Day trip to Bath: Best things to do, see and eat!
Oh Bath. Wonderful, wonderful Bath! I can’t tell you how long I’d wanted to visit, but when I took my first day trip to Bath it was everything I imagined and more. It’s a city with unrivalled heritage, dating all the way back to the Roman and boasts more protected historic buildings per capita than any other UK city.
It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site for good reason! Built around its natural hot springs over 2000 years ago, Bath has become renowned for its art, literature and culture.
You can’t conquer an epic city as rich in history and culture as Bath in a day. But this post will help you prioritise your itinerary and give you a good feel for the city. Here’s your guide to the perfect day trip to Bath.
Best things to see and do
From exploring the city’s history through its Roman Baths and 16+ museums to relaxing in the Thermae Bath Spa and enjoying its independent food scene – Bath is absolutely teeming with things to see and do!
The Roman Baths
In my opinion the best thing to do in Bath! If you see only one thing when you’re visiting – let it be the Roman Baths. There is quite literally nothing like it! Whether it’s your first, second or even tenth time coming to Bath, the Roman Baths is a site that will fascinate and delight you every time.
There are only a few ancient bath houses that survive today and Bath’s Roman bath house is considered the best preserved in the world.
Originally built by the Romans in 70AD after a natural hot spring was discovered by a local Celtic tribe, the Baths functioned as a sort of modern day leisure centre. It was a place where friends would meet up to work out, get clean and relax.
The Baths were also a place of worship. The Romans believed that the natural bubbling water coming up from the ground had magical powers and that the ancient goddess, Aquae Sulis lived in the water and cured them of illnesses.
People threw “offerings” into the Baths and scratched messages to the goddess on lead plates (known as “curse tablets”) to ask her to restore a wrong they had faced.
A whopping 12,000 coins have been found in the Baths whilst restoration work has taken place. As each coin is adorned with the face of the Emperor of the time, it means we can pinpoint exactly when the coin was thrown into the Baths. How cool is that?
The Romans used gravity to direct hot water from the springs through pipes under the floor into the bath chambers. Other tubes carried hot air into the walls and floors to keep people warm when they were out of the pool.
When you visit you’ll find out all about the cool engineering work, the function of the different chambers and the stories behind the artefacts found.
Set aside at least 2-3 hours for this site as it’s massive, with lots to see and discover!
Bath Abbey is a stunning parish church and former Benedictine monastery based in the heart of Bath.
The abbey is a beautifully preserved Grade I listed building with a unique fan vaulting that will have you craning your neck in awe! It was first founded in the seventh century but was rebuilt in the 12th and 16th centuries after suffering fire damage.
It features wonderful commemorative stained glass windows, two grand church organs and a peal of ten bells.
Make sure to book their awesome Tower Tour which takes you up 212 steps to the top of the abbey’s tower where you’ll see spectacular 360 views of Bath.
Pulteney Bridge and Weir
Located in the heart of Bath city centre, the Pulteney Bridge is an architectural gem. It was completed in 1774 and originally commissioned by the Pulteney family to connect their land to the city.
Built in classic Palladian style, the much photographed bridge and weir are a World Heritage Site thanks to their unique design and culture significance.
When researching for this post, I tried to find a definitive number of museums in Bath without success, there’s just too many! But no matter what your interests are, whether it be art, history, space, architecture, fashion or famous figures – Bath has you covered.
Full disclosure here – I didn’t get chance to visit any of the museums during my day trip to Bath unfortunately. But here are a few museums that I shortlisted for future trips that may help you decide:
–The Fashion Museum – first started by designer and collector Doris Langley Moore after she donated her collection in the 60s, The Fashion Museum now holds a world-class collection of contemporary and historic dresses through the ages.
–No. 1 Royal Crescent – a fantastically decorated museum which is decked out just like a grand house between 1776 and 1796. The rooms feature exquisite furniture, art and objects from the time. It makes for a fully immersive experience that will make you feel like you have gone back in time.
The museum is part of a famous row of 30 terraced houses laid out in a crescent shape. They’re celebrated as one of the greatest examples of Georgian architecture in the UK – so well worth a look!
–The Victoria Art Gallery – opened in 1900 to mark Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee. The Victoria Art Gallery has over 1500 objects and artwork dating from 1700 onwards.
-The Herschel Museum of Astronomy – located in a wonderfully preserved town house that was once owned by distinguished astronomers, William Herschel and his sister Caroline. Needless to say there is plenty of interesting things to have a nosey around in their former residence!
-American Museum & Gardens – a unique collection of pre-1880s American items including room replicas and a wagon in a Georgian country manor and gardens.
-The Museum of Bath Architecture – based in the the Countess of Huntingdon’s Chapel, The Museum of Bath Architecture goes behind the scenes of construction work during the Georgian period of the city.
