Last Updated: 11/26/2018 | November 26th, 2018
The Romans came here when they invaded Britain because of the hot springs that bubble up from the earth. The local people thought this place had spiritual significance, and when the Romans came, they felt the same and dedicated this site to Minerva, the goddess of wisdom. Despite being on the edge of the frontier, the city grew to become a major religious and cultural center. People came from all around to pray to Minerva and use the baths, which they believed had special healing powers. (I tested this theory. They don’t!)
After the Roman Empire crumbled, so too did the baths of Bath. Over the centuries, the Roman structure collapsed and the city was built over them. Medieval leaders eventually constructed their own baths, and pilgrims came to the hot springs in order to be healed of various ailments. Time and construction hid the original Roman structure, a new spa was constructed nearby, and life in Bath went on.
In the early 19th century, the owners of the house on top of the original baths hired a crew to find the source of water leaks and stumbled upon the ancient structure. Subsequent digging revealed the whole complex, and soon excavations were underway to unearth this historic treasure.
Today, most of the structure has been unearthed, though archaeologists suspect there are still a few more buildings in the area.
Now, everyone wants to visit Bath to check out these ancient Roman baths in England! It’s the most popular thing to do here.
The ancient Roman baths are inspiring. Since the city is built on top of them, you enter from street level, where a terrace lets you look down into the baths, which are over six feet below the ground. The preservation techniques employed here are excellent, and this is one of the best-preserved Roman sites I’ve ever seen.
The audio tour, which is narrated by famed travel writer Bill Bryson, gives an amazing level of detail and information. The displays do a wonderful job of explaining the history of Bath, the Roman occupation, the significance behind all the artifacts, and the excavation process. I always hate walking away from historic sites with questions, but Bath’s displays and audio tour are so complete that I had none.
I’m always amazed by Roman engineering, especially their sewer and aqueduct system. It’s amazing that a people primitive in so many ways could build piping, heating, and sewer systems that were so complex. The history geek in me finds it all fascinating.
The city’s allure isn’t just the Roman baths, though, but also the historic abbey, where famed philosopher Thomas Malthus is entombed. Plus, the town is beautiful, and most of the buildings are as they appeared a few centuries ago. I don’t know what architectural style they’re built in, but if I had to guess, I’d say “pretty.” There’s also a museum that contains 600 oil paintings and over 5,000 pieces of art of other mediums. (And, like all national museums in England, entrance is free though it costs 4 GBP to see the large exhibitions!)
One of the real highlights for me was the river in town. Parks line the Avon River, and people lounge out with picnics as the famous Pulteney Bridge overlooks a little cascade in the river. The bridge is covered with shops and reminded me of the covered bridges in Florence.
All over England, people kept telling me, “Ohh, you’ll like Bath. It’s really nice.” They were right. The only thing I didn’t like was my camera battery dying halfway through my trip, leaving me far short of all the pictures I would have taken. Bath is a real gem.
How to Get to Bath, England
For a day trip, trains run from London take around 90 minutes and run until late. Round trip fare starts at 60 GBP. Buses from London take about 2hrs 30min and cost between 7-21 GBP. If you have a car, it’s about a 2hr 30min drive from London.
If you’re coming from nearby Bristol, the trip is only around 25 minutes by car. Trains from Bristol run regularly and take around 15 minutes, costing 5-10 GBP each way. Buses from Bristol will take closer to an hour and cost between 2-7 GBP each way.
How to Visit the Roman Baths in England
The Roman Baths are right in the center of Bath on Stall St. The entrance is in Abbey Church Yard. Opening hours vary depending on the season:
- January-February: 9:30am-5pm (you can stay unil 6pm)
- March-June 20th: 9am-5pm (you can stay unil 6pm)
- June 21st-August 31st: 9am-9pm (you can stay unil 10pm)
- September-October: 9am-5pm (you can stay unil 6pm)
- Novemeber-December: 9:30am-5pm (you can stay unil 6pm)
Admission costs 16.50 GBP for adults with discounts available for students, children, and seniors. Audio guides are free.
Tips for Visiting Bath
To make the most of your trip to Bath and a visit to the Roman Baths, here are a few helpful travel tips:
- Eat at the pubs – Bath is home to some delicious (but expensive) restaurants. If you’re on a budget, you can find cheaper meals at the pubs and taverns. You’ll get a bit more local flavor this way, and meals will be closer to 10 GBP instead of 20 GBP at a standard restaurant.
- Walk everywhere – Bath isn’t a big city. save yourself some money and just walk everywhere.
- Couchsurf – There are plenty of couch surfing hosts to be found if you’re looking to lower your accommodation costs and stay with a loca. just make sure to send requests early as the summers can get busy and many locals are away on holidays.
- Time your visit – Get to the baths right when they open or right when they close to beat the crowd. Also, try to visit during the week instead of on the weekend. This will give you a much less crowded experience.
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Book Your Trip to Bath: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner or Momondo to find a cheap flight. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned. Start with Skyscanner first though because they have the biggest reach!
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. My favorite places to stay are:
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- World Nomads (for everyone below 70)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional repatriation coverage)
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Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.
Want More Information on Bath?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Bath for even more planning tips!