A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ancient spa town of Bath is a dream destination, where the past and the present mingle beside one another. Its most popular tourist attraction is arguably the Roman Baths, one of the world's most well-preserved Roman ruins, which are still an awe-inspiring sight 2,000 years after their construction. Read on for our guide to all you need to know about visiting Bath's Roman Baths.
About the Roman Baths
The Roman Baths are, of course, what the town is named after. Built around 70CE on the site of a thermal spring that was sacred to the Romans who settled here, the bath house itself is part of a complex that includes a Roman temple.
It's known as one of the greatest religious spas of the ancient world, and the site houses a number of important Roman relics that marked its importance within Roman society. The heated water in the baths still flows from the same natural thermal spring, and contains 43 minerals that have attracted visitors as a so-called 'curative' for centuries.
Bath's Roman Baths are unique because of how well-preserved they are. Walk the Roman pavements in the footsteps of the ancient visitors who would have bathed here - in July and August flame torches are lit after dark to guide your way. The baths themselves have been opened to the public as an interactive museum.
Explore the different rooms of the Roman Baths and the temple and you'll discover artefacts from Roman times, including a gold-hued bronze head of the Celt-Roman hybrid goddess Sulis Minerva. Once you've walked the ancient halls and chambers, dine in the Pump Room Restaurant and take a sip of Bath spring water, or simply enjoy a delicious afternoon tea.
Getting to Bath is simple. You can travel to the city by train from London Paddington, and your journey to Bath Spa station should take around 90 minutes. If you plan to drive, Bath is around 20 minutes from junction 10 off the M4.
Be aware that Bath is a popular tourist spot and it was built long before the invention of cars, so city centre parking can be difficult to find. The park and ride services - of which there are three - are extremely convenient and offer drop-off and pick-up services to various stops around the city centre and the Roman baths every 15 minutes.
The Roman Baths in Bath are open every day except for the 25 and 26 December each year. However opening times vary depending on the time of year, and they are extended during the busiest summer months of July and August.
The grand Pump Room Restaurant serves food throughout the day from changing menus, and afternoon tea is served here from 2:30pm until closing time, which varies throughout the year. A slightly less formal dining experience can be found at The Roman Baths Kitchen, in a converted Georgian townhouse opposite the Roman baths' main entrance.
No. Visitors cannot swim in the Roman Baths because the water is not treated - it's straight from a thermal spring and could have other contaminants making it unsuitable for bathing. The Thermae Bath Spa close to the Roman Baths is a modern spa and treatment centre built on an existing ancient thermal spa, using natural thermal water just as the Romans would have bathed in.
Almost all of the Roman baths museum and spa is accessible to wheelchair users. The museum itself says around 90% of the Roman baths is accessible. Some areas are unfortunately inaccessible due to their construction up to six metres below street level and only accessed via steps. There are four lifts on site and handrails for those less able to walk.
Tickets to the Roman Baths can be bought online from the museum and spa's official website. Tap here to be taken to the online shop.
There are several ticket types for the Roman Baths, and the cost of your visit will depend on a number of factors. Students and senior citizens receive a discount, and children between the ages of 6-18 are almost half the price of adult tickets.
There are also tickets that offer discounts if you plan to visit more than one attraction including the Victoria Art Gallery and Fashion Museum, and these are well worth ordering online. All tickets are cheaper to buy online than on the door.
Plan a romantic trip to the Roman Baths and visit at twilight when the torches are lit. In Winter the torches spark into action at around 4pm. In summer they are lit at around 6pm.
Planning a trip to Bath to visit the Roman baths? Take a look at our hotels in Bath and find a room close to all the historic sites.