A stunning and small city that’s well worthy of your time in the UK is that of Bath, a buttery stone dream destination with plenty of small streets to explore and where the coffee shops are abundant. Here’s your complete guide to the best of a weekend in Bath, a two-day unexpected, historic, and offbeat itinerary.
After you’ve seen the iconic places in the UK, where do you go next? Following a visit to London, Stonehenge, and a myriad of other must-see British locations, give yourself a little time to visit some of the more historic and smaller cities the isles have to offer such as Bath (a city just 1.5 hours via train from London).
After all, some of the best reasons to visit Bath include thousands of years worth of history, exquisite architecture around almost every street corner, and plenty of great dining opportunities. The city is also home to many offbeat and unusual activities. And while Bath is certainly popular with tourists, it’s nowhere near as busy as nearby locations such as Bristol or Oxford.
Day one in Bath: Highlights of Bath
Bath is a city that’s been used for leisure ever since it was first founded as a retreat destination some two millennia ago. Today, the town is predominantly populated by Georgian architecture and lies along the River Avon, sitting just a ten-minute train ride away from the bustling and busy Bristol.
While day two of this weekend in Bath itinerary is all about getting to know the city on a more local level, day one of this weekend in Bath is all about seeing the best of Bath’s must-see attractions! So make sure to bring your camera along as you’ll likely want to snap a lot of photos along the way!
See the Roman Baths
Of course, Bath has been a go-to destination for relaxation and wellness for well over two millennia. This spa focused city is home to oodles of natural springs which bubble up from the ground following rainfall on the nearby Mendip Hills.
As a result, a visit to the well-preserved Roman Baths is an absolute must on any venture into this Sout West city! The earliest attestation of the use of the Roman Baths was by the Celts and the springs which were discovered were dedicated to a goddess whom the Romans later knew by the name of ‘Minerva’.
Later on in history, Geoffrey of Monmouth (who spread one of the best-known versions of King Arthur and is linked to Tintagel) wrote of the Roman Baths as being first discovered by the British King Bladud (even though this wasn’t the case!).
Visit Bath Abbey
Following a visit to the Roman Baths, the other place you can’t miss in Bath is that of Bath Abbey. The ecclesiastical building’s full name is Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul and the site was first founded as a place of worship as early as the 7th-century.
The building now on site was constructed in the 12th and 16th-centuries, with much of the current building being heavily restored during the mid-19th-century. Today, the Abbey can be visited on a daily basis and this Grade I listed building is breathtakingly beautiful.
Snap photos of the Royal Crescent and the Circus
Following a brush with some incredibly historical locations and a literal step back in time, take yourself to see some of the prettiest streets in the UK. The Royal Crescent is a set of thirty identical terraced houses constructed during the 18th-century.
Now a Grade I listed building, this row of houses sits adjacent to a lush green park and has been called ‘home’ by many notable residents over the years. Nearby, the Circus is so-called because these terraced houses form a circular shape, the large enclave was designed by architect John Wood, the Elder around the same time as the Royal Crescent.
Both are considered some of the most instagrammable places in Bath and are well worth a wander around on any trip to the city. Other streets in Bath which may well be of interest from a photography perspective include Milsom Street, George Street, and Northumberland Place.
Go paddleboarding along the River Avon
Following a visit to the best of Bath, it’s time to see a more unusual side of the city. As in, you’ll literally be floating along the River Avon itself, providing a unique perspective of the cityscape! Paddleboarding is one of the fastest growing water sports in the UK, and once on the water, it’s not hard to see why.
Fairly easy to balance on, the boards provide a great work out for your core muscles and are much easier to stand up on than they look. Even I didn’t fall in and, as quite literally everyone I know will attest to, I’m incredibly clumsy!
Paddle along the river’s edge, see an unexpected side of the city, all set against the backdrop of stunning Pulteney Bridge. I went stand up paddle boarding with Original Wild and couldn’t recommend them highly enough. Prices start from £15 per hour per person.
