Bath is an excellent alternative to the bustle of larger destinations. A stunning city famous for its Ancient Roman baths, magnificent Georgian buildings and historical landmarks. But as well as its cultural importance, Bath remains a thoroughly modern city boasting high-end shops, bars, clubs, restaurants and plenty of activity ideas nearby. The city appeals to all parties looking for a quieter feel than nearby Bristol and Cardiff, but still offers great bars, restaurants and clubs to enjoy on your weekend.
Bath at a glance:
• A true West Country city, cider is the drink of choice here with plenty of locally brewed varieties available
• Atmospheric pubs scattered around
• The large student population in the area has created a rich and vibrant nightlife
• A compact city, which can easily be toured on foot
• The only place in the UK where you can bathe in thermal water that comes directly from natural hot springs deep beneath the city
Bath can get pretty busy in the summer. Tourists flock to see its historical sites and stunning Georgian architecture. Because of this, there’s usually a lot more going on, particularly in the centre where street performers and musicians put on shows for curious audiences. Even in winter Bath is still a bustling hive because of all the Christmas market shoppers looking for a unique gift or some festive luxury pampering.
Thermae Bath Spa – kick back and relax in style
Thermae Bath Spa is Britain’s original natural thermal spa. With warm, mineral enriched waters from deep beneath the city and a range of spa treatments, so if the lads are game for embracing their metrosexual side, it’s the ideal way to kick back and relax, just as the Roman’s did thousands of years ago.
Roman Baths – find out how the Romans relaxed
The Roman Baths are one of the city’s top attractions, with hordes of visitors taking the tour through the underground caverns and ruined baths. When you’ve seen where the Ancient Romans used to change, head on over to the Roman Baths Kitchen opposite the museum for lunch, dinner or drinks.
Markets – soak up the sights and smells of the buzzing stalls
The Bath Farmers’ Market is held every Saturday at Green Park Station. It offers a wide range of produce from homemade baked pies to fruit and veg, all locally sourced too. If you’re visiting during the winter months, Bath’s central Christmas market offers over 150 different stalls selling artisan gifts and foodstuffs.
Royal Victoria Park – Perfect for games in the park
A young Princess Victoria first opened the park to the public in 1830. With a boating pond, open air concerts and a nine-acre botanical garden, It's also a great spot to play outside games.
Bath’s best pubs and bars:
There are plenty of atmospheric pubs scattered around the compact city centre, which can easily be toured on foot:
The Cork, Westgate Buildings
Located in Central Bath on Westgate buildings, this pub boasts a conservatory, two bar areas and a sizeable al fresco terrace. Its stylish décor and pleasant atmosphere make it an ideal place for a quick drink. If you’re peckish, there’s also a lunch and evening menu on offer.
The Bath Brew House, James Street
The Bath Brew House features an outside garden and hosts BBQs in the summer, swapping the outdoor grub for a giant marquee in the winter. They also provide microbrewery tours, complete with a pint, for only five quid.
King William, Thomas Street
Hidden away on Thomas Street, King William is just a 15 minute walk away from the Abbey. Offering an ever-changing selection of real ale from a number of local breweries, it’s one of the best in the city. But don’t just take our word for it, it won the Best British Pub and Best British Food Pub at the Bath Good Food Awards in 2013.
The Garrick’s Head, St John's Road
Despite its central location, The Garrick’s Head is known locally for being ‘a country pub in the city’ because of its warm and hearty atmosphere. It’s also ideal for pre-theatre drinks being just next door to the Theatre Royal.
The Marlborough Tavern, Marlborough Buildings
A central pub known for its friendly staff and delicious food. It has one of Bath’s finest pub gardens and has some impressive awards to boast about. It does get incredibly busy for eating however, so booking is essential.
The Chequers, Rivers Street
The Chequers boasts locally sourced food and a range of local real ales, ciders and wine. A lovely place for a drink or dinner, it can be hired for private functions and caters for large groups if you want to get all the lads together in one place. It gets very busy so pre-booking is highly recommended.
