Many travelers to Bath, England, would suggest with a hint of a smile that you should do just that; take a bath in your hotel for symbolism! However, if you take the time to make a splash as soon as you arrive, it will take away from the time you should utilize seeing the real baths for which the city is famous.
First things first; if London is your original destination, as it is for many travelers, Paddington station in the capital city offers transportation to Bath every 30 minutes. Once you’re in Bath, you should take at least a few days to see everything the area has to offer. The Roman baths are certainly not the only attractions. You’ll also find numerous historical buildings such as the Sally Lunn house, early 16th century Bath Abbey, a 16th century theater, and much more!
Of course we should begin with the baths. You can visit virtually any day of the year except Christmas and December 26, and it pays to take advantage of this great opportunity. If you are traveling with babies or small children, strollers are not accepted into the baths, but a carrier will be provided without extra charge. It seems impossible to leave the Roman baths without an appreciation for history. Tours are given daily to explain the significance of the site where Roman and Celtic influences combined. It is hard to imagine that our ancestors bathed here thousands of years ago and fraternized with friends, perhaps on the very grounds on which we stand.
Bath Abbey, finished in the 1500s, is one of Bath’s most beautiful buildings. You can easily spend hours enjoying and exploring this wondrous Romanesque-style abbey, and since it is located very near the baths, it will not be difficult to find. Bath Abbey can be visited year-round. Check for how late the abbey will be open when you have determined the time of your visit. You will want to keep in mind that, although admission is free, a donation is always appreciated to help with the huge costs of up-keeping this historic structure.
History enthusiasts (or children who like to dress up) might enjoy the Museum of Costume, which has a unique presentation of what people wore from the Renaissance era to modern times. It’s truly amazing to see what women actually wore in the olden days and your kids will have a fun time imagining what it was like to get up every morning and put on a corset, hoopskirt, or the like. The colorful clothing makes a nice presentation and the museum has much educational value, especially for school-age children just learning about England’s history.
For another dose of history try the King’s Circus. Another reminder of Bath’s partially- Roman origins can be found at the King’s Circus, finished by architect John Wood. The Circus is actually considered to be a street and its unique rounded shape, made by forming many oddly-shaped buildings together, is modeled after the ancient Coliseum. You may notice the overabundance of acorn designs. John Wood also drew on the Celtic Druids’ reverence for oak trees and used an acorn motif to complete his venture.
The Montacute House is a wonderful example of Elizabethan architecture; it is difficult to have a 16th century home that has been so strikingly preserved throughout the ages. Sir Edward Phelips turned his dream of the perfect manor house into a reality at Montacute. You can also find a cafe, a restaurant, gardens, and stunning paintings and artifacts here. You should know when you will be visiting and find out if the gardens and/or manor house will be open to the public at that particular time.
You can’t visit Bath without seeing the famous Avon River and capturing this beautiful sight in your memory banks. You can tour by boat or just sit by the banks and read, draw or record your feelings for future reference (if you have a few quiet moments during your visit, of course!) It’s highly recommended to soak in Bath’s beauty because once you leave you’ll wish you had remembered every tiny detail.
For a shopping experience, try Rossiter’s, which is one of England’s equivalents to the “up-scale” American department stores. Even if high prices cause you to be content with window-shopping, the exterior of the store is also beautiful to look at. It is a merchant’s home, built in the early 18th century.