Once a playground for the rich during the glamour of the Georgian era, Bath’s natural hot springs and architectural marvels have paved its way to World Heritage status. Though small in size, Bath is immensely picturesque and holds many cobbled pockets of charm. Elegant crescents and terraces curve over and around the petite city’s hills, while steeples and spires rise above the steam from the ancient Roman baths. For a slice of continental charm, forget far-flung foreign destinations – take a dip in the spa city of Bath…
Take to the Water
Bath was built upon hot springs and is the only place in the UK where you can immerse yourself in the thermal waters that have bubbled deep underneath the city for over 2,000 years. To recreate the Roman experience (unwieldy armour and bloodshed excluded), visit the original ancient bathing house, The Roman Baths. Besides exploring the very changing rooms where our Roman conquerors got in their birthday suits before bathing, you’ll even be able to dip a finger in the naturally warm water of the thermal pools where the Romans would wash. Afterwards, if you’re craving a modern-day spa experience, head to the Thermae Bath Spa around the corner, where you can bathe above Bath in the rooftop swimming pool with unrivalled city views.
Tip: Book yourself in for a twilight spa package at the Thermae Bath Spa to see the sun set over the city as you soak up the mineral waters.
Bath’s enchanting cityscape is carved from creamy golden stone and boasts over 5,000 listed buildings and perfectly-preserved Georgian houses. To see the best of the city’s honey-hued architecture and heritage, start at Bath Abbey and weave your way up the hill to Victoria Park. You’ll pass the spherical Royal Circus, followed by the Royal Crescent, a curved sweep of palatial façades in perfect symmetry. Back in the centre, stroll to where the River Avon crosses Pulteney Bridge (modelled on Florence’s famed Ponte Vecchio) and browse the chic boutiques and cosy coffee shops that line the bridge – you’ll feel as if you’ve travelled to Firenze itself.
Tip: From Pulteney Bridge, continue along Great Pulteney Street to Sydney Gardens (the only remaining 18th century ‘Pleasure Gardens’ in the UK) behind the Holburne Museum (free admission).
If following in the footsteps of Jane Austen (who lived in Bath from 1801 to 1806) has left you with a thirst for more of her romantic fiction, you can learn about the novelist’s life and work at Bath’s Jane Austen Centre. While you’re there, create your own Austen ambience by dressing up in the coats, bonnets, shawls and parasols provided, or treat yourself to a ‘Mr Darcy’ champagne afternoon tea at the Regency Tea room within the centre.
Along with Rome, San Francisco and Prague, the city of Bath was built into enfolds of seven hills. Encircling the city, the six-mile Bath skyline walk takes eager amblers through grassy pastures and beech woodlands to reach Richens orchard and an Iron Age fort, offering many glimpses of the golden city – not to mention rare wildlife – along the way. Once you’re back in the cobbled streets, rest your feet and refuel at one of Bath’s many Michelin-starred restaurants or gastro pubs, such as Georgian townhouse-turned-culinary kitchen, The Porter.
Tip: On the skyline walk, head slightly off route at Bathwick Hill to admire the arches and turrets of Sham Castle, an 18th-century folly.
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