Monday 12- Wednesday 14th December
Oh gorgeous Bath! Undoubtedly one of England’s most beautiful small city’s, it is known world-wide for its sweeping, honey-stone Georgian crescents and terraces situated in the center of a lush green countryside oasis, with its rolling hills and farmlands. This super stylish city is full to the brim of vintage shops, classy restaurants and charming old English pubs and museums. Alongside being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, made famous for being the only place in Britain which uses its natural hot springs, this chic, sophisticated city makes the ideal mini-break for a couple getaway, family escape or simply a foodie lover’s idea of heaven.
My boyfriend Jamie and I decided to take a little Christmas break here originally for the Christmas markets. We later realised the markets were actually finishing on the 11th December (weird that they finish so early I know!), but we still decided to go and visit nonetheless. It was too late for us by this time to change the dates as accommodation available whilst the Christmas markets were on were now extortionate, so we decided to still go and enjoy Bath, just without the festive huts in the square. I love this old city filled with Victorian style buildings, the quaint restaurants and cutest cafes, and of course it’s Roman history. For a change, I did not mind getting up early to drive to Bath. We stayed at a fabulous B&B called ‘The Windsor’ which is just a few minutes’ walk into the very centre of the town.
Due to Bath’s very old 18th century Georgian architectural heritage, there are only a handful of Hotels in the area, instead there are mostly Guest houses and Bed and Breakfast style accommodation available.
Bath is far from cheap, so I recommend either to book accommodation far in advance on a site such as booking.com with free cancellation in case you decide at a later date you can’t go, or watch out for last minute deals on the actual accommodation websites. Be warned; Bath is small and very popular, therefore if you are planning on visiting at peak times, in-particularly weekends between April-September, Bank holidays and Christmas, know accommodation gets booked quickly and prices soar. Avoid the crowds by going for a weekend away between autumn and spring (Oct-May) when prices are more affordable.
TIP: Stay in Bath Sundays to Thursdays. Seriously, avoid staying on Friday and Saturday nights if you can. On these nights, accommodation tends to be much cheaper and there is more chance of being able to book a single-night booking, as opposed to the weekends when most Bath hotels and B&Bs insist on a two-night minimum stay. Also, Baths main two attractions; the Roman Baths and Thermae Bath Spa are much less busy on weekdays.
It is also worth noting Sunday to Thursday nights are much quieter; Bath is a student town and Thursday, Friday & Saturday nights the town can get pretty rowdy with drunk 18-22 year olds. Not ideal for a classy English relaxing getaway.
It was fairly easy for us to find street parking outside our B&B as the Christmas markets had finished the day before, however if coming to Bath by car I really would advise to find accommodation that includes private parking, as street parking is expensive (our B&B was still £12 per day) and streets can be full to the brim. At Christmas and peak times Bath does offer a park and ride service which is well worth doing to save you hours trying to find a parking space to no avail. The train is a great way to arrive in Bath, as the station is situated in the city centre and most accommodation can be reached within a 15 minute walk.
Things to do in Bath:
- The Roman Baths
- Thermae Bath Spa
- Bath Abbey
- Jane Austin Centre
- One Royal Crescent museum
- See The Circus and Victoria park
- Enjoy the restaurants and café culture all over town
- Walk along the River Avon
Have more time?
Stonehenge is around a 30 minute drive from Bath – why not stop by on your way to or from Bath to witness the remaining ruins left by the druids 3000 years ago! 45 minutes will be enough time here to walk around the archaeological site.
Extra things to do at Christmas:
- Christmas Markets – perhaps the most famous town for it’s Christmas markets in England alongside London, enjoy 300+ huts selling Christmas gifts made locally and independent goods.
- Ice Rink & Mini Golf
- Santa on the Train (great for family’s and children)
The ideal Itinerary
Bath is a small town and most of it can be seen and done within 2-3 days. The main things I recommend to tick off the bucket list here is a trip to the Roman Baths and Thermae Bath Spa. It wouldn’t be a visit to Bath without visiting these two iconic treasures.
1 day in Bath:
The Roman Baths and Thermae Bath Spa are often done together on the same day, as they are only a mere minute walk between each other. I would recommend spending the morning at leisure exploring the Roman Baths, then stopping by the Roman Baths Kitchen for Lunch or Afternoon Tea. Spend the afternoon at Thermae Bath Spa enjoying the famous thermal heated waters. It truly is a day to remember!
- Get to Bath nice and early and grab a light breakfast at one of the vintage cafes. Take a wander around the famed cobbled streets to the iconic building site known as ‘the Circus’ and witness what all the ‘Georgian architecture’ fuss is all about (the buildings here really are gorgeous) before heading back into the town center through Victoria gardens to visit the Roman Baths.
- Visit the Roman Baths and Thermae Bath Spa:
- Set aside 2-3 hours to enjoy the Roman Baths mid-late morning followed by a memorable lunch or afternoon tea in the Roman Bath kitchen.
