Historic Bath: The Perfect Day Trip From London

Add a few days to your England itinerary to explore historic Bath, a nearby city with roots in Ancient Rome and the 18th century.

Just two hours by train from London—or one hour and 20 minutes by train from Oxford—historic Bath makes for the perfect getaway when you’re traveling in the U.K. A few days is the perfect amount of time to get to know this picturesque place.

Roman baths

Photo: iStock

Bath’s Natural Hot Springs

Nearly 2,000 years ago, a Roman military road was built through what is now southern England. Even in the first century A.D., the Romans recognized that there was something special about this area. After discovering the natural thermal springs, they erected a temple and a surrounding town, Aquae Sulis, that would later become modern-day Bath.

Touring the Roman baths is on the top of most first-time visitors’ lists, which means the attraction gets crowded on weekends and holidays. Head there first thing in the morning for the best experience. We also recommend joining one of the complimentary tours to get a true sense of what life was like during the era when Romans controlled Bath and the surrounding countryside.

To experience the natural hot springs in a more modern setting, schedule a treatment at Thermae Bath Spa. The only natural thermal spa in the country, this modern-day spa uses the warm, mineral-rich water from two of the three hot springs underneath the city. Before or after your treatment, soak in the spa’s lazy river and whirlpool, or relax in the open-air rooftop pool while taking in views of the city and the hills that surround it.

Thermae Bath Spa

Photo: Philip Edwards / Thermae Bath Spa

Picture-Perfect Views

Bath’s historic architecture, charming waterways and abundance of parks and gardens offer plenty of opportunity for gorgeous views. Climbing tower stairs or walking along wooded trails will be well worth the effort, whether you’re looking for a 360-degree view from the city center or a bird’s-eye view of the entire skyline.

The Bath Abbey bell tower, which pokes above the rest of the city’s spires, is a popular place to catch a glimpse of the entire city. A visit to the Abbey itself is free—donations are recommended—but climbing to the top of the tower does require a small fee.

Landscape garden in Bath

Photo: iStock

If you have a bit more time, viewpoints from just outside the city offer a different perspective. From atop the hillside in Prior Landscape Park, you’ll find sweeping views of Bath and the rolling hills around the city. Be sure to leave plenty of time to wander the carefully manicured gardens and cross the rare Palladian bridge, a prized focal point of the property.

For a truly breathtaking experience, consider a hot air balloon ride that takes you high above the city before floating out towards grassy meadows dotted with grazing sheep.

Traditional afternoon tea

Photo: iStock

High Tea or a Pint?

No trip to the U.K. is complete without the de rigueur cup of tea and tray of sweet and savory snacks, usually served daily between 4 and 6 p.m. Be sure to make reservations if you decide to visit one of Bath’s iconic tea rooms. The Royal Crescent Hotel and The Pump Room at the Roman Baths are two outstanding venues where you can enjoy the classic English high tea experience surrounded by Georgian architecture and decor. Served on fine china, your meal consists of an assortment of light, crustless sandwiches, pastries with clotted cream and, of course, your choice of tea. Try taking your tea as the English do—with milk and a bit of sugar. For a more casual experience, find a cozy table at one of the cities many cafés.

If scones and sandwiches aren’t quite your style, pop into a local pub for heavier fare and a pint of beer. In keeping with Bath’s historic ambiance, only pubs that preserve the architectural look and feel of the city are located above ground. You’ll find more modern clubs tucked away underground, and they’re a foundation of the city’s subterranean night life.

Talk to your AAA Travel Counselor about trips to Bath. Call 877-396-7159 or contact a AAA Travel Counselor to learn more.

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Rose Stadt, AAA Travel Counselor, Vallejo, Calif.

More and more people want to customize their escorted trips with longer stays in certain cities or visits to specific sites. I make sure the independent pieces fit seamlessly with the tour.

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