A weekend in Bath

A weekend in Bath

With its famous Georgian terraces, thermal spa waters, cream teas and Jane Austen – you can’t say Bath isn’t on the UK tourist trail. Its quintessentially English charms pull in visitors from around the world and it has so many historic buildings the entire city has been made a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But although you might have to dodge a few tour groups, its still more than worth it to explore the sights of one of England’s most beautiful and historic cities. So here’s my guide on how to spend 48 hours in Bath.

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The Royal Crescent, Bath

Curved buildings around the Royal Crescent

Friday evening

If you fancy splashing out, head to the city’s most desirable address at the Royal Crescent Hotel. Two 18th-century Georgian townhouses have been merged to create a five-star hotel and spa. It has lots of period features, a hidden garden and stunning views. Double rooms start from £200 a night.

Or if you’re on a budget, one of the best deals is Bath University’s student residences. There’s greatest availability in summer when the students are away and single rooms with a communal bathroom start from £26. Or the rest of the year they have double, twin and single rooms with en suites from £65 B&B. The campus is a mile from the town centre but buses run between them. Then head to Green Park Brasserie & Bar for dinner – a converted railway station booking hall with live jazz that serves modern British food.

Number 1 Royal Crescent

Number 1 Royal Crescent and the Parade Gardens

Saturday morning

Start the day with a walk around the Royal Crescent, one of Bath’s most famous landmarks. This curved terrace of Georgian townhouses arcs around a perfectly manicured lawn. Built in the 1770s, they haven’t changed much since then, on the outside at least. Most are private residences, when they’re not being used by film crews for period dramas, but Number 1 Royal Crescent has been turned into as a museum. You can go back in time to the 18th century inside and see how the Georgians lived, complete with authentic furniture and decoration. Entry costs £10 for adults (£7 for students/seniors and £4 for children).

The Royal Crescent is one of the many buildings made from the distinctive honey-coloured Bath Stone. Quarried out from the hills around the city, it’s a type of limestone that was first used by the Romans and later for churches, bridges and houses all around Bath. Take a walk past The Circle for more curved buildings then on to Bath’s Gothic Abbey. It’s free to go inside, but you can also take a guided tower tour for £6 that takes you up 212 spiral steps to the abbey roof for a panoramic city view. Back on ground level try a Bath classic at Sally Lunns, the oldest house in Bath. The ‘Sally Lunn bun’ is a kind of brioche spread with butter or cream, whose recipe was allegedly brought over by a 17th century French emigrant.

Bath Abey

Bath’s Gothic Abbey

Saturday afternoon

Head down to the water to Pulteney Bridge. This covered bridge was built in the 18th century for William Pulteney to connect Bath to land on the other side of the River Avon to drive up land prices. It’s one of few bridges which has shops built into the sides and the facade is still very well preserved. Though if you look around the back it’s a bit more DIY as extra windows and extensions have been added over the years.

To get a good view of the bridge, take a boat trip along the River Avon. The trips run every hour and 20 minutes between April to October and take about an hour. They start just below the bridge and cost £9 per adult (£7 for seniors/students and £5 for children). The boat travels under Pulteney Bridge, out past the edge of the city and on out into the countryside as far as the pretty little village of Bathampton before returning to Bath. Head back towards the Royal Crescent for dinner at The Circus, a family-run restaurant in a Georgian building, which serves local and seasonal food like Wiltshire lamb and Devon crab.

Pulteney Bridge in Bath

The covered Pulteney Bridge

Sunday morning

Bath has long been famous as a spa – it’s even in the name – with some of the UK’s warmest geothermal springs. Try them out at the Thermae Bath Spa, a huge spa complex in a modern glass building which opened in 2006, way over time and over budget. The spring waters flow into the ground floor Minerva thermal baths and there are circular glass steam rooms and a wide range of spa treatments. But the star attraction is the rooftop pool, where you can soak in steaming water with spectacular views across Bath.

Spa entry costs £35 for a two-hour session, including hire of a towel, robe and slippers. You can have lunch at their Springs Café Restaurant, with a mixture of sandwiches, salads and smoothies (and wine if that’s too healthy) – and the extra time gets added to your spa session so you don’t miss out.

Thermae Bath Spa

The spa’s rooftop pool looking towards the Abbey – photo credit Thermae Bath Spa

Sunday afternoon

To compare the modern spa experience with the Roman version, visit the city’s Roman Baths. The first baths were built here in 70AD and over a million litres of 46°C water still flows into them every day. You can take a tour around the ruins of the Great Bath and the temple of Sulis Minerva. Don’t try the pools yourself though – if the bright green colour of the water doesn’t put you off, tales of bacteria and radioactive lead pipes might. Entry costs £15.50 for adults (£13.75 for seniors/students and £9.80 for children).

Then finish off your weekend with a Bath institution – afternoon tea at the Pump Rooms. Indulge yourself with a traditional Champagne afternoon tea for £27.50 or try a Jane Austen tea for £26 with a ham terrine, Bath bun, fruit fool, scones and a custard tart, all served in opulent splendour under the chandeliers. And while you’re there, don’t forget to taste the spa waters from the King’s Fountain. With 43 different minerals it’s apparently the cure for all sorts of ills, though with its metallic tang it’s a bit of an acquired taste.

Roman Baths

The Great Bath and statue in the Roman Baths

Have you visited Bath? Do you have any tips to add on what to see, do and eat?

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How to spend a weekend in Bath, England, with tips on what to see, do, eat and drink on a 48-hour escape to the historic spa city.

