PJ, ☏ . Just across the river from the centre, this pub's only stand-out feature is the traditional skittles alley at the back of the pub.
Other notable pubs are:
- 7 Pig and Fiddle, 2 Saracen St, BA1 5BR (off Broad Street), ☏ . A large popular pub, with a less traditional approach and clientèle (mainly students) than those listed above. Space to enjoy your pint outdoors, which is well heated on cold nights.
- 8 The Crystal Palace, 10-11 Abbey Green, BA1 1NW, ☏ . Notable for having an outdoor area, which is rare in Bath, and good food too.
- Gascoyne Place, 1 Saw Close. Serves food and has a wide selection of quality European and UK Beers. Has live Jazz on Sunday Evenings.
- 9 Saracen's Head, 42 Broad St, BA1 5LP, ☏ . Bath's oldest pub can be found in Broad Street. Legend/misconception has it that Charles Dickens stayed here. A large commercial pub, with little atmosphere compared with Baths other pubs.
- 10 The Boater, 9 Argyle St, Bathwick, BA2 4BQ, ☏ . A large beer garden by the river, which is popular with university students as soon as the sun comes out. Nice in the summer evenings.
- 11 The Ram, 20 Claverton St, BA2 4LD, ☏ . Offers a handful of local ales and ciders. Just to the south of the centre of Bath on Widcombe highstreet, a short walk from the train station.
Notable bars are:
- 12 Lambrettas (Parade Park), 8-10 North Parade, BA2 4AL, ☏ . Scooter-themed pub along North Parade (near train station and Parade Gardens).
- RSVP, George St (opposite Revolution). Overpriced Bar with huge, intimidating steroid junkie bouncers. Popular with large parties before they head off to a local nightclub.
- 13 Revolution, The Old Post Office, 1 George St. Two-floor vodka bar with live DJ sets on weekends; very busy, magnet for fashion victims and dolly birds.
- Grappa Bar. A bit of class on the road towards Lansdown. Intimate, metro-style bar - quite romantic.
- 14 The Trinity, James St W, BA1 2DA, ☏ . Friendly, 'real' pub situated in the city centre. Welcoming and inexpensive.
Country pubs near Bath
There are many great pubs in the countryside around Bath. The following have been selected based on a real sense of history and/or a great place to sit outside in the summer months:
- 15 The Cross Guns Inn, 159-160, Avoncliff, Bradford-on-Avon, BA15 2HB (from Avoncliff Station cross the River Avon), ☏ . Good food and grassy terraces leading down to the river - and overlooked by an aqueduct. Superb in the summer. You can get a train as there is a small station just two minutes walk away, get a taxi or take a very scenic walk along the River Avon (about 8 miles from Bath city centre).
- 16 The Wheatsheaf, Combe Hay Ln, Combe Hay, BA2 7EG (at Combe Hay), ☏ . The Wheatsheaf was built in 1576. It became a pub in the 18th century and with its wooden beams and roaring log fire, has retained all its original charm. Good food, large gardens, take a taxi.
- 17 Tuckers Grave Inn, Faulkland, Radstock BA3 5XF, ☏ . This is where Bathonians head to get authentic glow-in-the-dark cider. It's strong stuff served in what feels like someone's living room. Take a taxi.
- 18 The George, High St, Norton St Philip, BA2 7LH, ☏ . With 700 years of hospitality, the George is positively oozing with history, with flagstone floors and antique furniture you'll be transported back in time. If you go in winter you'll be glad of the open fire to keep you warm.
- 19 The Packhorse, Old School Hill, South Stoke BA2 7DU (off B3110), ☏ . M-Sa 11:30AM-11PM, Su 11:30AM-8PM. Gorgeous little country pub dating to 17th century, had a community makeover in 2018. Great food.
- 20 Locksbrook Inn, 103 Locksbrook Rd, Bath BA1 3EN, ☏ . Daily 8:30AM-11PM. Charming old pub by the river locks, gets great reviews for its Sunday lunch. Dog-friendly.
Considering the size of this small city there are a reasonable number of nightclubs to be found, in no small part helped by the city's substantial student population. Most club nights cater to mainstream tastes, while serious clubbers tend to travel further afield to the larger cities of Bristol and London. Posters and fliers advertising more specialist nights can be found in locations such as the walls inside the town's independent fast food outlets. A unique aspect (for better or for worse) of Bath's nightclubs is that many of them are located in the cellars of old Georgian buildings and can weave through the ground like mazes.
- 21 The Second Bridge, 10 Manvers St, BA1 1JQ (Bottom of town near the police station), ☏ . One of the city's most popular destinations after pre-drinking around town. Popular with students.
- 22 OPA, 14 North Parade (near Parade Gardens next to Crossover Bridge), ☏ . A classy bar perfect for chilled drinks, it does have a small dance floor. Opa has Bath's only Spanish Night on a Wednesday and a Gay night on Thursdays.
