Discover the city that spans the divide between Georgian aristocrats and contemporary hipsters in our day trip to Bath. Explore Roman temples, designer boutiques and everything in between.
In Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen wrote of aristocrats negotiating a day trip to Bath ‘to see and be seen’. Little has changed today. Just as enticing as they were in the 18th century, the many splendid things to do in Bath draw people from far and wide. It’s so beautiful, the whole place has been certified a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Enjoy a thermal spa, socialise in Georgian tea houses, shop for designer goods and stroll honey-hued lanes bursting with impressive architecture. But there’s more to Bath than high society. Part hipster, part posh, the town straddles the divide between quirky independent shops and glamorous boutiques. There’s no surprise it’s up there with Oxford as one of our favourite UK cities.
Blessed with a combination of Roman remnants, including one of the worlds best preserved bathhouses, and Georgian grace, there’s a charming, yet energetic element to Bath that makes it perfect for a day trip.
Our guide covers all the best things to do in Bath on a day trip, plus tips on where to eat and where to stay if the allure of the city becomes too much.
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MAP / THINGS TO DO IN BATH
We’ve put all the wonderful things to do in Bath we have listed in this guide on a map to help you navigate this charming British city. To save the map, click on the star beside the title which will add it to YOUR MAPS on your Google account.
BATH DAY TRIP / MORNING
Start your Bath day trip with a coffee from Society Café. Their weekly rotating guest roast is carefully brewed to perfection. It’s best enjoyed with a pastry sitting on Kingsmead Square just in front of the café.
After coffee, head to the Roman Baths. A Roman temple was first built on this site around the year 70BCE. It sits on top of a natural thermal spring which still flows to this day. The highlights are the Great Bath surrounded by a stunning terrace and the sacred pool, the focal point for Roman worship. It’s a popular tourist spot but an unmissable attraction on a day out in Bath.
Read More – Walking the best of Hadrian’s Wall
Roman Baths / 10am to 6pm weekdays; 9am to 6pm weekends (last entry 5pm) | Price: £27 (weekends); £25 weekdays) | Tickets: must be booked online in advance.
CITY CENTRE & GREEN STREET
After the baths, stroll around the tiny lanes south of the Roman Baths. Explore Church Street and its small independent shops and tea rooms. Try the famous Bath Bun (a milk-based sweet bun) from Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House or the Bath Bun Tea Shoppe. For a more artisan experience, the coffee at Mokoko gets our tick of approval.
Next, head to Bath Abbey. The site has been a place of worship for eons, but the existing building was built between the 12th and 16th centuries. It’s an ostentatious gothic structure with an extraordinary fan-vaulted ceiling. The towering stained-glass window at the end of the nave is a breath-taking combination of engineering and art.
Bath Abbey / 10am to 5pm Mon-Fri; 10am to 6pm Sat; 12pm to 2pm Sun | Price: Free | Tickets: Services must be booked in advance. | Tower: only available by private tour.
BATH DAY TRIP / AFTERNOON
Kick off the afternoon of your Bath day trip with lunch. We recommend Chai Walla for their Indian street food with a range of vegan and vegetarian options to pick up and go. Alternatively, Same Same But Different has a great selection of creative sandwiches, supported by a healthy array of Tapas goodies.
Head next to Pulteney Bridge, the photogenic icon spanning the River Avon. It’s unusual for that fact that it’s one of only four bridges in the world that has shops across its full span on both sides. This impressive example of Georgian architecture is best photographed with the arched weir in front.
BATH CIRCUS & ASSEMBLY ROOMS
The Bath Circus is a circular formation of Georgian townhouses made up of three curved segments. Architect, John Wood was fascinated with the Druid’s who build many prehistoric stone circles. Influences include masonic symbols such as serpents and acorns built into the façade.
Continue to the Assembly Rooms, a high society hang-out in the 18th century. Stroll through the Tea Room, Ball Room, Card Room and Great Octagon to the small formal garden in the centre.
Bath Assembly Rooms / 10am to 5pm Tue-Sun | Price: £9.50 | Tickets: entry is currently only possible to the Fashion Museum which must be booked online in advance.
