Explore Bath

Bath Travel Guide

The Romans established Bath in the year 43 AD and this city, awash with fabulous architecture, history and culture, has been welcoming travellers ever since. Many of Bath's great buildings date back from its renaissance in the 18th century when it again became a fashionable spa town and played host to royalty and the cream of aristocracy, who famously visited the city to 'take the waters'. Today visitors can walk around the old Roman Baths, enjoy the splendour of Bath Abbey or simply take in the breathtaking Georgian architecture of this beautiful city, which somehow managed to escape the ravages of industry and the Luftwaffe.<br /><br /> Jane Austen lived and based several of her books in Bath, and on Gay Street, near her home, visitors can find the Jane Austen Centre, which allows visitors to immerse themselves in her life and times. For an authentic feel of life gone by, period decorations and furniture have been reinstated in No1 Royal Crescent, so that the house appears as it did in its days as a fine 18th-century townhouse.<br /><br /> Bath is home to much older attractions than its Elizabethan assets, however, including the famous ancient Roman baths, situated over natural hot springs. Bath was a prosperous tourist destination as early as its Roman occupation, when the baths were built, and continued its reputation as a therapeutic health resort through the medieval period.<br /><br /> Though architecturally Bath is something of a period piece, it is also a very modern city. Its restaurants and pavement cafés are packed full of local businessmen and artisans, and its cinemas, pubs, and nightclubs keep its residents entertained each evening. Bath's answer to Camden Market is Walcot Street, where a bohemian street market takes place each weekend; and its parks and gardens are popular places to relax and enjoy pleasant weather.<br /><br /> The International Music Festival marks the beginning of summer and adds to Bath's lively, festive atmosphere, and its Theatre Royal is one of the country's leading provincial theatres, attracting big names and pre-West End show runs.<br /><br />

Roman Baths

Address: Bath

The Romans were the first to capitalise on the only natural hot springs in Britain, but it is believed that they were a local attraction long before the building of Rome. These ancient baths were once considered the finest in the Roman Empire, but in the middle ages fell into disrepair. It was not until a visit by the ailing Prince George in 1702 that the baths once again became a popular healing destination. Over the course of the city of Bath's redevelopment in the late 18th century, the Roman ruins were rediscovered and restored. Today, visitors can see the seven ancient baths and view the Georgian splendour of the Pump House, where the musty mineral waters can be sampled by the strong of stomach. The magnificent centrepiece is the Great Bath. Lined with lead and filled with hot spa water, it once stood in an enormous barrel-vaulted hall that rose to a height of 131ft (40m). For many Roman visitors, this may have been the largest building they had ever entered in their life.<br /><br /> <br /><br />

Berkeley Castle

Address: Bath

Berkeley (pronounced 'barkly') is a perfectly preserved 840-year-old castle with a keep, dungeon and splendid staterooms with original tapestries, furniture and silver. The castle was most famously the scene of King Edward II's gruesome murder in 1327. It is believed that Edward was deposed by his French consort, Queen Isabella, and her paramour, the Earl of Mortimer. The castle also played an important role in the English Civil War (1642-1649). The oldest part of the castle was built in 1153 by Roger De Berkeley, a Norman knight, and has remained in the family ever since. The surrounding meadows, now the setting for pleasant Elizabethan-style gardens, were once flooded to make a formidable moat.<br /><br />

Building of Bath Museum

Address: Bath

The fascinating story of Georgian Bath is wonderfully presented by the Building of Bath Museum. The museum is the natural place to start any sightseeing expedition of Bath. It is housed in the Gothic-styled Countess of Huntingdon's Methodist Chapel, which was built in 1765 and renovated in 1984 by the Bath Preservation Trust. Inside, visitors are treated to a unique exhibition, with exhibitions and installations describing how Bath developed from a small provincial spa to the most fashionable resort in Georgian England. Using models, maps, paintings, reconstructions, live crafting demonstrations and hands-on exhibits, including a touch-screen computer, a visit to the museum is an informative and entertaining experience. Budget about two hours to take it all in.<br /><br />

