Visiting Bath is one of the most popular day trips for tourists to the UK and London. But there is so much to see and do in this compact city, even 48 hours might not be enough!
Around an hour and a half from London‘s Paddington station, Bath is a stunning scenic treat. Its Georgian terraced houses evoking images of period dramas and it’s winding lanes packed full of boutique shops and quaint cafes.
For many, visiting Bath is done as part of a day trip (often including Stonehenge), or to visit one of the seasonal markets. And a great day trip it is too!
But Bath offers much more for the visitor prepared to delve in and explore. In fact, once you’ve seen the classic sights there are several fantastic unexpected (and affordable) things to do in and around town. We recommend at least a full day, but ideally a solid 48 hours in Bath to get the most out of it.
The Gone Travelling team headed off to find out some of the more unusual and unexpected things to do in Bath!
OK, we know this isn’t unusual, but if you’re in town this is a must see. After all, the Roman baths are the reason the city exists.
The site of the UK’s only hot springs, the area was treated as a place of worship by both the Celts and the Romans before falling into disrepair. Now with the Georgian complex built around the original Roman temple, this fascinating museum offers a glimpse into the lives of Roman Britons.
A highlight for me is the the lead ‘curses’, which are small tablets with complaints to the local Gods. Mostly about the theft of their belongings while in the Bath…
If you only do one ‘touristy’ thing in Bath, this should be it.
Audio commentary is included for free as part of the entry. Prices start from £16.50 for adults and £10.25 for children (children under 6 are free).
Thermae Bath Spa
As fascinating as the Roman baths are, unfortunately you can’t get in and have a soak.
However, just around the corner is Thermae Bath Spa. This modern rooftop spa is fed from the same waters that feed the historical baths a literal stones throw away.
Soak in the warm and mineral rich outdoor pool while taking in the view. Or partake in one of the spa packages such as massages, facials and all manner of relaxation and therapeutic treatments.
Prices start from £36 for 2 hour access to the spa, with towel, robe and slippers provided.
One of the things you’ll notice while wandering the narrow streets of Bath is that there is a lot of fabulous food. Knowing where to start can be tricky and take a bit of know how and research. Thankfully, SavouringBath.com have got you covered.
Mike James has been running the business for 2 years and is a Blue Badge guide with over 20 years experience working in tourism. With Savouring Bath, he has channelled his passion for both Bath and local food produce to create a selection of food tours for all tastes (literally).
From Local Flavours (focusing on the local produce and farmers market) to Guilty Pleasures (think chocolate and tiramisu workshops), the food tours take in the best of the gastronomic offerings that the city has to offer.
With tours starting from £40, you’ll get to taste a fabulous range of dishes and get a passionate and knowledgeable tour of Bath!
Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An Alternative River Tour
The River Avon meanders through the centre of the city, with the postcard image of Bath, the Pulteney Bridge and the weir a beautiful (and very Instagrammable) sight for visitors.
You can hire narrowboats and jump on a boat cruise, but if you want to cruise the waterways in a more hands on (and fun) manner then head to Original Wild.
We went paddleboarding up the river to the weir, but you can also go kayaking, rafting and even abseiling out of town. Kyle Worgan, who took us out on the river, has a love of outdoor activities which is evident in his enthusiasm and his passion for Bath.
Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) is actually a great way to cruise the river; not too strenuous, easy to master and a sociable and fun activity. Packages are available from £15, so it makes a very affordable way to have fun on the river.
Suitable for individuals or small groups, Original Wild run river and canal tours throughout the year. Tours can be booked in advance or on the day, so head to OriginalWild.com or email them at email@example.com.
Green Park Station
This grand Victorian era train station last saw a train in 1966, falling derelict until the 1980s. Today you’ll find street food traders, boutique shops, The Green Park Brasserie and Bath Pizza Company.
A hub of community events, the station is home to the weekly farmers market, which was one of the first of it’s type in the country. There is also regular live music at The Green Park Brasserie usually jazz and acoustic music, under a covered al fresco setting.
