Every time I visit London, I always plan at least one London day trip to get out of the city and experience something a bit different. Narrowing down my options hasn’t always been the easiest. When researching the best London day trips the results I find either list 10 plus options or don’t provide enough information to sell me on a certain London day trip. When I have limited time in the UK I don’t want waste time traveling too far or on a so-so destination. I will dedicate an upcoming post to the 5 best day trips from London listing only the best of the best so you don’t waste time digging through too many options or destinations that aren’t worth the trip. Today though is dedicated to one of my favorite London day trips…Bath! I’ll take you through why a day trip to Bath from London is one of the best day trips from London and take you through the details of logistics and what to do while you’re there.
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A DAY TRIP TO BATH FROM LONDON – ONE OF THE BEST LONDON DAY TRIPS
Getting to Bath from London
One of the reasons a day trip to Bath from London is one of the best London day trips is how easy it is to get there. Direct trains run from the London Paddington station to Bath about every 30 minutes and the journey takes less than 1.5 hours each way. If you get your tickets early (you can book up to twelve weeks in advance) you can find them for as cheap as £30 roundtrip. The train station in Bath is pretty much smack dab in the city center and only a 5 minute walk from the Roman Baths and the Bath Abbey. It’s an easy and safe walk.
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How much time to spend in Bath
A day trip to Bath from London will require an entire day. You should plan on spending a minimum of 6 hours in the city. Preferably 8 hours. This will give you enough time to see the sights below, allow you to wander the streets, and enjoy a quick meal and one or two coffee stops.
Places to Visit in Bath/What to do in Bath
A visit to the Roman Baths is one the most obvious things to do in Bath. This is what gave the city its name after all. The original baths were built around 70AD and one of the best-preserved Roman sights in the world. Tickets are £16.20 for a weekday visit and £18 for a weekend visit with varying discounts for students, families, etc. If you can time it right, there are free guided tours every hour starting at 10:00am. I highly recommend joining a tour as it makes the visit more interesting and worthwhile. Supplement your visit with the included (and very well done) audio guide to get the full story of this ancient sight. The Roman Baths are most crowded in the afternoon from day trippers, specifically 11:00-3:00, so try to go as early or late as possible. Buy your tickets online in advance to skip wasting time in line and plan to spend around 2 hours here.
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Bath is a stunning and wonderfully preserved Georgian city with beautiful architecture and an interesting history. Take a walking tour to fully appreciate the story of this city. The Mayor of Bath Honorary Guides gives outstanding 2-hour tours of the city for free! Tips are not accepted and the quality of guides and information is top notch. Tours begin at 10:30 and 2:30 every day except Saturday, which only has one tour time at 10:30. The meeting point is conveniently located right outside of the Roman Baths with a sign “free walking tours start here”. This will also take you through some nice areas and streets that you may want to make a note of to explore further after the tour. This is a great introduction to the city and should be on the top of your list of the best things to do in Bath.
The site of Bath Abbey has a long history as it’s been a place of Christian worship since 757 AD. The current Abbey you see today is actually the third to be built here. The biggest claim to fame of this sacred ground is that King Edgar (the first king of all England) was crowned here. The service used for King Edgar set the precedent for the coronation ritual we see to this day with the Kings and Queens of England. This is a must visit and easily one of the best things to do in Bath.
The £8 50-minute guided tour is more than worthwhile and will give you an inside look at the Abbey. You’ll see the ringing room and bell chamber, have a look behind the clock face, and climb 212 steps to see beautiful views of the city below and a peek at the Roman Baths from above. Tour times are typically every hour 10-4 Monday through Friday and every half hour on Saturdays.
Entrance is free, though there is a £4 donation suggestion to help with the upkeep of the Abbey. Also note that there is a current renovation project going on that has closed off some areas of Bath Abbey and is supposed to be completed by mid 2020. Don’t let this stop your visit though as there is still plenty to see and enjoy.
No. 1 Royal Crescent and The Circus
A visit to the No. 1 Royal Crescent museum will give you an inside look to how the rich and famous lived back in the 1700’s. No. 1, as its name suggests, is the first house in a crescent of 35 Georgian townhomes…some of the priciest real estate in the city. The rooms are decorated and furnished to look as they would have from 1776-1796. Wander through bedrooms, servants’ quarters, the kitchen, and parlor. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and talk to the docents. They are filled with information on how people lived during this time period and the fascinating quirks and details about life in the Georgian era. No. 1 Royal Crescent is open 10:00-5:00 and tickets are £10.50. Don’t forget to step outside when you’ve finished your visit to see the entire crescent and admire its uniformity. Walk 3 minutes to see The Circus. Similar to the Royal Crescent except that it’s a circle of townhomes instead of a semi-circle. This is one of the best things to do in Bath to fully appreciate how people lived in this city back in the day.
Cross the Pulteney Bridge and walk down the steps and along the river to get the best views of Bath. The bridge is similar to the Ponte Vecchio in Florence with shops and buildings along both sides. If you’re looking for that Instagram shot, this is your spot.
***Thermae Bath Spa or The Cross Bath***
Looking to take a dip in the same thermal waters that the Romans enjoyed over 2,000 years ago? You have two main options in Bath. Thermae Bath Spa is the only natural thermal spa in the UK and it will cost you a pretty penny to enjoy it. A two-hour weekday visit will cost £36 and a weekend visit will be £40. You’ll have access to the open-air rooftop pool, the indoor Minerva bath, and the wellness suite with a steam room, infrared room, ice chamber, and more.
The Cross Bath is operated by Thermae Bath Spa and offers a cheaper option with less frills. 1.5 hours is £18 during the week and £20 on the weekend. This bath is a small, open-air, circular pool and more like a very large hot tub.
Is it worth your time and money? My personal travel style says no…but I completely understand why some people make this a priority. Just keep in mind that a visit to the thermal baths on a day trip to Bath from London (as opposed to an overnight trip) will be pushing it time wise. If you decide to take a plunge in the mineral waters you will most definitely have to cut out a sight or two from above.
Bath Tour – Visiting Bath as a Combined Tour from London
If you want to fit several sights into one day trip and have someone do all the work for you there are plenty of tour companies that combine a day trip to Bath from London with one or two other stops. I’ve visited Bath both on my own and with a combined tour. In a perfect world you would spend an entire day in Bath, but if you’re short on time and want to fit a few more sights on your itinerary a “bus” tour is a great option. A combined tour will give you a quick taste of Bath. You won’t have time to see all the sights, but it’s a good option if seeing the stone circles like Stonehendge or Avebury are important.
I would stick with tours that operate with smaller vans like The English Bus or Rabbies. These tours will have a max of around 16 people versus the big bus tours that can easily have 30, 50, plus tourists. I would also skip the tours that include Windsor Castle. Windsor Castle should be visited as a separate trip as it deserves more time than a quick stop on a combined bus tour would provide and is a quick 30-minute train from London. It makes more sense to pick a tour that includes a combination of Bath, the Cotswolds, and/or Stonehendge/Avebury. A tour with this combination will give you the most possible time in each location and won’t try to fit in several big and time-consuming spots in one trip…which just leads to rushing through each destination and not visiting them properly.
If you’re in England and trying to decide which London day trips are best for you, I hope this post helped point you in the right direction. London has so many worthwhile day trips and Bath is hands down one of my favorites. A day trip to Bath from London offers picturesque streets, quaint cafes, fascinating sights, and a very interesting history. It won’t be hard to fill an entire day’s worth of tourist sights and activities into your day trip to Bath from London.
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