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Ready to spend the weekend of your dreams in the stunning UK city of Bath? Among other things, this British town is notable for its honey-colored Georgian architecture, Roman ruins, and fine dining. Its small size and incredible walkability make it the perfect place to escape London for a slow-paced, relaxing weekend.
Interestingly, Bath is the only city in the UK to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. That definitely makes it a must see!
Being the first UK city I ever visited, I was swept off my feet upon arriving into Bath. If I had any doubts at the time, its distinctive architecture certainly let me know I was no longer in Ohio. However, it pains me to admit that my hubby and I didn’t exactly get it right on our first visit to Bath.
Even though we were there for 3 nights, I overestimated our time and booked day trips on both of our full days. We still saw enough of Bath to take in and appreciate its beauty, but one full day exploring the city would have been perfect.
Obviously, if I were to return for another visit, I would do things a bit differently. Having learned from my mistakes, I’ve created for you the perfect itinerary for a weekend visit to Bath that I will definitely be using on my next trip.
How to Spend the Perfect UK Weekend in Bath
Getting from London to Bath
If you are flying into London to visit Bath, you will likely land in either Heathrow or Gatwick Airport. From there, it is easiest to connect to Bath via train. You will ultimately need to get to London Paddington Station for your connection to Bath.
To do this from Heathrow Airport, take the Heathrow Express train, which departs every 15 minutes and goes directly to Paddington. The Gatwick Express, which runs about 4 times an hour, will take you to London Victoria Station. You can then take the Tube (London’s subway system) from Victoria to Paddington.
Train from London Paddington Station
Once you’ve gotten through your initial connections, you can focus on getting to Bath. You’ll want to catch the train from Paddington to Bath Spa station. Trains generally run every half hour, with the journey taking about an hour and a half. Once in Bath, you can catch a cab right outside the train station to your lodging.
Travel Savvy Tip
When planning to use train travel in the UK, be sure to book your tickets on the National Rail website well in advance for the best prices. Train travel in the UK is some of the most expensive in Europe, so this is key for staying on budget. Tickets release no earlier than 12 weeks out, so jump right on it once they’re available.
Where to Stay in Bath
We loved our stay at Marlborough House, which is a quaint, cozy and affordable inn run by a very helpful proprietor named Peter. A couple months leading up to our trip, Peter sent us a very detailed email with check-in information, as well as the best train and bus options from London. He also sat us down upon arrival with a map to show us how to get to the best of Bath’s attractions. Hint: everything is walkable.
Even better, Peter also recommended some great restaurants to visit during our stay. These ended up being some of our favorite eateries during our time in England!
Of course, I can’t forget the nice breakfast spread served in Marlborough House’s dining room each morning. It’s built into the price of the room, so we opted to eat in every day of our stay. Peter even left some cereal and yogurt in our room the night before our day trips, since we’d be leaving too early for breakfast in the dining room. Everything about our experience was perfect, and I would totally stay at Marlborough House again.
Weekend in Bath: Day 1
Your first day of your weekend in Bath will be spent getting to know this pretty little city. Take your time strolling past charming shops and stopping into a couple of Bath’s most iconic places.
Morning: Take a Walking Tour of Bath
The best way to begin a weekend visit to Bath is by taking a walking tour. In fact, The Mayor of Bath’s Corps of Honorary Guides offers a free walking tour every day of the year, except Christmas. The guides won’t even accept tips, making this a 100% free activity.
The tour begins every day at 10:30 a.m. and lasts two hours. While exploring the city, allow yourself to be transported to another era. The 18th century architecture of Bath was built using locally-sourced limestone, which you’ll notice on all the buildings. Have you ever seen a city so uniform?
One of the most notable structures in this honey-colored town, which you’ll likely see on your tour, is the lengthy Royal Crescent. No. 1 Royal Crescent has actually been restored to what it may have looked like when it was originally built. You could opt to visit for £10.60 a person if you want.
We didn’t go inside since it was only open during our day trips, and we likely wouldn’t have spent the money anyhow. There is still plenty of grandeur to appreciate from the outside of this building, though. In fact, the huge lawn in front would be a great spot for an afternoon picnic.
Afternoon: Explore Sights Around Bath
A visit to Bath would not be complete without stopping by Bath Abbey, which towers over the city in dramatic fashion. Although hours vary, the Abbey is generally open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. You are free to come and go as you please, although a £4 donation per adult is encouraged.
If you’re up for a 212 step climb to see some great views, you could pay £8 for a guided tour of the Bath Abbey bell tower. Tickets must be purchased the day of and are available every day, except Sunday.
Other Awesome Things to Do in Bath
If you have extra time after seeing Bath Abbey, there are plenty of sight-seeing opportunities to squeeze in before dinner. You will notice I have not included the Roman Baths quite yet. Don’t worry – they’re coming!
Any of the below places would also be great to add on if you happen to be staying beyond the weekend for 3 or 4 days in Bath.
- Assembly Rooms: Historic and beautifully designed venue for 18th century social gatherings. The Rooms are free to visit, but are often rented out for private events. Call ahead to ensure they will be open to visitors.
- Fashion Museum: The perfect next stop after the Assembly Rooms, as they are located right below on the ground floor. Peruse an extensive collection of fashion hits and misses throughout the centuries leading up to the modern era. Admission is £8.55 for adults if purchased online.
