Bath is a wonderful city to live in and visit, with lots to do especially during the summer holidays when it really comes into its own.
It is not all about Jane Austen and the Royal Crescent, Bath has a wonderful Bohemian culture and there are lots of weird and whacky things to do as well as the usual famous icons. If you know where to look there are some amazing hidden gems not far from the tourist trail.
It is also a great city to work in, eat in and play in, so we have picked out some of our favourite things to do in the beautiful city of Bath.
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1. The Roman Baths
Voted one of the best museums in the country, this is a must for any visitor.
Locals still check in now and again to remind themselves what an amazing place this is.
The story of how the Romans came to Bath is legendary, there are still lots of original ruins and artefacts and some great stories which have survived for centuries.
With boiling hot spa water miraculously coming up from the ground the main hot bath is still a wonder to behold, you can just imagine the Romans sitting around in their togas.
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You can also visit at night which is stunning as you can see the moon and stars from the roofless main pool, it is quite extraordinary. Try not to rush your visit, this is something you simply have to sit back and take in.
2. Bridgerton walking tours
One of Netflix’s most popular series was filmed right here in Bath. You will recognise many of the places where the action took place, the Holburne Museum, the Abbey cafe, the Royal Crescent.
You can just imagine the Duke and his women having romantic, secret meetings on the many stairways and hidden corners, the women dressed in Regency dress promenading along the majestic Georgian streets.
Netflix blockbuster Bridgerton is famously filmed in Bath
(Image: South West News Service)
During these new walks you can explore the locations, scenes and the story of the Netflix adaption of Julia Quinn’s bestselling novel with a blue badge certified guide.
Sounds whacky and fun. Booking is recommended.
3. House of Frankenstein
That’s right, the most famous Gothic novel of all time was written in Bath, just a few steps from Bath Abbey.
Writer Mary Shelley had been staying at rooms near the Abbey when she penned the first chapters of one of the greatest stories ever told.
Charlotte Mullen adds the finishing touches to the huge 8-foot (2.4m) tall creature from the gothic horror novel Frankenstein, at the world’s first attraction dedicated to the book’s author, Mary Shelley, inside the ‘Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein’ experience, located in a Georgian terraced house in Bath, as it prepares to open to the public on Monday July 19. Picture date: Wednesday July 14, 2021. PA Photo. The attraction tells the story behind the genesis of Shelley’s famous novel, blurring the lines between museum and immersive experience. Photo credit should read: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
The House of Frankenstein is a wonderful new immersive experience for adults, with stunning special effects taking you through Shelley’s amazing story room by room with millions of artefacts, scary dungeons and blood and guts everywhere.
It is a new experience and it will be a big hit with all ages. To book and find out more visit the website.
4. The Royal Crescent
This mesmerising architectural wonder is the pride of Bath, it is a magnificent sight to behold from the gardens at the front.
Take a picnic and rug and sit and just gaze in wonder at the uniformity of this unique crescent, one of Bath’s most iconic landmarks, which was built between 1767 and 1775 and designed by the younger John Wood.
It is one of the best examples of Georgian architecture in the country and defines the city of Bath.
The museum No 1 Royal Crescent has been recently refurbished and well worth a visit, you will go way back in time to see how the Georgians lived.
5. Open top bus tours
The open top bus tour in Bath, as in most cities, is really great.
It takes about two hours, you can hop on and off at different attractions and the volunteer guides are usually good fun with marvellous anecdotes.
The bus will take you past all the famous landmarks and on up the hills to see the majestic Prior Park school and gardens, you will be treated to stunning views of the city.
And you will learn a lot about the history of Bath, good and bad.
6. Bath ghost tours
Bath Ghost Tours are thrilling walks around the many haunts of beautiful Bath, uncovering tales of murder, mayhem, witch burnings, hangings, medieval monks, duels, tortures, desperate suicides and even romantic elopements.
The only tours in Bath to be guided by two genuine ghosts, Brother Fergus and Dr Lynch, they are an exciting blend of grisly storytelling, theatre, audience participation and paranormal experiments.
Tours are suitable for all ages and are running from Wednesday to Sunday evenings, meeting outside the Bath Abbey at 8pm.
