Bath is easily of the UK’s most beautiful cities and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982. Spend a weekend in Bath on a girls’ weekend or a romantic break and you’ll see why: stunning Georgian buildings, Roman remains, hot springs, green views in every direction and the stunning River Avon flowing through the city.
Best of all, Bath is pretty compact so you should be able to see everything it has to offer in a weekend, no problem. You’ll need a pair of comfy walking shoes, however: Bath has several steep hills. Our advice, go reeeeeaaal slow, pausing at many of the wonderful cafes on the way to take it all in.
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An Easy Peasy Weekend in Bath
Saturday in Bath
See this: Three of Bath’s most historical sights
Right in the heart of the city you’ll find Bath Abbey, which is a great place to start your Bath weekend of exploration. Begun in 1499, Bath Abbey is the last of the great medieval churches of England. Its great stained-glass windows and honey-gold stone columns should not be missed, and there’s also an optional tower tour that gives a jaw-dropping view of the city.
Just a few steps away from the Abbey, is the Roman Baths; an absolutely must-visit when you come to the city. Here you can walk through the original roman baths, see the Sacred Spring that inspired the baths, enjoy a glass of English fizz by the waters then sink into the extensive and wonderful historical Roman Baths collection. It contains thousands of archaeological finds from pre-Roman and Roman Britain, including the Temple Pediment and the Gorgon’s Head and the fascinating Roman curse tables (the personal and private prayers of Bath’s Roman citizens.
Once you’ve taken all that in, why not stop off at the Pump Room, an 18th century building that was the heart of Georgian socialising. Here you can actually buy a glass of the warm spa water to drink from the King’s Spring water fountain. The Pump Room is considered one of the city’s best restaurants and known as the place to go in Bath for afternoon tea.
Top tip: Being a popular spot for afternoon tea, The Pump Room does get booked up quickly so book in advance or consider heading to the Francis Hotel instead.
We recommend: Jumping on the ‘Hop on Hop off Bus Tour of Bath’ – it’s a great way to see the layout of the city before deciding where to visit
Do this: Get up close and personal with Jane Austen
Bath is know for its ties to Jane Austen, who lived in the city for five years. Just off one of the main shopping streets you can find the Jane Austen Centre, where you can learn more about her life.
Alternatively, head along to the Assembly Rooms, also now home to the Fashion Museum. Back in Jane’s time this hall, with its sparkling chandeliers, would have been where the city’s finest would come to attend balls. You can even stay in Jane’s old home in Sydney Place, and walk through the Sydney Gardens opposite, one of Jane’s favourite Bath haunts.
Top tip: Download a free Jane Austen audio tour online that allows you to follow in Jane’s footsteps through the city, and in summer there’s also a special guided tour that takes in many of the sights mentioned in her novels.
We recommend: If you’re a Bridgerton fan, then you’ll love this Bridgerton Filming Locations Walking Tour!
Pic credit: Jane Austen Centre
Try this: Culinary Comforts Walking Food Tour of Bath
Bath has an international reputation a brilliant foodie destination. So, the best way to sink your teeth into the city’s independent food scene on a weekend in Bath is with a local by your side. For that reason, we love the walking food tours run by Savouring Bath, headed up by veteran tour guide and Bath local, Mike James.
Savouring Bath have six great food tours available that run during the week and at weekends. Book their Culinary Comforts tour which runs on Saturday at 2pm and you’ll get to sample some of the best food and drink from Bath’s independent culinary artisans. What’s more, every tour is different because it’s curated on the day so you never know what you’ll be tucking into. Costs: £65pp
We also recommend: Savouring Bath run a 3-hour cheese tasting tour on Saturdays at 9:45am – so you could start your weekend in Bath with a fromage breakfast instead!
Open: Saturdays 2pm | Booking essential
Shop this: Bath’s Many Boutique Delights
Once you’ve had your fill of history, while away an hour or two with some upscale shopping (Jo Malone, Anthropologie and Jolly’s – the UK’s first department store and one of Europe’s oldest – are worth a visit). The city has loads of independent stores alongside the high street names. The London Road and Walcot areas have affectionately been known as Bath’s Artisan Quarter since the 1960s. Here you’ll find a collection of boutique shops have everything from vintage clothing to designer homeware, and from quirky artwork to delicious food.
