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cheap coach tickets and timetable for coaches to bath
Trips to Bath from London
Download an MP3 walking tour of Bath
The English Bus day tour to Bath and Stonehenge
The English Bus day tour to Bath Christmas Market
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Travel / Tours / England / Bath
Visit Bath (England)
  How to visit
  City tours
  Bath Abbey
  Roman Baths
  Thermae Bath Spa
  Georgian architecture & life
  Town centre
  Boat trips
  Farmers market
  Christmas market


This page is designed to be of interest to anyone who wants to go to Bath as a tourist. Bath is a very attractive town and is a World Heritage Site. Its unique character and architecture attracts many visitors.

(guide book for tourists)
Author: Annie Bullen
Publisher: Pitkin Unichrome
Date: April 2007
The Naked Guide to Bath
(guide book for tourists)
Author: Gideon Dean Kibblewhite
Publisher: Naked Guides Ltd
Date: June 2005
Author: Kirsten Elliott
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Publishers
Date: April 2004
Bath & Surroundings
(guide book for tourists)
Publisher: Insight Guides
Date: March 2004

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To visit Bath, three of the possible options are as follows:

(1) Day-trip

You can join a day-trip to Bath and Stonehenge with Anderson Tours, leaving from London. There are several tours every week, including one every Saturday (on most weeks there are also tours on Tuesday and Thursday). Usually you will spend about 3 hours in Bath. The qualified guide will explain some of history and point out the main sights as the coach drives around the city. You can then see the Roman Baths (entry to this attraction is included in the tour price), and spend time exploring Bath by yourself. See below for ideas about places you might want to go.

* For prices, tour dates and booking details: Travel/Tours/Company/AndersonTours.
* For information about Stonehenge: Travel/Tours/England/Stonehenge.

(2) Weekend trip

If you would like to have more time in Bath, another option would be to join a 2-day weekend tour of the Cotswolds, Bath & Stonehenge organised by International Friends, leaving from London or Cambridge (these tours are not very frequent, so check the dates carefully). Saturday is spent in the Cotswolds, staying overnight near Cheltenham. On Sunday morning there is a short drive to Bath, arriving in the early morning. Usually you will spend about 6 hours in Bath. There is a 2-hour walking tour which you can join if you want. Other ideas about things to do in Bath are shown below.

* For prices, tour dates and booking details: Travel/Tours/Company/InternationalFriends.
* For information about the Cotswolds: Travel/Tours/England/Cotswolds.
* For information about Stonehenge: Travel/Tours/England/Stonehenge.

(3) Independent travel

To travel to Bath independently by train, you can check timetables and buy a ticket online from this page: Shop/Company/TheTrainline. If you are starting in London, take a train from Paddington station. The journey (on a fast train) takes about 1.5 hours.

To travel to Bath independently by coach, you can check timetables and buy a ticket online from this page: Shop/Company/NationalExpress. If you are starting in London, the main starting point is at Victoria Coach Station. The journey takes about 2.5 hours.

* Click here to book a hostel in Bath.

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There are several bus tour companies in Bath. One of these is City Sightseeing, which operates both a City Tour (starting at High Street Grand Parade) and a Skyline Tour (starting at Bath Railway Station). Commentaries are provided in many languages. For details and to buy a ticket online, click: here.

Sightseeing bus

Guided walking tours

There are many places to see!

You can also join a free 2-hour walking tour starting in Abbey Church Yard, outside the Pump Room (in front of Bath Abbey): for details of this (plus information about other walking and bus tours starting in Bath), see here. As the signpost above shows, there are many attractions to visit in Bath.

If you want to explore Bath on foot by yourself, you can follow the route suggested on this page (this also starts and ends in front of Bath Abbey).

If you need a map, go to the nearby tourist information office (in Abbey Churchyard).

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There has been a religious building on the site of the abbey since 676. An abbey was replaced by a large Norman priory in 1090, but the building was not maintained well. Oliver King, who was appointed Bishop of Bath and Wells, decided in 1499 to replace the building with a magnificent cathedral.