The Green Park Brasserie is a family owned restaurant set in the old station ticket hall. There are loads of original features, images of the station in it’s heyday, and they offer an award winning menu of modern and traditional British food.
Or if you’re looking for something more informal, The Bath Pizza Co set just outside the Brasserie, is an offshoot of the restaurant offering Neapolitan style pizzas.
See what’s happening at Green Park Station on their website.
Bath On The Beach
In the summer months, a beach appears in downtown Bath. A few moments walk from the Royal Crescent or the Roman Baths and you’d think you were in the Caribbean!
Bath On The Beach aims to offer a Caribbean vibe with a sandy beach, games including beach volleyball and adventure golf, yoga, hammocks, private huts and cocktails. The beach is open in the summer months from 21st July (as of 2018), but keep an eye on their website for details.
Turn up any day from 10am and soak up the beach vibes (even though you’re about 25 miles from the sea!).
Other Fun Things To Do In Bath
For such a small city there are lots of interesting, cultural and fun things to do in Bath…! Many of them free or cheap. Culture vultures will definitely find they need more than 48 hours in Bath to see everything.
There are over 15 museums in the city, including The Fashion Museum, The Holborne Museum (classic and modern art), The American Museum (all about… America) and The Jane Austen Museum.
If getting out and about is more your style, you can hire a bike and explore the surrounding area. Bristol is a short ride along a designated cycle or head the other way and discover country pubs, ancient burial grounds and cheese makers. Hire a bike in Green Park Station or use the local bike share scheme from NextBike.
There are also some great parks around Bath, including Prior Park with it’s landscape garden and the Botanical Gardens.
Being a University town, Bath does of course have some excellent nightlife. In fact, in keeping with its classy exterior, most of the nightlife options are quite refined.
Komedia is an award winning venue in the middle of town, home to regular comedy, cabaret and live music nights.
The Canary Bar is a gin bar housed in a gin distillery. A few seconds walk from the Jane Austen Museum, you can sample some of the delicious local tipple in a variety of cocktails, or if you’re looking to keep it simple, just with tonic!
The Hideout is a funky whisky bar, supposedly with a past as a hangout for the more seedy elements of old Bath. Situated in a basement bar in the middle of town, the bar staff really know their whisky and can knock you up an amazing cocktail too.
The Bell Inn on Walcot Street is a traditional style pub serving real ales and pop up food. You’ll find a cool crowd listening to live music and DJ’s on most nights of the week.
The Common Room is your more traditional style nightclub, complete with a selection of modern and throwback music, sticky floors and late night drinking.
If you’re enjoying 48 hours in Bath then you should check out the fabulous local cider and gin, and have a night with the friendly locals at one of the many pubs in town.
There is accommodation for all types in Bath, from hostels to Hilton hotels.
A fantastic budget option outside of academic term time is the Halls of Residence on the University of Bath complex. We stayed in comfortable, clean, ensuite rooms in the University campus. If you’re staying for a long weekend or you’re looking to save some money but still have a nice place to sleep, check them out.
There are of course self catering amenities, a village vibe with several cafes, shops, banks and supermarkets and access (for an additional fee) to the world class fitness facilities on site.
Rooms from £36 per night, check availability and book at BathSummerAccommodation.co.uk.
The University of Bath is a ten minute bus ride for £1.50 or a 30 min walk gets you back into the city and ready to enjoy your visit to Bath. Buses are regular (every ten minutes during the day).
Getting To Bath
The nearest airport to Bath is Bristol Airport which has connections to the UK, Europe and the world. There is an express bus service which takes around 50 minutes and costs £14. Connections from Heathrow are also direct using the bus and take around 2 1/2 hours.
For more information about the more unexpected side of Bath, check out VisitBath.com/unexpected. If you have your own tips for 48 hours in Bath, drop us your suggestions in the comments below.
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