Your Guide to
Bath and Bristol
“Cool Culture and Stunning Spas”
The city of Bath, renowned for its Roman Baths, has long been a destination for both relaxation and wellbeing. Famed for its uniquely warm mineral-rich spa waters which have been drawing visitors since the Romans first settled here in AD 43, what was then ‘Aquae Sulis’ is still now one of the top spots in the UK thriving with visitors wanting to take the waters.
The city is steeped in history, and is a popular beauty spot, thanks to its Georgian architecture and the River Avon which runs through the city. Whether you visit Bath to soak up the history, to relax at the Thermae Spa, to take advantage of the wonderful independent shops which line the high street, or to simply experience the beautiful city – Bath is a great destination for a day trip, city break or longer stay.
Bristol is a lively city with lots to see and do. There is a constant buzz and energy to the streets, and it has a strong personality of individuality and creativity. Highlights include the unlikely-looking Suspension Bridge, and the Floating Harbour, which is permanent home to Brunel’s SS Great Britain – the world’s first great ocean liner. Bristol is an undeniably cosmopolitan and dynamic destination with museums and galleries, Banksy’s street art and a host of festivals held throughout the year including the Balloon Fiesta, Harbour Festival, Bristol Pride and Bristol Sounds.
Bath and Bristol only have 13 miles between them, so why not spend some quality time exploring these historic cities during your next stay?
We hope you enjoy your stay in this much-loved part of the Cotswolds. To help you plan your days we’ve put together a collection of our favourite experiences, so you can make the most of Bath and Bristol.
Once the largest passenger ship in the world, the SS Great Britain was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Being the first iron steam ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean, it is known as being one of the most important ships in maritime history. Step back in time and climb the rigging or join a tour to learn more about this feat of engineering. Events are held throughout the year and your ticket includes unlimited return visits for a year.
Bathe in the naturally warm, mineral-rich spa waters and emerge feeling renewed from the stunning rooftop pool where you can enjoy the spectacular views over Bath. During your session book a massage or treatment package to make the most of your stay in this state-of-the-art spa which embraces the history of the area.
The baths have been visited for centuries by people looking to heal their ailments with the warm, mineral rich waters. Today you can walk the corridors of the Roman temple of the goddess Sulis Minerva, discover the unique thermal springs and try the waters in the Pump Room Restaurant.
Get to know Jane Austen and what life was like during the Regency period. The costumed guides inform your visit to this immersive attraction. You can also join a walking tour around Bath and if you visit in September the Jane Austen Festival takes over the city.
Bath Abbey provides a quiet oasis within the bustling city of Bath. Take a moment out from exploring the historic city and waterways to enjoy all that Bath Abbey has to offer. You can simply wander around and admire the architecture, light a candle for someone special or attend a service. Join a tower tour to climb the 212 steps, to not only see behind the scenes but also to admire the panoramic views.
This crescent of 30 houses designed by John Wood II is one of the most photographed scenes in Bath. The curve of the almost identical Georgian houses is a beautiful example of architecture from this time. The museum at No1 Royal Crescent is a restored townhouse showing you what life was like in the 18th Century.
After learning about the history of the Brunel suspension bridge at the visitor centre, take a walk across to the other side enjoying the views from the bridge. It is one of Bristol’s famous landmarks and took 33 years to build. There are regular tours to choose from which can be booked online.
Bristol is the home of Banksy, so it’s no surprise that graffiti art is hidden throughout the city. Take yourself on a self-guided walking tour to see his most famous pieces or join a group to hear the stories behind the art. The Blackbeard to Banksy tour is especially popular and also explores the history of the city.
A great choice for rainy days, the Museum and Art Gallery explores the last billion years of the Earth’s history, and you will find some beautiful artifacts and natural wonders. Special events dive deeper into specific categories.
Known as Bristol’s West End Theatre, the Hippodrome is soaked in history and drama. Take in a show from a private box or upper circle seat, where the buildings domed ceiling is almost as spectacular as the show!
Bridges, Banksy and balloons are perhaps what Bristol is most famous for. The annual Balloon Fiesta is a spectacular event that takes place annually on Ashton Court on a large country estate. The fiesta is a spectacular event at any time of day, but particularly at dawn and dusk, when the balloons take off. There is also a night glow, where the balloons light up the sky in time to music. Best of all, the event is completely free!
This world-famous event, held in historic Bath, celebrates all things Jane Austen. You will need to wear Regency Costume to enter, as well as purchasing a wristband ticket. The festival hosts a number of exciting events, including concerts, walks, theatricals and dancing at balls. Some of these events are hosted in historic and interesting venues around the city, including the Roman Baths and 18th-century Pump Room, and The Jane Austen Centre. A great way to see the city and to immerse yourself in 18th-century life as it would have been.
The Victoria Art Gallery in the centre of Bath has over 1,500 decorative items, including paintings and sculptures. The artworks are all housed in a Grade II listed building, making it both a beautiful and interesting gallery – inside and out.