On the west front of the abbey you can see Oliver King's "signature" - this is a combination of an olive tree (which represents his name "Oliver" and is also a symbol for peaceful times) and a crown (which represents both his surname "King" and the king at that time, Henry the Seventh).

You can also see Jacob's Ladder. According to a story in the Old Testament, Jacob had a dream about a ladder which stretched up to heaven. There are angels climbing the ladder, and a figure of Christ at the top.

Entry is free, but voluntary contributions are welcomed to help the building to be maintained.
For more information about Bath Abbey, see:

View of the abbey's tower

West front

Bishop Oliver King

Jacob's Ladder

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Bath is the location of Britain's only natural hot springs. Rainwater which fell thousands of years ago over the limestone hills in this area has made its way deep under the surface, where the hot temperature has turned it to steam and pushed it back up to the surface (at the Sacred Spring over 1 million litres of hot mineral water rise each day at a temperature of 46C). The Romans built a temple here, which was dedicated both to the goddess Sulis (worshipped by the local Celtic people) and to Minerva (a goddess worshipped by the Romans). They used their engineering skills to collect the hot water. People came here both to pray for cures for their illnesses and to bathe in the waters. After the Romans left Britain, the baths were buried and forgotten. In 1738 construction started of the Royal Mineral Water Hospital, and people started to come to Bath again to look for cures from the waters. In 1880 the King's Bath was excavated by archaeologists, and the rest of the Roman site was uncovered. Public bathing here started again, but stopped in 1978.

Visitors to the Roman Baths ( enter from near Bath Abbey. The charge in 2004 is £9 for adults and £8 for students. If you also want to visit the Museum of Costume, ask for a combined ticket (£12 for adults and £10.50 for students). A free audio guide is available with commentary in English, French, German, Spanish and Japanese, or a written guide is available in Portuguese, Chinese and Russian. Brief explanations are also written in English in each of the rooms. It normally takes at least 1 hour to complete a visit. There is a shop at the exit where you can buy souvenirs (you do not need a ticket to enter the shop, so you can return there later if you don't want to carry these with you while you look around Bath).

Entrance to the
Roman Baths


Gorgon's head in the temple
(a symbol for the goddess)

The Great Bath (the lower section is Roman,
the pillars and statues were added by the Victorians)

The Roman overflow system for the Sacred Spring
(excess water drains out to the River Avon)

You do not need to pay to enter the Pump Room. This has been a popular location for lunch or afternoon tea since 1795 (during the Georgian period). You can buy a glass of hot spring water from the King's Spring (50p in 2004).

People have lunch or tea
in the Pump Room

The King's Spring: you can
buy a glass of the hot waters

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The new bathing building Thermae Bath Spa ( is located near the Cross Bath and can be reached by walking down Bath Street (a short walk from the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey). This opened in August 2006. Take your own swimming costume - a towel and flip-flops can be hired. If you want spa, health or beauty treatments you should book these in advance.

The new Thermae Bath Spa building
(opened in August 2006)
(c) Photographer: Matt Cardy
Open air pool on the roof
(overlooking Bath Abbey)

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Ralph Allen became rich as a young man by reorganising the postal service. He bought a limestone quarry near Bath and had the idea of replacing the old medieval buildings with new ones made from this stone (known as Bath stone). He used an architect called John Wood the Elder, who used classical styles and designs. Walk to Queen Square to see the first area created by John Wood the Elder. Richard Nash (known as Beau Nash) helped to make Bath a fashionable place among wealthy classes, allowing more expensive buildings of this type to be sold. Nash imposed strict rules on the way people behaved and dressed in public, but also knew how to attract the rich by providing gambling parties and other forms of entertainment.

If you walk up Gay Street on the right-hand side you will see the Jane Austen Centre (40 Gay Street; This museum tells the story of the influence of Bath on the writing of Jane Austen, who lived here between 1801 and 1806. Two of Jane Austen's novels are set in Bath: "Northanger Abbey" and "Persuasion" (some of her other well-known novels are "Pride and Prejudice", "Sense and Sensibility", "Emma" and "Mansfield Park"). If you read these books you will learn about Georgian society in Bath at this time (Jane Austen did not like all the rules and formality).