The Pig & Fiddle, Saracen St
A local favourite because of its six hand pulled real local ales and ciders, plus a wide range of spirits, lagers and wines. They also have a beer garden that is hugely popular in the summer.
Crystal Palace, Abbey Green
Located a stone's throw away from the Roman Baths, Crystal Palace is one of the city’s oldest and most traditional pubs serving a selection of real ales and hearty pub grub.
The Huntsman, Terrace Walk
Another of Bath’s oldest pubs with a great location next to the Abbey. Known for being a lively spot, it can be hired out for private occasions if you’ve got a group of you visiting.
The Bath Gin Company, Queen Street
The creators of Bath Gin, you can guess what the spirit of choice is here. Although creating unique gin cocktails is their area of expertise, they also have an excellent selection of wines, beers, whiskies, rums and vodkas behind the bar.
Circo Bar & Lounge, South Parade
Circo Bar & Lounge is a quirky, circular bar with a handy 3am license, making it one of Bath’s latest venues. The club boasts an outside patio area and regular live music slots, so check out their website in advance to see what’s on.
Opium, Spring Gardens Road
Hidden in an alley on the other side of Pulteney Bridge, Opium is a melting pot of different decors, from prim Victorian to eclectic Renaissance. Drinks range from classic cocktails to diverse in-house creations and a handpicked selection of wines and international beers.
The Porter Basement, George Street
A stylish cocktail lounge spread across a four-storey Georgian townhouse, The Porter Basement offers a sophisticated night out all under one roof. From cocktail masterclasses with resident mixologists, to private dining and drinks in its effortlessly chic Library and Study rooms.
Bath’s best nightclubs:
A large student population ensures there is a healthy supply of clubs and the nightlife aspect of your weekend to Bath is well looked after
Second Bridge, Manvers Street
The Second Bridge is a cool and effortlessly stylish blend of nightclub and cocktail lounge in central Bath. Different rooms supply clubbers with a variety of music and VIP packages are available for large and small groups if you want to add a touch of class to the night.
Po Na Na, North Parade
A stunning club with lavish Moroccan style décor and a sophisticated edge, Po Na Na is a popular haunt for students on weekdays during term time. Drinks are a specialty, with expert mixologists whipping up classic cocktails like Long Island Iced Teas alongside their unique Moroccan inspired pitchers for up to six people.
Food: eat like a local:
Bath is an ideal setting for many contemporary upmarket restaurants because of its comfortable mix of history and modern living. Browns Brasserie in Orange Grove serves up a mouth-watering breakfast menu (perfect for hangovers) and a top-notch dinner menu in the evenings. It’s great for large and small groups, but booking is recommended. Sotto Sotto on North Parade Road is another upmarket eatery offering the best Italian dining experience in Bath.
Over on High Street, Feast Pan Asian Restaurant is the place for delicious Asian style food on a budget. Ocean Pearl in the Podium Shopping Centre is another buffet-style restaurant with a focus on all-you-can-eat Chinese cuisine. Café Retro is a very popular spot on North Street serving up a variety of delicious Café style breakfasts. Last but not least, Wild Café on Queen Street is a quirky eatery with a cool atmosphere and an impeccable menu full of locally sourced ingredients and homemade dishes. As everything’s cooked to order, it can get pretty busy so expect queues.
Festivals not to miss:
Bath hosts a boatload of festivals throughout the year, so time your trip right and you may get to enjoy some of these cultural delights:
Bath Beer Festival (April)
Bath International Music Festival (May-June)
Bath Fringe Festival (May-June)
Bath Chilli Festival (September)
Bath Film Festival (November)
The best view of the city:
With 212 steps to the top, Bath Abbey Tower is the best place to get a bird’s eye view of the city. Entrance is only £6 and there are guided tours available, although group bookings need to be booked in advance.
Parking in Bath can be a pain so public transport is recommended, although most of the restaurants, pubs and restaurants in the city centre can be reached on foot. Buses are regular but perhaps not as frequent as in bigger cities, so if the wait is too long then a taxi might be a better option.
Did you know?
Bath has its own currency called the Bath Oliver. Today it can be used as a coupon to receive discounts at local businesses.