Sitting on the green banks of the River Avon, beautiful Bath is home to Roman ruins, Georgian architecture, and a host of literary museums. Just an hour and a half by train from London, this Somerset city has been welcoming tourists since the first Roman bathhouse was built here in the 1st century AD.
You can still see the preserved remains of the city’s namesake bathhouse today, while the modern Thermae Bath Spa adds a rooftop swimming pool to the longstanding bathing tradition. Bath Abbey tells the later story of the city’s medieval history, while No.1 Royal Crescent recreates the life of the Regency socialites that flocked here in the 18th century.
Take a cruise along the Avon River, eat your way through Bath’s Guildhall Market, or scout out “Bridgerton” filming locations on a walking tour. Best of all are the Jane Austen Centre and Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein, which are reason enough by themselves for literary fans to fall in love with Bath.
With so many things to see and do, you might not know where to begin. So we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best things to do in Bath for you. Stick to these fun and unique Bath bucket list recommendations, and there’s no doubt you’ll have an amazing time exploring this gorgeous English city!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase or booking through one of our links we may earn a small commission (don’t worry, it’s at no extra cost to you).
The 11 Best Things to Do in Bath, England
1. Step Back in Time at the Roman Baths
Bath is named after the Roman baths (or, in Latin, Thermae) that are thought to date back to at least 70 AD. Built atop natural springs that the native Britons believed to have healing qualities, the invading Roman army decided that Bath (or Aqua Sulis, as they named their new settlement) would be the perfect location for a public bathing house.
Until they were abandoned in the 5th century AD with the fall of the Roman Empire in Britain, the baths were the focal point of business, worship, and public life in the Avon Valley. The Romans dedicated statues and temples to their gods and goddesses, built the Great Bath that you can still see today, and engineered an elaborate heating and drainage system that still lies below the surface.
One of the best things to do in Bath, the public bathhouse built almost 2,000 years ago has now been masterfully preserved, offering a unique insight into Roman life in ancient Britain.
2. Delve into Christian History at Bath Abbey
With a history dating back to the 7th century AD, Bath Abbey is one of the most important Bath attractions. A Gothic landmark on the city’s skyline, you can learn more about the Abbey’s Anglo-Saxon founding and medieval monastic life at the Discovery Centre.
Inside the abbey itself, a tour will reveal hidden sacraments and crypts within the hallowed halls of this historic religious building, while a slog to the top of the tower (if you brave the 212 steep steps) offers panoramic views of Bath’s city center.
3. Join a Walking Tour of Bath
A compact city with a population of 101,000 people, Bath’s Georgian crescents and historic streets are best enjoyed on a walking tour.
One of the most interesting things to do in Bath, these tours are led by a local guide. Delve deep into the city’s past as you learn about Bath’s Celtic origins, Roman expansion, Anglo-Saxon founding, and Norman takeovers in the medieval era. Stroll past famous sights like Bath Abbey, cross the Pulteney Bridge, and visit Bath Circus.
Specialist tours focus on the city’s Regency-era heritage when the famous Georgian architecture evolved as Bath became a playground for England’s wealthiest socialites. Netflix fans can join a “Bridgerton” walking tour, literary walks follow in the footsteps of Jane Austen, and ghost tours here aren’t reserved just for Halloween.
4. Take a Plunge at Thermae Bath Spa
A trip to Thermae Bath Spa is one of the coolest things to do in Bath. This stunning spa center is the modern incarnation of the Roman bathhouse of old, and you’ll love relaxing in the impressive saunas, steam rooms, and thermal pools found inside.
The Thermae Bath Spa might be inspired by the Roman Baths, but the Romans could never have imagined such a sight as its rooftop swimming pool. Heated all year round, enjoy sweeping views of Bath as you plunge into steaming waters above the city center. Book tickets in advance because this is one of the most popular Bath activities for tourists!
5. Cycle the Railway Path from Bath to Bristol
If you’re looking for adventurous things to do in Bath, why not cycle the 13-mile-long Railway Path that runs from Bath to Bristol?