Where to stay during your weekend in Bath
Bath can be a pretty pricey city and so it can be more than a little tricky to find an affordable place to stay if you’re wanting to make a weekend of your visit. However, if you opt to stay a little outside the heart of the historic centre, then prices become much more reasonable, such as in the university accommodation a ten-minute bus ride from Bath proper.
During my stay in Bath, I had the chance to experience Bath university accommodation for myself; mood lighting in the bedroom, breakfast, campus walks, and all! WiFi is free, breakfast is optional, and parking can be found onsite. The best availability for uni accommodation can be found during the summer months when most of the students leave for the summer (between June and September).
Once on campus, there are plenty of cafés, bars, and places where you can eat for a reduced rate in comparison to Bath city proper. Rooms start at £36 per night and £50 per night for an ensuite. Elsewhere on site, there’s also a lake, a fake castle (Sham Castle), as well as plenty of ducks. In fact, the ducks at Bath University campus are so famous that they even have their own Instagram account!
Day Two in Bath: Unexpected & Unusual Bath
Day two of this weekend in Bath itinerary is more about experiencing a quirky, hidden, and unexpected side of the city. After all, once you’ve seen the famous things to do in the city, it’s a good idea to wander around the more secret and unexpected places in Bath in order to see the small settlement on a more local level.
Electric Bear Brewing Co.
If you’re a fan of all things craft beer-related, then you simply need to visit Electric Bear Brewing Co., a quirkily named brewery with even more unique flavoured tipples on offer. Located in the Maltings Industrial Estate, the drink producer was first founded a few years ago.
Some of the more unusual beers on offer include chocolate and coffee infused beers, and even a mango sour (which tastes more fruity than you might imagine). If you want to visit for yourself, then there are 10 rotating beers on tap on a weekly basis on site during Fridays and Saturdays.
Go shopping in the Guildhall
Of course, asides from its impressive Cathedral and Roman Baths, the city is well-known for its Christmas markets, which are some of the best in the UK. Elsewhere in the city, the Bath Guildhall Market has been in operation since the Middle Ages, well over 800 years to be exact! Today, the market is home from everything from cheese tasting stalls to sweet sellers to haberdashery vendors.
Spot some Literary Locations
Bath is the kind of city which is well associated with a myriad of writers, authors, and literary figures. After all, there are strong connections with the likes of novelist Jane Austen (who lived in Bath), writer Jacqueline Wilson (who was born in Bath), and even Charles Dickens (who was a frequent tourist in Bath during his lifetime).
While in the city, be sure to also check out at least one of the many independent bookshops dotted around the city, and perhaps even peruse a couple of the shelves within. Highlights of Bath bookstores include Topping & Company Booksellers and Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights.
Go wine tasting at Le Vignoble
With a motto like ‘love the vine,’ you know that a wine tasting lesson at Le Vignoble is going to give you a good introduction to the world of wine. Spend the rest of your two days in Bath sipping on local and international wines while getting a lesson in how to properly analyse the tipple!
Things to know before visiting Bath for the first time
Whether it’s your first, fifth, or fifth-hundredth time in Bath, there are a few things you’ll want to know before your trip. Firstly, the location of Bath means that it couldn’t be easier to combined a visit to the city with a trip to the nearby Area of Oustanding Beauty, the Cotswolds. Though Bath itself can be explored without a car, you’ll probably want to rent one if you’re looking to enoy small Cotswold settlements.
The best way to get around Bath is on your own two feet. The city is relatively compact, with most of the attractions within a short walking distance of one another. For those who are looking to experience the ancient English city with the help of a local expert, you might want to book a guided walking tour like this one. Otherwise, this hop-on-hop-off bus pass allows you a 24-hour ticket with as many stops offs as you like.
Finally, the UK and the Republic of Ireland, as well as Cyrpus, use different plugs from much of the rest of mainland Europe. What this means is that you’ll probably need a travel adaptor. This all in one adaptor contains USB ports and works with several different plugs.