7. The Assembly Rooms and Fashion Museum
Not far from the Royal Crescent is the Assembly Rooms, a beautiful historic building which houses the Fashion Museum which has amazing exhibitions over the summer months.
There is something for all the family, with exhibitions of iconic dresses old and new and shoes going back hundreds of years.
It is well worth a visit, and there is a charming tea rooms serving hot coffee and home made cakes, which a lovely courtyard garden in this wonderful part of the city.
8. Parade Gardens
Parade Gardens in the centre of Bath is one of the nicest parks or gardens in the city.
You can hire a deckchair and sit by the river and watch the world go past and the magnificent floral arrangements.
It really is a lovely place to while away a few hours in the heart of the city yet so tranquil and peaceful.
Can’t get your head around the traffic light travel lists or just don’t fancy a holiday abroad this year? There’s plenty of options if you want to stay local and still have a break.
We’ve rounded up some of the best options for a UK holiday in 2021.
Holiday cottages and cabins: With properties in pretty much every corner of the UK and something for every type of family, Sykes Holiday Cottages have a number of deals for school holidays and term time. New coronavirus measures are in place so you know your holiday is covid safe. Or get back to nature with a Forest Holiday, with cabins set in beautiful woodland.
Holiday parks: There’s something for everyone at the big name holiday parks. Haven has deals starting at as little as £179, while Pontins has a huge number of offers and free room upgrades on selected breaks.
Hotel deals: If you don’t fancy self catering or fancy a city break then Booking.com has rounded up some of the best hotel deals for the summer, you can book attractions and car rental too.
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It is a favourite among Bathonians, there are public toilets as well, and you can only imagine how Regency Bath must have looked from these magnificent gardens.
On some Sundays there is a brass band on the band stand which is Heaven and can be heard all around the hills of Bath.
9. Free walking tours of Bath
These are really great free walks all around Bath every morning and afternoon.
Led by the the Mayor’s honorary guides, the walks start off at the Roman Baths and take about two hours.
You will be taken around all the sites of historical or cultural interest and you will get a great flavour of how the city of Bath became the great place it is today.
Booking is definitely recommended here.
10. Widcombe Parade
We highly recommend a visit to this lovely part of Bath, it is just one street and it is full of independent shops, cafes and great pubs.
If you cross the green bridge behind Bath Spa Station you will arrive in Widcombe which is like a village within a city with its own community.
Many Bathonians treat Widcombe as their local and, although part of the city, if feels like its own neighbourhood.
There are lovely pubs like the Ring O’Bells or The White Hart with its wonderful garden, serving great food whatever the weather.
Widcombe Deli serves delicious home made quiches, lasagnes and other lunch dishes, their sausage rolls are to die for.
You will feel like a local and pick up some great presents to bring home.
11. Victoria Art Gallery
Bath is famous for art and Bohemia, there are lots of old and contemporary galleries.
One of our favourites in what Bathonians refer to as the people’s gallery, the Victoria Art Gallery.
If you are lucky enough you will catch the annual exhibition of work by local artists.
An exhibition to celebrate the life of Adrian Ryan and his friends John Minton and Lucian Freud will run at the Victoria Art Gallery until September
The gallery is right in the centre of town by Pulteney Weir with lots of good shops, cafes and restaurants nearby.
But there are lots of other galleries to explore in Bath, we love our art and many local artists live in the city or in the villages nearby.
Check out its events and brochures.
12. Walcot St
Walcot St is one of our favourite parts of Bath.
It is the Bohemian area of Bath, with lots of little independent shops, bars and cafes, it is really quirky.
With a small antiques market every Saturday morning you can pick up some real bargains.
It is a lovely street to wander around with lots of little indie vinyl and charity shops, retro cafes and bakeries.
While some locals complain the street has changed a lot over the years, it is still a great place to visit.
Walcot House has great food and is a cool place to hang out, The Bell pub has live music most nights.
13. Toppings & Company bookshop
Toppings bookshop in Bath is a treasure trove.
Similar to the bookshop in the popular film Notting Hill, there are nooks and crannies everywhere, free tea and coffee and you can browse the wonderful collection of books for hours.