Following the tracks of an old rail line that once connected Southwest England’s two most famous cities (there’s even an old steam train that offers rides alongside part of the route), you’ll cycle through old train tunnels and stop at stations-turned-cafes for refreshments.
The route can be cycled there and back in a day, or you can cycle one way (or hike one way) and take the train back to Bath.
6. Visit the Jane Austen Centre
Located in a Grade-II listed Georgian-era townhouse, if you’re a fan of all things literary, then visiting the Jane Austen Centre is one of the best things to do in Bath.
The author of “Pride and Prejudice,” “Mansfield Park,” “Sense and Sensibility,” and many more classics of English literature, Jane Austen lived in Bath in the early 1800s and took much inspiration from life in the city.
The Jane Austen Centre tells the story of the famous author and her connections to Bath and includes a superbly lifelike waxwork showing exactly what she looked like. Tour the museum, then take a break at the Regency Tea House.
7. Live Like a Regency Socialite at No.1 Royal Crescent
The Royal Crescent, with its marvelous row of Georgian-era townhouses, is one of the best Bath attractions. Dating back to the 18th century, the majority of these historic buildings are still lived in today, but step inside No.1 Royal Crescent and you’ll find a fantastic museum that recreates Regency life in Bath.
No.1 Royal Crescent has been painstakingly curated to create a vivid picture of the decorations and furnishings that would have existed in a similar townhouse between the years of 1776 and 1796. As you walk through the Parlour, the Dining Room, the Gentlemen’s Retreat, and the Scullery, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported onto the set of an episode of “Bridgerton.”
8. Be Spooked at Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein
“Frankenstein” fans will know that Mary Shelley created her most infamous horror character while staying in Bath in 1816.
Now, Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein – set across several floors of a Georgian townhouse – delves into Shelley’s dark world, telling her tragic life story and exploring the inspirations for “Frankenstein.”
There’s a monstrous 8-foot-tall animatronic model of Frankenstein’s monster designed to frighten visitors, while the Escape Room experience will confront you with a labyrinth of freaky clues and monsters set within the “Frankenstein” world.
9. Eat Your Way Around Bath’s Guildhall Market
Hidden away among Bath’s narrow medieval streets is the Guildhall Market, where traders, vendors, and artisans have sold their wares since 1284.
For over 700 years, the Guildhall Market has been the center of local commerce in the city, and today, the indoor marketplace is home to everything from leather workers to sweet shops.
The best reason to visit, though, is for the food. Wander through the market, and you’ll be tempted by pots of local preserves, boards of Somerset cheese, and international delicacies like arancini and wild boar burgers. If you’re looking for delicious things to do in Bath, the Guildhall Market is a must!
10. Tuck into Buns at Sally Lunn’s
Set inside a medieval house dating back to 1482 (which claims to be the oldest house in Bath), Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House is part museum and part cafe.
The bakery claims to be the spot where the legendary Bath baker Sally Lunn supposedly created the Bath Bun. This local delicacy is hard to describe, being a little bit like a bun but more like a cake, and the story of its introduction by Huguenot refugees fleeing France for Bath in the 18th century is fascinating.
Take a look around the kitchen museum, learn about Sally and her historic buns, and then dig into an authentic Sally Lunn Bun in the cafe.
11. Take a Boat Tour of the Avon River
A boat ride along the Avon River is one of the must-do Bath activities. A traditional hour-long cruise from Pulteney Weir in the center of Bath takes you below the historic arches of the Pulteney Bridge (a Bath landmark) and along the Avon River to Bathampton.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised at just how quickly you escape the city. Sit back and relax, or if the sun’s shining take a stroll on the deck, as you find yourself cruising through the green countryside of Somerset and into the Avon Valley. Pulteney Cruisers, the oldest boat company in Bath, offers multiple sailings a day, all year round.
There you have it! The best things to do in Bath. What’s your favorite thing to do in Bath?
Planning a trip to England? Check out our favorite books and travel guides!