Buttery stone, lush green parks, and, of course, the two millennia old Roman Baths themselves. The beautiful South West city of Bath lies along the River Avon and is located just a ten-minute train ride away from the bustling modern city of Bristol. Home to countless little-known attractions and plenty of hidden gems, here are the very best secret spots in Bath!
When it comes to fake castles, it doesn’t get much better than this. Sham folly offers breathtakingly beautiful views of Bath as well as oodles of history… So what’s not to love? Sham Castle was first constructed in the 18th-century in Bathampton as a way to ‘prettify’ an eccentric wealthy Englishman’s house from Bath city.
Today, the beautiful structure is situated on the fringes of the golf club and is steps away from the campus of Bath University. It’s the perfect place to get away from busy city life and admire the spires, domes, and pretty stone façades from above. Of all the hidden gems in Bath, this is easily one of my favourites.
Beazer Garden Maze
For those looking for a secret spot in Bath which all age groups will enjoy, Beazer Garden Maze fits the bill. Not far from Pulteney Bridge, this maze (which is actually technically a labyrinth) was designed by Randoll Coate in 1984 and is best visited on a warm summer’s day.
When Coate designed this garden, he drew inspiration from a myriad of eras which greatly influenced the city’s history; Brunel’s railway, Georgian architecture and Roman whispers can all be found in various caveats of the labyrinth.
Sample charcoal ice cream at Swoon Gelato
Swoon Gelato is the go-to destination for all sweet tooths venturing into Bath. While the dessert shop itself is rather well known, what isn’t as discussed is the sheer variety of flavours on offer, as well as the quirky dishes and artisanal gelatos you may well want to sample for yourself.
With locations now in Bristol and Bath, Swoon Gelato first opened its doors just over a year ago, steps away from the historic city centre. This Italian style gelato is creamy in texture, has up to 50% less fat than traditional ice cream and uses locally produced ingredients wherever possible.
While in store, there are dozens of flavours to choose from, and if you’re not quite sure which one to go for, then there are always small spoons on hand so that you can try before you buy. One of the quirkiest flavours on offer is the charcoal vanilla. While this tasted just like a creamy vanilla, it kind of had a grainy texture, meaning that it’s certainly not for everyone!
Bath Abbey Tower
Yes, Bath Abbey may well be one of the most iconic things to see in Bath. But what you may not know is that you can climb the 200+ steps of the ecclesiastical’s building tower for one of the quirkiest and best panoramic views of the city.
Once inside the abbey various stained glass windows softly light the abbey’s interior. When in the bell tower itself, it’s perfectly possible to see the various levers and pulleys, as well as the bells which ring in the hours of the days in Bath. Of all the unique things to do in Bath, the Abbey Tower almost tops the list.
Paddle Boarding on the River Avon
Okay, so perhaps the River Avon isn’t really a secret spot in the city! After all, the murky waters of this famous river are Bath’s main raison d’être… However, what you may not know is that it’s possible to go paddle boarding along the Avon, which makes for a surprisingly relaxing evening activity.
Good for your core, standing upon the board was actually a lot easier than it looks! Original Wild offers paddle boarding in and around Bath for as little as £15 per hour per person – an adventurous activity which offers a unique perspective of Bath and is well worth the fee in my opinion!
Topping & Company Booksellers
Of course, no list of secret spots in Bath would be complete without a quick nod to the countless bookshops dotted around the city. From rare and first edition tomes to everyday reads, there are plenty of bookstores to peruse the shelves of.
One of the best independent booksellers in the resort city is that of Topping & Company, a shop boasting over 45,000 titles on their handmade shelves. This bibliophile dream destination is made even more of an escape from it all by the various literary events held on a regular basis throughout the year. For more information on opening times and events, be sure to check out the Topping & Company website.
Stroll the arcades of the Bath Guildhall Market
Situated right in the centre of the city, the Bath Guildhall Market traces its roots all the way back to medieval times (over 800 years to be exact!) and is the oldest shopping venue the city has to offer. Today, the marketplace is characterised by the 19th-century covered domes which cover these pedestrianised parades. Countless stall holders now tout their ways on a daily basis; selling everything from cucpcakes and confectionery to souvenirs and haberdashery.
Bath Vintage & Antiques Market, Green Park Station
While Bath is a historic city in of itself, it’s also a go-to destination for those in the mood for shopping all things vintage, rare, and offbeat. And one of the best places to do this is on the last Sunday of the month within the walls of Green Park Station.
For on this day, and on this day only, the station is transformed into the treasure trove collectables, antiques and vintage ware worthy of every collector’s dream. Populating the various market stalls which pop up around the building, the market has been going for well over five years.
So whether you’re looking for earthenware, old maps, or some reclaimed furniture, the market has you covered. While there, be sure to check out the oodles of food and drinks stalls vending all kinds of delicious and locally sourced produce.
Electric Bear Brewing Co.
If you’re a fan of all things beer related, then you may well have heard of the Electric Bear Brewing Co. Despite its rather unusual name, the explanation behind this quirky moniker is actually pretty straightforward. Basically, the ‘bear’ part comes from the founder’s home district, while electric is a nod to the fact that the factory brews electrically.
Located in UNit 12, the Maltings, unique and unusual offerings from this Bath-based company include coffee and chocolate infused beers, as fruity offerings such as mango sour beers (you really get the mango notes on this one!). If you’re looking for one of the best secret spots in Bath and you’re a beer lover, then the taproom and shop are open on site on Fridays and Saturdays.
Take a day trip to the Somerset Lavender Farm
Though not technically in Bath proper itself (you’ll need access to a car), the opportunity to feature the beautiful blooms of Somerset Lavender Farm seemed like too good of an opportunity to pass up! Home to oodles of sweetly scented blooms, the lavender place is around a half-hour long drive from the city of Bath.
Once at the farm, there are two large lavender fields to explore. While the location is a little smaller than other flower farms in the UK, this one is free to visit, as well as a lavender garden which features a rose arbour. Elsewhere on site, there are several other themed gardens, as well as a café, plant nursery, and farm shop.