How to Plan the Perfect Bath Day Trip from London
As you visit London, you’ll quickly get the sense that history is all around you. Roman history under your feet dates back two millennia, never mind the imprint of all the centuries since. Other parts of England show the land’s long history too back to the origins of Stonehenge 5,000 years ago and other relics of the Romans like the city of Bath. If the idea of exploring that history firsthand excites you, planning a Bath day trip is a great idea.
I’ve made the day trip to Bath from London; I took a bus tour that allowed me to explore the baths the city is named after, as well as several other sights in town. Based on my experiences, I’m confident that Bath is one of the best day trips from London and worthy of consideration if you have 1-2 days in your London itinerary for a journey outside the big city.
Though it often gets lumped in with other destinations outside London, Bath is worth its own time to explore. If you’re time-constrained when visiting London, you may want to do a Bath/Stonehenge/Windsor tour that packs a ton in – but if not, plan a Bath day trip and enjoy all this English city has to offer.
This post was originally published in June 2021, and was updated in May 2022.
How to Get from London to Bath
As you plan your day trip to Bath, it’s important to understand you have options for reaching this English town. There are four ways to get from London to Bath:
- Train – It’s a 90-minute ride from Paddington Station in London to Bath Spa Station. Trains run roughly every 30 minutes and this is a cost-effective way to reach Bath.
- Car – If you choose to rent a car for your day trip to Bath, it’s a 2.5-hour drive.
- Bus – Buses run from Victoria Station to Bath every 60-90 minutes depending on the time of year. It’s a 3-4 hour drive from London to Bath.
- Tour – There are many guided tours that allow you to visit Bath for a day trip. These typically range from 10-14 hours and often combine Bath with another destination (like Stonehenge, which is a tour I took for my first visit to Bath).
In terms of travel time and cost, the best way to visit Bath is by train but this means you won’t have a car to explore more of the city during your day trip.
Things to Do for One Day in Bath
There are a number of fascinating things to do in Bath – and the best part is that you can fit almost all of them into a single day trip to Bath. I’ve listed these things to do in Bath in order of popularity, and at the end of this post, I put together a proposed Bath day trip itinerary to help you finish planning.
1. The Roman Baths
It should come as no surprise that the most popular attraction and experience in Bath is… the Baths! These Roman Baths date back 2000 years and are a fascinating history/culture/wellness experience. Basically, there’s something at the Roman Baths that will appeal to all kinds of travelers.
The Bath compound is open to the public and contains both exhibits about the history of Romans in England and access to the baths – but you can’t actually go bathing in them! Instead, you can opt to try a drink of the spring water that feeds these baths. It’s supposed to be very good for you!
Tickets for the Roman Baths are £25.50 on weekdays and £27.50 on weekends for adults; timed tickets are currently required but this will likely change in the future. Beware that ticket prices go up in the high season.
If you’re interested in Roman history, be sure to check out the London Wall Walk during your London trip!
2. The Royal Crescent
The Royal Crescent is another popular Bath sight, though it’s not one you necessarily need much time to see. This architectural wonder is comprised of 30 terraced houses in a sweeping arc; that’s really all it is! There’s a nice green space out in front where you can sit on a sunny day too.
3. The Circus and Assembly Rooms
The Circus and Assembly Rooms are regarded as two of the main exponents of Georgian Architecture in Bath.
Formerly known as The King’s Circus, The Circus is a historic ring of townhouses. It was the masterpiece of Bath’s renowned architect John Wood, the Elder. He started building The Circus in 1754 but unfortunately died that same year. Consequently, his son, John Wood, the Younger, took on the project and finished building The Circus in 1768.
But this wasn’t John Wood, the Younger’s last architectonic intervention. He then designed and built The Assembly Rooms 1769. These rooms served as fine entertainment venues for fashionable citizens, like Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, who were habitués of the balls hosted at the Assembly Rooms.
The Assembly Rooms are also home to the Fashion Museum, which I have expanded on in a different section below in case you want to visit.
4. Thermae Bath Spa
Since I’ve already dashed your dreams of bathing in the Roman Baths, here’s a consolation: you can soak at Thermae Bath Spa. Claiming to be Britain’s “original thermal spa” (though one could argue the Romans got there first…) this modern version is a fabulous way to pass a few hours – and enjoy some great views of Bath in the process.
It’s £35 for admission to the Royal Bath (£40 on weekends) which includes two hours of soak time in the warm mineral waters, plus a towel, robe, and slippers.
5. Bath Abbey
Though England is home to many incredible churches, Bath Abbey is worth a visit whether you love architecture or views. Inside the Abbey, you can enjoy incredible High Gothic architecture, or you can climb the Abbey Tower as part of a guided tour. You’ll ascend 212 steps to the top of the tower, which offers sweeping views of Bath and the countryside.
6. The Pulteney Bridge
The Pulteney Bridge is not far from Bath Abbey. Designed by Robert Adam, this Grade I listed bridge over the River Avon has been part of Bath since 1774. It got its name from the Pulteney family, who actually decided to build the bridge to connect the family estate in Bathwick to the city of Bath. This stone bridge, which is one of the most photographed in the UK, boasts a Palladian style. One of its peculiarities is that the bridge has shops built across its full span on both sides. Stroll down the bridge and explore the quaint shops.
