Georgian townhouses, Roman baths, and Jane Austen are just a few things that come to mind when I think of Bath, England. Less than a two hour train ride from London, Bath is often a popular day trip for tourists looking to escape England’s bustling capital. While Bath is nowhere near as big as London, you will still find it difficult to see the top sights in just a day. I would encourage anyone to spend a weekend in Bath if they have the time. I was lucky enough to spend 48 hours in Bath and have collected my favorite places to see, stay, and most importantly, eat! I hope you find this post helpful if you’re visiting this quintessentially English city for the first time.
WHERE TO STAY:
Housed in a Georgian-style townhouse, this gorgeous boutique hotel quickly won me over with its purple and gold rooms, and my own personal “Roman” bath! But I’m getting ahead of myself…
After arriving at Bath Spa Station, there was no need to hail a taxi as the hotel is just a 10 minute walk away, situated across from Queen Square. All of the main attractions in the city center are also minutes away on foot. If you’re only spending 48 precious hours in Bath, you want to stay central and not waste any time getting around! Oh, and did I mention the fabulous views from the rooms?!
The Francis Hotel is not afraid of color and I especially loved the mismatched chairs and tables throughout the lobby and halls where guests were enjoying afternoon tea. The rooms are also colorful but very tasteful and provide a perfect balance of upscale designs and comfort. Rooms start at around 120 pounds a night and I’d recommend this charming hotel to anyone looking for a luxurious, yet affordable weekend getaway.
WHERE TO EAT:
I don’t know about you, but I plan most of my travels/life around food. People sometimes turn their noses up at British cuisine which seems silly to me because it is so much more than just fish and chips.
After checking into the Francis Hotel, I was craving Indian food (story of my life) and heard about an award-winning curry house just around the corner. My hunger distracted me and I didn’t bring along my camera, but please believe me when I say that The Eastern Eye is a fantastic dinner spot in the center of Bath. Prices are pretty standard, around 10 pounds for generous portions of delicious curries, my favorite being their chicken tikka masala. Please note that The Eastern Eye looks like a hole in the wall place from the outside, and you must climb some pretty steep stairs once inside, but you’ll soon discover a grand Georgian decorated dining room with plenty of tables. It wouldn’t hurt to book ahead on a weekend though!
If you’re lucky with the weather, I’d highly recommend gathering some picnic essentials at the Guildhall Market, which is located a stone’s throw from Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths (which I’ll get to soon!).
There’s a fabulous selection of fine cheeses, locally produced meat, artisan bread, cakes, and colorful produce. But my favorite thing about the market is the history. Guildhall is the oldest shopping venue in the city and there’s been a market on this site for the last 800 years! That’s pretty incredible.
This is also a great place to shop for souvenirs, if you’re not feeling hungry. But if you do decide on a picnic, I’d take your food across the street to Parade Gardens which is filled with flower beds, green lawns, views of the river, and even a few concerts in the summer! Unless you’re a local resident, it costs £1.50 to enter but it is well worth it.
WHAT TO SEE:
No visit to Bath is complete without seeing the famous Roman Baths. Is it touristy? Yes. And since you cannot reserve tickets online, I’d highly recommend visiting right when it opens at 9 AM, especially if you want to beat all of the day trippers. But is it worth it? YES!
It’s no surprise that the Romans were in England thousands of years ago and they certainly left their marks of genius in places such as this. At the Roman Baths, you’ll find an extremely well-preserved Roman site that was used for public bathing. Thanks to the natural hot springs, the water is always warm and many locals and visitors from faraway lands enjoyed their healing (and relaxing!) properties up until the 1800’s!
Today, visitors are not allowed to enter the water, or even touch it, but if you want a spa experience, head on over to Thermae Bath Spa, which is only a few minutes away by foot. You can buy a 2-hour pass which will get you into their popular open-air rooftop pool, aroma steam rooms, and indoor Minerva bath. It could be a fun evening activity as it’s open until 9:30 PM.
After your visit, you might as well pop into Bath Abbey which is right next door. It’s free to enter and worth spending time to admire the architecture and incredible history. The Abbey that we see now was constructed in the late 1800’s, but there’s been two other churches that have occupied this site since 757 AD.
The Royal Crescent is also a popular spot in Bath that tourists flock to, and for good reason. Here you’ll find a row of 30 houses that are laid out in a crescent shape which are some of the greatest examples of Georgian architecture in England. Of course, this is free to view from the outside, and many people spend time enjoying the large green lawn on a sunny day.
However, I’d highly recommend going inside No. 1 Royal Crescent, which gives you a fabulous insight into how these homes looked in the 18th century.
Those are my top recommendations for first-time visitors to Bath! All of this can definitely be accomplished in 48 hours, especially if you stay in the city center.
Have any of you visited this famous English city? I’d love to know in the comments below!