THE ROYAL CRESCENT
Adjoining the Bath Circus, the Royal Crescent continues the masonic theme with a design representing the sun and the moon. But stars abound inside the lavish Georgian residences as well. The good and the great of Bath society have called this most prestigious address home since the 18th century. Ambling around the sweeping grand architecture of the Royal Crescent is a wonderful thing to do in Bath.
Read more – Beautiful Cotswolds villages
Next, head to the nearby Victoria Park. Set across 57 acres, the park is a beautiful green space which includes the botanical gardens. Have a round of mini-golf or just stroll through the Dell, a small valley with paths winding through various tree species.
Before dinner, enjoy Britain’s only natural thermal spa just as the Celts and Romans did 2,000 years ago – but a bit plusher. Come for a spa treatment, or just book a 2-hour session which gives you access to the mineral bath and the open-air rooftop pool. Soaking in the naturally heated pool as the sun fades is one of the best things to do in Bath.
Thermae Spa / 9am to 9pm | Price: from £35 | Bookings: online
BATH DAY TRIP / EVENING
The nightlife in Bath features traditional pubs, fancy cocktail bars and a vibrant food scene. Here are some ideas to round out a day trip to Bath.
The list of great dinner spots in Bath is ever-expanding. Some of our favourites include Circus Restaurant, a cosy, classy establishment with a seasonal menu. The Scallop Shell has sensational fish and chips, and plenty more simply prepared options. Another great option is Noya’s Kitchen which started life as a Vietnamese supper club which proved so successful it’s now a restaurant.
It’s not just the thermal waters than run freely in Bath, there are plenty of great places to grab a drink. Canary Gin Bar, part of the Bath Gin Distillery has an inspiring list of gin-based cocktails we could easily work our way through. Opium Bar is a richly decorated, late-night hangout that hits the quirky/vintage stylings just right.
Set in an old bakery, Walcot House is a lively restaurant and bar with live music. Choose between swing and jazz in one room or disco, soul and R&B in another. Finally, for a more relaxed evening, the Star Inn is a traditional pub with no music and no fancy food (according to them).
OTHER THINGS TO DO ON A DAY OUT IN BATH
There are plenty more great things to do in Bath that we couldn’t feasibly squeeze into one day. Here are some more things that you can save for another trip.
PRIOR PARK LANDSCAPE GARDEN
Stroll the beautiful landscaped Prior Park Gardens featuring the thoroughly photogenic Palladian Bridge. With a scenic lake and situated at the top of a hill, there are also great views over Bath.
VICTORIA ART GALLERY
The permanent collection at the Victoria Art Gallery is free to enter and includes works from the 15th to the 20th centuries by famous artists such as Thomas Gainsborough and Thomas Baker.
JANE AUSTEN CENTRE
The Jane Austen Centre is an interactive and immersive experience that focuses on the life and times of Jane Austen. In addition to the museum, they also organise walking tours around Bath highlighting aspects of her life in the city.
CRUISE THE RIVER AVON
Strolling along the banks of the River Avon is a wonderful thing to do in Bath. However, to experience this beautiful city from the water, take a river cruise from Pulteney Bridge out to the scenic Avon Valley.
DAY TRIPS FROM BATH
If you decide to extend your Bath day trip to include an overnight stay, there’s a host of excellent day trips from Bath that allow you to take advantage of this wonderful part of England.
CASTLE COMBE & THE COTSWOLDS
With green forested hills in the background, quaint cottages in the foreground, and a babbling brook in between, it takes little imagination to see why Castle Combe and the Cotswolds is a great day trip from Bath. More information is in our guide to the best Cotswolds weekends.
Lacock is a small village owned and managed by the National Trust. Half-timber, half stone cottages line wonky laneways that fill the village with charm and character. It’s one of our favourite villages in the Cotswolds and well worth a visit.
Enjoy a private half-day tour around Stonehenge from Bath where you can learn about the most recent archaeological discoveries.
The huge stone circles at Avebury are the greatest marvels of prehistoric Britain. See them and the quaint village they surround in just under 1 hour from Bath.
WELLS & THE CHEDDAR GORGE
Visit the home of cheddar cheese and the limestone gorge where Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton was found. Cheddar Gorge is around 50 minutes from Bath.
