What to Do in Bath, Somerset

I visited Bath in Somerset one Autumn day. Normally I prefer taking photos on sunny days when the sky is blue, but even the grey sky couldn’t detract from the beauty of the city. It almost felt like the reds and oranges of the leaves made the Bath stone stand out even more. The entire city is a World Heritage Site, so there are photo opportunities and things to do at every turn.

Pulteney Bridge
This isn’t the longest or the tallest bridge I’ve ever crossed, but it is definitely one of the most photogenic and has to be visited on a trip to Bath! The idea was by Robert Adam, the architect who designed the grade I listed Pulteney Bridge, and it was completed in 1774. It is one of only four bridges in the world that has shops lined on either side. It stands proudly over the River Avon and the horseshoe shaped Pulteney Weir, which was built in the 1600s to prevent flooding. The Weir not only has a very practical use, but I think it adds an extra dimension to photos at certain angles. Hopefully you can see what I mean about the autumn leaves really standing out too, and they’re almost providing a photo frame for the bridge in this shot!

Roman Baths
The Roman Baths in Bath are one of the most visited heritage attractions in England with over a million visitors a year. They were opened in 1897 as a grand bathing complex where the Romans would come to relax and socialise, and even worship. They are extremely well preserved, with natural hot water of 46c still flowing through them! The entire place is steeped in history, the entrance hall where you queue to get in is an old concert hall, meanwhile, statues of Roman emperors and governors adorn the top level of the baths. You can’t go to Bath and not visit these. Find out more here.

Parade Gardens
These pleasure gardens are grade II listed and span two and a half acres, right next to Pulteney Bridge and the River Avon. They are a nice place to stroll and relax in all year round, and you can see even in mid-Autumn (I visited late October a few years ago) that the gardens are immaculately maintained. In the summer months, concerts are held at the bandstand and you can enjoy the full experience of the flower displays which have won awards from the Royal Horticultural Society. Find out more here.

Margaret’s Buildings
One of the main draws of Bath is its charming independent shops, and this little street is full of them. From jewellery to antique maps, second hand books to homeware, the picturesque street of Margaret’s Buildings is full of Bath stone and could be easily missed. If you’re heading down Brock Street, which connects The Circus and the Royal Crescent, it’s worth looking out for the black exterior of Alexandra May’s jewellery shop so you know where to turn off and explore.

The Circus
This street forms a circle of large townhouses split into three segments, with three roads coming off of it and a lawn in the centre. It is a great example of Georgian architecture, again made with the famous Bath stone, and lots of emblems can be seen in the stonework, such as acorns, serpents, and cannons. I read on the Visit Bath website that the Circus is joined to the Royal Crescent by a ley-line (straight alignments drawn between various historic structures and prominent landmarks). This was on purpose so that the design represents the sun and the moon which I thought was lovely!

Royal Crescent
This street has got to be the most exclusive postcode in Bath to live in! Similar to the Circus, it is another prime example of Georgian architecture, made up of a semi-circle of Grade I listed houses, as well as the 5-star Royal Crescent Hotel and museum. Presumably this would be the moon from the design I mentioned above! Many of the houses have plaques on to commemorate the notable people who have lived there over the decades. The outlook from the front of the houses is stunning, over this wide expanse of lawn owned by the residents, towards Royal Victoria Park. The autumn leaves look beautiful here too.

Bath Abbey
The Abbey is located in the heart of Bath and has been a place for Christian worship for over a thousand years. It’s open daily for visitors to go inside and see its impressive fan vaulted ceiling, large stained glass windows and carved angels. I actually didn’t realise when I was there, but you can also go up the Bath Abbey tower and look out over the city. This building is the impressive backdrop for the annual Bath Christmas Market which draws in both locals and visitors from far afield every year. Find out more here.

Bath Guildhall Market
Directly opposite Pulteney Bridge, you can enter the oldest shopping venue in the whole of Bath through grand black iron gates. The Guildhall Market has been on this site for over 800 years, and is home to a number of independents including the Bath Humbug Shop and Gillards of Bath (coffee and tea specialists). A secondary Christmas Market, which coincides with the main one by Bath Abbey, is held here annually at the end of Autumn in the Market’s adjacent car park. Find out more here.

Milsom Street
This street dates back to 1762 and was originally full of grand townhouses but over the years these have been converted into offices, banks and shops – if you haven’t gathered from this post so far, Bath is a dream for shoppers! Milsom Street has a mixture of independents and well-known high street shops, and it’s also home to Milsom Place – a peaceful and pretty courtyard of restaurants, bars and more shops.

I was only in Bath for a day so there’s plenty I didn’t get round to seeing, and I’d love to go back one day! However this hopefully provides a guide on some of the key things to do in Bath if you’re visiting for a short time. Everywhere I’ve mentioned was in walking distance of each other, and I would say the city overall has good accessibility for those with mobility issues too, although some streets do have cobbles.

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