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Recently I took a day trip to Bath and left feeling totally charmed by this pretty, historical city in Somerset. If you’re keen to do the same, I’ll help you plan the details and share the best things to do in Bath in one day.
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Bath is one of the most famous historical cities in the UK with more than 2,000 years of history. It was the Celts who first discovered the bubbling thermal waters that run beneath the region, dedicating the Bath spring to their god, Sulis, who scholars believe represented fertility and had strong connections to water.
As a result, they built temples to the gods, as well as bathhouses around the holy spring beside the River Avon. While the city has changed much 2,000 years later, the bathhouses remain some of the best-loved features of the city.
Due to its historical nature and architecture, Bath has become one of the most visited cities in the UK. You could easily spend a whole weekend here but, if time’s tight, it’s easy to take a Bath day trip from London as well as other cities like Bristol and Oxford.
You won’t be rushed off your feet while seeing Bath in one day provided you set off early and arrive during the morning.
How to take a day trip to Bath
I recommend you suss out your journey time and arrive in good time. Although Bath is a relatively small city, there’s quite a lot to do.
It would be a shame to rush your Bath day trip so aim to arrive before 11am and stay until late afternoon. Obviously, it’s easier to be flexible in the summer when it’s light until late evening.
London to Bath day trip by train
Catch a train from London Paddington arriving into Bath Spa in 1 hour 16 minutes. This is the quickest option for seeing Bath in a day.
I use Trainline for booking UK trains. The most convenient option is booking an open return which means you can return whenever you’re ready. Open returns start at £63. If you’re travelling the UK on a budget, you can pick individual tickets instead which start at £16.
Although this option is cheaper, it’s less flexible as you have to travel at the time you’ve selected. But as long as you plan your Bath day trip well, it shouldn’t be a problem.
London to Bath day trip by bus
For buses in the UK, I use Busbud to compare prices and browse tickets. Tickets between Bath and London start at £14 and take 2 hours 35 minutes.
This will make for a long day trip to Bath, on the plus side, many coaches have onboard entertainment systems with movies and TV shows which you can watch on a screen on the back of your chair.
Parking in Bath
After the train and bus, the final option for visiting Bath as a day trip is by car. Parking in Bath city centre isn’t recommended as it’s crowded with high prices. A better option is…
Park & Ride
Rather than pay premium prices to park in Bath city centre, reduce congestion by using the Park & Ride. It’s a cheap option for spending one day in Bath because parking is free; you only pay for the bus (which departs every 12 minutes). There are three places to park: Lansdown, Newbridge and Odd Down.
Top experiences during a day in Bath
What to do during a Bath day trip
There are plenty of things to do in Bath from long nature walks to shopping and hanging out in quirky cafes. If you want to see the best of Bath in one day, it’s best to stick to the famous and historical sites such as the Royal Crescent and the Roman baths.
In the below blog, I’ll share my itinerary for a one day trip to Bath. Because it’s me, I’ll start with food and move on later to more places to eat and drink in town.
Brunch in Bath
When you arrive in Bath from London, you’ll likely be in need of a hearty feed. There are plenty of places to eat breakfast and brunch in Bath.
One of my favourite restaurant chains in the UK is Bill’s; find the Bath branch on Cheap Street. The menu is short and sweet with English breakfasts, eggs benedict dishes and pancakes.
To support Bath local businesses, visit Framptons Bath. The coffee is excellent and you can’t do better than the buttermilk pancakes with bacon! For an elegant option, visit either the Roman Baths Kitchen (before noon when they stop serving breakfast) or, for something really luxurious, indulge in a Champagne Breakfast at the Pump Room Restaurant.
Morning – tour the Royal Crescent
Begin your Bath day trip by touring one of the most famous parts of Bath, the Royal Crescent. Here you’ll see 30 identical houses displayed in a half-moon shape.
Designed by architect John Wood in the 1700s, these Grade I Listed buildings are widely considered the best existing example of Georgian architecture in the UK. They also make a great backdrop for photos!
There are a few things to do while visiting Bath’s Royal Crescent. Learn about Georgian history at No. 1 Royal Crescent, now a museum, or treat yourself to a (very expensive) spa session at The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa. There are heated relaxation pools with massage jets and luxury body treatments with holistics and herbology in mind.
If you’ve seriously got cash to splash, you can book a room from £300 per night.
Another thing to do in Bath is find the yellow door which has a cool story behind it. In the 1970s, a resident named Annabel Wellesley-Colley randomly painted her door yellow which caused a stir with the neighbours who had all opted for the traditional white. It took two police offers and a public enquiry before she was allowed to keep it yellow!
Just a five-minute walk from the Royal Crescent is The Circus, another striking example of Georgian architecture designed by John Wood and originally called the King’s Crescent.
