Having not been to Bath since I was about 10, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I remembered beautiful architecture and doing a spot of Christmas shopping there with my mum, but what was I going to find there this time round?
Well, spoiler alert, the shops are still there, but there is so much more that makes this lovely town tick. Here are my tops tips for making the most of your visit.
Hit the Shops
I don’t often shop, but Bath is made for it, really. The city centre is packed with high street and independent shops, and it’s just such a pretty place to walk around that even if you’re the long suffering partner of a shopaholic, you’re more likely to have a nice time shopping here than anywhere else. Despite having a huge shopping area, Bath manages to maintain a small-town feel, which I just love.
In the end I picked up a raincoat from Fat Face, and some new skincare products from Kiehls.
Admire the Historic Architecture
Dating back to the 1st century AD, Bath started life in Roman times when people flocked to the natural hot springs. It wasn’t until Georgian times that the city really developed into a sophisticated spa town, but it’s been a popular destination since then. Bath has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its well preserved Roman remains and Neo-Classical and Georgian architecture.
The Roman Baths are open daily, and the entrance fee of £15 includes an audio guide and a drink of spa water.
There are plenty of tours available if you want to explore the architecture, but you can also walk around the town for free – look out for The Circus, The Royal Crescent, and Pultenay Bridge in particular.
Experience Jane Austen’s Bath
Jane Austen lived in Bath for five years during the Georgian era, and set two of her novels here – Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. If you want to experience Bath as Jane Austen did, or just pretend you’re in one of her novels, then there are a few options for you.
There’s the Jane Austen Centre, where you can learn more about her life and how her work was influenced by Bath.
Or you could stay at Number 4 Sydney Place, where she lived.
You could download Visit Bath’s free audio guide and take yourself off to see and be seen in some of Jane Austen’s haunts.
And finally, if you really want to immerse yourself in Jane Austen’s world, there’s a whole festival dedicated to her every September.
Take the Waters in Bath
Historically, people would come to Bath to take the waters, which were meant to help cure any ailment. Nowadays you can enjoy the experience at Thermae Bath Spa, which offers amazing views from its rooftop pool.
Stuff your Face with Food and Drink
The final monarch of the Georgian era, George IV, was well known for his love of food and drink (he got so fat towards the end of his life, he had a tunnel built through Brighton so he could visit his horses without being seen by the public – more on that when I get my act together and do a tour), so why not follow in his footsteps and indulge your foodie side?
We started our day in bath with coffee at Colonna and Hunter, located in Milsom Place. They lived up to the high standards set by Small Batch in Brighton and the tiny coffee place in the basement of my office in London, so we were pleased we took the time to locate it. They also have craft beer, although we thought it was a bit early in the day for us to sample it.
We took a long time to decide where to have lunch as I’d made note of a few options, thanks to the helpful residents of Bath responding to my Twitter enquiries. Eventually we settled on The Tramshed, in Beehive Yard, which was a good choice. Ben had a fish finger sandwich and I had a Chinese duck salad.
After walking round a bit more, we decided to rest our legs with tea and cake at The Bridge Coffee Shop on Pultenay Bridge – there are lovely views of the river.
Finally we ended our day at The Bath Brew House, on James Street West, which is a pub with its own very own micro-brewery (tours are available daily). It was a friendly and cool place to shelter from a sudden downpour and they had some interesting beers on offer.
I can’t wait to go back to Bath – what would you most like to do if you visited?