Visiting Bath: 11 'must do' places & activities
Bath is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the UK and Europe. While there are hundreds of guides to visiting Bath, we've compiled our guide with 11 of the 'must do' places to see and activities to do in Bath.
1. Bath Skyline
Bath's skyline trail is one of the most best ways to take in the city. Not only does the walk take in the beauty of Bath from different angles, it also gives visitors a perspective and appreciation for the size and geography of the city. The 10km route can be picked up and multiple points from Bath city centre. Our favourite point would be the view across the city centre from Bathwick Fields halfway up Bathwick Hill.
2. Bath Rugby at The Rec
Rugby in Bath is like sport in no other city. With a rugby ground slap bang in the heart of the city with views back across to Bath Abbey and the city, the atmosphere in Bath town centre is unlike no other on match day. The Recreation Ground is nestled against the River Avon with views stretching up to the green hills that create the valley of the city centre. Possibly the most picturesque sports ground in the world, soak up the atmosphere of a match at the Rec, before soaking up a few drinks in one of Bath's pubs and bars.
3. Bath Abbey Tower Tour
If you're not a fan of heights you might be better off enjoying the Abbey interior, however, the Bath Abbey Tower Tour offers outstanding panoramic views across Bath city centre. Make sure you bring your camera!
4. Georgian Architecture Tour: Royal Crescent & Circus
Guide yourself slightly out of Bath's shopping streets from the top of Milsom Street and onto Gay Street. From here you'll join the Circus, one of Bath's architectural gems. After taking in the 360 degree triumph of John Wood (both Senior and Junior) head onto Brock Street (first left off the Circus). 250 yards along here and you'll join the world famous Royal Crescent, however, before hand enjoy the eclectic independent shops and galleries along Margaret's Buildings - especially Bath Old Books shop at the top end of the street. From here you can walk along to the Royal Crescent and take in another of Bath's best know architectures. The green space between the Crescent and Royal Avenue is a fantastic spot in the summer months for picnics, ball games and taking in the views.
5. Spa Time: Bath Thermae Spa & The Roman Baths
The poster girl of many billboards and advertising spreads for Bath, the Bath Thermae Spa (below and lead image) is relatively new to the city, compared to the Roman Baths (above) whose hot water's have been bubbling away for thousands of years.
Page lead image: Photo Philip Edwards / Bath Thermae Spa. Above image: Photo: Matt Cardy / Bath Thermae Spa
Bath Thermae Spa opened their doors in 2006 and have become one of the top attractions in Bath. Taking in views of Bath Abbey and the surrounding cityscape, the roof top pool is the headline act at Bath Thermae Spa. The Spa also has different spa pools including the open air roof top pool and Minerva Baths, as well as the Aroma Steam Rooms and additional treatments available to visitors.
6. Prior Park, National Trust
Slopping gardens, soaring views and a Palladien architecture masterclass, Prior Park is a Bath visitor spot not to miss. Run and managed by the National Trust, the grounds are accessible from the city centre if you're not afraid of a bit of a climb. The grounds are nestled between the steeping Ralph Allen Drive and Widcombe hill side, so the site is no flat to explore. However the tea room and Palladien bridge and ponds are on the flat for those accessing the site from the lower entrance. Prior Park Landscape Gardens link up with the Bath Skyline walk so you can build this into your trail.
7. Bath Farmers' Market
Hosted in the artisan Green Park Station, the Bath Farmers' Market runs every Saturday from 8am - 1.30pm. Farmers, cheese makers, bread bakers, local cider makers and free from cake bakers all attend this incredibly popular local farmers' market. You'll also find local venison steaks, local apple juice, local butchers and vegetable farmers all pitching up.
Our Farmers' Breakfast is available on Saturdays with fresh produce sourced from the market that very morning. If you're not into sausage, bacon and eggs, then our Farmers' Market wood fired pizzas from our sister business Bath Pizza Company might take your fancy.
8. Bath's Canals and Waterways
Bath's most undersold asset, the canals that link the Bath to the hamlets, villages and towns that surround it are ideal for walkers, bikers and those with access to kayaks or barges.
Picking up the canal from Widcombe (a stones thrown from Bath Spa Railway Station) the 3 mile canal stretch to Bathampton to take in the fields and village surroundings as you leave the city is one not to miss - especially in the summer months. The George at Bathampton is the perfect incentive to get on the canal path. Cold ciders on the canal banks at the picturesque bridge at Bathampton is right up there with the more high profile Bath "must do's". Bath Canal is also accessible from Sydney Gardens behind the Holbourne Museum on Great Pulteney Street.
9. Parade Gardens & Bath Weir on the River Avon
The entrance to Parade Gardens can be found just off Orange Grove next to Bath Abbey - opposite the Garfunkel's restaurant. Another fantastic summer location for sunbathing, playing in the gardens and live music on the bandstand, Parade Gardens also has great views at water level looking up to the weir and Pulteney Bridge. Small entrance fee for non-residents.
10. Bath's Hidden Squares and Cobbled Streets
Only five to ten minutes from the busy shopping streets of Bath town centre are a collection of hidden squares and streets. Home to many local residents and some holiday apartments (get your hands on one if you can) these quiet yet central parts of Bath are worth exploring for their architecture and some with antique shops.
Places to explore - 5 to 10 mins walk from Bath city centre:
• St James' Square, St James' Wine Vaults
• Margaret's Buildings, Catherine Place, Rivers Street & Rivers Street Mews
• Russell Street & Circus Place
• Queen Square (more central and often with events and markets)
If you're feeling a little more adventurous - 15 mins walk from Bath city centre:
• Lansdown Crescent, Somerset Crescent
• Cavendish Road, Cavendish Crescent
• Norfolk Crescent, Great Stanhope Street
11. Horse Racing at Bath Racecourse, Lansdown
With a newly built roof terrace boasting impressive views of the course, horse racing in Bath at Lansdown is a wonderful afternoon out just ten minutes drive from Bath city centre. Packed with local ciders and ales racing outside of the city makes for a welcome break from the business of the city centre on weekends. Mid week meets for a more low key affair are certainly worth a visit.