I recently returned to the city of Bath, the largest in Somerset, close to Bristol. I visited before many years ago with my family and immediately fell in love with the city, one that constantly feels new despite its history and iconic architecture. The city has been attracting visitors for thousands of years, which is apparent in the Roman Baths and Assembly Rooms.
If you have never visited Bath before, here are some of the attractions to check out:
The Royal Crescent
The Royal Crescent is one of Bath’s iconic landmarks and was built between 1767 and 1775. The building forms a sweeping crescent of 30 Grade I Listed terraced houses and is one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture found in the UK. This year is also the 250th Anniversary of the Royal Crescent! The Crescent overlooks a lawn and the Royal Victoria Park and has been the location for several films and TV shows over the years including Persuasion and The Duchess. (you may know I like visiting places seen on the silver screen, as I wrote about in my blog here.)
Just along the street from the Crescent is The Circus. The impressive, rounded architectural landmark was originally known as The King’s Circus and consists of curved Grade I townhouses. The striking attraction was designed by John Wood the Elder (John Wood the Younger designed the Royal Crescent), but he died before construction began in 1754. The Circus was completed in 1768. Wood was inspired by the Roman Colosseum, and you can see on the stonework emblems such as acorns, serpents and nautical symbols. If you stand in the middle of The Circus, among the trees and clap, it echoes.
The Pulteney Bridge in Bath is just one of a handful bridges in the world that have shops built right into it. The bridge, completed in 1774, was built to connect central Bath to land on the other side of the River Avon. It is best viewed from the Parade Gardens, where you can also see the eye-catching crescent weir.
Bath was founded on natural hot springs, and the steaming water has played a role in the city’s history. In the centre of the city are the Roman Baths, constructed around 70 AD as a bathing and socialising complex, and is now one of the best preserved Roman remains in the world. You can explore the baths, the extensive ruins and also the treasures in the interactive museum. You can also take a sip of the spa water in the Pump Room, which contains 42 minerals and is believed to having healing powers. Many people have visited Bath over the years for their health. You can also try the spa yourself (I am yet to do that).
Jane Austen Centre
The Jane Austen Centre might not be for everyone, but for me as a fan of her books and many of the film and TV adaptations of her work, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit there. The Centre is dedicated to celebrating one of Bath’s most famous residents, and also offers a snapshot of what the city was like in Regency times, exploring the fashion, food and society. The Jane Austen Centre also explores how living in the city impacted some of Austen’s work, namely the books Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.
There are plenty of cafes, sandwich shops and delis in Bath to source a fantastic lunch from, but there is nothing like treating yourself to an afternoon tea. I went to the Regency Tea Rooms at the Jane Austen Centre (seeing as I was already there) and was pleasantly surprised at the quality of food. They serve home-made cakes, real leaf tea in a pot, and light savoury snacks, and delicious scones with cream and jam.
In Bath, you will find restaurants with well-known names like Jamie’s Italian, alongside lovely independent restaurants that can’t be found outside of Bath. Popular places are the Green Park Brasserie, Yak Yeti Yak and Raphael Restaurant. There are also some great places to get street food and plenty of places that cater to vegetarians and vegans. Sadly, I wasn’t staying the night in Bath, so opted to pick up some takeaway street food from the fantastic Chai Walla. The Indian street food is prepared and cooked right in front of you, and every bite of my onion bhaji wrap was full of flavour. The place is better for lunch, as it closes at 5 pm, but its earlier shutting suited my schedule for the day perfectly.
Have you ever been to Bath? What were your favourite places to visit in the city?