Want to escape London for the countryside? Obsessed with Jane Austen and looking for your own Mr. Darcy? Or maybe your fascinated by ancient Rome? Perhaps, you just want to feel like you’ve fallen into a storybook? Well, look no further than the rolling English countryside and town of Bath.
No matter your interests, the beautiful town is sure to capture your imagination.
Only two cities in the world are deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site – Bath is one of them.
I had low-ish expectations when we made a day trip during our vacation to London (how can the countryside top London for goodness’ sake?!), but the day spent in Bath was one of my favorites of the whole trip. This little town is simply that captivating. I wanted to share some tips and wisdom from our journey, so you’re sure to stop by this idyllic spot during your next trip to Great Britain.
From London, the easiest way to get to Bath is by train, as ride time is only 1.5 hours. We went via a London Walks Tour, and they booked our train via Paddington Station for us. The tour cost 52 pounds, and booking a ticket yourself will run 56 pounds at the cheapest, off-peak rate. You can book train tickets here.
THE ROMAN BATH
Well, you can’t come to Bath and skip the baths can you? The ruins are so well preserved and are formed by a natural hot spring. You can learn all about the baths history and Roman public bathing and socializing in the museum and then tour the actual baths. They date back to 70 AD! You, unfortunately, cannot actually take a bath. Tickets are 14 pounds for adults and 9 pounds for children. Book here.
You can also visit a modern day spa (The Thermae Bath Spa), that still utilizes the mineral rich water of the hot springs.
TAKE A RIVER CRUISE
The river Avon runs through the city of bath, so why not explore the city by boat? You can take one of the many river cruise options and bask in the city’s historical sights and wildlife from the water. What better way to spend a sunny day then lazing about the countryside on a boat? Options include a bespoke canal charter, a narrowboat, or even a floating restaurant. Check out several boat options here.
VISIT THE ABBEY
This late Medeival church has a Victorian interior designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott. It’s nestled on the Kingston Parade, an open square surrounded by benches that can be filled by tour groups, street performers or festivals. You can pop in the Abbey for one of their services or festivals or explore its gorgeous exteriors. For a more thorough discovery, you can take a “Tower Tour” and even trek the 212 steps to the top of its tower. A steep hike, but it could be worth it for some of the best panoramic views of Bath. Tour tickets are 6 pounds for adults and 3 pounds for children. Book here.
TAKE A WALKING TOUR
As I mentioned, we visited Bath on a day trip through Walks of London. This is a great option if you want to cram in the town’s highlights in a day’s time. We toured the Austen sights, the Roman Baths and walked the majority of the main town. It was a long day, scheduled to the minute, and we had about one hour of free time to grab lunch. If you want to explore on your own or take in Bath at a more leisurely pace, book your own tickets, but the guided tour was perfect for us tourists with poor senses of direction and no access to Google Maps. Plus, our knowledgeable tour guide, in the “you can’t miss it” red hat, taught us almost everything we could care to know about Bath.
STEP INTO THE WORLD OF JANE AUSTEN
Prolific author and hero of independent women everywhere, Jane Austen lived in Bath for several years and set Persuasion and Northanger Abbey in the city. In Jane’s time, Bath was a fashionable health resort town. You can even see where she would have socialized in the Assembly Rooms. These rooms hosted many balls like the ones described in her novels. The chandeliers are original, and were thankfully removed before the Rooms were bombed during World War II. We also stopped by the Royal Theatre, that Jane frequented with her parents. You can still take in a performance there, if you’d like.
If you’re a big fanatic, you can also visit the Jane Austen Centre or join the Jane Austen Festival that happens every September. It’s ten full days of all things Jane, so let’s hope you are a diehard fan.
EAT AT SALLY LUNN’S
One of the oldest houses in Bath, Sally Lunn’s is home to a tea house and the birthplace of “Bath buns.” These regional delicacies are a cross between bread and cake and are supposedly very similar to brioche. All I know is, I have yet to meet a carb I don’t like, so be sure to wander around the corner from the Abbey, pop in and give these cheeky buns a go.
TAKE IN THE STORYBOOK MAGIC
I could have simply wandered Bath for hours and taken in its architecture and natural charms – free of charge. Visit the attractions I’ve mentioned above, or just stroll through Bath’s streets, rolling hills or gardens. It’s easy to forget you’re in the 21st century, and you’re bound to long for your own Mr. Darcy to round a corner. We visited on a clear summer’s day, and the Royal Crescent was full of tourists and Bath residents feasting in the afternoon sun and the city’s storybook energy. They had the right idea.
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