This set is arranged in three segments making up a large circle shape with a grassy area in the middle. One of these beauts would set you back a casual £3 million – but wandering around as a tourist is free and you’ll even spy some of the spots where Oliver! was filmed.
A highlight of my day trip to Bath was spying the intricate details and carvings on the houses. My new camera zoom came in handy when looking at the carvings and sculptures up high.
Before leaving the circus, check out…
Bath Assembly Rooms
The Assembly Rooms were built in 1769 for highbrow Georgian events like including concerts and balls. Peek at their impressive facade and head visit the lower ground floor to tour the…
Fashion Museum Bath
This is a gem in Bath that not all tourists know about. Donated to the city by Doris Langley Moore (OBE), one of the first female fashion historians, the Fashion Rooms boats more than 100,000 items from the 16th century to the present day.
Tickets cost £10.
Head to the Roman Baths
Bath’s best-known attraction is steeped in history. Although the city’s thermal properties were discovered in the first century, the original Iron Age settlers were thrown out by the invasion of the Romans who built a religious complex around Bath’s hot springs.
Healing and leisure were combined by the bathhouses which allowed locals to relax as they enjoyed the therapeutic properties of the waters.
You can spend a good few hours wandering around the well-reserved bath complex while spending a day in Bath. Although you can’t take a dip, you probably won’t want to when you see the bright screen shade of the waters! Instead, wander the complex and shady walkways, listening to the audiotape included with your ticket.
At the onsite Pump Room Restaurant, you can try a safe sip of the water and try some local food while listening to a resident pianist.
The Roman Baths are open 9am-9pm and entrance is £25 per adult.
Bath day trip afternoon – explore Pulteney Bridge
Once you’ve visited the Roman Baths, The Circus and The Crescent, you can reward your sightseeing efforts by stopping at a cafe on Pulteney Bridge.
This pretty bridge on the River Avon is one of the only in the world to have shops built into either side. Lots of them have clear views of the river so it’s the perfect place to curl up with a coffee OR hit the shops.
Visually, the bridge is impressive in its own right. It built in 1769 and named after Frances Pulteney, the wife of the wealthiest man in Britain at a time.
From Pulteney Bridge, you can board a boat trip down the River Avon. This is a great way to see Bath from a different angle and spot some wildlife along the way. Book your 25 minute Bath boat trip.
Afternoon tea in Bath
Break up your London to Bath day trip itinerary with a spot of afternoon tea. If you’re British, you’ll be well-versed in this and, if not, do as the locals do!
I like the Bridge Coffee Shop on the bridge itself. Bag a window seat for the best views. Here you can have a cream tea with scones and tea or coffee for just £4.25.
For a full afternoon tea (which is similar to a cream tea but includes sandwiches), splash out nearby instead at No.15 Great Pulteney. Between 12-5pm, they serve a decadent afternoon tea with fancy treats like Champagne jelly and macaroons. They also do an outdoor afternoon tea which with 24 hours notice can be delivered to nearby Henrietta Park. For an indulgent day trip to Bath, this could be a lovely option to surprise a friend.
Visit Bath Abbey
On the other side of Pulteney Bridge is one of the buildings that helped Bath earn its UNESCO World Heritage status. In fact, the king of England was crowned on this very spot.
With its stained-glass windows, huge pillars and intricate carvings, add this place to your Bath one day itinerary to soak up 1,200 years of history.
Bath Abbey is free to go inside but a £5 donation is recommended. The Abbey is open from 10am-4pm apart from Sundays when it opens to the public at noon since it’s still a functioning church.
Explore the independent shopping scene
Although our Bath one day trip is nearly at a close, there’s still time to browse the shops and pick up a few souvenirs. Right beside Bath Abbey is a collection of independent shops with pretty facades such as Bath Retro Shop.
From bookshops to boutiques, homeware stores, ice cream parlours and traditional sweet shops, there are plenty of independent shops in Bath where you can do your bit for the local economy while treating yourself in the process.
Don’t miss the umbrellas at Southgate Shopping Centre!
Slightly more contemporary than many of the city’s attractions, this pretty display may not be a classic but I loved it. There are 1,000 umbrellas hanging above the street and a couple of pretty red phone boxes cascading flowers at either end.
Late afternoon – take in a skyline view
If you have any remaining time during your London to Bath day trip, take a skyline walk. The National Trust offer three-mile or six-mile routes with lots to see on the way.
If you have less time, walk 20-minutes from the city centre up to Alexander Park (at the top of Beechen Cliff) where you’ll be able to snap all the stunning pano shots you like. Why not grab a dinner picnic and some drinks to finish your trip in style?
Extra activities for a Bath day trip
If you find yourself with spare time or any of the above activities don’t appeal, here are a few other activities:
The Jane Austen Centre – visit to learn more about Georgian society and how it influenced Jane Austen’s writing. She moved to Bath in the early 1800s as she believed it would be good for her husband’s health and a prime place for her daughters to find husbands (I can’t comment, I didn’t find ANY during my Bath day trip).
