Time in Bath: England's UNESCO World Heritage City
Bath is a small city in southwestern England, located in the rolling hills of Somerset. Bath is the only city in England to be granted UNESCO World Heritage Status, primarily for its ancient Roman buildings and infrastructure, its literary inspiration, and for providing picturesque cinema backgrounds. All of the visits I have made to England have been focused on two areas: London and the small towns in the north where my friends live — still trying to put on that lovely Yorkshire accent! — after visiting England countless times and still not even seeing Stonehenge (which, I somehow still didn’t manage), I realized that it was time to put up my Oyster card again and explore some more of the English countryside.
There are some top sights that you shouldn’t miss in Bath, but the town is best explored leisurely, taking your time to linger at tea houses and listening to the owners share their story, meandering through the small cobblestone alleys, until you stumble upon a garden that Jane Austen most likely strolled through herself.
What you shouldn’t miss...
The Roman Baths
This is the attraction in Bath, so make sure to put time in for it! The lines can be quite long in the afternoon, so if you’re looking to beat the crowd, head over earlier in the morning. The first baths were built here in 70 A.D. and some parts of the original temple and building can still be seen — not that the “newer” parts aren’t historical either! Over a million liters of water still flows into the pool every day, and the Abbey next door is actually working to install floors that will be heated by the energy from the pools (don’t quote me on this, I like writing and drawing, not engineering). Unfortunately, you can’t swim in the pools anymore due to some grand radioactivity in the lead pipes, but you can drink some of the water! Chock full of minerals, it’s supposed to cure you of any illness you might have.
Located right next door to the Roman Baths and entrance is based upon donation. Take some time walking around and looking at the carvings and sculptures, they are quite different than what you usually see within an abbey. It dates back all the way to the 7th century!
Visit the Jane Austen Centre
And if you’re like me, this is the attraction in Bath for you. The Jane Austen Centre is a perfectly fitted museum on Queen’s Square, where Jane Austen lived for a duration of her life in Bath. Two of her six novels are based in Bath and the others all mention Bath. The centre provides an opening introduction that gives a history of her life and her family. The museum following the talk is small but cohesive, giving insights into her life that you might have never known of before. The gift shop is also quite impressive with many different books and Jane Austen editions — sometimes you can even find rare collector pieces on purchase!
Take an afternoon tea
Afternoon tea seems to have been basically invented in Bath (although, we learned at the Jane Austen museum that in her days it wasn’t afternoon tea, it was actually morning and evening…all British stereotypes have just been shot!), so don’t miss out on the opportunity of sitting down for a traditional one. There are many options around the city, a famous one being at the Pump Rooms at the Roman Baths. The Pump Rooms have been around for centuries and it’s where many balls were hosted (and where I fangirled over the fact that Jane Austen and I walked across the same floor). They have traditional Champagne teas or a Jane Austen tea, complete with scones. There’a also a tea option at the famous Sally Lunns, which is the oldest house in bath, and home to the bakery that makes the Lunns Bunn. It gets quite crowded there in the afternoon for a table, so be prepared to wait. If you decide to go to Sally Lunns, don’t cop out and get your bunn to go. They are meant to be served toasted with jams or meats or whatever you’re in the mood for and it’s just not the same sitting on a bench, with no spreads, wishing you had been patient enough to wait for a table.
Walk down Pulteney Bridge
Based off the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy, the bridge provides gorgeous photos from every angle. It’s one of the few bridges in the world that has shops on both sides, some being tea rooms with large windows overlooking the river. Another great way to get a view of the bridge is to take a boat tour. It runs from April to October, leaving every hour and 20 minutes. The trip takes about an hour and gives you a different vantage point for seeping in all of the honey-washed Georgian architecture.
See the Royal Crescent
This is an iconic building, originally built as apartments. It is believed to be the first crescent building in the world, with a few others being built within Bath after the popularity of the Royal Crescent. It’s famous for its Hollywood cameos and a nice place to stroll around.
If you're feeling quirky...
Head out on a comedy walking tour
I always love the free walking tours provided in cities and Bath steps it up by adding a promised comedy bit, that actually lives up to its name! It runs March through October, leaving every night at 8pm. I would highly recommend it!
Visit the magic bar
I have never been to a magic show, no less a magic bar, and never thought I would until I found myself in Bath with nothing much to do late in the evening. Put on at the Sleight Bar nightly, it's a donation based show, run by different magicians every night. They last 20 minutes, you can obviously order drinks, and it's a fun way to spend some time!
I would love to make a guide to tea places in Bath, but didn't try enough! Anyone have top picks? Of course, it's always a good reason to go back, isn't it! :D