Elegant, laid-back, and easy on the eye, the Roman city of Bath brims with ancient monuments, leafy riverside views, and inspiring cultural attractions. The pace of life is relaxed in this World Heritage Site, but Bath is also a pleasantly outdoorsy city, with plenty of ways to get active and explore. History, gorgeous green spaces, independent shopping, and simply wandering around one of the UK's loveliest cities are all on the table. Here are the best things to do in Bath.
Explore the Legendary Roman Spa
Well, the place is named after it - of course it's a must-do! Bath's eponymous attraction dates to the first century CE. Even now, over a million litres of hot spring water fill the Roman Baths every day. On a tour of this superbly preserved site, you can see ancient architecture and explore the chambers where bathers took the waters two millenia ago. There's a fully interactive museum to look around, which tells the story of this spa, its enormous historic significance, and the people who used it.
Take a Rooftop Dip at Thermae Bath Spa
Just around the corner, Thermae Bath Spa puts a contemporary twist on the original baths, giving you the chance for a spa experience, not-exactly-Roman-style. You can choose from a range of luxurious treatments in the multi-storey complex and also dine in your bath robes, but the standout attraction is the heated rooftop pool. Sit back and enjoy the panorama, as the iconic stone tower of Bath Abbey emerges through the steam.
Take a Tour of Towering Bath Abbey
A Grade I-listed former Benedictine monastery, Gothic-era Bath Abbey is large and lavish. The soaring stone building dominates the cityscape, just as it has done for 1,000 years. A tour of the abbey takes in impressive stone columns, stained-glass windows and fan vaults. Climb the tower's 212 steps and you get to see the bell chamber and clock mechanism, and the highlight - awesome views of the city from up on the roof.
Take a Stroll along the Royal Crescent
The long, curving sweep of the Royal Crescent is one of the UK's most instantly recognisable streets. Built between 1767 and 1775, the entire 150m crescent is one unbroken block of 30 Grade I-listed terraced townhouses, overlooking a pristine lawn and Royal Victoria Park. Even if you're not ordinarily interested in architecture, it's gorgeous - and if you are, it's nothing short of mind-blowing. On a sunny day, take a picnic to have on the grass opposite. And when you're done here, go a block to the east to wander around the Circus (not that kind - a circular street that wraps around a sort of roundabout, and another 18th-century residential masterpiece).
Shop on the Quirky Pulteney Bridge
There's some excellent shopping in Bath, and quirky Pulteney Bridge - just upstream from the city's iconic horseshoe-shaped weir - provides a natural starting point. Claim to fame: this is the UK's only bridge entirely lined by shops, with Palladian-style shopping rows on either side of the street. It's only 45m long, but there are plenty of quirky boutiques and independents to check out, and coffee shops overlooking the water.
Tea, Tours and Exhibitions at the Jane Austen Centre
Bath has a special place in British literary history thanks to its close connections to Jane Austen. The great novelist lived here for five years in the early 19th century, and the city provided the setting for both Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. At the Jane Austen Centre, located in a Georgian townhouse on Gay Street, you can learn about the writer's time in Bath and its influence on her works. Afterwards, settle in for tea and cake in the Regency Tea Room or join a themed walking tour of the city.
Follow the Leafy Towpath beside Bath Locks
The Industrial Revolution may have bypassed Bath in many ways, but the city is well-connected to the canal network. A leafy six-lock stretch of the Kennet and Avon navigation, which climbs away from the riverside towards the Cotswolds, provides a picturesque towpath for walking and cycling - perfect for an active day out in Bath. The Grade-II listed locks and bridges make for some charming sights as you head out into the countryside.
Discover Bath's History in the Museums
Bath is nothing if not sentimental, and with more museums per square mile than any other UK city, there is no escaping the past. The Holburne Museum, No. 1 Royal Crescent, the Fashion Museum, the Museum of East Asian Art, and Herschel Museum of Astronomy provide variety of choice, allowing you to delve further into your own area of interest - with a local slant of course.
Wander Freely around Bath's Green Spaces
One of the best things about Bath is its green spaces - and simply wandering around them is one of the best ways to enjoy the city. Start with a riverside walk overlooking the rugby ground in Palace Gardens, before making your way to Royal Victoria Park, home to the Temple of Minerva and Botanical Gardens. Head up to the lookout points at elevated Alexandra Park to see the city from above (stunning at dusk), or cross one of the world's four remaining Palladian bridges in the National Trust's Prior Park Landscape Garden.
If you're heading to Bath, check out accommodation options with our selection of hotels in Bath.