In Bath, a thing from the past is never far away. After all, Bath is the only city in the UK that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What's not a thing from the past is the city's popularity. There surely is something for everyone: pure relaxation, gripping history and gorgeous Georgian filming locations …
How to get there
Just as with Rome, there are many roads that lead to Bath. From London you can easily get there by train, bus or en route during a guided coach tour.
On my first visit, me and my mum stopped over for a few hours during our "England in one day" tour with Premium Tours.
In May 2014, me and my American relatives passed through by car on our English countryside road trip. And on my third visit in July this year, I hopped on the National Express for £13.50 return. Not bad, hey?
Six Things to Do
1. The Roman Baths
No visit to Bath would be complete without seeing the ruins of the spectacular bathing temple set up by the Roman founders of the city around AD 43. If you only do one thing, do this!
The entrance price might seem a bit steep (a standard adult ticket costs £16.50), but it's absolutely worth it! First of all, for a history buff like myself it’s amazing to see how something so old can still be so well preserved. Second of all, the museum would only be half as interesting if it hadn’t been designed in a way that makes it the most exciting interactive experience (by the way, a very child-friendly one, too).
The audio guides provide the visitor with tons of well researched background stories about the city that was once called Aquae Sulis and the daily life of the people that lived here. These people are impersonated by real actors running around the Baths as well as actors in films projected onto the wall.
Plan your visit at www.romanbaths.co.uk
2. Bath Thermae Spa
If all that sightseeing has made you tired, what better treat is there than to indulge in a spa session yourself? Luckily, you don’t have to walk far. A few steps from the Roman Baths Museum, you will find the modern version of the antique well-being temple.
I really wanted to try this out, so on my visit in July I booked the Thermae Treat spa package for £69. With this package I got 4 hours in the spa, my own towel, robe and slippers, a Reviver Back Massage and a Head & Food Massage. I thought this was great value for money.
Orientation-wise, I found the spa a little confusing in the beginning. For obvious reasons, it was build in a style focusing on height rather than width, so be prepared to walk up and a down the stairs a few times.
The great advantage is of course the open-air rooftop pool, which offers great views over the city and up into the dramatic sky. What I also liked a lot were the steam rooms with four gorgeous scent mixtures and an amazing rainfall shower!
Plan your visit at www.thermaebathspa.com
3. The American Museum in Britain
Probably a bit underrated because less known and located outside of the main town centre, this museum is a hidden gem! From the bus stop in central Bath just behind the abbey, there is an hourly shuttle bus service every day the museum is open, so it's pretty easy to get to.
The museum itself was worth the small journey because once you are there, you get to undergo a journey through all centuries of America history – accompanied by an amazing audio guide and enthusiastic staff in almost every room.
Who would have thought that you can see so much of the USA while still standing on British soil?
Plan your visit at www.americanmuseum.org
4. The Fashion Museum
A must-see for anyone interested in how people dressed over the centuries. My visit started off with an exhibition about the suffrage movement women as seen in the film Suffragette (2015). Then there was a section about how people dressed during World War I and one that featured costumes from various films and TV series such as Doctor Zhivago (1965) or Downtown Abbey (2010).
A great highlight for every inner child was the dressing up area! Where else can you get a picture of yourself in Victorian dress? 🙂 It was free, too as you can take the picture with your own camera.
At the end of the permanent exhibition is a display of all the "Dresses of the year". I thought the line-up of the "Dresses of the year" from 2000, 1969 and 1985 was quite amusing as they so quintessentially represent their era. Who doesn't remember Jennifer Lopez' Versace belly button cleavage? It was THE dress everyone talked about for much of the year 2000.
Plan your visit at www.museumofcostume.co.uk
5. No. 1 Royal Crescent
Bath's world-famous flats for the rich and famous – Royal Crescent and the Circus – teach you a lot about how the city looked like in the glorious Georgian times.
No. 1 has been completely restored as to how the house would have looked like between 1776 and 1796.
I thoroughly enjoyed strolling through the house, which is now a museum with friendly commentators in every room. The exhibition on the top floor about mistresses and women with dubious professions was fascinating, too.
Plan your visit at www.no1royalcrescent.org.uk
6. Bath Film Loctions
Because of its wealth of Georgian style houses, Bath is the perfect place to shoot films that are set in the 18th to early 20th century. Most recently, a scene from Les Misérables (2012) was filmed around Bath’s iconic Pulteney Bridge. Other big name productions include Vanity Fair (2004), The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) and The Duchess (2008)
To discover the various movie sets around the city, you can download the FREE Bath Movie Map via Visit Bath.
I also briefly visited the Holborne Museum – a rich gem for every fine art lover as it is full of lovely Georgian paintings. But the attractions described here were just the highlights of my visit. Of course, depending on your interests, there is so much more to do in Bath. The Jane Austen Centre is, for example, a must-do for every fan.
Discover more on the official Visit Bath website: www.visitbath.co.uk
Where to stay
If you're looking for Medium-priced double or single rooms in a typical Georgian townhouse, check out Marisha's
A little bit outside the city centre, I can recommend the Rainbow Wood Farm – a privately owned small Bed&Breakfast farm that my American relatives discovered. The farmhouse is very old, the rooms comfy and the full English "breakie" yummy.
The friendly hosts may also give you a tour to meet the many animal residents of the farm including chicken, piglets, dogs and cows.
For more info and to book a room, visit www.rainbowwoodfarm.com
What are your best tips for Bath? Share them with me in your comment below!
Unless otherwise credited, all photos by © Sonja Irani | filmfantravel.com