Bath is also home to many pop-up markets where you can shop local produce and artisan delights whilst enjoying the lively atmosphere.Browse covered markets under the vaulted glass ceiling of Green Park Station. Once Bath’s main railway station, the remarkable restored building provides space for local businesses to come together and sell their goods.
Our recommendation: If you’re a gin lover, head to the Canary Bar with over 200 different types of gin on offer, including Bath Gin invented by the bar’s owner, Peter. It’s impossible not to walk away empty handed!
Top tip: Inside Jolly’s department store, you’ll find Queen’s Mary’s dressing room which was designed and installed for the Queen when she visited Bath. If you ask the staff nicely, they’ll show you the dressing room today.
An Easy Peasy Weekend in Bath
Sunday in Bath
See this: Bath’s answer to the Ponte Vecchio bridge
Start your Sunday chilled by finding a lovely local café for breakfast – we love the Society Cafe – then taking a stroll down the Georgian masterpiece that is Pultney Bridge, which spans the River Avon. It is the only historic bridge aside from the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, to have shops built into it.
Built in 1769, the Grade-I listed bridge was originally a toll bridge and boundary between parishes, built on condition that fresh water could be piped across it from the hills to the town houses.
The famous weir at Pultney Bridge is one of the best known sights in Bath and it’s worth taking a boat sightseeing cruise to get an entirely new perspective of Bath from the water.
Random fact: Pultney Bridge was the bridge that Russell Crow jumped from in a scene from the Les Miserable movie.
Walk this: The Circus and Royal Crescent
After relaxing by the water, meander up to the Circus and Royal Crescent. The Circus, originally called King’s Circus, was designed by the architect John Wood, the Elder. It consists of three curved segments of Grade I listed townhouses, forming a circle with three entrances.
Linked to The Circus is Royal Crescent, a row of 30 terraced houses laid out in a sweeping crescent. In both spots you can find the greatest examples of Georgian architecture in the United Kingdom and there’s nothing nice than promenading along them on a bright day. This area has also been a draw for the celebrities who make Bath their home. Indeed, Thomas Gainsborough and Nicolas Cage both lived in the city for a while.
Top tip: Visit No.1 Royal Crescent – it’s a magnificently restored townhouse museum where you can find out what life was like for wealthy families and their servants during Georgian times.
Another one of Bath’s famous historical residents was the author Mary Shelley who lived in the city with her husband-to-be, Percy Shelley, and wrote her most famous novel, Frankenstein in the city (the story was first conceived by Lake Geneva.
Shelley lived to the left of today’s Pump Rooms, practically on top of the Roman Baths, although they weren’t discovered until 60 years after she left. Sadly, the living quarters she occupied were torn down in the 1890s to extend the Pump Room. All that’s left of her residence is a blue plaque, which was erected in 2018 on the bicentenary of Frankenstein’s publication.
Now, thanks to two local businessmen with a personal desire to celebrate the author, you can discover all about Mary’s tragic and dark life in the world’s first museum dedicated to her: Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein. This utterly brilliant, award-winning attraction is an immersive journey through Mary Shelley’s life housed within a Grade-II listed property and told in true Hollywood style over four floors.
Every room is a theatrical experience, combining audio, visual and olfactory effects (indeed, every room has a bespoke scent to heighten the experience. As you walk through the house, the events, interests and insights that shaped Mary’s life and work unfold before you – culminating in the first faithful recreation of the creature from Frankenstein, which you come face-to-face.
We recommend: This fabulous experience can easily eat up your day, so put aside a good 3hrs to visit it, giving you time to also try the escape room experience, see the Frankenstein in popular culture exhibition and shop in the themed gift shop.
