This is a destination that will satisfy visitors of all ages, whether you want to relax and enjoy some pampering; throw yourself into adrenaline-fuelled outdoor activities; escape into nature; or learn about the city’s rich history. You could easily spend your whole visit simply enjoying the city centre sights, but equally there are countless places to enjoy days out within easy striking distance of Bath if you are happy to venture a bit further afield.
A city and a World Heritage Site
Since Bath is the only UK destination to have the whole city designated as a World Heritage Site, its historical attractions are a fantastic place to start your sightseeing. The very heart of Bath is packed with unmissable architecture, including famous Royal Crescent and The Circus, and is also home to some very special landmarks that have become major tourist attractions in their own right. The obvious attraction to head to first is the Roman Baths, one of the UK’s most popular heritage attractions, which welcomes about a million visitors through its doors every year. You may end up queuing to get in if you visit during peak tourist periods, but if you can get there on a weekday instead, particularly outside of July and August, it tends to be quieter – especially if you arrive early.
Following a huge £5.5 million redevelopment, the site showcases a range of Roman bathing and leisure facilities along with part of the religious complex. Browse displays of Roman and Celtic objects found locally, and see building models and projected images of Roman characters. Tailor-made children’s audio guides help bring the attraction alive for younger visitors, while costumed characters will guide you through Roman ways of life. If you fancy treating yourself, just as the Romans did, to some serious relaxation and pampering, Thermae Bath Spa is famous for its spectacular mineral-rich bathing waters, aromatic steam rooms and pampering treatments. The main spa is the New Royal Bath, which fuses glass, stone, light and water to create a stylish contemporary space with fantastic facilities for relaxation. You can enjoy the beautiful open-air rooftop pool and refuel in the spa’s health-conscious Springs Café Restaurant.
In fact several of the spa packages available at Thermae combine use of the spa facilities and a meal in the Springs Restaurant. Nearby in the elaborate 18th-century Assembly Rooms you can get your fix of high fashion at Bath’s well-respected Fashion Museum, which houses a collection started by Doris Langley Moore and gifted to the city of Bath in 1963. Displays span several centuries, with embroidered gloves and shirts dating from about 1600 being amongst some of the oldest exhibits. More contemporary items include outfits by famous modern designers such as Mary Quant, Alexander McQueen, Donatella Versace, John Bates, Giorgio Armani, John Galliano and Ralph Lauren, amongst many others. And, while you’re there, you can have some fun dressing up in replica Victorian and Georgian costumes for a souvenir photograph.
Since Bath is the only UK destination to have the whole city designated as a World Heritage Site, its historical attractions are a fantastic place to start your sightseeing
Staying in the city centre, take your pick of other sights perched right on your doorstep: discover the Golden Age of British painting at the Holburne Museum; explore more of Bath’s wonderful architectural heritage at Museum of Bath Architecture; or learn about English novelist Jane Austen’s time in the city at the popular Jane Austen Centre. If the weather is fine, Royal Victoria Park is a green and pleasant picnic spot and it’s also home to the Victoria Falls Adventure Golf. Fun for all ages, this 18 hole course is played over rushing waterways and waterfalls with the stunning Royal Crescent as its backdrop. Alternatively you could wander over to famous Sally Lunn’s Eating House & Museum for your lunchtime refreshments. Housed in one of Bath’s oldest houses, this property showcases the original kitchen used by the legendary Huguenot baker Sally Lunn to create the very first “Bath bun”, which went on to become a famous regional speciality – and which you can still enjoy there today.
If you’re seeking an escape from the crowds of the city, the National Trust Bath Skyline walk offers elevated views over Bath and the Mendips along six miles of way-marked footpaths, through woodland and pretty wild flower meadows. You could stop off along the way at the American Museum & Gardens, housed in the impressive Grade 1-listed Claverton Manor. Those who are walking the National Trust Skyline Walk, or cycling to the American Museum, can have a free hot drink and cookie at the cafe as part of the admission price. Inside you can explore period rooms that showcase American history from around 1690-1860, along with annual exhibitions that cover more recent times. Venturing outdoors, the garden is currently undergoing a major transformation, so some areas may be closed – but visitors can enjoy far-reaching views over the valley of the River Avon, and the Kennet and Avon Canal.
If you love the great outdoors, it is also well worth taking a trip to spectacular Cheddar Gorge, which is just over 20 miles away from central Bath. Britain’s biggest gorge incorporates dramatic 450-foot cliffs and stalactite caverns, offering superb opportunities for rock climbing and caving. While you’re exploring this world-famous Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty look out for herds of wild goats clinging precariously to tiny rock ridges, and visit Gough’s Cave, the mysterious burial place of “Cheddar Man”, once home to horse-hunters. There you can learn about its Ice Age creation, Stone Age occupation, and the Victorian explorers who later discovered its rich past. Amongst the many other attractions at Cheddar Gorge there’s an open-top bus tour to transport you along a dried-up prehistoric riverbed, past the millponds that powered the production of grain and gunpowder until the arrival of steam.
Dreamhunters at Cox’s Cave immerses you in a multimedia experience replicating some of the adventures of early man. About 20 minutes’ drive from Cheddar, Wookey Hole Caves is another of the region’s favourite family attractions. It is home to the UK’s largest cave system, which visitors can explore. These impressive limestone caves have been used by humans for around 45,000 years, demonstrated by the discovery of various tools from the Palaeolithic period, along with fossilised animal remains. The attraction incorporates many other fun zones such as the Mystic Fairy Garden, a hand-made paper mill, Pirate Adventure Golf, the Magical Mirror Maze, the Victorian Penny Arcade, Valley of the Dinosaurs, circus shows, and a 4D cinema. Look out for special events throughout the year, such as seasonal Halloween and Christmas-themed parties, and – unveiled in 2018 – the Ice Age Dawn of the Dinosaurs Experience. This uses the latest 4D technology to bring alive the film’s favourite characters: Manny, Ellie and Diego – and to deliver plenty of thrills, chills, and mammoth-sized laughs along the way.
Explore more of Bath’s wonderful architectural heritage at the Museum of Bath Architecture; or learn about English novelist Jane Austen’s time in the city at the popular Jane Austen Centre