Bath is, perhaps, the most beautiful city in England and is a must-see destination for any visitor to Britain. Although the city has been chosen as a World Heritage Site for its magnificent architecture, it is the Roman Baths that are the highlight of the city.
Steam rising from the Great Roman Bath
Surprisingly, Bath is not as famous worldwide as you would expect even though Bath is as important to Britain as Florence is to Italy! In fact, many of our guests have joined our Bath & Stonehenge tour to wonder at the extraordinary ancient monument which stands less than an hour's drive from Bath, but on arrival in the city they are mesmerised and charmed by the most complete neo-classical city in Britain - the most pleasant of surprises!
Medieval Bath Abbey alongside the neo-classical design of the Roman Baths
There is nowhere in Britain quite like Bath. Quite simply, it is a delight. Although the city survived after the departure of the Romans, and was the place where, at the same site as that of the present Abbey, the first king of all England was crowned in 973AD, the city's present design is almost entirely the making of the modern era.
The fabulous 1770s design of Royal Crescent by John Wood the Younger
The city grew rapidly in the 18th and 19th centuries leading to the development of a town showcasing a myriad of buildings of a similar design. This is because the laws of the city, laws that still exist to this day, require buildings in the centre to be built of the local honey-coloured limestone and to be harmonious in design with the buildings located nearby. Couple that with its location on the steep slopes of the River Avon valley, there are beguiling views and vistas at every turn. The result is breathtaking.
With the influential historic city of Bristol just 20km downstream and the stunning rural landscapes of The Cotswolds a stone's throw away, the city of Bath lies at the centre of one of the most inspiring regions of Britain.
Bath is 100 miles west of London and a 3-hour drive from Cambridge - but it's worth it! It is an elegant city located within the steep-sided valley of the River Avon. The city is famous for its fabulous architecture and for the UK’s only hot springs that surface in the town to feed the world’s only still-functioning Roman Baths.
Although considered to be a Roman town, the hot springs were a place of reverence for the Celts 800 years before Aquae Sulis, the Roman Baths, was founded in AD44. People came from far and wide to visit one of the finest spas of the Roman world. But once the Romans departed the town declined, only to find purpose again during medieval times as a wool town selling the local high quality Cotswolds wool in its markets.
But it wasn't until the 18th century before Bath was to rise to its fashionable peak. The culture of bathing in the waters of the spa for health and pleasure led to the rich, the influential and those of high status to flock to the town. Bath became a genteel spa resort for the upper classes, and for royalty, where evolving social rules were observed and gambling was formalised. Bath had become England's foremost place to be seen.
Jane Austen's life story and writings overlap with Bath
The city that was created is undoubtedly one of the highlights of Britain. It is a beautiful city of terraces, circuses and crescents; tall, elegant houses built from the local honey-coloured limestone in the neo-classical style that was sweeping Georgian Britain. Powerful men of the town employed brilliant architects to design a city for sophisticated clients who were revelling in the wealth they were accumulating from global trade and Britain's ever-increasing connection with its colonies.
But, by 1850, sea bathing had become more popular than spa bathing and Bath fell out of fashion. It has recovered once again with the onset of global tourism and the weekly tours we run at Roots!
Things to see and do in Bath
The Roman Baths – One of the finest spas of the ancient world. The only still-functioning spa from Roman times. Sadly, you cannot bathe here any longer.
The New Thermal Spa – Britain's only natural thermal spa. Bathe in the natural hot waters. Advance booking usually required.
Royal Crescent & The Circus – Georgian architecture at its finest.
The Pump Room – Get a free peek into the Roman Baths. Taste the spa water - and you'll wish you hadn't!
Pulteney Bridge – One of only 4 bridges worldwide which has shops on each side of the bridge and from end to end.
Jane Austen Centre – Life during Regency times (early 19th century); Museum of Jane Austen’s life and writing - Jane lived in the city for several years.
Bath Abbey – The last great medieval church built in the UK (completed in 1499) and the site where the first king of all England was crowned.
Herschel Museum of Astronomy – Museum to William Herschel (astronomer/musician), the discoverer of the planet Uranus.
Georgian Garden – Typical Georgian garden design.
Assembly Rooms and Fashion Museum – Wonderful costumes and fashions since the 18th century.
No.1 Royal Crescent – Superbly restored townhouse furnished in 1770s magnificence reflecting the privileged lives of the wealthy during Bath's Georgian period.
Holbourne Museum – Bath’s wonderful museum of art, porcelain and antiques including paintings by famous Georgian artists such as Gainsborough and Stubbs.
Museum of Bath Architecture - Discover how Bath was built.
Museum of East Asian Art – Objects from Korea, China, Japan, Cambodia and Thailand.
Sally Lunn’s – Bath's most famous cafe is also a museum to the ‘Bath Bun’ bread maker and Huguenot, Sally Lunn.
How to get to Bath from Cambridge?