Frequently cited as the most beautiful city in England, and simply oozing with history, it’s little wonder Bath is a favourite with tourists, filmmakers, and historians alike. Situated towards the southern tip of the Cotswolds in South West England, and 120 miles from London, its unique charm makes it ideal for a day out or city break. Here we look at why Bath should make it onto your ‘must-visit destination’ list!
Discover life in Roman Britain
The city’s Roman Baths are one of the finest historic sites in Northern Europe and perhaps one of the most recognisable of the city’s iconic landmarks. Located in the heart of the city, the baths were originally built in 70AD in the first few decades of Roman Britain, on the site of Britain’s only hot spring that still flows with natural hot water today. They were designed to be a community hub for Roman Britains to come together to socialise and bathe. Visitors can today find the baths painstakingly preserved to offer a fascinating step back 2000 years in time. Coupled with the adjacent interactive museum, visitors have a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the unbridled glory and splendour of life in Roman Britain.
The Roman Baths in Bath
Explore a double-awarded UNESCO Heritage site
In 1987, Bath became the only designated World Heritage Site in the UK to be awarded to an entire city. UNESCO listed Bath as a cultural site with ‘outstanding universal value and cultural significance’ due to its Roman remains, hot springs and eighteenth-century architecture. If that wasn’t enough, in 2021, Bath received an exceptional second UNESCO listing as part of the Great Spa Towns of Europe — a rare accolade cementing Bath’s position as a remarkable city.
Enjoy some of the world’s finest Georgian architecture
You don’t have to be a design enthusiast to appreciate the elegance of Georgian architecture. Bath is home to some of the finest examples of 18th-century design in the world, and many come to admire the beauty of the crescents and squares that make up the city. Some of the more famous include The Royal Crescent, which is a sweeping crescent of 30 Grade I Listed terrace houses, and The Circus, a historic ring of large townhouses designed by architect John Wood, the Elder, who designed many of the streets and buildings of Bath. Guided walking tours are available for those keen to expand their knowledge further.
Bath Pulteney Bridge
Hang out with the A-Listers
While Bath itself has plenty to keep the visitor entertained, the surrounding countryside is an attraction in its own right. The Cotswolds, an Area of Outstanding Beauty, is located to the northwest of the city, allowing easy access to quintessentially English villages that epitomise this area. Charming yellow stone cottages and impossibly well-manicured gardens provide the most Instagrammable of backdrops for tourists from all corners of the globe. The area is also loved by walkers keen to explore the rolling hills and stop for refreshment at one of the numerous charming country inns. Exploring some of the idyllic chocolate-box villages such as Bourton-on-the-Water and Castle Combe, you will soon appreciate why the area has become known as the A-listers country bolthole with celebrities including Kate Moss, Hugh Grant and Kate Winslet having all snapped up properties here, in search of the peace, tranquillity and beauty the area offers.
From screen to reality
Bath is epitomised for many by the unique architecture, combining the local, golden-coloured Bath stone with the symmetrical regality of Georgian design. While Bath Abbey, the Roman Baths, and the Royal Crescent are some of the city’s most recognisable landmarks, the distinctive architectural design can be found throughout, making it one of the UK’s prettiest and most photogenic cities. Unsurprisingly, it is loved by filmmakers as it provides a ready-made backdrop for some of the most famous period dramas of recent times, including The Duchess, Bridgerton and Poldark. So familiar are some of the streets and squares that even as a first-time visitor you could be forgiven for thinking you had visited the area before.
Daily guided tours are available to take you to some of the most popular filming locations allowing you to see first-hand where your favourite dramas were filmed.
Enjoy the lively cultural scene
Bath’s cultural scene is thriving, with numerous museums, galleries, and theatres to explore. The Victoria Art Gallery, opened in 1900 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, and houses over 1500 objects of art, including a collection of oil paintings dating from 1700 onwards. To catch a live performance, head to the Theatre Royal, one of the oldest theatres in England, where you can enjoy plays, musicals, and other productions. And for literary fans, Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein offers an award-winning, immersive multi-sensory experience as it charts the author’s unconventional life and the lasting impact of her most famous creation, much of which was written in her house in Bath. Be warned! It offers a stark contrast to the refined regality of much of Bath’s alternative attractions.
Haven for shoppers
Shoppers love Bath for its variety and choice as well-known retailers sit alongside quirky independent stores and antique shops. While SouthGate is the home to high street staples, the London Road and Walcot areas have been known as Bath’s Artisan Quarter since the 1960’s. Head here for boutique shops stocking everything from vintage clothing to designer homeware, and from quirky artwork to delicious food. If you are in search of some designer shopping, the Milsom Street shopping area is known for its luxury interior stores and high-end fashion and beauty brands. It also offers numerous fashionable dining options to refresh and refuel.
Once Bath’s main railway station, Green Park Station is now home to some of the most popular monthly markets in the South West and an array of independent shops, cafes and restaurants. The Farmer’s Market held every weekend takes pride in being the first farmer’s market in the UK. Local events and performances are staged throughout the year, including performances for the Bath Fringe Festival.