Today I’m going to write about my trip to Bath. My boyfriend and I decided to go to this city in the Southwest England to enjoy our Easter weekend together since we were both off work.
Apart from being a great weekend getaway, visiting Bath is also like travelling back in time to two important moments in the human history: the Roman and Georgian periods. The Romans established themselves in this area during the first century AD, when they built the well known Roman Baths – in order to enjoy the properties of Bath’s mineral hot springs – and a temple, creating then a city called Aquae Sulis.
A few centuries later, during the Georgian period, the city of Bath started being built with a strong influence from the aesthetics of the Italian architect Andrea Palladio. Palladian architecture became the inspiration for the 18th century’s Georgian architecture. Several architects worked on different projects to build the city which was meant be the most beautiful one in Europe! The goal seems to have been achieved. Today, the city of Bath is well known not only for being spa city, but also for its historic and cultural values, and also became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
What did we do in Bath?
When we arrived in Bath, the bus dropped us off at the coach station next to a shopping area called SouthGate Bath. This area is like a mall, where we can find stores of the most well-known brands. Since we were not planning to go for shopping and were more interested in walking and seeing the historic centre, we quickly passed through SouthGate, without checking out the stores.
We walked to Abbey Churchyard, in Bath’s central area. This square has a beautiful architecture, where Bath Abbey’s Gothic style contrasts with the Greek and Roman aesthetics of both the Roman Baths and Grand Pump Room‘s Georgian architecture.
It was lunch time already, so we decided to look for a place where we could have some food before starting exploring the city. We wanted to have a proper meal but avoiding the restaurant chains that we could also find in London. At Abbey Churchyard there were two options that seemed interesting to us: the Pump Room – inside of a historic building next to the Roman Baths – was an elegant restaurant with live classical music. The opening times for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea were very well structured. When we arrived there, the breakfast time was still going on, so we’d have to queue for a bit until we could have a table when the lunch time began. The menus seemed good and the staff was very nice. However, we ended up going to The Roman Bath Kitchen, right in front of the Pump Room on the opposite side of Abbey Churchyard. This restaurant serves traditional English food – steaks, burgers, pies, etc. – and the prices were slightly lower when compared with the Pump Room. The food was very nice, but we didn’t like the coffee that much.
After having some lunch, we were finally ready to explore Bath!
We began our itinerary at Pulteney Bridge. This arch bridge in Palladian style crosses over the River Avon. Its design was inspired by a rejected design for the Rialto Bridge in Venice.
After seeing the bridge, we decided to go and check two other important landmarks and symbols of the Georgian architecture in Bath: The Circus and Royal Crescent. On the way there, we passed by Queen Square which has an obelisk built right in the centre of the square, in honour of Frederick, Prince of Wales.
The Circus is a group of three segments of townhouses placed in a circular line. Apparently, its architect John Wood was inspired by the arrangement of the Rome Colosseum to create this project.
We followed Brock Street, one of the exits from The Circus, and we finally arrived at The Royal Crescent, a segment of 30 terrace houses which nowadays are used for a luxury hotel & spa. Although, some of the houses are still used as common residential places.
Here there’s also a museum about the life during the Georgian period in the 18th century – Nº1 Royal Crescent.
After checking out these main Georgian landmarks, the green in front of The Royal Crescent was calling us and we decided to go for a walk through Royal Victoria Park and the botanical gardens.
We crossed the park and walked to the hotel where we had reserved our bedroom. We stayed at Holiday Inn Express Bath. Nothing fancy, but it was a good option for a short stay like ours.
At the end of the afternoon, we went to see the Bath’ skyline from the top of Alexandra Park. That was a 25 minutes walk from the hotel. But I can tell you now: it was really worth it walking Shakespeare Avenue all the way up to the top of the hill!
Our first day in Bath ended with dinner at Opa! Meze Bar, a restaurant by the river that serves Greek food. When it’s warm outside, I guess it’s pleasant to sit on the terrace close to the river. But that wasn’t the case that night. The weather was cold, as such, we sat indoors. We shared a meze (a kind of tapas) and each one of us had a main dish: I had a Moussaka, a combination of aubergines, potatoes, minced beef and béchamel sauce, and my boyfriend and a Welsh lamb shank. And I must say that the food was delicious!
Our second and last day in Bath started with breakfast at the hotel and a walk alongside the river towards the city centre. Our intention was walking next to River Avon all the way up to Pulteney Bridge, then cross the bridge and go to Bath Abbey. However, we didn’t realize that there was also a canal coming out of the river, and at some point, we were walking alongside Kennet & Avon Canal and getting further away from the city centre. But there’s always a bright side: it was a beautiful sunny day and we even got the chance to see a boat going across a canal lock and all the process involved. Later I got to know that very lock is called Bath Deep Lock and is actually the second deepest canal lock in the country!
When we finally realised we were following the wrong way, we walked back towards the central area. We went to Bath Abbey and watched the Easter Mass. The entrance to the Abbey is free but donations are appreciated. It’s also possible to do a tour to the Abbey’s tower, walk the stairs to the top and admire Bath’s panorama. The tower visit is paid and the price is £6 for adults and £3 for children between 5 and 15 years old.
The rest of the day was spent enjoying the picturesque streets of Bath. There are several museums worth being visited. We thought of going to visit the Roman Baths – people say to be a very interesting tour – or even go for a spa session at the Thermae Bath Spa, but we didn’t have the courage to face the long queue outside. So we ended up staying outdoors enjoying the sunny day, which was actually our initial plan for this trip.
Which transports we took?
After checking the timetables and prices – both websites have a search engine very easy to use and where we can also buy the tickets online – we chose to take a bus from Victoria Coach Station. It was the cheapest option and the most convenient time for us. The trip London – Bath took about 2h40min and we paid £21 each one of us. To go back to London we took the train since there were no buses at the time we wanted to leave Bath.
Side note: Often train lines are partly closed during the weekends for engineering works. That means there’ll be cancelled train and changes to the schedules. When that happens usually there’re replacement buses operating between the affected areas. And that’s what happened to us on that weekend. Part of the train line connecting Bath to London was closed, as such, we had to take a replacement bus to the next closest train station, Chippenham. Although, when we arrived in Chippenham we got to know that the train to London Paddington (our destination) had been cancelled, so we would have to take a different train to Swindon and then take another train from Swindon to London Paddington. Long story short: the trip that we thought would be quicker and more comfortable, became longer and with more changes. But I’m telling this story just to highlight the importance of having into consideration eventual changes to the schedules, paying attention to the electronic panels at the stations, check the updates online when possible and speak to the members of the staff at the stations. They are there to help and usually are very nice.
And this is my story about my Easter weekend in Bath. Hopefully, it was an interesting one to read. Have you been to Bath before? Write a comment in the box below telling your thoughts about this beautiful city full of history and share this post with your traveller friends.
Thanks for visiting the blog and I’ll see you guys on the next post!