The Arnolfini, located on Bristol’s harbourside, is the city’s International Centre for Contemporary Arts. Housing a diverse range of visual art, performance, dance, film and music, and located in a Grade II listed building directly overlooking Bristol’s picturesque harbour, the Arnolfini is a great art gallery. Even better, their Harbourside bar is just next door – enjoy a local ale or classic G&T while taking in picturesque Bristol.
There is something for everybody at the Bath Theatre Royal. A dedicated programme of events for children through to opera, comedy, dance and theatre with their year-round events calendar. Check what’s on before your holiday!
The Bath Festival provides a great annual event. The Finale Weekend sees lots of popular musicians take to the stage to provide festival- goers with a musical extravaganza.
Bristol Harbour Festival is completely free to attend and is a great way to spend a day or weekend in the heart of Bristol. Situated in and around the historic harbour, the festival hosts local and independent stalls, including street food and drinks. There is a music stage at The Amphitheatre, Spoken Word Poetry at Cathedral Walk, and Bristol Dances Stage, held in Millennium Square. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and you will find plenty to occupy a full weekend at the festival.
This wonderful setting is home to a collection of fine art, porcelain and silverware brought together by Sir Thomas William Holburne in the 18th century. Additional pieces have been added since and the museum now hosts temporary exhibitions and a fantastic garden café. The museum is within Sydney Gardens where you will find restored Georgian buildings and access to the canal to continue your exploration of Bath.
Avon Valley Railway runs Murder Mystery events onboard their trains. A great event for train enthusiasts and Miss Marples alike, you will be listening to the clues and informing the Chief Inspector to help solve the mystery. Themes have included Murder on the Disorientated Express, Crime at Café Rene and Murder by Illusion. A real immersive experience and a great way to spend an evening.
Did You Know?
Northanger Abbey and Persuasion are both set in Bath.
Perfect for: breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, the home of Bath buns
This is one of the oldest houses in Bath, dating back to around 1482. Here, you will find the Sally Lunn Bun – a famous delicacy in Bath. Guests can enjoy fine English food in the evenings – including handmade pies. No bookings are necessary during the day, but do book for an evening meal.
Perfect for: breakfast, lunch, dinner, enjoying the views, taking a country walk
The Hare and Hounds has stunning views across Bath and is great for an evening meal in classic English pub surroundings. Pick up a copy of a circular walk from the pub and enjoy a lovely meal on your return.
Perfect for: alfresco dining, drinks, gastropub food
The Locksbrook Inn is great for sitting outside and enjoying the sunshine, or cosying up inside by the wood-burning stove. They offer a great selection of food, including small plates, hearty meals, and pizza.
Perfect for: daytime meals, hot drinks and smoothies, vegetarians and vegans
This family-run café serves a varied menu of vegetarian and vegan meals. They are pet friendly and provide a friendly atmosphere for your lunchtime meal. There are also supper clubs which celebrate seasonal food.
Perfect for: lunch, dinner
Providing a fantastic atmosphere and colourful décor, Cappadocia serves authentic Turkish cuisine. You are given a warm welcome and their diverse menu will suit all levels of spice requirements. Serving lunch through to evening meals, it is a great spot to linger over cocktails.
Perfect for: lunch, dinner
Priding themselves on their simple menu of exquisite Italian meals, Sotto Sotto provides an interesting setting. Found in a historic cellar, the curved Bath stone ceiling and walls surround the dining area. Celebrating beautiful, locally sourced and Italian ingredients they let the flavours sing.
Perfect for: sharing,
Yak Yeti Yak is a Nepalese restaurant which buys its ingredients from small, local traders in Bath where possible. Whether you choose to eat your meal in the traditional way – sitting on the floor, or perhaps would prefer to enjoy your meal in the courtyard garden, we think you will love Yak Yeti Yak.
Perfect for: sophisticated dining, alfresco, breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks
The Ivy Brasserie is relaxed dining at its finest. You can expect high-quality, fresh ingredients, all with a great atmosphere. Guests can enjoy the terrace when the weather is favourable!
Perfect for: street food, quick bites
For a great selection of street food all in one place, from noodles and dumplings to pie and mash and everything in between, you’re sure to find something delicious at St Nicholas Market.
Perfect for: cider on the canal
The Apple is great for a sunny pint on a 1930 Dutch barge. As the name suggests, The Apple serves up lovely local ciders, as well as other tipples, so whatever you’re drinking, it’s worth a visit!
Perfect for: special occasions, dinner
Set on the harborside inside a converted shipping container, Tare serves a set seven-course menu with a vegetarian choice and optional drinks pairings. This unique setting provides a relaxed atmosphere.
Perfect for: steak, dinner, light bites
Showing just how local their ingredients are with a map on the menu, and a focus on sustainability, Pasture even has its own farm to grow the veg used. Owned by the chef, there is a real passion to serve only the best.
Perfect for: vegetarians and vegans, lunch
The place to go for authentic falafel, wraps, mezze and cold drinks and smoothies. Baba Ganoush gets rave reviews and is definitely worth a visit, but check their social posts before you go as they also cater for events so may not be open.