Step into her world by trying on costumes, writing with a quill pen and sipping tea at the upstairs Regency Cafe. Tickets cost £12.50 for adults of £5.50 for children.
Victoria Art Gallery – beside Poultney Bridge, this Grade II listed building has been open since 1900. Visit to browse British and European artwork for free.
Bath Botanical Gardens – for a leisurely walk, this 9-hectare garden is just a short walk from the city centre. Boasting a Roman temple, walking trails and playground, it’s a lovely spot for a sunny day.
More food and drink for a day in Bath
How many meals can you squeeze into a day trip? If you’re me, quite a lot…
Cake Cafe: We stopped at this cafe on Quiet Street for tasty paninis and cupcakes. Carrot cake and Victoria sponge were also on the menu for those with a sweet tooth. The coffee here is excellent thanks to the Brazilian beans roasted onsite.
Yak Yeti Yak: For something a bit different, check out this well-priced Nepalese eatery on Pierrepont Street. I fell in love with Nepalese momos during my trip to Nepal in 2015 and always seek them out when I can. As well as momos, the menu boasts flavoursome curries with plentiful veggie ingredients like chickpea and butternut squash.
The Fudge Factory: We stopped for delicious ice cream at the Fudge Factory but, as the name suggests, you can also purchase high-quality fudge including gift boxes to take home.
Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House: The only disappointment of my day trip to Bath was not getting to try a Bath Bun. It was Sunday afternoon and everywhere had sold out for the day. Whether we should have been more organised or the buns should have been more plentiful remains a mystery – but I’ve heard they’re delicious.
Try one at Sally’s, their place of invention and one of Bath’s oldest buildings, originally a dormitory for monks in the 1400s. The buns are made by hand using the original recipe hundreds of years after their creation.
Where to stay in Bath
If you decide to stay overnight at the end of your Bath day trip from London, there are plenty of places to stay although the city can be expensive during the summer months.
Budget option: Z Hotel is a comfy hotel with all your amenities. Check availability for £50pn.
Self-catering option: Student Castle Studio Apartments are beautiful, modern apartments inside traditional Bath University buildings. Check availability for £100pn.
Browse all hotels and self-catering accommodation on Booking.com.
After a day in Bath, why not explore some other nearby parts of England? There are plenty of things to during a day or two days in Bristol including some quirky Bristol street art – quite unlike traditional Bath!
In Bath, you’re also nearby many charming pretty Cotswolds villages. For a complete guide to the Cotswolds, check out my Cotswolds itinerary.
Not far from Bath is beautiful Lacock Village and better yet the Lacock Abbey Harry potter movie locations!
Visiting the UK?
Guidebooks – LP always get my seal of approval. Use the latest copy of Lonely Planet England.
Getting there & around by air – I use Skyscanner to find the best-value flights, using the ‘search by month’ tool to find the cheapest dates. You can also use the ‘to anywhere’ feature if you’re flexible on where you’re going.
Car hire – use Rentalcars.com to compare car rentals in the UK (and all around the world).
Confused about visas? I use iVisa to check visa requirements and apply for visas online.
For UK trains, I use Trainline. The search feature allows you to compare prices, and they show live departure times on the website.
For buses, I use Busbud. It’s the only site that compares UK coaches and buses. Find London to Manchester journeys for £1!
For hotels and self-catering apartments, I use Booking.com. You can filter by review score and price to find the best-rated budget places. For hostels, I use Hostelworld.com.
To save money on accommodation, I use Trusted Housesitters, a website that connects homeowners going away and travellers who can sit their homes & pets.
I use GetYourGuide for tours & activities when I don’t want to travel solo. The guides are knowledgeable and you can’t beat the prices. I also check Viator as they often have fun and unique offerings.
For food tours pairing travellers with passionate local chefs and foodies, check out EatWith.
Need travel insurance? I use World Nomads. They cover 150 countries and have 24-hour emergency assistance.
Check out my resources page for more travel discounts and budget tips from my 10+ years on the road!
Enjoy your day trip to Bath UK!
I hope you enjoy your day trip from London to Bath, see the sights and enjoy some fantastic Bath food and drink. If you have a better idea of what to do in Bath in one day as a result of this blog, please give it a share!
If you’re looking for England inspo, check out some of my other posts:
Budget backpacking tips forthe UK
- My London archives
- How to spend a weekend in Bristol
- How to spend a weekend in Oxford
- The perfect weekend in Dorset
- The Manchester weekend guide
- How to spend a weekend in Norfolk
- How to see Brighton in 1 day
- 2 day Lake District itinerary
- The perfect Margate day trip from London
- Things to do in Liverpool in winter
See you next time for more adventures,
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