What To Do in Bath, England For First Time Visitors
With nice weather our first day, we chose to walk the few miles into town. Bath Abbey and the Roman baths are the physical and historical center of Bath. The majestic Abbey rises to the sky next to the ancient Roman Baths, which has drawn people from all over England for the soothing warm waters that presumably could heal almost any medical ailment. Today, people can enjoy the thermal waters at the modern Thermae Bath Spa, with all the comforts and conveniences of the 21st century. In any case, Bath should not be missing from any England itinerary.
It was a surreal scene as I watched the steam rise above the surface of the Roman Baths. Temperatures rise up to 115 degrees, with a heavy concentration of sodium, calcium, chloride and sulphate ions. At one of the museum exhibits, visitors are even allowed to taste the thermal waters. It was notably a bit minerally and unpleasant, my wife and I both gave the water two thumbs down.
The Royal Crescent and The Circus
This historic city is known for its beautiful honey colored Georgian architecture. The Royal Crescent, one of the most desirable and expensive addresses in Bath, was designed by renowned architect John Wood. With its curved design and view, The Royal Crescent consists of 30 attached apartments making a semicircle overlooking a large grassy area and the beautiful Victoria Park. Royal Crescent One has been taken over by the city and has been restored and decorated it to its original grandiose condition. It is now a museum that gives visitors a look inside this historic building.
The Circus is another architectural wonder. Also a John Wood creation, the three segments form a circle (Circus is Latin for circle), and is considered by many to be Wood’s masterpiece. Unfortunately, the architect died three months after the Circus was started. But, Wood’s son oversaw its completion. An admirer of the Druids, Wood designed The Circus with the same approximate diameter as Stonehenge. Residents have included artist Thomas Gainsborough and Admiral Sir Richard Bickerton of Britain’s Royal Navy.
The Jane Austen Center
The Jane Austen Center is a huge draw for visitors to Bath. One of the world’s most beloved authors, Jane Austen made Bath her home from 1801 to 1806. In fact, many scenes in her works take place in Bath, most notably in her books Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. A nice display of quotes and excerpts from her books along with interesting tidbits about her life and the times make for an enjoyable hour or two, especially for fans of her work. You can also engage the costumed characters throughout the exhibit for some entertaining conversations.
Upstairs is the lovely Jane Austen Tearoom. Afterwards, it was fun to relax and enjoy some scones and a spot of tea. With lovely china and décor, and a portrait of Mr. Darcy looking over my wife’s shoulder, we enjoyed our little break before venturing out again. Of course, there is a small gift shop should you want to take a reminder of Jane home with you.
Where to Eat in Bath
There are numerous choices for dining out in Bath. Whether it’s fine dining, comfort food, a quick bite, or a lovely picnic, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for. For a bite of history, try Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House, located in the oldest house in Bath, just south of the Abbey. Be sure to visit the famous Sally Lunn Bun. But to experience afternoon tea or lunch accompanied by classical music and a view of the Roman Baths, try the sumptuous Pump Room.
A wonderful small wine bar specializing in hand selected wines by the glass or bottle and a casual, laid back environment, The Corkage at 132 Walcot Street is just a ten minute walk north from the Abbey. The small menu of fresh, inventive small plates, like the Burrata with Ruby Jewel Tomato, basil pesto, croutons, and black olives, or the Brixham White Crab Meat with celeriac remoulade and toast pairs well with their excellent wine selection.
The best part of The Corkage is the knowledgeable, friendly staff. They don’t have a written wine list. Instead, the staff asks you questions and directs you towards wines that fit your palate, making suggestions based on the customer’s input. On the two nights we were there, they were spot on, and we thoroughly enjoyed recommendations made by our waiter, an engaging young Frenchman named Francis.
Pizza in Bath, England
Bath Pizza Company is conveniently located near Green Park, the Odeon Cinema, and the Hershel Museum of Astronomy. Watch as they slide your pizza into the open pizza oven, giving it just the right amount of char on the crust. Their motto is “Simply Awesome Pizza,” and they deliver. Bath Pizza Company is home of the £10 pizza and pint or Prosecco deal – a great deal for a tasty pizza and beverage.
Our beautiful room in this small, historic hotel featured a canopy bed, modern bath, and elegant window curtains. Looking out our large window, we had a wonderful view of the grassy courtyard surrounded by tall trees and were entertained by a variety of birds chirping and flitting from tree to tree. Free parking is available, and a convenient bus stop to the city center is just minutes away. Book your room at the Bailbrrok Lodge here and additional recommendations on where to stay in Bath.
Bath is indeed beautiful and befitting its UNESCO World Heritage Site status. But there’s also plenty to see beyond the city. The stunning Somerset countryside awaits your exploration. Attractions like Stonehenge, Avebury and Longleat Safari Park are an easy day trip away. With it located on its southern edge, the rest of the intriguing Cotswolds, one of the most popular areas for Brits and visitors alike, lies to the north of Bath.
Upon arriving home back in Texas, my wife and I plopped down on our living room sofa and turned on Persuasion, an adaptation of one of Jane Austen’s novels that takes place in there. After our time in enchanting England, we felt more of a connection with Jane Austen and her characters. It felt a part of the historic town. As a result, we became engrossed in the love story of Anne and Wentworth from Austen’s book Persuasion, eager to learn more.
We formed some wonderful memories during our short time there. Goodbye for now, Bath. I must get back to Anne and Wentworth – along with a good cup of tea, of course!
What To Do in Bath, England was written and photographed by Scott Kendall.
Disclosure: The author was hosted by VisitBath during his trip, including lodging at the Bailbrook Lodge, a meal at Bath Pizza, and free admission to several local attractions.