From taking a dip in its natural hot springs, to enjoying some comedy on an hysterical historical walkabout, discover the best things to do in Bath
Wander the city’s best museums
It’s not difficult to imagine how the Somerset city of Bath might have been when its gorgeously honey-coloured Georgian terraces were first laid out – in part because so much of the architecture from that period remains intact for visitors to enjoy today. Also, a look back to the 1700s is facilitated by No.1 Royal Crescent, which provides the visitor with an evocative experience of that time. This elegant museum offers a tantalising glimpse into what life was like for wealthy Bath residents in the 18th century. The Gentleman’s Retreat has been designed to reflect the many hobbies and pastimes of the house’s original resident, Mr Henry Sandford Esq. More interesting still is the downstairs to Sandford’s stylish upstairs – an authentic servants’ quarters that is guaranteed to thrill Downton Abbey fans.
For something a little different, the Bath Museum of Costume is a fun place to visit whether you’re a lover of fashion through the ages or not. It offers amusing dressing-up opportunities for all the family, meaning you might well go home with a treasured picture of your other half dressed as a Georgian butler or a chambermaid.
Get on board a city boat trip
Take advantage of Bath’s prime location on the charmingly serene River Avon with a relaxing boat trip. The Pulteney Princess is a slow-moving craft that chugs happily alongside the city’s prettiest sights – for a little price you can enjoy an hour-long round trip, complete with an amiable narrator to point out the history of all you see along the way.
Have a good laugh
One particularly off-beat way to see Bath is via a laughing tour – the long-running Bath Comedy Walk begins at 8pm at the Huntsman Inn, every evening. The tour consists of a stroll around the city with a tour guide who picks out the stories of the city in amusing and irreverent fashion. You’ll get some light exercise, an education in the best bits of Bath and its history – and plenty of laughs – all for just £10. Note: this tour only runs from March through to October.
Soak in the spa
You can’t really say you’ve been to Bath if you haven’t visited the city’s celebrated star attraction (and the source of its name, of course) – its Roman spas. These consist of beautiful Georgian buildings above ground and stunning original Roman baths below. It was here, 2,000 years ago, that the city’s residents would partake of the warmest natural spring waters to be found in the country, filtered through the limestone of the Mendip Hills and heated by geo-thermal energy. These baths have been painstakingly preserved so that visitors can see exactly how the Romans once idled in the inviting emerald waters of the natural thermal springs.
You can’t bathe in the Roman originals yourself, unfortunately, but in 2006 a fully functional thermal spa baths opened for visitors – the Thermae Bath Spa. This popular attraction features original Georgian architecture tastefully combined with new modern buildings, and boasts several stunning mineral pools – including a rooftop bathing terrace with stunning views across the city.
Make time for a little wining and dining
If you know your Malbec from your Merlot, or even if you don’t, you should head to the recently opened Corkage – a vino-focused restaurant with more than 50 wines available by the glass, and a great grape enthusiast at the helm. You can happily spend most of the evening here, but if you don’t manage to finish your bottle, worry not as you are welcome to take it away with you.
Is gin more your tipple? Bath has its own gin bar, The Canary, and it’s a bit of a must for fans of mother’s ruin. This is the home of Bath Gin – a lovely, lemony spirit – as well as a huge choice of other gins to sample, in cocktails and G&Ts.
Plan well ahead to get a table at the pocket-sized Menu Gordon Jones, and maybe skip lunch, too – the restaurant’s flagship experimental set menu comprises a whopping six courses. For your £55 you will, however, be taken on an adventurous culinary journey that might take in the likes of rabbit dumplings, sweetcorn sorbet and delicate sashimi, all crafted by a Michelin-trained chef.
When the weather is good, head to the prettiest pub garden in the city. The rose-filled courtyard of Bath’s celebrated White Hart Inn is a lovely spot to enjoy a Sunday roast and a Somerset cider, at reasonable prices.
For real gastropub fodder, those travelling by car should take a trip out of town to The Pig. Indulge in an inexpensive light lunch on the terrace of this old inn, overlooking its glorious country garden, with ingredients grown on the land you see before you.
Do you fancy seeing this beautiful historical city for yourself? Then why not take a look at the hotels we have to offer in Bath.