The city of Bath is widely regarded as one of Britain’s most beautiful smaller cities and is best known for the archaeological wonder from which it takes its name – the 2,000-year-old Roman Baths. Nestled in the Avon Valley between the Cotswolds and the Mendip Hills in the beautiful county of Somerset, Bath is also known for its perfectly preserved honey-coloured Georgian houses. Today, about 500 of the city’s buildings are considered of historical or architectural interest. The local architecture is so important that Bath was awarded World Heritage status in 1987, one of only a handful of such sites in the UK.
1 Roman baths
While the Romans are credited with establishing Bath’s ancient hot springs as a place of relaxation and rejuvenation, legend has it that its healing powers were discovered by a British king some 500 years earlier. But it was the Romans who left their mark, building the famous Roman Baths and Temple of Sulis Minerva around the largest of the city’s three hot springs in 75 BC. It’s not hard to see the appeal: the water contains 43 different minerals, gushes from a depth of nearly 10,000 feet at a rate of 275,000 gallons per day, and is a constant 46.5°F.
Voted one of Britain’s most romantic buildings, the award-winning Roman Baths and Temple are among the finest examples of Roman architecture remaining in England. Many of the objects found during various archaeological digs, including altar stones and beautiful mosaics, can be seen in the museum or around the great bath itself. And if all that lovely water tempts you to take a dip in these ancient waters yourself, check out the Thermae Bath Spa packages available through the Roman Baths website.
Location: Stall St, Bath
Official site: www.romanbaths.co.uk
Read also: Visiting Pompeii
2 Bath’s Georgian Roots and Royal Crescent
Exploring Bath’s perfectly preserved Georgian architecture is probably the second best excuse to visit. It is a great place to start your architectural adventure Construction of the bath collection. This unique museum not only shows how classical design influenced the city’s buildings, but also the incredibly detailed Bath Model, a beautiful architectural model of the historic city center.
Then when you’re done, head to Bath’s beautiful streetscape and head to the northwest of the city, where most of the best examples can be found. Checking out Queen Square and Gay St with their beautifully symmetrical facades dating from the early 18th century, head to the Royal Circus, a perfect circle of three stories with different classical orders (column types) on each story. Finally, there is Royal Crescent, a monumental 200-yard semi-circular sweep of residential mansions with a breathtakingly uniform, palace-like facade. No.1 Royal Crescent is in fact open to the public (most houses on the crescent remain privately owned), offering a rare glimpse into what life was like for the wealthy – along with their not-so-rich servants – in Georgian times.
Address: 1 Royal Crescent, Bath
Official site: https://no1royalcrescent.org.uk/
3 Bath Abbey
The Gothic Cathedral of the Bishop of Bath and Wells (also known as “Bath Abbey”) was founded in 1499 after Bishop Oliver King experienced a vivid dream of angels climbing up and down ladders to and from heaven. He also heard a voice declaring, “The crown must plant an olive tree and the king must restore the church.” It was interpreted as a sign to rebuild the church (the site had been used by Christians as a place of worship since 757 AD) and the dream was intricately immortalized in stone on the west side of the building.
Address: 12 Kingston Buildings, Bath
Official site: www.bathabbey.org
4 Pulteney Bridge
Pulteney Bridge is one of only a handful of bridges with buildings still standing. Built in 1770 to connect the center of Bath with undeveloped land across the River Avon, it is considered one of the most romantic such bridges in the world. Three arches support a variety of quaint shops and the bridge opens onto Great Pulteney Street with its beautiful houses from the Georgian era.
Location: Bridge St, Bath
5 Holburne Museum
The Holburne Museum’s excellent art collection includes paintings by Gainsborough, Reynolds and Stubbs, 18th century silver, Wedgwood porcelain, Renaissance bronzes and early period furniture. Located in the former home of Sir Thomas Holburne, the extensions include a garden cafe overlooking the nearby park.
Location: Great Pulteney St, Bath
Official site: www.holburne.org
6 Fashion Museum
After taking in the beautiful architecture of Bath, you will undoubtedly want to learn more about the styles and fashions that the residents would have decorated the city’s beautiful homes. The Fashion Museum – housed in the architecturally stunning Assembly Rooms – contains a world-class collection of contemporary and historical clothing, including 150 robed figures and more than 30,000 original objects from the late 16th century to the present.
The museum’s displays cover a variety of themes, such as men’s and women’s clothing, day and evening wear, and modern alternative fashion. For those who enjoy a bit of dressing up, reproduction clothes are available to try.
Location: Assembly Rooms, Bennett St, Bath
Official site: https://www.fashionmuseum.co.uk/
7 Sally Lunn’s House
This medieval house dates all the way back to 1483 and is the oldest in Bath. It is now a living museum and tearoom. It serves delicious “Sally Lunn’s sandwiches” made from traditional recipes. Located just steps away from Bath Abbeyexcavations show how the site has been used to rejuvenate weary travelers since Roman times.
Address: 4 North Parade Passage, Bath
Official site: www.sallylunns.co.uk
8 Herschel Museum of Astronomy
This fully restored Georgian mansion contains numerous artefacts related to acclaimed musician and astronomer William Herschel. Things to see in the museum include original pieces of music and instruments. It also contains many references to his greatest achievement, the discovery of the planet Uranus in 1781.
Address: 19 New King St, Bath
Official site: https://herschelmuseum.org.uk/
9 American museum in Great Britain
Set among 300 acres of beautiful Somerset countryside, the American Museum in Great Britain features an excellent collection of antique quilts, maps and folk art from colonial times to the Civil War. Time your visit right, and you can take part in several living history events, including reenactments of battles and events from America’s rich history.
Location: Claverton Manor, Bath
Official site: https://americanmuseum.org/
10 Victoria Art Gallery
Bath’s Victoria Art Gallery, the city’s second most visited museum, contains beautiful collections of works by Gainsborough, Turner and Sickert. Additional exhibitions may include items from the gallery’s collections of pottery, porcelain, glass and watches.
Location: Bridge St, Bath
Official site: www.victoriagal.org.uk
11 Bath International Music Festival
The Bath International Music Festival is considered one of Europe’s most diverse music festivals every year, held in late May to early June. Featured events include operas, chamber, orchestral and choral concerts, jazz performances, art exhibitions, fringe events, lectures and discussions. The repertoire is equally varied, with everything from early classical music to contemporary and modern works.
Official site: https://bathfestivals.org.uk/music/
12 Prior Park Landscape Garden
Located just 2 miles south-east of Bath, Prior Park has a beautiful porticoed portico built between 1735 and 1750. Renowned architect John Wood designed the structure and it is an excellent example of the Palladian mansions of this period . Be sure to visit the lovely Palladian Bridge in the beautifully landscaped grounds.
Location: Ralph Allen Drive, Bath
Official site: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/prior-park-landscape-garden
Where to Stay in Bath for Sightseeing
We recommend these charming hotels in Bath, close to the Roman Baths and the city’s main cultural attractions:
- The Gainsborough Bath Spa: heritage luxury, thermal springs, turndown, indulgent afternoon tea.
- Villa in Henrietta Park: boutique hotel right in the middle, friendly staff, quiet road, fantastic breakfast.
- Dukes Hotel: affordable boutique guesthouse, beautiful building, Georgian elegance, breakfast included.
- Premier Inn Bath City Center Hotel: budget hotel, convenient location, modern decor, comfortable beds.