Although most people visit the city as a short break destination, Bath is actually a great base for a longer West Country holiday. Attractive in itself, the town is also well-placed for exploring the region by car or public transport. This part of England is green and rural, and dotted with historic sites. As well as the beautiful countryside, there are also interesting old towns, ruined castles and stately homes to visit and local products to investigate – and the coast is only a short journey away. Members of English Heritage or the National Trust will be able to get good value from their membership cards in this area.
On this page you’ll find a selection of the best excursions and day trips from Bath, including car-free options for an easy and low-impact tourism.
The important historic port of Bristol is a short car, bus or train journey from Bath. There is a lot to do in Bristol; from boat trips around the docks to museums and a good zoo. Smaller, well-preserved historic towns in the area include include Bradford on Avon, with its charming buildings and terraces and walking opportunities and hip Frome. Frome is a bus-ride away, while Bradford on Avon can also be reached in a few minutes by train, or on foot or by bike along the tow path of the Kennet and Avon Canal. Keen hikers can explore the attractive rural footpaths and villages between Bath and Bradford on Avon, stopping off at country pubs, gardens (like Iford Manor Gardens) or tearooms. Wells is another popular tourist destination: a charming small cathedral city, which can be reached by bus from Bath.
One of the most picturesque villages in the Bath area is Lacock. This picture-postcard settlement is mostly owned by the National Trust, and has been used as the backdrop for various TV/film period dramas, including the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice. The charming villages of the Cotswolds are in reach of Bath for drivers, while Somerset destinations include Norton St Philip, with its renowned 14th-century inn, The George, and convenient bus service.
> Norton St Philip – car-free option: visitable by bus from Bath
> Lacock – car-free option: visitable by combination of train and bus from Bath
Caves and gorges
The hills around Bath are low and gentle, but some much more dramatic scenery can be found in the Mendip Hills to the south-west of Bath, where tourist attractions include the deep and rocky Cheddar Gorge. The town of Cheddar is also famous for its cheese. More natural phenomena can be marvelled at in Wookey Hole Caves, a dramatic sequence of underground caverns.
Ancient monuments, castles and historic buildings
Stonehenge (English Heritage) is a must for many tourists, and can be visited on a bus tour from Bath. The site can be combined with a visit to the larger stone circle at Avebury. Dyrham Park, owned by the National Trust, is a stately home close to Bath which was used as a location for the film Remains of the Day. Other castles, ruins and historic houses are dotted around the area.
> Farleigh Hungerford Castle – car-free option: can be visited as part of a country walk from Bath or from a rural railway station
> Stonehenge – car-free option: tourbuses from Bath, or a public transport alternative by train and bus
In this region of England there are some superb gardens to visit. As well as Prior Park Gardens in Bath, the National Trust also own the famous landscaped gardens of Stourhead. Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire is a must for tree-lovers, while Iford Manor offers both a pretty garden and summer opera and jazz concerts.
By the sea
If you prefer the seaside, one of the nicest resorts that can be reached from Bath is Weymouth, in Dorset, a traditional seaside town which has been coming back into fashion. The traditional local resort for the Bath area is Weston-super-Mare (bus or train from Bath), where donkeys ply their trade on the muddy beach.
Tourist attractions dotted around the Bath area include farms, Cheddar-making dairies, cider producers and museums. Many of the local attractions make good destinations for families with small children.