The bridge with the river and side Georgian buildings create gorgeous scenery that’s definitely worth capturing with your camera. Take my advice and head to one of the river banks to get a full picture.
Visitors can also take a Pulteney Cruise from the bridge. These cruises meander along the River Avon toward the village of Bathhampton. It’s another opportunity to look at the city from a different angle.
You can find here tons of cruises options.
7. Jane Austen Centre
Sticking in the historical trend, fans of Jane Austen will consider Bath a must-visit for the Jane Austen Centre. Though Austen herself was not a fan of Bath and wrote of it in satire often; the Centre is located here because her father moved the family there during her life, and both Northanger Abbey and Persuasion are set in Bath.
In terms of visiting, you can learn about Austen’s life and work with the aid of a costumed guide, plus enjoy hands-on activities from her time and tea in the Regency Tea Room.
8. Fashion Museum
For an entirely different museum experience, Bath is home to the Fashion Museum. This museum blends history and culture through three centuries of Western history. You’ll see everything from 18th Century ballgowns and 20th-century platform shoes here; they also bring in visiting and temporary exhibits related to fashion and design.
This one’s a must-do if you love fashion, and will remind you that England has played its part in the fashion trends of the world, even if it’s not Milan or Paris.
9. Bath’s Buns
Photo credits: Bex Walton & HarshLight via Flickr
If you eat just one thing in Bath, it has to be a bun. Okay, maybe two things, as there are two distinct types of Bath buns. First, the traditional Bath Bun (try at The Bath Bun), a small, sweet roll with sugar and topped with raisins or dried currants. The alternative is the Sally Lunn Bun (available at Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House), a larger plainer roll with less flash.
This article breaks down the difference between them; above you also see a braided cinnamon bun too – proof that there are other buns worth trying too!
10. Royal Victoria Park
If you feel like taking a breath of fresh air, Royal Victoria Park is a lush green space with a botanical garden inside. It was opened in 1830 by Queen Victoria, who was only 11 years old at the time. The park overlooks the Royal Crescents and features tons of meandering paths that navigate and explore the beautiful grounds and scenery. The Botanical Gardens sits in the northwest area of the park and contains one of the finest collections of plants on limestone in the West country. There’s also a replica of a Roman Temple in the gardens.
11. Bath Skyline Walk
This final thing to do on your Bath day trip is only an option if you rented a car to visit Bath. The Bath Skyline Walk is a six-mile circular trail located about two miles outside the city center. It takes about 3.5-4 hours to walk depending on your speed but offers panoramic views in every direction. It’s a great way to exercise and see more of Bath than the commonly tread tourist path if you’re spending a full day in Bath and have the transport to get there.
A Perfect Bath Day Trip Itinerary
As I mentioned, you’ll struggle to fit all of these things to do in Bath in a single day trip from London – that would be a long day where you don’t really get to enjoy any of it! (And if you want to do the Bath Skyline Walk, you’ll need to get there and back, adding an extra layer of complication.)
Here’s how I would plan your Bath day trip, making a few choices to maximize your day.
The best way to start your Bath day trip is bright and early! Rise, shine, grab a bacon butty, and catch the train from Paddington station to Bath. You’ll have the 90-minute ride to eat your breakfast, sip your coffee or tea, and watch the English countryside slide by.
Once you arrive in Bath, head straight to the Roman Baths. The earlier you visit, the lesser the crowds, so this namesake attraction should be the first thing you do during your visit to Bath. Give yourself 60-90 minutes to explore the entire complex and shoot any photos you want as souvenirs.
For the remainder of the morning, you have a choice. I recommend either taking a stroll to the Royal Crescent and/or heading to the Bath Abbey for a guided tour to the top of the tower for its sweeping views of the area.
As your stomach reminds you that it’s time for refueling, head to The Bath Bun or Sally Lunn’s for a Bath Bun (or two). Or if you’re feeling bold, head to both back-to-back and do the ultimate taste comparison to decide which one you most prefer.
In the afternoon, you have another choice depending on your interests. Head to either the Jane Austen Centre, Fashion Museum, or Bath Skyline Walk. You really can’t go wrong no matter which one you choose. Afterward, visit Thermae Bath Spa for a few hours of relaxation before dinner; I recommend calling for a reservation the day before your Bath day trip to ensure you get a spot.
Time for another meal! Bath is full of good options, but some I recommend are Comptoir+Cuisine, Henry’s Restaurant, or Antica Bath Restaurant if you’re inspired by the Roman baths to eat a healthier Mediterranean diet. Post-dinner, catch the train back to London; you could also catch the train back first if you’ve got dinner plans in London.
If you’d rather take off the stress of doing it all yourself, you can also book a guided tour instead to explore Bath that way during your day trip:
As you can see, Bath has more than a day’s worth of experiences, making it a perfect London day trip destination.
Other London Day Trips to Plan
Looking for other incredible places to visit outside London? Here are some other great day trip ideas:
- How to Plan the Perfect Greenwich Day Trip
- How to Plan the Perfect Brighton Day Trip
- How to Plan the Perfect Oxford Day Trip
- How to Plan the Perfect Cambridge Day Trip
I also have a list of other day trips from London that you may want to browse too.
Have questions about planning your own Bath day trip? Let me know in the comments!