There are lots of events on throughout the year so you may be lucky enough to catch one of them, with great visiting authors and chefs.
The family run bookshop is moving premises from the Paragon to the old Friends Meeting House in York St and they have transformed the building into a really great place for books.
14. Theatre Royal Bath
The Theatre Royal, Bath is one of the most beautiful theatres in the country and is well known among top touring companies as the place to take your play before the West End.
Thankfully the theatre, which had been closed twice during lockdown, is open again with a buoyant summer season and you can see top productions.
There are also tours of the theatre where you will learn about its history including the famous story of the grey lady ghost who still haunts the wonderful old theatre.
It is a wonderful theatre, we are so proud of it and it is a beautiful place to visit, with lots of nice bars and restaurants around to have a pre theatre supper.
15. Bath Abbey
A visit to this majestic Abbey is a must for all visitors as it stands watching over the city as it has done for hundreds of years.
Having recently undergone restoration work in its vaults it is a wonderful time to see this old Abbey with its majestic roof and ceiling, stained glass and historic pews.
You might be lucky enough to catch a service with Bath Abbey Choir, it is really worth a visit.
16. The Pump Room
The Pump Room by the Roman Baths is a wonderful place for afternoon tea, accompanied by a string quartet or other live classical music.
It is a magnificent old tea rooms serving traditional afternoon tea and is a great place to impress your visitors.
You can drink the natural spring water here but be warned, it does not taste good.
17. Kennet & Avon Canal
You can cycle or walk along the canal from the city centre to the village of Bathampton which has two good pubs for lunch, the George Inn and Bathampton Mill.
It is a lovely walk along the canal with all its pretty bridges and flowers, you can walk further along the canal towards Bradford on Avon if you are feeling fit.
Stop off at Bathampton, a nice little village and either take a picnic or have lunch in one of the pubs.
18. The Star Inn
If you are on the hunt for a real pub, not a gastro or posh pub, then look no further than the Star Inn on the Paragon, Bath.
It is a wonderful, authentic old pub with little snugs, great beer and you will rub shoulders with locals not tourists.
It is a CAMRA (campaign for real ale) pub and is one of the best hostelries in Bath, a traditional old city pub with real character.
Cancel the rest of the afternoon.
19. Bath Boating Station
Bath boating station hires canoes, punts and rowing boats and has been around for generations.
Nestled in Bathwick just a stone’s throw from the city centre, it is a great way to see the city from the glorious River Avon.
Some of the wooden boats are more than 100 years old and you can cruise along the river to Bathhampton and stop for lunch or picnic along the way.
20. Kingsmead Square
Kingsmead Square in the centre of Bath has become one of the most vibrant parts of the city.
With lots of new restaurants and cafes with outdoor tables and many authentic street food pop ups and restaurants, and there is a great atmosphere around there, it can be very lively.
Two of our favourite cafes are Boston Tea Party and Society Cafe, but there are other good places for lunch or dinner.
The Dark Horse cocktail bar now has tables outside, it is the best bespoke cocktail in town.
21. Victoria Park
Victoria Park is the biggest park in Bath, with beautiful gardens, tables for picnics and great playground for children.
It is one of the few spaces where you can barbecue in Bath, with tables and pits provided.
It is a lovely place to promenade or bring the kids, you can admire the wonderful floral arrangements and trees, all maintained by the parks committee of Bath and North East Somerset Council.
There is a good cafe with tables outside where you can watch the world go by, eat an ice cream or scone and while away the hours right in the heart of the city.
Many people play impromptu games of football, cricket or rounders, and it is a wonderful place to take your dog.
Many Bathonians like to bask in the evening sunshine with a refreshing drink well into the night if it is warm enough.
Teenagers also like to gather and it is a great atmosphere early evening.
22. Southgate Shopping Centre
The main shopping centre in Bath has most of the High St chains, Marks & Spencer, Primark, All Saints, Kurt Geiger, Hollister, H&M, Apple.
There are also lots of chain restaurants like Pizza Express, Franco Manca, GBK, Giraffe, Be At One, Cosy Club, Prezzo.