- Next walk across the road to Thermae Bath Spa where you will spend 2 hours wallowing in the hot, mineral-rich spring-waters in much the same way the Romans did 2,000 years ago.
- End the day by having dinner at one of Bath’s scrumptious restaurants to complete your day.
- TIP: If you prefer go vice versa to Thermae first, take lunch at the Pump room in Thermae before a tour of the Roman Baths in the afternoon.
2/3 days in Bath:
Day 1 as above, without the early morning walk to the Circus. Do that today!
- Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Indulge in an opulent breakfast – this is a foodie lovers town after all.
- After Breakfast spend the morning visiting The Circus, One Royal Crescent Museum and a walk through Victoria park. On the way back towards the city center stop by the Jane Austin Center.
- Visit iconic Bath Abbey
- All that walking should have worked up an appetite by now – Enjoy Lunch!
- Spend the afternoon shopping or take a walk along the river Avon. Enjoy the restaurants and café culture all over town!
- TIP – If coming for Christmas, do the above but set aside an extra day purely for the Christmas Markets 🙂
Day 3: Upon leaving Bath I highly recommend stopping by either
(Both are pretty great for different reasons, which are explained on the websites so I won’t bother writing about them in detail here.)
Jamie and I arrived in Bath around lunchtime Monday. It was fairly easy to find street parking as the Christmas markets had finished the day before, however if coming to Bath by car I really would advise to find accommodation that includes private parking, as street parking is expensive and often impossible to find!
We arrived at our B&B around 11am and were offered mulled wine and a mince pie whilst we checked-in, so thoughtful and festive! The staff were friendly and helpful, and once we got our suitcases up the three flights of stairs to a top level room (which has lovely views over Bath, which made the climb worth it) we headed straight off for lunch, followed by an afternoon at Thermae Bath Spa. We found a tiny café which served excellent vegetarian food and also served an all-day breakfast. Just what I wanted! I recommend a visit to this place called Boston Tea Party on Kingsmead Square. It has a biggest sister which has just opened up on Alfred Street, link here so either one would do nicely. Bon appetite!
When we arrived at Thermae, despite my previous experience last April on a Saturday when I arrived and had to wait over an hour to enter the spa (you cannot reserve entrance unless you are getting a treatment, otherwise it is always on a walk in basis) we were able to walk straight in with no queue. Awesome! That shows weekdays are a much better time to visit as I explained earlier. Thermae is a gorgeous place to relax. We saved the rooftop pool to enjoy last at around 4:30pm when it was dark and enjoyed the panoramic views of night-time Bath whilst relaxing in the steaming thermal water. We left the spa feeling refreshed and relaxed around 6pm and headed back to the B&B for an hour before going for dinner at 8pm, where I had reserved a table for two at a French restaurant called La Bistrot Pierre.
Bath is renowned for its restaurants, therefore A LOT of them are always booked up and it is rare to get a table on a walk-in basis (especially in Summer and Christmas). I was so glad I did pre-book this gem, as this restaurant was full even though it was a typical rainy Monday evening in Britain. It was as the French say; tres magnifique! My boyfriend who is always complaining about France and anything to do with it (I think he does it to wind me up) even loved the food. I highly recommend a visit to this restaurant; the service was excellent and the food super tasty – even for a picky vegetarian like myself.
Jamie and I had breakfast at the B&B before heading out for a city wander. We stopped by the Jane Austin centre for 90 minutes or so which was very informative and enjoyable if you are interested in classic English literature and its famous 18th century authors like myself. We then walked over to the celebrated architectural building ‘The Circus’ which has been listed as a UNESCO historical site. It is very impressive! This was followed by a wander back through Victoria park to the city centre where we stopped for lunch and a shop around the town.
That evening we went for dinner with a friend of mine, Jenna who was visiting from Dubai with her fiancé Aaron, and who just happened to be in Bath the same time as us! They had recently got engaged and it was great to catch up with them – unfortunately as it was a Tuesday evening the only bar we could find open past 10 was a student bar, which brought back some student memories with Jenna! (Tequila shots at a book launch anyone?) After a lovely Thai meal and catch up over drinks we bid our friends farewell until May when we will be reunited in Scotland, and returned to our B&B for some much needed sleep.
We checked out of The Windsor at 10am and went for a quick breakfast before spending the morning exploring the ancient Roman Baths! We managed to join a tour and the guide was brilliant at explaining all the different rooms they had uncovered and what they were used for. We departed Bath just after lunch time and decided to stop off in a town called Salisbury. The Christmas markets here were charming and after a walk around and a mulled wine stop, we had dinner here before heading home. Finally we arrived home at 8pm. A wonderful mini break had all round 🙂
I hope this has helped inspire you to take a short break in Bath, especially at Christmas! Just be sure to check when the markets are on so you don’t make the same mistake as I did by thinking they would be on for longer!