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  • Reply
    Books And Boardies
    July 7, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    I love that you included Sally Lun’s Buns always a good choice for anyone new to Bath. I’m lucky to live about 30 minutes from Bath by train and it’s always nice for a day trip. I have never been to The Circus though so, but it looks lovely so I have bookmarked it for my next trip. I am going to Bath for my birthday this year as I wanted to get out of Bristol and wash out the 30th from hell from last year! 🙂
    Great guide for some fab things to do in one of my favourite cities. x

    • Reply
      July 8, 2015 at 9:07 am

      Thanks so much – I’m only about 90 mins from Bath by train but only seem to manage to get there every five years, must try and remedy that though! Hope you like The Circus and have a fantastic birthday and year to come! x

  • Reply
    Eliz Armstrong
    July 7, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    I’ve been to Bath twice and LOVE that city! My favorite memory was having high tea with my boyfriend in the gardens at the Royal Crescent Hotel. I’m sure if we had splurged and stayed there (as per your note above) it would have been incredible!

    • Reply
      July 8, 2015 at 9:05 am

      The tea at the Royal Crescent Hotel looks lovely, I might have to try that next time – if I can’t justify splashing out on staying there it’ll be the next best thing!

  • Reply
    July 7, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    Wow very nice pictures and content

  • Reply
    July 7, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    I’ve always wanted to visit Bath! It looks like you had an incredible time!

    • Reply
      July 8, 2015 at 8:59 am

      It’s a beautiful place, and a lot to see for a small city. Hope you get to make the trip someday.

  • Reply
    July 8, 2015 at 7:14 am

    This is making me want to go back to Bath again – only a few hours on the train too….

    • Reply
      July 8, 2015 at 8:58 am

      It’s only about an hour and a half for me but I’d not been for years until a couple of weeks ago (though I’d avoid July and August weekends, it was a bit rammed!).

  • Reply
    Suzanne Jones
    July 8, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    Such a useful post for visitors to Bath and lovely shots too – has made me want to revisit 🙂

    • Reply
      July 9, 2015 at 10:59 am

      Thanks Suzanne, I can’t believe it took me so long to get back there now – it won’t next time!

  • Reply
    Angie Silver (@SilverSpoonLDN)
    July 8, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    I recently had a weekend in Bath staying The Royal Crescent, it’s such a pretty city and great for an easy weekend outside London. I wanted to go to Circus too but it was closed on the Sunday 🙁

    • Reply
      July 9, 2015 at 11:01 am

      Yes it’s such an easy trip from London – going back to The Circus is a good excuse for a return trip!

  • Reply
    July 8, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    I can’t get over how gorgeous those British abbeys are! <3 Bath looks really pretty and the rooftop pool is perfect, where do I sign up? 😀

    • Reply
      July 9, 2015 at 11:02 am

      We are definitely spoilt for choice when it comes to churches and abbeys. The pool is fab too, so unusual to be able to have that view while you soak away!

  • Reply
    July 9, 2015 at 11:33 pm

    I stayed at the Royal Crescent, didn’t get time to visit the nearby museum but we did fit in a trip to the amazing Thermae Spa rootop pool. Did you taste the water at the Pump Rooms, I had a quick sip!

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

    • Reply
      July 13, 2015 at 1:16 pm

      The Thermae Spa is lovely – such a great view. I did try the Pump Room Water too, definitely more of an acquired taste!

  • Reply
    July 14, 2015 at 2:26 am

    Despite being from the UK I still haven’t made it to Bath, even though it’s somewhere I’ve wanted to go for ages! Your post has just made me more determined to visit there… when I finally return to the UK from New Zealand! 🙂

  • Reply
    July 15, 2015 at 11:04 am

    black and white and pool picture are so good .!

    • Reply
      September 9, 2015 at 10:36 am

      Thank you!

  • Reply
    Gayatri Chopra
    September 4, 2015 at 9:06 am

    Hi Lucy,
    Great pictures and useful content! I wish I could have included the Bath in my itinerary during my last trip to England. With your guide, I think I would be able to enjoy the Bath on my next trip. This is what I love about your blogs. They provide a clear view on what’s going to be there on real-time basis. Thank you for the post!

    • Reply
      September 9, 2015 at 10:37 am

      Thanks so much – hope you get to come and visit Bath someday!

  • Reply
    plasterer in bristol
    January 8, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    I love visiting Bath, the architectural structures are fantastic. great day out. ps i love the photos

    • Reply
      January 9, 2017 at 12:50 pm

      Thanks so much, it’s a great city!

  • Reply
    Valarie Duquette
    April 24, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    I went to uni in Bath and I miss it so much! Such a gorgeous city, with tons of hidden treasures! I love wandering through The Corridor and eating at Eastern Eye, for some of the best ambiance and curry I’ve ever had! And if you have time next time, visit my old stomping grounds at Bath Spa University and nearby Newton St. Loe. So charming! X

    • Reply
      April 27, 2017 at 9:53 am

      Thanks for the tips, I’ve not been back to Bath for a while so it’s definitely time for a revisit and to try them out!

  • Reply
    June 12, 2017 at 11:41 pm

    Hi Lucy, so glad to come across your blog. I’m planning a weekend or 1 night in Bath from London. It sounds like I might need two nights there. Have a lovely week! 🙂

    • Reply
      June 16, 2017 at 11:12 pm

      Two nights would be great, there’s plenty to see! Hope you have a great time.

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