10 of the Best Things To Do in the City of Bath

Nestled in the picturesque Avon Valley surrounded by gently rolling hills, Bath is a World Heritage city with elegant neoclassical buildings blending harmoniously with Roman baths.

Here are 10 of the best things to see and do in Bath.

1. Bath Abbey

Founded in the 7th century, Bath Abbey is one of the largest examples of Perpendicular Gothic
architecture in the West Country.

The abbey is a Grade I listed building, which means it’s listed by the statutory body “Historic England” as being of exceptional historic and architectural interest.

Bath Abbey. Credit: Joanna Penn, flickr; Lee, flickr
Bath Abbey. Credit: Joanna Penn, flickr; Lee, flickr

Of particular note are the fan vaulting and stained glass. Beautifully bright inside, windows
cover 80% of the wall area.

2. Roman Baths and Grand Pump Room

One of the finest historic sites in Northern Europe, the Roman Baths is a bathing complex around the source of three natural hot springs. 257,000 gallons (1.2M litres) of water at 115°F (46°C) rises from a geological fault every day.

There are four main things to see: the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House and a Museum of Roman artifacts.

Roman Baths. Credit David Iliff; Neil Howard; flickr; Treye Rice, flickr
Roman Baths. Credit David Iliff; Neil Howard; flickr; Treye Rice, flickr

You can even taste the water in the Grand Pump Room—a Georgian-era Grade I listed building made from the honey-colored stone that gives Bath its distinctive character.

The Pump Room was featured in Jane Austen novels, including Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.

It has an elegant restaurant which is very popular for afternoon tea.

The Pump Room restaurant. Credit Richard Allaway, Glitzy queen00, Stan Zurek
The Pump Room restaurant. Credit Richard Allaway, Glitzy queen00, Stan Zurek

3. Pulteney Bridge

Completed in 1774 in a Palladian style, the bridge spans the River Avon and is one of only four bridges in the world to have shops on both sides of its entire length.

The bridge is named after Frances Pulteney, wife of wealthy Scottish lawyer and Member of Parliament William Johnstone.

Pulteney Bridge, Bath, England. Credit Diego Delso
Pulteney Bridge, Bath, England. Credit Diego Delso

Take a virtual walk across the bridge and do some window shopping.

4. Royal Crescent and the Circus

Georgian architecture is characterized by grand tall houses with symmetrical facades and box sash windows.

The Royal Crescent is a superb example of this classic Georgian style, forming a sweeping crescent of 30 elegant terraced houses—the same today as it was in 1780.

The Royal Crescent in Bath by Thomas Malton 1780
The Royal Crescent in Bath by Thomas Malton 1780

No. 1 Royal Crescent is a museum—a must see for anyone interested in how the wealthy furnished their homes in the late 18th century.

Drawing Room at No. 1 Royal Crescent. Credit Roger W, flickr
Drawing Room at No. 1 Royal Crescent. Credit Roger W, flickr

Following the same theme is “The Circus”—a complete ring of Georgian townhouses.

Composed of three equal segments, it is divided in such a way that whichever road you approach on, you are presented with a glorious Georgian facade.

5. Bath Street

Another must see for lovers of architecture is Bath Street.

Built in 1791, the 2-story buildings have French-influenced Mansard roofs, pedimented windows, and decorative friezes. The two upper floors overhang the lower, supported by rows of white pillars and providing an attractive covered walkway.

Bath Street. Credit harry_nl, flickr
Bath Street. Credit harry_nl, flickr

6. Jane Austen Centre

Fans of Jane Austen will appreciate the writer’s home museum—the Jane Austen Centre—representing her life in Bath and how it affected her writing.

The showpiece of the centre is a life-size wax model of Jane Austen that took three years of painstaking research to create.

Jane Austen Centre. Credit Shelley Rodrigo, flickr
Jane Austen Centre. Credit Shelley Rodrigo, flickr

The Jane Austen Centre also has a tearoom. With a “Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence” award, the Regency Tea Room has a period atmosphere and serves loose-leaf tea, coffees, and Belgian hot chocolate, in addition to soups, cakes, and toasties.

The Regency Tea Room
The Regency Tea Room

7. The Bath Assembly Rooms and Fashion Museum

Where did the nobility, socialites and celebrities like Jane Austen, and Charles Dickens go to mingle, to see and be seen in Bath society? They went to the Assembly Rooms—an elegant venue for balls, concerts, and even gambling.

This was the place for well-to-do mothers and chaperones to bring their daughters for the social season, hoping to find suitable husbands.

When not being used for private functions, admission is free.

18th century illustration of the The Assembly Rooms
18th-century illustration of the The Assembly Rooms
Assembly Rooms and Fashion Museum. Credit: Heather Cowper, flickr; Lisby, flickr
Assembly Rooms and Fashion Museum. Credit: Heather Cowper, flickr; Lisby, flickr

The Assembly Rooms Cafe offers hot and cold beverages, sandwiches and cakes at very reasonable prices.

8.Theatre Royal and Garrick’s Head Pub

Described by the Theatres Trust as “one of the most important surviving examples of Georgian theatre architecture”, the Theatre Royal was built in 1805, making it one of the oldest working theatres in the country.

Theatre Royal. Credit Michael Maggs

Adjacent to the Theatre Royal is the Garrick’s Head Gastro Pub—ideal for a pre theatre meal or after the show for some late cocktails.

Garrick’s Head Pub
Garrick’s Head Pub

9. Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House and Museum

One of the oldest houses in Bath, the medieval building is now a tearoom and museum. It’s also home to the original Bath Bun—based on the recipe of Sally Lunn. Legend has it that Sally Lunn was a French Huguenot refugee who brought the recipe to Bath in 1680. The Sally Lunn bun is mentioned in Charles Dickens “The Chimes” (1845).

Sally Lunn's House, the oldest house in Bath, home of the Sally Lunn Bun. Credit Fahdshariff
Sally Lunn’s House, the oldest house in Bath, home of the Sally Lunn Bun. Credit Fahdshariff
The Bakery Museum at Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House
The Bakery Museum at Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House

10. Royal Victoria Park

Opened in 1830 by the 11-year-old Princess Victoria, the Royal Victoria Park was the first park to carry her name.

Featuring a 9-acre botanical garden, golf course, boating pond and open-air concerts, it is on the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.

Suggestions that are highly rated on TripAdvisor.

Tea Rooms

The Pump Room Restaurant
The Regency Tea Room at the Jane Austen Centre
The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party
Hands Georgian Tearooms
Sally Lunn’s Museum

Restaurants

Sotto Sotto (Fine Dining, Italian)
Menu Gordon Jones (Fine Dining, British)
Circus Cafe & Restaurant (Fine Dining, British)
Burgers and Barrels (Barbecue, American)
The Real Italian Pizza Co (Gourmet Pizza, Italian)

Pubs

The Garrick’s Head Pub and Dining
The Crystal Palace Pub
The Raven
Marlborough Tavern
The Bath Brew House

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