Queen Square (north front)

Jane Austen

Northanger Abbey (book)
Author: Jane Austen
Publisher: Penguin Books
Date: May 1994
Video (BBC adaptation)
Persuasion (book)
Author: Jane Austen
Publisher: Penguin Books
Date: May 1994
DVD or Video (BBC adaptation)

Turn right into George Street, left into Miles's Buildings and through St Andrew's Terrace into Alfred Street. Here you can see an example of the type of iron railings which were in front of many of the houses in Georgian times. The rich people who lived in these houses were taken to the centre of town in a sedan chair (a covered seat with wooden poles on each side, carried by one person in front and one person behind). A boy would walk in front carrying a torch: he would use the cone-shaped part which you can see on either side of the railings to put out the torch. The circular holder which you can see at the top of the railing used to hold a gas light. Before entering the house people would scrape mud from their boots using another metal fixture on the ground near the door.

Turn left into Saville Row for the entrance to the Assembly Rooms and Museum of Costume ( The Assembly Rooms were opened in 1771 and were designed by John Wood the Younger. An "assembly" was a party at which many guests met for conversation, dancing, drinking tea, playing cards and listening to music. This was a centre for social life at the time, and was a good place to search for a possible partner. The Museum of Costume at the same location includes examples of fashion over the last 400 years, including the Georgian and Victorian periods.

Alfred Street

Assembly Rooms & Museum of Costume

Turn left along Bennett Street (past the Museum of East Asian Art) to reach The Circus. These three-storey buildings are arranged in three arcs of a circle. It was designed by John Wood the Elder and was completed by his son, John Wood the Younger. The main sources of inspiration for the design are thought to be the Colosseum in Rome and Stonehenge (the circle is the same size as the outer ring of stones at this monument).

The acorns on the top of the building are connected to the story of Bladud. According to legend, he was a prince who lived about 3000 years ago. He went to study in Athens, but caught a skin disease called leprosy. When he returned to this country people were afraid of catching the disease, so he was not allowed to go back to his kingdom. He could only find work looking after pigs. Unfortunately his pigs caught leprosy from him. One day the pigs wandered into a place where hot water springs were coming through the ground, and they started rolling in the mud. Bladud used acorns from the nearby oak trees to attract the pigs away. After the mud had dried, he noticed that the pigs had been cured of the skin disease. He went back and rolled in the mud himself, and was also cured. He was then accepted back into his kingdom, and founded the town of Bath near the springs.

Walk down Brock Street to see the Royal Crescent, which was the most famous creation of John Wood the Younger. It is built on the top of a hill, offering lovely views of the surrounding area. No 1 Royal Crescent is now a museum (see:

The area in front of the Royal Crescent is a public park called Royal Victoria Park. It was opened by Princess Victoria when she was 11 years old (she was the British queen between 1837 and 1901). During the park's opening ceremony a gust of wind blew her skirt in the air - someone joked that she had fat legs, and people laughed. Victoria was so upset by this that she never returned to Bath after that day.

The Circus

Georgian Garden

The Royal Crescent

Walk back down along a gravel path on the eastern side of the park, where there is a Georgian Garden. Turn left down Queen Parade's Place, left into Gay Street, right into George Street, and then right into Milsom Street.

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Milsom Street is one of the main shopping areas in Bath. As you walk south down the road you can see several shops belonging to Jolly's, a department store which first opened in 1831.

On the left, take a narrow passage into the upper floor of Shire's Yard. There are a number of attractive fashion shops and cafes here.

If you walk down to the lower floor you can see a postbox pointing you towards the Postal Museum ( on Broad Street. It was at this location that the letter with the first ever postage stamp (a "penny black") was sent in 1840. The history of the postal system is explained, including the contribution of Ralph Allen, who used to work at the post office here.

