Whether you’re interested in seeing cathedrals, Jane Austen’s home, or the famous Roman baths, Bath has you covered. Bath has been attracting visitors for thousands of years thanks to the area’s hot springs.
That said, unless you are really into spas I would suggest visiting here as a day trip — don’t bother staying over.
Though known as a luxury vacation spot, there are many free things to do when you visit Bath. The biggest draw to the city are the ancient Roman Baths and they don’t take that long to see. There’s some cool museums and it’s a pretty town but you can do it as a long day trip from Bristol if you want.
This travel guide to Bath can help you plan an affordable and off-the-beaten-path trip!
Table of Contents
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Top 5 Things to See and Do in Bath
1. Take in the Roman Baths
2. Go for a stroll in Royal Victoria Park
3. Explore Bath Abbey
4. Experience history at No. 1 Royal Crescent
5. Take photos of Pulteney Bridge
Other Things to See and Do in Bath
1. Visit the Victoria Art Gallery
This public museum has a collection of British painting, sculptures, and decorative arts dating back to over 600 years ago. Highlights from the collection include landscape and portrait oil paintings by Thomas Gainsborough, an 18th century English Romantic artist who lived in Bath. The upper gallery has quirky decorative arts, including over 400 delicate Georgian drinking glasses and a huge collection of pottery dogs. Like all national museums in England, entrance is free.
2. Enjoy the Jane Austen Exhibition
Bath has a permanent collection of Jane Austen memorabilia. Austen lived in Bath for most of her life and used the city as a setting in many of her novels. Today, her home functions as a museum where it’s possible to join talks, activities, and see contemporary exhibits. They do a great job giving you information about her life and works. Admission costs £12 ($15 USD), with discounts available if you buy online.
3. Shop on Walcot Street
Known as the “Artisan Quarter,” Walcot Street is Bath’s hipster district, the equivalent to London’s Camden Town. There are many unique shops, including artisanal cheese shops, independent cafes, and vintage antique stores. On the weekends, there’s an open-air market where you may be able to find some funky and bohemian souvenirs. If you’re looking for a curated experience, Savouring Bath offers a food tour along Walcot Street for £55 ($68 USD).
4. Study astronomy at Hershel Museum of Astronomy
This is an awesome museum if you’re interested in the history and science of astronomy. The house is where William Hershel discovered the planet Uranus in 1781 and also contains what was once the world’s most powerful telescope. Adult admission is £6.90 ($8.50 USD), with discounts available for kids, students, seniors, and groups.
5. Experience the world of fashion
Founded in the 1960s, the Fashion Museum contains over 30,000 pieces of clothing items and accessories that date back to the 18th century. The collection was started by Doris Langley Moore, a designer, collector, writer and scholar who lived in England and was an early female fashion historian. The collection includes many costume pieces throughout history (such as a pair of decorated gloves from the time of Shakespeare), as well as a annual exhibition, The Dress of The Year, which focuses on contemporary fashion. Admission is £9.50 ($11.70 USD), with discounts available for seniors, students, and kids.
6. Learn about Bath’s working history
The Museum of Bath at Work takes a unique angle to show the working history of the city to present day, spanning a 2000-year history of the Bath and Somerset region. The original collection at the museum (open since the 1970s) started with the remnants from a mineral bottle water business that was based in Bath, but today the museum recreates several types of local businesses throughout history. If you have any interest in social history or the rise of industrialization, you should consider a visit. Admission is £8 ($10 USD).
7. Enjoy Bath’s iconic architecture
Bath is generally regarded as one of the prettiest English towns, thanks to its Georgian era architecture in 18th century England. Walk down Great Pulteney Street, a long thoroughfare with expansive Georgian buildings on either side. Another spot to take in the Georgian architecture is at the Royal Crescent—a sweeping arc of Georgian townhouses.
8. Shop in a bustling open-air market
Green Park Station was a former railway station. Today, it’s one of Bath’s most unique shopping attractions. The open-air market has a number of independent shops, restaurants, and cafés. On Saturdays, there’s a farmer’s market and, on the first Sunday of every month, a flea Market, while the last Sunday of every month is the Antiques Market.
For more information on specific cities, check out these guides!
Bath Travel Costs
Hostel prices – Hostels cost between £18-26 ($22 USD–$32 USD) for a dorm room. A private ensuite room in a hostel will be about £60 ($74 USD).
Keep in mind Bath is small, and there aren’t that many hostels available. There are only a few options in the city, but if you book early, you can get a pretty good deal.
Camping is available outside the city center in nearby Somerset. A camping site will cost you around £25 ($31 USD) for a pitch and basic facilities. The Bath Marina & Caravan Park also has a moor if you’re on a houseboat.