- Jane Austen Museum: Jane herself apparently lived in Bath for four years, and based two of her novels here (Northanger Abbey and Persuasion). This could be worthwhile if you are a big fan of her work.
- The Pump Room: This restaurant is located right next door to the Roman Baths. If you’re feeling brave, you can drink a glass of the “healing” spa water sourced from the Baths.
Travel Savvy Trip
Even though my husband and I did not take a full day to explore the city, we still were easily able to walk around the entirety of it in the mornings and evenings. Word of caution though – things don’t really stay open that late, so if you take a day trip, you’ll likely miss out on visiting many of the sights in Bath. One exception is the Roman Baths, which let visitors in until 9:00 p.m. in the summer months.
Evening: Dinner & Roman Baths
Grab a Casual Dinner
Before you go exploring the Roman Baths, stop into a local restaurant for some dinner. A great choice for some very fresh and slightly sophisticated fish and chips is the The Scallop Shell. This casual spot brings out their food pretty quickly, so you can make sure you get over to the Baths before closing.
Tour the Roman Baths
Here is one instance where we actually got it right. Since we were out and about during the day on those tours, we did not get the opportunity to visit the Roman Baths early in the morning, which is the recommended time to go to avoid crowds.
Thankfully, the Baths stay open late, and there are very few people there in the evening as well. You will also get added ambiance from the torch lighting all around the Baths as the sun sets. I found it to be quite romantic, and I’m definitely glad we went at night.
The Baths were especially exciting for me because they were the first Roman ruins I had ever seen. Oddly, before coming to England, I was somehow ignorant of the fact that at some point… Romans lived here. Or at least, I faintly recalled learning about Rome’s rule of England back in high school, which had been long forgotten ten years later.
Weekend in Bath: Day 2
The second day of your weekend in Bath is the perfect opportunity to take a day trip. Bath is a great jumping off point for many interesting places in the surrounding area. You could do this by self-driving, but there are also small and large group tour options available if you don’t want to rent a car.
There are endless options for day trips you could do from Bath, with two of the most popular being Stonehenge and the Cotswolds. Mad Max is a great minibus tour company that runs both of these tours, and we used them twice during our visit!
I highly recommend Mad Max, as they were a lot of fun, we saw awesome sights, and our group was only about twelve or so people. Being such a small group definitely helped us beat the crowds. Below, I am running through each tour, and what we liked about each (including our favorite).
Option #1: Stonehenge Tour
Before planning a trip to England, I did not see myself visiting Stonehenge at all. After doing some research on Bath, though, I saw that Stonehenge was only about an hour’s drive away. I figured we couldn’t miss this opportunity, and thus, one of our full days in Bath was immediately booked up.
What I loved about this Stonehenge tour is that the ‘henge itself was a very small part of the day. The tour beelines immediately to Stonehenge first thing in the morning before it becomes too overrun with tourists. Note: Entrance to Stonehenge requires an additional cash fee of £19.00 per adult.
What then follows is an exciting day of exploring the English countryside. The next stop was the Avebury Stone Circles, which are a less touristy version of what Stonehenge basically is. After this, to my very great delight, was a bit of a Harry Potter themed stop. Looking back, this might actually be what sold me on this tour.
The town of Lacock is an extremely well preserved medieval city that has been used quite a lot as a filming location. Harry Potter is one of the films included (Godric’s Hollow anyone?), and there are many spots throughout the town that you would recognize from the movies. My husband and I actually squeezed in a stop to Lacock Abbey during lunch to see the set of a Hogwarts corridor.
The final stop of the day was Castle Combe, which is one of the most picture-perfect villages in England. Looking for a full tour of cute little villages like this? The Cotswolds tour (discussed below) may be more up your ally.
Option #2: Cotswolds Tour
The Cotswalds are similar to Lacock in that they are beautifully preserved medieval villages. Tiny in size, the height of their success was during the 13th to 16th centuries, where they flourished from the wool trade. Industrialization later would change all this, as the textile industry evolved and the demand for wool decreased. These little towns became impoverished, as residents fled to find work in the cities.
However, this economic demise is the reason why these pretty towns are still intact today. Poverty prevents people from tearing down and building new, and further developing these cities. Instead, what was already there was left as it was for centuries to come.
Mad Max’s Cotswolds Tour takes you to five of these cities, with the first being Castle Combe. The four others include:
If I had to choose a favorite, I’d have to say I preferred the Stonehenge Tour. I felt that the stops were more diverse and interesting. The Cotswolds towns were gorgeous, but they started to feel a bit repetitive by the end of the day.
Upon your return to Bath, have a lovely Italian meal at Sotto Sotto. As it is a small restaurant, reservations made in advance are recommended.
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There you have it – the complete guide to spending the perfect low-key weekend in Bath. As you can see, Bath is quite grand and is one of those places that looks just like the brochure. I’m being completely honest when I say that my jaw dropped with I caught my first glimpse of the buildings.
Despite being gone during the daytime, I still felt like we were able to get a decent taste of what this city had to offer. That being said, you really should give Bath at least a full day’s worth of your time.
The best way to experience Bath is to take things slow. The streets were meant for strolling and exploring shops before a long leisurely dinner. You have plenty of time to see everything you want to see, so save your energy for London. You’ll need it!
Are you planning a visit to Bath? Have you been there before and dream of returning? Share below!