There is a lovely picnic square with deck chairs in the centre so on a good day you can grab a coffee and take a break from all the shopping.
There are usually buskers around and there is a good atmosphere in this outdoor shopping area in the heart of the city.
23. The American Museum
The American Museum in Claverton, about two miles from the centre of Bath is well worth a visit, especially for children.
For those using public transport the museum runs a regular shuttle bus from the city centre.
The museum pays homage to American culture, you can learn all about the cowboys and native Americans, there is a wonderful garden and tea shop and your children will come home steeped in cool, American culture.
The finest collection of Americana outside the United States of America is housed in the American Museum and gardens.
First opened in 1961, the museum takes you on a journey through America’s history, with a remarkable collection of decorative arts and regular family friendly events and exhibitions.
It really is something different and a lovely place to be, and it is so close to the centre of town.
24. Little Theatre Cinema
The Little Theatre Cinema just off the High St is a fabulous little cinema playing all the blockbusters as well as art house or classic movies.
It is a real step back in time as you sit in the big old velvet pullman armchairs in one of the small, bespoke screen rooms with great sound and atmosphere.
Popcorn never tasted so good, there is a little shop selling sweets, coffees and wine and beer.
It truly is a great day or night out in Bath.
25. The Holburne Museum
The Holburne Museum just off Great Pulteney Street is a wonderful place to visit, especially now with the Canaletto exhibition running until September 5.
It is a beautiful building in Sydney Gardens, with lovely gardens and outdoor cafe.
You will learn all about Gainsborough and some of Bath’s important art history and there are lots of free exhibitions as well as the popular visiting ones.
You will need to book as the Holburne is a very popular place among locals and visitors.
26. Thermae Spa
The Thermae Spa is well worth a visit, especially if you want to unwind and relax after a long journey.
With lots of soothing and therapy baths on the ground floor the highlight is when you reach the rooftop pool where you can languish in the natural hot spring water and gaze over the wonderful rooftops and chimneys of Bath.
Keep an eye on the time as visits are limited to two hours and you will be amazed how quickly the time flies.
27. Afternoon tea at the Royal Crescent hotel
A must if you are celebrating a significant birthday or anniversary.
The gardens of the world famous hotel are exquisite, it really is a different world, with tables and chairs scattered among the rich tapestry of flowers, shrubs and classical pots.
You have to walk through the sumptuous reception and entrance to the hotel to get to the gardens, you will be seated by a uniformed member of staff and served the most delicious teas, sandwiches, scones, cakes and fancies, all made on the premises.
It is not cheap, it is only for very special occasions, but you can order as much tea and food as you like and you can spend hours in this wonderful garden and live like the other half for an afternoon.
All helped of course by a good dollop of champagne if you are in the mood and if your wallet can accommodate.
28. Komedia music and comedy venue
Komedia in Westgate St is a great venue for music and comedy, and there is a lovely cafe which welcomes children.
There are great themed and burlesque shows and some wonderful comedians.
It is an intimate venue with great atmosphere, they are also cinema nights.
Check the Komedia website to see what is on taking into account Coronavirus restrictions.
29. Rosarios cafe
Rosario’s in Northumberland Place sells the best coffee in Bath.
A typically Italian cafe, there are wonderful pastries and sandwiches as well, you can sit outside on the cobbled courtyard and you would think you were on an Italian piazza, well kind of.
There are lots of small independent cafes and shops around for a browse, or you can take away a delicious coffee and home made pastry.
Well worth a visit.
30 Sally Lunn’s Tea Rooms
Sally Lunn’s is much more than a world famous tea and eating house with world famous Bath buns in the centre of Bath.
The historic building is one of the oldest houses in Bath.
The kitchen museum shows the actual kitchen used by the legendary young Huguenot baker Sally Lunn in Georgian Bath to create the first Bath Bunn – an authentic regional speciality now known the world over.
While a bit touristy, it is still a classic for most visitors and you will be charmed by the cobbled streets and Victorian shop fronts in that old, historic area.
It there are large queues go to the Abbey Deli, location for Bridgerton, Jon and Nicky will look after you with great food, coffee and cakes.
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