Bath is famous for its architecture and the beauty of the city, designated a World Heritage Site, as a whole. The city is best enjoyed at leisure, wandering around. Highlights include the shop-lined Pulteney Bridge, the imposing Circus, and a series of elegant curving hillside crescents, the most celebrated of which is the Royal Crescent. Bath Abbey dominates the centre of town with its centuries of history.
Of Bath’s individual tourist attractions, the most popular is the Roman Baths Museum. The Romans were the earliest documented users of England’s only thermal springs, and remains of their bath complex, statues and tombstones can be admired in the museum, along with later, Georgian additions to the baths themselves.
Bath has an excellent range of museums displaying aspects of the city’s past. The Building of Bath Museum documents the construction of the town, while No. 1 Royal Crescent is a fascinating time capsule, an elegant re-created Georgian townhouse. Renowned Bath residents William Herschel, William Beckford and Jane Austen are celebrated in their own museums.
The Museum of Costume‘s fine collections document changing fashions over the centuries. More art can be admired at the Victoria Art Gallery, by Pulteney Bridge, and at the Holburne Museum of Art.
As well as tourist sightseeing holidaymakers can choose from a range of other activities in the Bath area. There are many good opportunities for walking and riding a bike around Bath. In addition to interesting town walks, the countryside offers a wide selection of footpaths in the hills, fields and woods around Bath. The canal towpath leads from the centre of Bath through the heart of the countryside, and is popular with both walkers and cyclists. There are also boat trips along the river Avon with commentaries from guides.
There are several golf courses in and around Bath where non-members can play, and boating enthusiasts can hire canoes, punts and skiffs on the river. For those interested in spectator sports, Bath’s rugby team, one of the top teams in the country, play at the Rec, close to Pulteney Bridge. You could even spend a day at the races.
For a very different (though costly) experience, or to celebrate a special occasion you could consider a scenic hot air balloon flight.
There are many great options for day trips and excursions around Bath, with destinations ranging from caves to castles. Our selection is in our Days Out section.
Things to do for children in Bath
For children who are getting bored with architecture and museums, there is a good and extremely popular adventure playground in Victoria Park. This large green park is a good place for a picnic with the family. Bath’s other parks include the Parade Gardens by the river; there is a small admission charge, but it’s a pleasant, central place to sit and relax.
Walking along the river or canal there are plenty of boats to interest small children, while the locks on the canal can provide lots of entertainment. A trip on the river is another good option – boat trips depart from a mooring just below Pulteney Bridge (take the steps down).
Open-top bus rides are expensive, but can be a good way to see the city without alienating the children. Commentary is provided on headphones, so they don’t need to listen if they don’t want to. One of the bus companies operates a ‘skyline’ route, which is an exhilarating circuit up the hillside to the south of Bath. Passengers can alight at Prior Park Gardens (National Trust).
Local heritage sites and museums frequently put on re-enactment and participatory events which are fun for children big and small.
If you’re on a longer break, it’s worth taking a trip to Bristol Zoo, which has plenty of activities for youngsters, and a superb underwater viewing complex for penguins and seals. Closer at hand, Bath City Farm offers the chance to meet the animals.