-The Museum of Bath at Work – established in 1978, The Museum of Bath at Work was initially built around the workshops, equipment, and stock of J.B. Bowler’s mineral water factory. It now tells the tale of Bath’s working life through various professions and specialism from Roman times to the present.
-The Jane Austen Centre – a small museum celebrating the life and works of the great British writer, Jane Austen. Expect actor guides dressed in costume and a lovely little regency tea room.
-The Museum of East Asian Art – situated in a restored beautiful Georgian house. The Museum of East Asian Art Museum attracts the interest of students, scholars and tourists alike.
Some museums are quite small and you could probably get round in an hour or so. But save this list and just cross one or two of them off depending on how much time you have left.
Bath is fantastic for shopping, even for the most die-hard non-shoppers like me! From high street and trendy brands to boutiques and antiques – Bath has got a little something to tickle everyone’s fancy.
Bath has got six main retail areas to choose from:
1) Central Bath Shopping – where you’ll find all your well-known brands and high street favourites.
2) Milsom Street Shopping Area – featuring Jolly’s (the UK’s first department store), it’s now home to House of Fraser and more of your luxury and high-end fashion brands.
3) Walcot Artisan Quarter Shopping Area – where you’ll find more of the city’s vibrant and eclectic collection of independent shops.
4) Southgate Shopping Area – located just across the road from Bath train station in a Georgian-style contemporary open space, it has over 50 popular well-known brands and lots of lively restaurants and bars too.
5) Upper City Shopping in Bath – located just north of Milsom Street, this shopping area offers a cluster of independent retailers nestled between the Circus and The Royal Crescent including galleries and antique and boutique shops.
6) West Bath Shopping Area in Bath – located in what was once Bath’s main railway station, this shopping area has a fantastic selection of markets and independent traders.
My favourite shopping area is down North Parade Passage. It has a row of quirky independent shops and cafes down it with the classic Georgian window shop fronts. This is also where you’ll find Sally Lunn’s Eating House which is allegedly the oldest house in Bath.
It would be rude to go Bath, home to the UK’s original spa and not visit it’s modern day spa!
But Bath’s Thermae Spa is something extra special. It’s the only spa in Britain where you can bathe in the natural warm mineral rich waters just like the Romans did 2000 years ago.
You can enjoy a range of spa treatments as well as its wellness suite. It includes various relaxation rooms such as the Roman and Georgian steam rooms, the infrared room and the ice chamber.
The celestial relaxation room was by far my favourite. You lie back on a heated stone lounger underneath twinkling lights and watch dream-like footage from space. Along with the calming sounds of soft spa music and the smell of incense, you become instantly relaxed.
Don’t forget to check out the rooftop pool for an awesome 360 view of Bath!
Best things to eat
My fellow vegans will love Bath for its wide variety of vegan restaurants!
The Hospital Group conducted research in 2019 and found Bath to be the vegan capital of the UK. Based on its 153 vegan-friendly restaurants and the 360,000 vegan Google searches, Bath came out on top for the most vegan friendly city in the UK.
Here are a few restaurant choices to give you a ‘taste’ of Bath for vegans, veggies and regular foodies alike…
Breakfast – The Cafe by Fly
For breakfast I highly recommend The Cafe by Fly. It’s an unsuspecting tiny cafe based in a fitness centre but it does the best smoothie bowls! The acai bowl comes with blueberries, pumpkin seeds, peanuts and coconut and some freshly sliced strawberries and banana on top. It’s delicious and super filling!
The cafe also faces the Roman Baths which is really handy for your first stop of the day.
Brunch – Boston Tea Party
If you’re not much of a breakfast person, how about a spot of brunch? At the Boston Tea Party you’ll find plenty of vegan options but I swear by their “Vegan Boss” full English.
This beasty brunch includes: vegan sausage, sweetcorn fritter, scrambled tofu, homemade beans, hash browns, mushrooms, seasonal greens and two slices of toast. My mouth is literally filling with saliva right now!
What’s great about the Boston Tea Party is that is caters for veggies, celiacs and regular foodies too. Which is good news for any friends travelling with you that just want to eat their bacon in peace.
Lunch – The Stable
If you’ve been hanging on for lunch and in the mood for pizza, check out The Stable.
It offers a wide range of freshly made sourdough pizzas and a selection of local pints. They also have the most cheesy and tasty garlic bread which is almost as big as the pizzas themselves!
Dinner – Bosco Pizzeria
For dinner I recommend the Bosco Pizzeria. They do all your Italian favourites as well as handcrafted pizzas in the Neopolitan style and the service is fantastic!
What would you like to do most on a day to trip to Bath? Let me know in the comments below 😄