Budget hotel prices – A budget two-star hotel room with a private ensuite bathroom start at about £70 ($86 USD) for a double room during peak summer season. Bath isn’t exactly a budget destination, so don’t expect a lot of great deals. On the plus side, many budget hotels include free breakfast. In the off-season, budget rooms start from about £73 ($90 USD).
There are lots of Airbnb options in Bath. A shared room, similar to a hostel dorm, is about £15 ($19 USD) per night while a private room is about £30-56 ($38-69 USD) per night. A full apartment averages about £69-93 ($85-115 USD) per night.
Food – You can eat cheap in Bath if you stick to basic meals, like fast food, pub food, or fish and chips, as they cost as little as £6 ($7.50 USD).
For a mid-range meal at a restaurant, you can expect to pay between £14-20 ($17-25 USD) for a main course like pasta or a vegetarian meal. Fish or meat will cost slightly higher at about £18 ($23 USD) per dish. A pint of beer can cost up to £6 ($8 USD). Restaurants here are very expensive, so expect to spend about £30 or more for a nice sit-down meal.
If you stay awhile, a week’s worth of basic groceries (fruits, veggies, pasta, chicken, sandwich stuff) will cost between £40-£50 ($52—$60 USD). The best places to buy cheap groceries are Lidl, Aldi, and Sainsbury’s.
Backpacking Bath Suggested Budgets
If you’re backpacking Bath, expect to spend about £44 ($55 USD) per day. This budget will cover a hostel dorm, public transit, street food and cooking your own meals, and mostly free attractions. If you’re traveling during the shoulder season, you can reduce this budget by a few dollars each day for accommodations.
A mid-range budget of about £130 ($160 USD) will cover staying in a private Airbnb room, eating out for most of your meals, public transit, and a few paid attractions.
On a luxury budget of about £307 ($380 USD) or more per day, you can get an excellent four-star hotel, eat at nice restaurants, have some drinks, and take a few taxis. You’ll also enjoy a private tour or a few attractions. The sky is the limit!
If you come in the low season, accommodation costs about 25% less.
You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in USD.
Bath Travel Guide: Money Saving Tips
Bath isn’t a budget-friendly destination, which is why many travelers choose to visit on a day trip. But there are actually quite a few ways to enjoy the city without spending too much. Here are some other way to save money when visiting Bath:
- Visit the parks and gardens – There are a handful of large parks and many local gardens throughout Bath. Pack a picnic lunch, a book, or a journal and go for a stroll through the parks and see if you can find some of that literary spark which inspired Bath writers like Jane Austen back in the day.
- Eat at the pubs – Bath has some delicious but expensive restaurants, so eat cheaper meals at the pubs and taverns where you’ll experience the local flavor. Expect a cheap pub meal during lunch to be about £8 ($10 USD), as opposed to £19 ($24 USD) or more at a restaurant. Fast food meals are a little cheaper at around £6 ($7.50) for something like a falafel sandwich but the pub meals will be heartier.
- Buy a Saver Ticket – Save on admission to Bath’s biggest tourist attractions by buying a Saver Ticket. The ticket provides entry to the Fashion Museum, the Roman Baths & the Victoria Art Gallery. Buy it online on any of the participating museums’ websites in advance for an extra 10% discount, or else at the ticket counter for any of the participating museums.
- Walk everywhere – Bath isn’t a big city, so you can save yourself a few pounds by walking everywhere. Put that money toward a visit to the spa!
- Take a free walking tour – If you want to get a better feel for the city, be sure to take a free walking tour. They only last a couple of hours and are a great way to engage with the city’s history. The Mayor of Bath Honorary Guides is a complimentary service offered by the city with free daily tours led by knowledgeable locals. They don’t even accept tips. You can the guides outside the Roman Baths wearing clearly labeled badges every day at 10:30 a.m..
- Couchsurf – If you’re on a budget you’ll definitely want to try couch surfing. It’s an easy and enjoyable way to cut costs while connecting to the local scene. Many students will be away in the summer, however, so be sure to apply early.
Where To Stay in Bath
There aren’t many hostel options in Bath, since most budget travelers base themselves in nearby Bristol. Here are some of my favorite hostels in Bath:
How to Get Around Bath
Bus – If you’re staying within the city limits, it’s best to walk or take the bus. A one-day bus ticket costs around £4 ($5 USD). However, since the city is pretty small, you are better off walking everywhere and using the money for attractions.
Bath is also an easy city to get to. It’s about two hours from London, with tickets costing around £21 ($26 USD). It’s also a stone’s throw from Bristol, costing only £4 ($5 USD) to visit by bus.