Follow Broad Street south. It becomes Northgate Street, and you can then turn left into Bridge Street, which becomes Argyle Street. You are now on top of a bridge called Pulteney Bridge, and there are several specialist shops here which you may enjoy exploring. On the east side of the river there is a park and a place where you can take boat trips along the River Avon.

Jolly's Department Store

Postal Museum

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Return along Argyle Street to the western side of the river and walk south along Grand Parade. From here you can enjoy attractive views of Pulteney Bridge (designed by John Adam) and the weir. A little further south on your left you can pay a small charge to enter Parade Gardens, where you can enjoy the views of the river and abbey, or take tea in the gardens.

The name of the river is the Avon, derived from the old Anglo-Saxon word for "river". It has no connection with the river of the same name which passes through Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire.

Pulteney Bridge

Parade Gardens

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You can take a boat trip from near Pulteney Bridge. Pulteney Cruises ( operate regular 1-hour trips upstream, towards Bathampton.
Alternatively, Bath City Boat Trips offer trips downstream.

Boats start near Pulteney Bridge

Bath Boating Station (built in 1833)

Bathampton Weir and toll bridge (known as the "Plasticene Bridge"),
linking Batheaston to Bathampton

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After returning to Grand Parade, follow signs to Sally Lunn's ( This is located in a narrow passage called North Parade Passage. Sally Lunn was a refugee who escaped here from France (many Huguenots - French Protestants - were persecuted and forced to flee France in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries). She got a job working for a baker, and introduced French brioche to him (a soft, slightly sweet bread made with eggs and butter). The buns that were made became very popular and have been baked here ever since - they are known as Sally Lunn buns. You can take tea or lunch here. Note that the buns are very large, so half a Sally Lunn bun may be enough. If you go down to the basement you can see the kitchen where Sally Lunn worked. There is also a small shop where you can buy a bun to take away or other souvenirs. The building is the oldest house in Bath.

Kitchen museum: Sally Lunn at work

Taking tea with a Sally Lunn bun

Another traditional delicacy - the Bath bun - can be tasted in the Bath Bun Tea Room, also on North Parade Passage (opposite Sally Lunn's). This bun has raisins and sugar lumps on top, and contains a whole sugar cube somewhere inside.

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In 1997 Bath became the first location in Britain to open a Farmers' Market (since then many other such markets have opened across the UK). This is held each Saturday in Green Park Station (on the west side of the town centre). All products come from the local area (within 40 miles of Bath), and are sold directly by people who produce them.

Stalls at the farmers' market

Local cheeses and chutneys

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Each year there is a Christmas market near Bath Abbey. There are over 100 stalls, selling a wide range of crafts, decorations and food. For details, see:

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* Booking a tour
Anderson Tours: Travel/Tours/Company/AndersonTours
International Friends: Travel/Tours/Company/InternationalFriends

* Visitor information
Tourist Information:
City guide:
Street map:

* Weather forecast
BBC weather forecast for Bath:

* More photos
360 degree panoramic pictures:

Lonely Planet verdict: Bath
"For more than 2000 years, the city's fortune has revolved around its hot springs and the visitors that the water has attracted: the wealth begat building and the glorious Georgian architecture that has won Bath Unesco World Heritage Site status ... Like Florence, Bath is an architectural gem ... When sunlight brightens the honey-coloured stone, and buskers and strollers fill the streets and line the river, only the most churlish would deny its charm ... Once you have finished eyeballing past glories, today's Bath also has restaurants and bars to compete with the best"
(extracts from "Lonely Planet Great Britain - 2003 edition", used with permission)
Lonely Planet Great Britain
Publisher: Lonely Planet Publications
Date: May 2009
Lonely Planet England
Publisher: Lonely Planet Publications
Date: March 2009
Other Lonely Planet publications

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Britain in Roman times: Britain/History/Early
Georgian history: Britain/History/Georgian
The Cotswolds: Travel/Tours/England/Cotswolds

Home page: Home

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