Nearby Towns - Visit the Beautiful Georgian Town of Bath
Bath is on the southern edge of the Cotswolds and is an easy day trip from most Cotswold locations. If you are a Jane Austen fan, a day trip to Bath is a must, but if that part of Bath does not interest you, it is still an incredible city to experience.
Prior Park, Bath
There is no direct bus or train service from the Cotswolds to Bath, so you must drive for your day trip. From Stroud, it is an easy 40 minute drive south on the A46 (the Bath Road). From Stow-on-the-Wold, it is a 1hr 15min drive.
Bath Park and Ride: The Lansdown Park and Ride lot on the northern edge of town, by the racetrack, offers parking with frequent buses into the center.
City Car Parks: There are many large parking lots in the center and they are well signed. We parked at the Avon Street Car Park (by the river at the end of the High Street) for £7.00 for six hours. It would have been more expensive for four adults to do the Park and Ride, but we got caught in rush hour traffic leaving the center (the bus would have avoided that, or if we knew our way better, we might have been able to avoid it).
See Bath Parking for an easy way of parking in Bath if coming from the north.
The main tourist office is in the town center, behind the Abbey. This is a large office that does hotel booking and offers travel information. You must pay for the main Bath Guide (£1.00) and map (£1.00). There are no public restrooms here, but they are nearby in the Roman Baths/Pump Room (enter the Pump Room and turn left in the hallway - restrooms are between the Roman Baths entrance and the Pump Room entrance).
Visit Bath: Bath tourist office site with accommodations, restaurants, travel information.
Bath's Heritage Buildings: Pump Room, Assembly Rooms (the Museum of Costume is in the Assembly Rooms).
City of Bath: Tourist information, accommodation and restaurant listing.
Bath Festivals: Happening Bath. Everything going on in Bath. Search by month and activity.
Web and Book Resources for Bath
Bath 360: Quicktime 360 degree photos of Bath sites and video.
Bath in Time: Past images of Bath's historic sites. Images are for sale, but you can view them online to see Bath in the past.
Bath Past: Bath Past, by historian Jean Manco, explains what made the city a thriving spa and Georgian boom-town, but also delves into some less well-trodden byways of Bath's history.
Bath Preservation Trust: Historic buildings in Bath.
The City of Bath: Run by the Mayor's office with a good section on the history of Bath.
Royal Crescent Society: Information about the Royal Crescent, designed by John Wood the Elder and built by his son from 1767 - 1775. Site run by the residents of the Royal Crescent. Information about recent productions of Jane Austen's novels made into movies filmed on the Royal Crescent.
Pevsner Architectural Guides Bath, by Michael Forsyth, 2004. Detailed look at the architecture of Bath and recommended walking routes.
The Main Sites of Bath
Organized as you might walk between them.
Bath Abbey, the Roman Baths and the Pump Room
Bath Abbey: The main historic church is located in the heart of Bath, near the Pump Room and the Roman Baths. The current building was started in 1499 and is the last of the great medieval churches of England. It is not designated as a "cathedral" because the nearby Wells Cathedral covers Bath and Wells.
The Grand Pump Room and Roman Baths: The Romans were in England nearly 2000 years ago and left many traces. They used the natural hot springs water of Bath to create a bath house. The remains are in the center of Bath, beside the Abbey, in the same building as the Pump Room. This is the main tourist attraction in Bath and can be crowded, but it is well worth seeing. The Pump Room has been a meeting place since 1796. You can still drink the Bath waters here, as they did during Jane Austen's time (there is a fountain at the back of the Pump Room where you pay for a glass of water) and you can have morning breakfast or afternoon tea. The morning breakfast service is a bit OTT (over the top), but I enjoyed afternoon tea there.
Thermae Bath Spa: This new spa using the natural hot springs in the center of Bath has been a long time coming, but it has finally opened. We spent a couple of hours here in January 2008. The Spa is just behind the original Roman Baths. There is a large indoor pool on one level and a large outdoor pool on the rooftop. You can buy a ticket for two hours that gives you access to both pools plus wonderful steam rooms. (I thought the spa was nice, but the change room was not great and the spa natural hot springs water was not hot enough!)
The Jane Austen Center: 40 Gay Street in Bath. Excellent gift shop. This is not the house she lived in, but is similar. Jane Austen lived at 25 Gay Steet, higher up the hill towards the Circus. She also lived in two other locations in Bath.
The Circus and The Royal Crescent: The best sites in Bath are free and open 24 hours a day. Walk up Gay Street, past the Jane Austen Center to the Circus, a circle of perfect Georgian houses. Walk to the left in the circle, take the first left and walk another block to the Royal Crescent, a half circle of perfect Georgian houses. These two spots are my favorite places in Bath.
The Circus on a winter morning.
Number 1 Royal Crescent: Tour a Georgian house on the Royal Crescent and see what life was like in the 1700s. The house is beautifully preserved and there are people throughout the museum who will talk to you about the house and history. Closed in winter.
The Assembly Rooms and Museum of Costume: The Assembly Rooms is a beautiful Georgian building, just behind The Circus, where people used to gather to have tea and play cards in the afternoon and have dances in the evenings. It is mentioned in some of Jane Austen's novels. You can tour the Assembly Rooms and then go to the Museum of Costume in the basement.
Prior Park: The building is not open to the public, but the 18th century gardens with a Palladian Bridge are a National Trust property. No parking on site; take a bus from Bath or walk. Catch the bus near the Train Station. In May 2006 we paid £1.70 each for a one way, 10 minute bus ride to the Prior Park entrance, but it saved us walking up the hill. Once you get into Prior Park, you walk back down the same hill (inside the park) and then back up again to leave. Beautiful views of Bath and lovely gardens. You can get onto the Skyline Trail from the bottom of the park (walking up a long hill to reach the trail).
Theatre Royal: Plays and live music performances. Check their schedule to see what is on during your visit.
Bath Skyline Walk: Six mile walk on the hills around Bath that start from Prior Park (you can join the walk at several places in Bath). We did part of this walk, from Prior Park to Bathgate. There is a lot of up and down on the trail and you get lovely views over Bath and the countryside. From Prior Park, get on the trail at the bottom of the park and walk up a long hill to find the trail at the top.
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