Bicycle –A day rental will cost around £15 ($19 USD) for a half day, or £30 ($37 USD) for a 24-hour rental. You can rent bikes from Green Park Bike Station or Take Charge Bikes.
Taxis – Taxis are readily available and cost about £6 ($7.80 USD) per one mile, but the price decreases the further you go. For example, a six-mile journey will cost you around £24 ($31.20 USD) (but more during peak hours). You can also use an app such as “mytaxi” to order your ride. Given how expensive they are, I wouldn’t take one unless absolutely necessary.
Uber – Uber is available in Bath, a little cheaper than taking a taxi. But again, walking or cycling are the easiest way to get around in the compact city. You can save $15 off your first Uber ride with this code: jlx6v.
When to Go to Bath
Bath doesn’t get too cold, but like most English cities, it also doesn’t get too hot. Spring (late March to June) is peak tourism season when the flowers are in bloom, though it can also get pretty wet and rainy then. Summer is the warmest season but temperatures are rarely ever above 72°F (22°C). Expect many street festivals and public events in the late spring and early summer.
The best time of year to visit Bath is in May, during the annual Bath Festival. It’s the city’s largest festival: an open-air celebration of music and literature which takes over the city for nearly two weeks. For fans of the city’s most famous writer-resident, the annual Jane Austen Festival takes place on a weekend in early July. Expect street theater, literary walking tours and even a costumed ball.
Autumn (September to November) is also a popular time to visit, as temperatures are mild, and it’s drier than other times throughout the year. Winter lasts from December to February, and tourism crowds will thin out dramatically during this time. Temperatures rarely dip below freezing 32°F (0°C), and prices are slightly lower as well. Just expect many grey days in the colder months.
The Bath Christmas Market starts at the end of November and sees the streets of Bath’s city center filled with seasonal decorations, Christmas lights, and many local makers and designers selling artisan gifts and typical Christmas market foods.
How to Stay Safe in Bath
Bath is safe and the risk of violent crime is low. Over the past five years, several reports have cited as one of England’s safest cities. The most likely areas where you might encounter trouble would be around the University of Bath, though that’s just likely to be small, petty crimes such as pickpocketing or theft—especially at the bars.
You can read about the 14 travel scams to avoid right here.
Always trust your gut instinct. If your hotel is seedier than you thought, get out of there. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID. Forward your itinerary along to loved ones so they’ll know where you are.
As a general rule, if you don’t do something at home, don’t do it in Bath!
The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good 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. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:
Bath Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources
These are my favorite companies to use when I travel to Bath. They are included here because they consistently find deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and, overall, are better than their competitors. They are the ones I use the most and are always the starting points in my search for travel deals.
- Momondo – This is my favorite booking site. I never book a flight without checking here first.
- Skyscanner – Skyscanner is another great flight search engline which searches a lot of different airlines, including many of the budget carriers that larger sites miss. While I always start with Momondo, I use this site too as a way to compare prices.
- Airbnb – Airbnb is a great accommodation alternative for connecting with homeowners who rent out their homes or apartments.
- Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there, with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
- Couchsurfing – This website allows you to stay on people’s couches or spare rooms for free. It’s a great way to save money while meeting locals who can tell you the ins and outs of their city. The site also lists events you can attend to meet people (even if you’re not staying with someone).
- Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have a no money down policy, great interface, and the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
- Intrepid Travel – If you want to do a group tour around England, go with Intrepid Travel. They offer good small group tours that use local operators and leave a small environmental footprint. If you go on a tour with anyone, go with them. And, as a reader of this site, you’ll get a discount when you click the link!
- The Man in Seat 61 – This website is the ultimate guide to train travel anywhere in the world. They have the most comprehensive information on routes, times, prices, and train conditions. If you are planning a long train journey or some epic train trip, consult this site.
- Rome 2 Rio – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B the best and cheapest way possible. It will give you all the bus, train, plane, or boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost.
- BlaBlaCar – BlaBlaCar is a ridesharing website that lets you share rides with vetted local drivers by pitching in for gas. You simply request a seat, they approve, and off you go! It’s a cheaper and more interesting way travel than by bus or train!
- EatWith – This website allows you to eat home cooked meal with locals. Locals post listings for dinner parties and specialty meals that you can sign up for. There is a fee (everyone sets their own price) but this is a great way to do something different, pick a local’s brain, and make a new friend.
- World Nomads – I buy all my travel insurance from World Nomads. They have great customer service, competitive prices, and in-depth coverage. I’ve been using them since I started traveling in 2003. Don’t leave home without it!
Bath Gear and Packing Guide
If you’re heading on the road and need some gear suggestions, here are my tips for the best travel backpack and for what to pack!