WHERE TO STAY IN BATH
If the bars, pubs and day trips from Bath are calling you, then convert your Bath day trip to a weekender. Here are some recommendations from us for some great places to stay.
Alternatively, a stay in the Cotswolds is a great way to visit Bath and enjoy the beautiful countryside and charming villages of the area.
Smack in the centre of town, Eight is a great value stay in stylish muted grey tones. The breakfast is a winner, and the staff are friendly and helpful.
This gorgeous Georgian Townhouse, located in the centre of Bath has individually designed rooms, quirky artwork and deluxe bathrooms. The vegetarian breakfast options are a nice touch.
HOW TO GET TO BATH
With great transport links, Bath is an excellent day trip option from many parts of the country. Find yourself strolling the independent shops or indulging in a spa treatment in no time at all.
Bath is located in South West England on the edge of the Cotswolds and 40 minutes’ drive from Bristol.
If you’re driving to Bath, the best place to park is at the Podium Car Park or Southgate Shopping Car Park. Both are a very short walk to the centre. However, to avoid driving into the centre of town, there are three Park & Ride services located around the outskirts of the city.
Bath Spa Train Station has direct connections from Bristol (11min), Reading (55min), Oxford (1h, 4min), Cardiff (1h 4min), London (1h 14min) and Portsmouth (2h, 24min), just to name a few. So getting the train to Bath is an easy endeavour from many parts of the country. Bath Spa train station is located just a 5-minute walk from the centre of town. Check train times here.
HOW TO VISIT BATH ON A DAY TRIP FROM LONDON
With excellent transport connections, Bath is a great choice for a day trip from London. Here’s how to get
LONDON TO BATH BY TRAIN
The easiest and fastest way to get from London to Bath is via train. Bath is a very walkable city, and the train station is very centrally located. From London Paddington station, the direct train to Bath Spa Station takes just 1 hour and 14 minutes and there are around 56 services per day. – check times & prices.
LONDON TO BATH TRAINS
LONDON PADDINGTON TO BATH SPA
1 hour, 11 minutes | 56 services per day
LONDON WATERLOO TO BATH SPA
2 hours, 25 minutes | 6 services per day
LONDON TO BATH BY COACH
The coach from London Victoria Station to Bath Bus Station takes 2 hours, 35 minutes. With 5 hours of total travel time, this would make a long day, so consider spending the night if you are taking the coach. The bus station is just a 5-minute walk to the city centre.
ORGANISED TOURS OF BATH
To see several great sites on a whistle-stop outing, take an organised tour from London that visits Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath. While in the city, a walking tour is a great way to get your bearings on your first trip.
BEST TIME TO VISIT BATH
The best time to visit Bath is from June to the end of September when the weather will be pleasant, and the city will be looking beautiful.
However, the peak tourist season is also July and August when things will be busy, so book ahead if you plan to visit over this time.
From March to May the weather is starting to pick up from the winter cold but tourism is still relatively slow. So this is a great time to visit Bath and snap up a bargain.
FESTIVALS IN BATH
You may also want to time your visit to Bath to coincide with one of the many annual festivals held in the city.
In summer the Bath Festival celebrates the best in music and books from around the world. It coincides with the Bath Fringe Festival which includes a mixed bag of stand-up comedy, cabaret, physical theatre, circus and folk music.
In September the Jane Austen Festival is a homage to Bath’s most famous literary export. While in October, the Great Bath Feast will see you eating your way through the city’s culinary creations.
With COVID the dates for the festivals are changing, so check with their respective websites in advance.
MORE READING FOR YOUR UK TRIP
The UK is blessed with a host of diverse and interesting days out. Here are some more suggestions for us for getting out and about on a classic day trip.
Walk the halls of history with our guide to spending a day in Cambridge
Have a superb adventure kayaking or canoeing the River Wye
12 wonderful things to do in the Wye Valley
The best ways to visit and photograph Old Harry Rocks, Dorset
See the best of Seven Sisters Cliffs on this stunning walk
10 great ideas for days out in the Cotswolds
Explore the remote and rugged Lake District at the Langdale Pikes
Oxford day trip – An Itinerary for 1 day in Oxford
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