Natural hot springs? Check. Stunning stone buildings sourced from the local hills? Check. Majestic period features that inspired novelist Jane Austen of Pride and Prejudice? Definite check. If it’s a slice of old British charm you’re after, Bath is an all-around winner. Set in the heart of southwest England, it’s an oasis of antiquated aristocracy, just two hours on the train direct from London’s Paddington station and a short bus ride from the urban bustle of Bristol. Two hours might not seem like a long time to enjoy Bath but – if you’re smart and swift – you can catch the best bits that this stunning city has to offer.
Must-see #1 – The Roman Baths
The city’s most famous attraction are these ancient geothermal joys, where Romans went to chill out. Sure; the water looks a bit grubby and you probably wouldn’t want to get in for a dip nowadays, but, the baths are some of the best-preserved in the world. Take plenty of photos. Also, don’t fall in. Really, it’s gross.
Must-see #2 – Royal Crescent
Probably one of the best examples of Georgian architecture in the UK, this semicircle of swanky townhouses oozes sophistication (just check out the top picture.) Stroll through the park in front of the terrace and savor the views across the city, then head to No.1 Royal Crescent for a glimpse into what life might have been like for posh families in the 1700’s. Bring some tea and biscuits for a picnic on the lawn and you’ll really feel like British aristocracy.
Must-see #3 – The Circus
If you’ve got an appetite for more architectural awe, then follow the road east from the Royal Crescent to end up at the Circus. This circle of imposingly-tall, terraced houses faces a cute garden area in the center, where Georgian maidens used to stroll in the sunshine, presumably fanning themselves while walking small dogs and such. Apparently, the Circus’s design was inspired by the Colosseum in Rome – because 18th Century construction in the UK was, like, so culturally diverse.
Must-see #4 – Royal Victoria Park
Bath must have felt a little like London back in its heyday, with rows of fancy terrace houses and a luxurious green space in the city center that’s basically a mini version of the capital’s Hyde Park. Head to the Royal Victoria for a relaxing walk around the duck pond or serenity amid beautiful botanical gardens, then release your inner child at the adventure playground.
Must-see #5 – Milsom Street and the city center
Bath’s bustling main street might be packed with modern stores, but it’s still got a unique, nostalgic charm about it. Grab a snack as you wander through the old arcades and Harry Potter-esque shops – although don’t expect to find wands and other wizarding items, because (as far as we’re aware) they don’t actually exist. Make sure you stop at Pulteney Bridge and the beautiful riverside Parade Gardens along the way.
Must-see #6 – SouthGate
Top off your Bath sightseeing trip with a sojourn around SouthGate – Bath’s newest retail area; full of upmarket delights, including Urban Outfitters, Superdry, Apple, AllSaints, Hollister and more. Restaurants aplenty too, naturally.
Two hours are up, but Bath definitely deserves another visit – mostly so you can live your dreams of acting like a sophisticated British aristocrat from 200 years ago. Period costume optional.