- Po Na Na, 8/9 North Parade, BA2 4AL, ☏ . Wednesday night hosts Discord, the city's most famous rock night. Thursday is also very popular. Very young crowd.
- Club XL. To the north of the town centre on Walcot Street. Popular with students.
- The Weir Lounge (Below Pultney Bridge, by the Weir.).
- 23 Moles, 14 George St, BA1 2EN, ☏ . Famous club on George St, hosting gigs and club nights. Friendly crowd and reasonably priced drinks. Locals generally head for a drink in The Porter (next door) before heading to Moles later in the evening. Tuesday's 'The Big Cheese' (known as 'cheesy Tuesdays') is Bath's longest running club night.
You can drink the hot Bath mineral water in the Pump Rooms in the Abbey Churchyard. It costs about 50p and is served from a fountain in the restaurant area. The experience is unforgettable: it has a unique taste due to the minerals that the Romans believed had health benefits for the drinker. This is an unmissable experience!
Accommodation in and around Bath ranges from budget hostels and smart, comfortable self-catering homes, through elegant bed and breakfast and guest houses, hospitable farms and inns, to top-of-the-range hotels.
- Bath Backpackers, 13 Pierrepont St, BA1 1LA, ☏ , email@example.com. Multi-bed dorm rooms available. £12-16/dorm bed.
- St Christopher’s Bath Hostel (Bath Hostel), 9 Green Street, BA1 2JY, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. A well known youth hostel located in the centre of the city. Part of the St Christopher's hostel chain. £9.50 with breakfast included.
- 1 Bath YMCA, International House, Broad St Pl, ☏ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. Ordinary, well-maintained hostel. WiFI is iffy and doesn't reach the rooms. Breakfast is available for an extra charge. If travelling by yourself, try to book the "leader's room" (intended for the chaperone when a school group stays at the hostel); it gives you the privacy of a private room at roughly the price of a dorm bed. £29/single, £45-47/twin, £49-65/double, £16-25/dorm bed.
- YHA Bath, Bathwick Hill, BA2 6JZ, ☏ . Decent youth hostel accommodation from £12.95 a night in an Italianate mansion on the outskirts of the city. Frequent bus service serves between the Youth Hostel and city centre.
- Travelodges. There are 2 in Bath- One relatively near the station (Bath Waterside) and one on George Street (Bath Central). Both give excellent rates (between £19-59) if you book far enough in advance. Walk-in rates tend to be extremely high (~£80) due to being in Bath! Waterside tends to be cheaper than Central. Beware if booking Bath Central- there is a nightclub beneath the hotel. Ask for a room on the top floor if you want a good night's sleep!
- Express by Holiday Inn, Lower Bristol Rd, ☏ . About 1 mile from city center. From £59 for a double room with basic breakfast.
- University of Bath, Claverton Down, ☏ . The university has 30 double rooms available year round (prices from £60 per night) and fromn June to September has 2,300 rooms available to suit all budgets.
- DoubleTree by Hilton Bath (formerly Hilton Bath City), Walcot St (city centre), ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Check-in: 16:00, check-out: 11:00. The rooms are small, but with comfortable beds, work station, 32-inch HDTV and WiFi.
- 2 The Abbey Hotel, North Parade, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Comfortable and relaxed atmosphere, well-equipped rooms, great breakfasts, reasonable rates.
- Three Abbey Green, 3 Abbey Green BA1 1NW, ☏ . Closed for refurbishment until 2021. Stylish B&B with 10 rooms in knock-through of two Georgian town houses. No dogs.
- Harington's Hotel, 8 Queen St BA1 1HE, ☏ . Hotel with original Georgian character - that means no lift to the upper floors. Assistance dogs only. B&B double £80.
- Pratt's Hotel, South Parade, BA2 4AB, ☏ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. From £45.
- Royal Hotel Bath, Manvers St, ☏ . Located in the heart of the city, the hotel was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and was opened over 150 years ago.
- Bailbrook Lodge, 35-37 London Road West, ☏ . Bailbrook Lodge is a splendid Georgian Mansion designed by the famous architect John Everleigh
- Purbeck Holiday Lets (Bath Self Catering), Purbeck House, Bridge Place Road, Camerton, Bath, BA2 0PD, ☏ , email@example.com. Purbeck Holiday lets is the perfect location and setting if you are visit the beautiful Roman city of Bath, whether on family holiday, romantic break for two or enjoying the company of friend and colleagues.
- Tasburgh House, Warminster Rd, BA2 6SH, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. A stunning boutique hotel where luxury is affordable (and the views are free). As seen on The Hotel Inspector (Channel Five, 2006), Sue Keeling daughter Toni provide a relaxing and enjoyable stay. 130.
- 3 Gray's, 9 Upper Oldfield Park BA2 3JX, ☏ . Opulent B&B in a Victorian villa. No children under 12 or dogs. B&B double £120.
