I love England. The traditions, the quaintness, the music scene, the abundance of "keep calm and carry on" signs around EVERY corner, and (shocker) even the food (at least the gastro pub scene). England is a complete cultural experience, all with the perk of not needing to know another language to get around.
Bath is an easy train ride from London, and a great place to start any trip to England. With an easily walkable downtown layout, a variety of museums, and beautiful Georgian architecture, Bath has something for everyone.
- This is a great spot to ease into English life and get over jetlag. Start any trip to central England with 2 nights in Bath if possible.
- Fly into Heathrow Airport, take the Heathrow Express train to Paddington Station, and then catch a National Rail train right to Bath. That may seem like a lot for your first day, but with clear signage and lots of places to stop for snacks in Paddington, it is a pretty easy journey. Take the afternoon to check into your hotel or hostel, go for a walk, grab a bite, and get to bed early to offset jetlag.
- Heathrow Express:
- Times: Trains run every 15 minutes, travel time to Paddington is 15-20 minutes
- Fare: Peak £25.00 / Off-peak £22.00
- Ticket Hours: Peak - M-F 7am - 1am & 4pm - 7pm, Off-Peak - All other times
- National Rail:
- Times: Trains run every 30 minutes, travel time from Paddington Station to Bath Spa Station is 1.5 hours
- Fares: Weekly Peak trains can be really expensive (Early AM for commuters, £95.00), but if you wait for trains leaving after 10:30am, they become Off-Peak trains and only cost £33.10
- Heathrow Express:
- If you're an early bird, start your day with a nice walk to the east side of the River Avon to catch a few snapshots of the famous Pulteney Bridge & Weir
- After your stroll, meet up with the Mayor of Bath's Corps of Honorary Guides outside of the entrance to the Roman Baths for a great walking tour of the city.
- These tours are free (no tips expected or accepted) and they offer a really good history lesson combined with fun insights from local residents, of which Joy was a fantastic example (see her bright smile below). I highly recommend her, and the tours overall! During my tour we walked along beautiful streets, discussed architecture, visited the Assembly Rooms, walked through The Circus, and continued on to The Royal Crescent to enjoy one of the most famous views of Bath.
- Ticket Price: Free
- Times: 2 hour walks, Su-F 10:30am & 2pm / Sa 10:30am Only / Evening Walks May - August, Tu & Th 7pm
- There are an abundance of guides available, so don't worry about booking ahead
- Meeting Location: Look for the large signs to the right of the Roman Baths entrance, seen below, in the Abbey Square
- Once your morning walking tour has completed, head back into the middle of town for lunch at Acorn Vegetarian Kitchen. On my visit to this great veggie friendly spot, my friend and I ordered a selection of their small plates so we wouldn't have to pick just one!
- Address: 2 N Parade Passage
- With a full belly, head back to the Royal Crescent. The first house is actually a museum, cleverly named No. 1 Royal Crescent. The house has been preserved so that when you step through the front door, you are transported back into 18th century upper-class life. From a perfectly set dinner table, to a cabinet of curiosities in the study, this museum is worth a look if the era of Jane Austen intrigues you.
- Admission: £10
- Hours: Regular Mondays 12 noon - 5:30pm / Tu - Su 10:30am - 5:30pm / Bank Holiday Mondays 10:30am - 5:30pm
- After No. 1, make a quick stop into the Jane Austen Center gift shop. There is also a museum and themed tea room if you are a true enthusiast, but the gift shop was enough for me. Needless to say, I picked up an "I <3 Mr. Darcy" tote bag or two for friends and family.
- If you're craving an afternoon snack at this point, walk towards the train station and pop into Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) for a milkshake.
- At this point it should be mid to late afternoon, so now it's time for the most famous site in Bath, the reason for the city's name, the Roman Baths themselves.
- I am an avid fan of the Rick Steves guide books, and in doing my England trip research, I found a great two-part tip in his book that is definitely worth passing on. (I fully recommend getting his book as well, it has a wealth of amazing info)
- Part 1: Most museums and attractions in Bath close in the mid afternoon (around 4-6pm), but the Roman Baths stay open until 9pm in the summer months. Going in the evening lets you avoid the crowds and day-tripping tourists.
- Part 2: Your admission includes an audio guide and a staff guided tour. Skip the museum part when you first arrive and head down to the main bath. Hook up with a guided tour first to get the full history of the ruins, and afterwards the museum will have hopefully thinned out and you can take your time going back through at your own pace.
- The most beautiful time at the Baths is after the sun goes down and the gas lamps come on. It creates such a romantic atmosphere, take a moment to grab a seat and just soak it in. My friend and I stayed for 3 hours to really enjoy the evening ambiance, and we recommend taking your time.
- Admission: £15.50
- Hours: March - Mid-June, 9am - 5pm / Mid-June - Aug, 9am - 9pm / Sept - Oct, 9am - 5pm / Nov - Feb, 9:30am - 5pm
- You could eat an early dinner before the baths, but since I had a milkshake instead, my friend and I ate aftewards. We popped into Bill's right around the corner from the Abbey for a late dinner before taking our last stroll around the city.
- YMCA Bath hostel
- When I visited Bath, a friend and I were spending over a week exploring the areas in and around London, and we had booked a variety of accommodation types (hotels, hostels, B&Bs, and even an AirBnB). Since we knew that our first two nights would most likely be spent passed out due to jetlag, we went with one of our cheaper options of the trip here in Bath.
- This is a hostel, so for super frugal travelers there are shared dorm rooms available. To have a bit more privacy, my friend and I booked a twin room instead. This is definitely a no-frills experience, but the room was clean, the staff helpful, and a simple continental breakfast was included. All in all, I would recommend this place to younger travelers that want to save a bit on accommodation, with the bonus perk of being a great spot to meet other adventurous travelers.
I hope you enjoyed this day in Bath, and that you remember to take your time! Bath was just made for relaxing. If you follow my footsteps or even just use one of the suggestions, please let me know in the comment section below about your experience!
Thanks for coming along, and check back every week for a new Victinerary to help plan your next adventure!
Photos taken with: Nikon D5300, Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 10-24mm f3.5-4.5 Lens (Rented from BorrowLenses.com), Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f1.8 Lens