Open: Every day 11am – 6pm | No booking needed
Lunch here: Sally Lunn’s Café
When lunchtime hits make tracks for Bath’s oldest house, Sally Lunn’s, which was built in 1482. This café and museum is home to the famous Sally Lunn bun, a large scone-light sweet bread, which is still made to Sally’s original secret recipe. The story goes that Sally Lunn was a a young Huguenot refugee – Solange Luyon – who came to Bath in 1680 after escaping persecution in France.
She found work in the kitchen of the bakery in the street (known in those days as Lilliput Alley), and began baking a rich, generous brioche bun similar to the French festival breads that she was familiar with. The bun – designed to be enjoyed with either sweet or savoury fillings – became very popular in Georgian England, And the rest, as they say, is history.
Even though it’s a tourist magnet, this quirky café is definitely worth a visit. The inside is quaint and charming, the service is swift and friendly, and the menu is extensive: you can order your bun with almost every topping you can imagine! And it’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We recommend: For an unforgettable sugar rush, try the the cinnamon butter bun with a pot of Jane Austen tea. Delicious.
Top tip: Sally Lunn’s Buns are big! So, if you’re not feeling that hungry, do what we did: order one and share it between two.
Open: Every day 10am – 6pm | No booking needed
Relax here: Thermae Bath Spa
What better way to end your weekend in Bath than by taking in the city’s skyline from the rooftop pool of the Thermae Bath Spa, where you can bathe in the naturally warm mineral-rich waters of the Minerva Bath.
Although it’s hard to leave your spot in the roof-top jacuzzi, it’s worth exploring the spa’s five floors, which also include a large swimming pool, foot spas, a variety of aromatherapy steam rooms and a large invigorating rain shower.
Perhaps treat yourself to a spa treatment or head out of the main building for a trip to the Cross Bath, a small open-air thermal bath, which is recognised as a sacred site because the Celts once worshipped the goddess Sul here. Sadly, it’s only open Mon – Frid, but that’s the perfect excuse to book a midweek return trip to Bath don’t you think?
Open: Every day 9am – 9:30pm | Booking essential
Pic credit: Thermae Bath Spa
Sprawled in all its Georgian magnificence in the heart of the city centre is The Abbey Hotel. In essence, the hotel is is three interconnected 18th-century townhouses overlooking a busy spot known to locals as Bog Island (which isn’t as unpleasant as it sounds, trust us).
Stay here and you’re at the centre of the action: coaches pick up and drop off here and Bath’s main attractions, such as the Roman Baths and Thermae Bath Spa, are all virtually on the doorstep. Handily, the train station is only five minute’s walk and there’s a long stay car park around the same distance away.
The property is part of Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio, a collection of independently owned hotels so it feels more privately owned than a chain hotel. Inside, works by local artists fill the public areas, most notably in the hotel’s moody ArtBar, a trendy space at the back of the hotel known as much for its curated collection of art work as it is for its bespoke cocktail menu.
The stylish rooms at The Abbey Hotel are super-comfy and very smart, a mix of retro accessories, 21st-century tech and cool dark wood furniture – and finished with ice-white bathrooms with robes to laze in and luxury toiletries to smother yourself in. There are 65 rooms in total, split into divided into three themes – Print (inspired by printing presses), Gallery (Georgian-related art), and Cinematography (a nod to all things film – we stayed in one of these rooms are were suitable impressed by its size and style. There are several dog-friendly rooms available if you’re on a weekend away with your four-legged friend.
When it comes to food, The Abbey Hotel has three attractive options: the ArtBar; an outdoor terrace at the front of the hotel that is great for watching the world go by; and the main restaurant, a large and well-proportioned dining room awash with art and marble-topped tables.
On our visit, there was a simple, paired-down menu on offer, which didn’t have a lot of options but was good despite it. Our dinner (a halloumi burger and chunky chips) and breakfast the next morning (eggs royale) were well presented and very tasty. Should you want more variety, it’s worth heading out to one of the many cafes and restaurants just around the corner.
Top tip: Ask for one of the front-facing rooms on your weekend stay in Bath for a great view of the city.