- 4 The Queensberry, 4 Russell Street BA1 2QF, ☏ . Georgian townhouses with modern decor. Their Olive Tree restaurant gets great reviews but is only F-Su. Assistance dogs only. B&B double from £130.
- 5 No 15 Great Pulteney, 15 Great Pulteney St BA2 4BR, ☏ . Quirky hotel and spa in a Georgian terrace, full of antiques and curios. Stylish and comfy. B&B double from £120.
- 6 Apsley House, 141 Newbridge Hill BA1 3PT, ☏ . Comfortable stylish Georgian manor, 30 min walk to town, buses pass the door. Assistance dogs only. B&B double from £100.
- 7 The Royal Crescent Hotel, 16 Royal Crescent BA1 2LS, ☏ . Grand but not intimidating, this top-rank elegant hotel and spa forms the keystone of Royal Crescent, all Grade I listed. Pricey, but it earns great reviews for comfort, service, facilities and cuisine. B&B double £330.
- 8 Macdonald Bath Spa Hotel, Sydney Rd, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. One of Bath's flagship hotels - 5-star luxury with fine decor and amenities. Bath Spa Hotel is the celebrity's favorite: Joan Collins and Felicity Kendall have been spotted there. A nice grotto is a feature of the large front lawn. Adjacent to the attractive Sydney Gardens - a great starting point for the mile-long canal walk to Bathampton village.
- 9 Roseate Villa, Henrietta Rd BA2 6LX, ☏ . Comfy B&B in Victorian villa by Henrietta Park. B&B double £150.
- 10 Pig near Bath, Hunstrete House, Pensford BS39 4NS (off A368), ☏ . Exceptional country hotel in Georgian country manor, gets rave reviews for comfort, service, decor and dining. Assistance dogs only. B&B double from £170.
Overall Bath is a very safe city to visit; the large number of tourists and university students generates a friendly and vigorous feel to the city. Bath city centre is lively and bustling until late on Friday and Saturday evenings, although things get rougher around kicking out time late at night. Women would be well advised to avoid wandering around alone at night. The common problem for tourists is the occasional groups of homeless beggars around the parks and abbey - you may see them drinking lager and shouting abuse, which can surprise many first-time visitors. However, they're not pushy when asking for money, and argue amongst themselves rather than getting passers-by involved. Accept it as a byproduct of a city that attracts tourism (and therefore money), and it's no problem.
The river between Pultney Bridge and the weir looks good for a spot of swimming when you're young and fit. It is actually very dangerous, and every year people die doing it. Warleigh weir is good if you're looking for a swim - about 3 miles along the canal.
If you're a keen cyclist, there's a wonderful Bath-to-Bristol cycle path at your disposal. However, please be aware that there have been robberies and attacks on this stretch of cycle path in 2008. Police have made arrests, but it's something you should consider if planning to make the journey.
Bath's landline area code is 1225. Dial 01225 from within the UK or +44 1225 from outside the UK.
To find out more about what to do and see, and where to stay in Bath, contact Bath Visitor Information Centre: 0906 7112000 (50p/min) or see: www.visitbath.co.uk
Bath Library (in the Podium Shopping Centre) offers Internet access at £3.60 an hour for non members.
There are a couple of small Internet cafés across the road from the train station. Many cafés and pubs offer free wireless internet access for your laptop, such as Wetherspoons or Bell Inn on Walcot Street where you can plug your laptop in free of charge. Many pubs also offer paid wireless internet, including the Saracen's Head and St. Christopher's Inn. Also try the Adventure Cafe on George Street.
There are various online sources which publicise local events, but probably the best thing is to pick up the Bath Chronicle (published weekly on Thursdays), or a copy of Venue Magazine (analogous to London's Time Out) from a newsagent. Venue is weekly (except around Christmas/New Year), costs £1.50, and new editions are usually available on Wednesdays.
- Bradford on Avon — a beautiful, picture-postcard small town near Bath; it's accessible by rail and there's a lovely 30-minute walk along the canal to Avoncliffe where the Cross Guns pub provides good food in an excellent riverside setting—and you can catch the train back to Bath from there
- Plan to spend some time there, as the trains are far and few between; check the schedule so you don't get stuck there. The best way is to go early in the morning and come back in the afternoon.
- Bristol — with its many attractions situated around the floating harbour and Avon Gorge, is 12 miles drive or 15 minutes train journey away, and makes an excellent day trip from Bath.
- Swindon — known for its history as the heart of the Great Western Railway, 20 minutes on the train, or an hour by car on A46 and M4 motorway.
|Routes through Bath|
|Bristol ←||W E||→ Corsham → Chippenham|
|END ←||NW SE||→ Warminster → Salisbury → Southampton|
|Glastonbury ← Wells ← Mendip Hills ←||SW NE||→ END|
|END ←||S N||→ Chipping Sodbury → Cheltenham|