Herschel Museum of Astronomy

Address: Bath

Distinguished astronomer William Herschel used a telescope he built himself to discover the planet Uranus in 1781, thus securing his place in history as one of the greatest astronomers of all time. His observations, and the telescopes that he built, doubled the known size of the solar system in his time. The telescope through which Uranus was first spied was built in the delightful Georgian townhouse that today houses the Herschel Museum of Astronomy. Visitors to the museum can view Herschel's workshop, as well as the original kitchen and the music room in the house where William lived with his sister, Caroline, at the end of the 18th century.<br /><br />

Fashion Museum

Address: Bath

Bath's comprehensive Fashion Museum brings alive the story of fashion over the last 400 years, from the late-16th century to the present day. The huge collection is fetchingly displayed on hundreds of dummies, providing a chronological journey through changing styles over the centuries. Visitors can listen to an audio tour or take part in a conducted guided tour of fashion through the ages. Apart from looking at all the fashion, there are opportunities to try on some replica garments for both kids and adults! A highly popular attraction that will appeal to visitors of all ages and from all walks of life, you should budget about two hours to do the museum justice.<br /><br />

Jane Austen Centre

Address: Bath

Bath's best-known resident, Elizabethan novelist Jane Austen, is celebrated in this permanent exhibition which showcases her life and work. Bath was her home between 1801 and 1806, and her love and knowledge of the city is reflected in her novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, which are set in Georgian Bath. The Jane Austen Centre also runs an annual and extremely popular Jane Austen Festival, which holds the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people dressed in Regency costumes. If you are one of the many people for whom Bath immediately conjures associations with Austen and her literary world, this museum is a must.<br /><br />

Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park

Address: Bath

Located in the beautiful Avon Valley, just four and a half miles (7km) from central Bath, Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park is the perfect day out for families with children. Kids can let loose in the adventure playground, which features a junior assault course, a riverside trail, farm animals like Shetland ponies, llamas and wallabies, a boating pond and even a miniature railway. Younger kids will love the indoor play area where they can enjoy enormous slides and ball pits. Families should pack a picnic to savour on the riverbanks, while the children, and probably even the adults, enjoy the wide open space and exciting activities.<br /><br />

Longleat

Address: Bath

Longleat is a bit of a strange tourist destination, catering simultaneously to two very different markets. On one hand, it is regarded as the best example of high Elizabethan architecture in Britain, and one of the most beautiful stately homes that are open to public tours. The magnificence of the house itself is matched by the splendour of its surroundings, a spectacular mix of landscaped parkland, lakes and formal gardens.<br /><br /> In 1949, Longleat became the first grand home in England to open its doors to the public, and a few years later opened the first safari park outside of Africa. Visitors can drive through eight enclosures, where a wide range of animals can be seen, including elephant, rhino, giraffe, monkeys, lions and tigers.<br /><br /> In recent years, however, Longleat has also become one of the UK's most popular family tourist attractions, offering a wealth of child-friendly sights and amenities. Try not to lose your kids in the world's longest maze, made up of more than 16,000 English Yews! Alternatively, take the little ones for a ride on the miniature railway or to meet some of the friendly animals at Animal Adventure, before letting them run amok in the Adventure Castle. A great option for a fun, excitement-filled day out for the entire family to enjoy.<br /><br />

Bath International Music Festival

Where: Various,Bath

When: 20 - 29 May 2017

Showcasing a range of exciting performances, with art forms including orchestral, classical, jazz, folk and world music, as well as ballet and opera, the Bath International Music Festival is one of the main highlights on Britain's summer events calendar, and one that has gained a truly international reputation. The festival was established in 1948 and it is now renowned for both its variety and the unusual collaborations it showcases. The programme takes place mainly in city venues and also includes free-to-the-public outdoor events. For full programmes and other details check the official website listed below for details.<br /><br />

WOMAD Festival

Where: Charlton Park,Bath

When: 27 - 30 July 2017

The 'World of Music and Dance' (WOMAD) Festival first began in 1982, and brings together artists from all over the globe. It also hosts participatory workshops, special events for children and educational programmes. Since the first WOMAD festival more than 160 festivals have been held in 27 countries, bringing a worldwide audience of over one million people across the globe together in celebration of the art forms of music and dance. The festival is atmospheric and creative, attracting artistic and open-minded people keen to celebrate music of many genres and from many cultures. For details on programmes and tickets check out the official website listed below.<br /><br />

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