When wanderlust strikes, we typically flock to far off exotic locations which promise novel experiences and ample scope of digital cataloging. This summer I decided to break the pattern and visit someplace close by; you never realize how little you know about your home turf until you vacation there and explore it like a tourist.
About 150 km west of London, Bath, Somerset is a well-frequented tourist destination, which I had never yet visited. We decided to head there for our annual summer break and we did not regret our decision! Bath is a melting pot of diverse histo-cultural influences; discovering its many wonders was a very exciting prospect indeed.
We spent a considerable amount of time at Bath and tried to explore all its nooks and crannies. Here’s my take on the top 10 things to do in Bath when vacationing:
Below is also the Travel Vlog from our Bath Staycation – Hope you enjoy watching it.
Visit the Roman Baths
The Roman Baths complex is arguably the most popular tourist attraction of the city. It ranks high amongst the best-preserved Roman remains in the world. At present, the site has four features of interest; the Sacred Spring, the Temple of Sulis Minerva, the Roman Bath House, and the Museum.
As historic records go, the Temple of Sulis Minerva was created sometime in 60 – 70 AD, followed by construction of the baths in the subsequent 300 years. The hot springs of the bathing complex were presumably a site of recreation and relaxation for the Romans, and interestingly, serve a similar purpose in contemporary times.
When you visit the Roman Baths, you get to explore the bathing complex, with its fascinating features like ancient changing rooms and tepid water plunge pools. But for me, the highlight was tasting the spa water here which is touted as being therapeutic in nature, enriched with the goodness of 43 minerals! You can taste the water from a spa fountain stationed in the west baths or a traditional fountain maintained in the Pump Room here.
A bonus treat is the wide range of archeological finds and ancient relics displayed in the museum. Do explore the museum if you’re interested in the historic significance of this site.
Relax at the Thermae Bath Spa
The epitome of historic confluence with present-day reality, the Thermae Bath Spa proffers a unique experience to visitors. It combines the authenticity of ancient spa water with a modern, luxuriant exterior, which is quite honestly, the best of both worlds.
The New Royal Bath is at the heart of the Thermal Bath Spa, enveloped in glass with fine aesthetics. It encloses two natural thermal baths which are fed by hot springs in the same vein as ancient Roman practice. But that’s not all. The Spa also has a separate open-air, roof-top pool, another indoor pool, two steam rooms, an Infrared Sauna, several relaxation arenas, spa treatments rooms and a few other surprises.
It’s safe to say that the Thermae Bath Spa promises an unforgettable experience of rejuvenation that is relaxing and glamorous in equal measure. In my opinion, this is a great place of a girl’s day out!
Explore Bath Abbey
Bath Abbey is a beautiful Cathedral with imposing Gothic architecture and an a curiously, alluring history. Though it was founded in the 7th century as a site of Christian prayer and worship, it’s current form can be attributed to major restoration work pioneered by Sir George Gilbert Scott in the late 19th century. The vast expanse of the Cathedral is able to house 1200 people with secular ceremonies, lectures, and concerts taking held here regularly. You can drop by here for spiritual pursuit or merely to explore this historic, architectural gem.
Go Boating on River Avon
River Avon is a stunning example of nature’s beauty and boating across its waters is incredibly soothing. You can hop on a boat form the Bath Boating Station and enjoy the gently lapping waters in the navigable section of the river. You can watch the lovely scenery passing by and spot kingfishers, herons, moorhens, mallards, and other beautiful wildlife on the way. If you plan accordingly, you can boat up to the Bathampton Mill for a meal or snack.
Stroll Through the Royal Crescent
The Royal Crescent is emblematic of the opulent lifestyle of the rich and famous in Georgian times. A marvelous example of post-medieval British architecture, the Royal Crescent comprises a series of 30 terraced houses, poised in a semi-circular arrangement, which accords it this name. Having been constructed over 240 years ago, the stone façade is as was over two centuries ago. If you want to delve deeper into the history of the Royal Crescent, you can visit the No.1 Royal Crescent Museum which is a shrine to its past.
Enjoy a Hot Air Balloon Ride
Hot air balloon rides are a popular tourist activity in Bath. There are several service providers that offer such rides, which all begin from the Royal Victoria Park. The direction of your flight is determined by the wind pattern but rest assured that the view is going to be spectacular in any case. Hot air balloon rides are great romantic or family recreation, and if you have young kids, they will surely have a memorable time.
Visit the Jane Austen Center
The famous English woman writer – Jane Austen – is immortalized in the permanent exhibition set up at the Jane Austen Center, Bath. For avid readers and Austen fans, this place provides interesting insights into her life and her writing, especially how life at Bath, her place of residence, is reflected in her work. The most fascinating of all is a life-size wax statue of the author on display, which is presumed to be the closest likeness to the celebrated novelist.
Explore the Bath Botanical Gardens
Bath’s Botanical Gardens were established in 1887 and remain to be a delightful expanse of nature’s many wonders. There is a vast plethora of trees, bushes, herbs, insects, birds, and wildlife here. The added bonus of a picturesque stream, a rock garden, a pool, a scented walk, and an aerial walkway make the Bath Botanical Gardens a mini wonderland for nature buffs.
Discover the Delights of the Parade Gardens
If your lust for natural beauty is not satiated by the Botanical Gardens, the Parade Gardens will get the job done. This garden area, in the heart of the city, is a tranquil spot from which the surrounding architecture, which in invariably extraordinary in any part of Bath, may be observed without distraction. This park has had many historic figures walk through it, has hosted many concerts and events, and even been a wedding location for many. Revel in the richness of the manicured greens and groomed flower beds.
Sign Up for the Open Bus Bath Tour
Bath has an extensive network of Hop-On-Hop-Off open bus tours which are lovely way to explore the city. These tours take you across all tourist attractions, allowing you to explore them at your own pace. Best part is, the panoramic views you are privy to from an open bus give you a different perspective and appreciation for the city. If you are visiting Bath with family, open bus tours are a great way to sightsee!
So, these were my top picks for things to do at Bath. Do let us know if you enjoyed visiting them too!