The Best Backpack for Travelers
Straps: Thick and cushy with compression technology that pulls the pack’s load up and inwards so it doesn’t feel as heavy.
Features: Removable top lid, large pocket at the front, hydration compatible, contoured hip belt
If you want something different, refer to my article on how to choose the best travel backpack for tips on picking a pack and other backpack suggestions.
What to Pack for Your Trip
- 1 pair of jeans (heavy and not easily dried, but I like them; a good alternative is khaki pants)
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 bathing suit
- 5 T-shirts (Unbound Merino is my preferred company. If you’re a member of NM+, you can get 15% off your purchase)
- 1 long-sleeved T-shirt
- 1 pair of flip-flops
- 1 pair of sneakers
- 6 pairs of socks (I always end up losing half)
- 5 pairs of boxer shorts (I’m not a briefs guy!)
- 1 toothbrush
- 1 tube of toothpaste
- 1 razor
- 1 package of dental floss
- 1 small bottle of shampoo
- 1 small bottle of shower gel
- 1 towel
Small Medical Kit (safety is important!!!)
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Antibacterial cream
- Hand sanitizer (germs = sick = bad holiday)
- A key or combination lock (safety first)
- Zip-lock bags (keeps things from leaking or exploding)
- Plastic bags (great for laundry)
- Universal charger/adaptor (this applies to everyone)
- LifeStraw (A water bottle with a purifier)
Female Travel Packing List
I’m not a woman, so I don’t know what a woman wears, but Kristin Addis, our solo female travel guru, wrote this list as an addition to the basics above:
- 1 swimsuit
- 1 sarong
- 1 pair of stretchy jeans (they wash and dry easily)
- 1 pair of leggings (if it’s cold, they can go under your jeans, otherwise with a dress or shirt)
- 2-3 long-sleeve tops
- 2-3 T-shirts
- 3-4 spaghetti tops
- 1 light cardigan
- 1 dry shampoo spray & talc powder (keeps long hair grease-free in between washes)
- 1 hairbrush
- Makeup you use
- Hair bands & hair clips
- Feminine hygiene products (you can opt to buy there too, but I prefer not to count on it, and most people have their preferred products)
For more on packing, check out these posts:
Bath Travel Guide: Suggested Reading
Notes from a Small Island, by Bill Bryson
It’s pretty impossible to not love anything Bill Bryson writes. After spending nearly 20 years living in Great Britain, Bryson decides to return to the United States. (To quote him: “I had recently read that 3.7 million Americans believed that they had been abducted by aliens at one time or another, so it was clear that my people needed me.”) But first he sets out on a tour of his adoptive country, delivering hilarious social commentary on the nation that brought us Shakespeare and zebra crossings.
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
Jane Austen’s most popular novel is one of those classics you read and can’t ever forget about it. It’s famous for a reason. When Elizabeth Bennet meets an arrogant bachelor named Fitzwilliam Darcy, she immediately brushes him off as too conceited – and he immediately ignores her good looks and charm. Elizabeth discovers that Darcy has become involved in the disastrous relationship of his friend Bingley and her sister Jane, which further deepens her disdain. What follows is an excellent commentary on England’s snobbish middle-class life, and the dangers of judging someone by first impressions.
Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë
This is Emily Brontë’s only novel, but itsa impact has withstood the test of time. The story focuses on Lockwood, the newest tenant of Thrushcross Grange on the Yorkshire moores who is forced to seek shelter one evening at Wuthering Heights (the home of his landlord). He soon uncovers a love story between a gypsy orphan named Heathcliff and high society’s Catherine Earnshaw. She eventually succumbs to societal pressure and marries the well-bred Edgar Linton, and Heathcliff’s bitterness is cast upon the next generation. Somehow, the couple’s heirs must escape this painful legacy.
Sorry!: The English and Their Manners, by Henry Hitchings
The Brits are notorious for their polite behavior and the importance of having proper manners, and this book from Henry Hitchings is an investigation into this phenomenon. It isn’t just holding doors open and keeping your elbows off the table, either – there’s a whole system for things like sexual conduct, hospitality, chivalry, online etiquette, and so much more. This is a funny, upbeat read about British manners and what it all says about the English character.
Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
An English reading list without Charles Dickens isn’t a reading list of all! The book is about the course of orphan Pip Pirrip’s life as he is transformed from a poor boy begging for soup to the heir of a mysterious inheritance from an unknown person. Dickens takes us through Pirrip’s life as he abandons his apprenticeship to a blacksmith named Joe Gargery and then takes up a new station as a proper English gentleman. Dickens is a masterful storyteller.
Bath Travel Guide: Related Articles
Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on backpacking/traveling England and continue planning your trip: