Bath has always been one of the more popular cities amongst tourists. There are dozens of great city breaks in the UK but what seems to be on everyone’s bucket list is a weekend in Bath. Perhaps it’s the famous Bath stone buildings or the historic Roman Baths that draws people to the city. Either way, it’s easy to admit it’s definitely worth a visit.
Bath is easily one of my favourite cities and living in Somerset it’s also relatively close to me. So here’s a few tips for spending a weekend in Bath (which I have done often).
Filming Locations To Look Out For
As you wander around the city you’ll likely notice some familiar spots as lots of films and television series have been filmed in Bath.
The scene of Javert’s (Russell Crowe) suicide in the 2012 adaptation of Les Misérables was filmed at Pulteney Weir in Bath. 2007 film The Dutchess shows shots of the Royal Crescent in Bath as well as the Assembly Rooms. ITV’s film adaptation of the Jane Austen novel Persuasion (2007) was shot using locations all across Bath from the Assembly Rooms to the Royal Crescent, Bath Street and The Circus. The 2006 BBC film adaptation of Dracula was shot in Bath and shows the Abbey Green as well as the North Parade buildings (outside Sally Lunn’s). In 2004 Great Pulteney Street was transformed into a film set for Vanity Fair starring Reese Witherspoon. The oldest film on the list is British Comedy The Wrong Box, filmed in 1966 starring Michael Caine, Peter Sellers and Dudley Moore. This film makes use of The Royal Crescent and there’s even a horse chase through St James’s Square.
Perhaps this is what draws people to the city. Bath has well and truly been put on the map when it comes to the world of television and film.
Breakfast in Bath
Bath Abbey is the name given to the Church of England buildings and former Benedictine Monastery in Bath’s City Centre. The Abbey church that you see today is the rebuilt version of the former Church, which, founded in 1499, was ruined during the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 by order of Henry VIII. Today’s building was completed in 1611.
Visiting Bath Abbey is free but donations are gratefully received. The Abbey remains a working church and services are carried out regularly so it’s important to be mindful of this and respectful.
Visiting the Roman Baths
A trip to the Roman Baths has got to be a priority for a weekend in Bath. The Roman Baths were used for public bathing during Roman Britain and are remarkably well preserved, though most of what you see today are additions made in the 18th Century.
The audio tour for the Roman Baths does give you a great amount of history in a format that’s easy to digest. It explains that the water is warmed by geothermal energy approximately 2,700-3,400 meters (8,900 and 14,100 ft) underground to a temperature of between 69 and 96 °C (156.2 and 204.8 °F). The heated water rises through fissures in the limestone and by the time it reaches the earth’s surface is a pleasant 46 °C (114.8 °F). The tour ends in the pump room where you can sample the water for yourself. One of the highest mineral contents is sulphur so you might be able to imagine how it tastes!
Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House & Museum
Sally Lunn’s is more than just a famous tearoom. It is one of the oldest houses in Bath and is home to the Sally Lunn Bun, a sweet bun similar to a French brioche. The house itself dates back to 1482. Sally Lunn’s is open and serving an all day menu from 10 until 6 daily. But you can also book to dine by candlelight between 5 and 8pm. Sally Lunn’s is a hot tourist spot in Bath so booking is absolutely essential.
Shopping in Bath
A weekend in Bath is not complete without a little shopping. Bath has one long high street which kind of forks at the bottom when you get to Marks and Spencer. The shops vary from major high street brands to small boutique shops.
Cocktails in Bath
This was hard to narrow down as there are so many great locations for cocktails in Bath. But I’ve limited the choice to three.
The Botonist just feels like an up market and fashionable place the minute you walk in the door. I don’t know whether it’s the white exposed brickwork, the pillars, the marble tables or the trailing plants hanging from the lights but my Instagram feed loved it. They have some great live music from time to time too so make sure to get a good seat!
The Botonist also has a downstairs underground bar which plays different music and the layout is great for groups.
The Canary Gin Bar
The Canary Gin Bar in Bath is bit of a hidden gem. You could easily walk straight past it without really noticing it’s there. This small and quirky bar is definitely worth a visit if you consider yourself a gin lover. They have an extensive menu and the bartenders are certainly knowledgeable of their gins.
Sub 13 is one of Bath’s famous cellar bars. They do happy hour cocktails and have a large courtyard out the back. This is one of my favourite bars in Bath and it’s pretty central if you’re looking at moving on elsewhere afterwards.
As well as these Bath has a Turtle Bay and a Hall & Woodhouse if you’re after a more familiar vibe.
Brunch in Bath
No one does brunch better than the Brits. If I could eat one type of food for the rest of my life it would be brunch. I just can’t get enough poached eggs and avocado. My top pick for brunch in Bath would be Rosarios, a cute Italian cafe.
Visiting Thermae Bath Spa
If you’ve got a weekend in Bath then make sure you have time to visit the Thermae Spa. I will warn you now that this is probably the most expensive spa you will ever go to but you’ve got to remember you’re paying for the experience. And that gorgeous rooftop pool. A 2 hour slot Monday to Friday will set you back £37 per person. The same 2 hour slot on the weekend will cost you £42 per person. Then any treatments you want are extra. There is also a restaurant for refreshments throughout your day, which you charge to a wristband and pay on exit.
The spa has several different floors with different facilities. The Minerva Bath, named after the Roman Goddess of Health and Wisdom, is the largest pool. There are massage jets, a whirlpool and a calming river for a relaxing vibe.
The wellness suite has several different scented steam rooms as well as an ice chamber and mood showers for a multi sensory experience.
The renown rooftop pool will give you spectacular views over the City of Bath and the surrounding area. You can visit the rooftop pool by day and by night depending what experience you’re after.
Natural Thermal Water
All the pools and spas contain the natural thermal waters you will hear about if you do a tour of the Roman Baths. The water is heated by the earth about 2km below ground and rises up in natural hot springs. The water is rich in minerals (42 to be precise) and comes out of the ground at the lusciously warm temperature of 33.5°C (92°F). Today over 1 million litres of water flow from the natural hot springs each day.
If you’re after more info or wanting to book head over to the Thermae Spa’s website!
Jane Austen’s House
Any guides on visiting Bath will mention this is great city was once the home of Jane Austen. There are 4 houses in Bath that claim to have been the writer’s home address. 13 Queens Square, 4 Sydney Place, 27 Green Park Buildings and 25 Gay Street were all her residence at one time. In present day the Jane Austen Centre sits just a few doors down at 40 Gay Street.
Austen confesses in a letter to her sister Cassandra that she never liked Bath. But she does set a large portion of two of her novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion in the great city. The Jane Austen Centre has a museum, a gift shop and a tearoom. Tickets are also cheaper if you book online!
The Royal Crescent
The Royal Crescent in Bath is a row of 30 terraced houses with sweeping views across parkland and the rest of the city. Built in the style of traditional Georgian architecture, it is 150m (500ft) long with 114 ionic columns. The Crescent is iconic because of its dramatic shape and use in film and television. Many famous people have lived and stayed in the Crescent with commemorative plaques displayed on the relevant buildings.
Dinner in Bath
You’re literally spoilt for choice when it comes to dining out in Bath. From all the usual chains to hidden treasures, Bath has ample choice. My favourite is Sotto Sotto, with its cute, quirky interior and a menu that’s just to die for.
Bath Christmas Market
If you’re spending a weekend in Bath at the right time of year (typically between the last weekend of November and the middle of December) you’ll definitely want to take a trip through the high street and see the famous Bath Christmas market for yourself. The market consists of wooden hut style stands selling everything from jewellery to Christmas decorations, kitchenware to festive dog beds. And of course the FOOD. Whether you’re a fan of Greek food, hot dogs, crepes or waffles you’ll find a vendor selling amazing quality street food. Plus you’ll be able to wash it down with a mulled wine or a hot chocolate.
The market lasts all day and into the evening every day of the week but if you’re after some real festive cheer make sure to see it when it’s all lit up for the evening. Be aware that people flock to Bath Christmas Market. In their droves. So it will be extremely busy, especially in the evening. It will take you a while to get round if you want to look at all the stalls. And it will almost definitely drive up the price of accommodation in Bath.
Top Tip: If you’re looking for cheaper accommodation in Bath then I recommend you check out Airbnb. Hotels can be very expensive! If you’ve not used Airbnb before check out my post ‘How does Airbnb Work‘.
Planning A Weekend in Bath
Hopefully this has given you some ideas to plan a weekend in Bath. There’s so much to do in Bath that you’ll probably struggle to fit everything into your itinerary. If you’re anything like me you’ll probably end up planning a second visit.
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