Perfect for: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Celebrating Italian food (and named after the mess that children can get into with spaghetti and ragu!) The Spaghetti Incident is perfect for pasta and pizza lovers. The highly trained chef produces fine main meals and antipasti to make sure you go home feeling full and satisfied.
Perfect for: lunch, dinner, Sunday roast
Fantastic food in a relaxed environment, Chris and Jo’s serves British meals while also stocking a range of beers and wines which is regularly updated. This small independent eatery is worth heading off the beaten track for. Call ahead of visiting to book a table.
Perfect for: lunch, dinner
A traditional Italian menu filled with all of the classic dishes you would expect carefully prepared with a focus on fresh ingredients. The relaxed atmosphere and friendly waiting staff make your meal even more enjoyable. Call to book and don’t forget to check the specials board before you order.
Perfect for: hot stone steaks, cocktails
Mugshot is a steak lovers’ dream. Their hot stone experience delivers a cut of your choice served on a 325 degree hot stone, so you can finish your steak to your taste with an accompaniment of butters and homemade sauce. They also have a sister establishment, The Library, serving afternoon teas which becomes a cocktail lounge at night.
Perfect for: breakfast, brunch
A popular spot for breakfast and brunch, The Crafty Egg surrounds you with plants in a wonderful atmosphere while you can relax with your meal. Specialising in baked egg dishes they also cater for dietary requirements. You are not able to book so be prepared to wait for a table!
Bath Abbey provides a quiet oasis within the bustling city of Bath. Take a moment out from exploring the historic city and waterways to enjoy all that Bath Abbey has to offer. You can simply wander around and admire the architecture, light a candle for someone special or join a service. Whatever the purpose of your visit, it is certainly worth spending some time here.
Pulteney Weir and Bridge in Bath spans the River Avon and was built in 1774. Unlike an ordinary bridge, Pulteney Bridge has a row of beautiful shops on either side. The Bridge was built in Palladian style and is now a Grade I listed building. The weir was built to provide a difference in river level which would drive the water wheels used to power the mills.
Situated on Claverton Down, the castle façade overlooks the city of Bath. It has classic circular turrets, giving it its Gothic and Medieval appearance. Sham Castle grounds are the perfect place to take in the city from this high point.
Admission to the Cathedral is free and is well worth a visit. The Cathedral dates back to 1140 and is a fine example of an English Medieval church. Situated across from College Green, you can find a quiet spot on the Green to take in the Cathedral from the outside, or head inside for a wander around, or to join a service while you’re here.
Visitors can ascend the spiral staircase in Cabot Tower and, from the top, enjoy panoramic views of the city and harbour. The tower is aesthetically pleasing from the outside, built from red sandstone and covered with cream stone from Bath. You can combine your visit with a walk around Brandon Hill, where the tower is built, which also has great views over Bristol and the children’s play area.
William West, a local artist, chose to set up his studio here, and it’s easy to see why. Clifton Observatory sits atop the spectacular Avon Gorge and features a camera obscura which projects an image of the Clifton Suspension Bridge and its surroundings into the room. Why not combine your visit with a walk over the gravity-defying Suspension Bridge and take a look at the Suspension Bridge Museum on the opposite side of the gorge?
The first stamped letter, using the Penny Black, was sent from Bath!
The Wave is an inland, purpose-built surfing destination where you can enjoy safe, predictable waves all year long. There are a variety of waves, suitable for beginners to experts and everyone in between, or join a Play in the Bay session with your children. Wetsuits and boards are available for hire and are included in the price of your visit. A great way to try surfing as a beginner, or if you’re already comfortable on the waves, the perfect opportunity to get your surfing fix while you’re away.
Held in September, the little ones won’t be left out with Bath’s Children’s Literature Festival, where talks and activities take place. Books and stories are shared to inspire the younger generation of readers and writers. Best of all, they’ll be having so much fun, it won’t feel like learning!
The Matthew, moored on Prince’s Wharf, is a great family friendly activity. Visitors can board the ship for a journey along Bristol’s floating harbour. If you don’t want a trip on The Matthew, during opening times you are free to climb aboard and take a look around the ship. Guides are on hand to tell you all about The Matthew’s long and interesting history.
Step aboard Concord Alpha Foxtrot and explore the plane, now in its final home in a purpose-built hanger. Aerospace Bristol is a great day out for all the family and is full of inspiration for younger and older generations alike.
Toot Bus offer hop-on hop-off open top bus tours so you can take in all the best sights that Bath has to offer in comfort. The tour passes by The Royal Crescent, Pulteney Bridge, and Bath Abbey, amongst other tourist hotspots. You can enjoy facts about Bath through an audio-guide as you go, and the hop-on hop-off nature of the bus tour means that if you spot somewhere, you like the look of, you can explore on foot, safe in the knowledge that another Toot Bus will be ready to pick you up!
Take a walk on the wild side with one of the hawks or owls at this award-winning falconry. Children from the age of 7 can join the experience and will be enthralled by the up-close view of these beautiful birds. Conservation workshops for children and storytime with the owls are some of the events held here.
A truly immersive experience in Bath. Choose from three different themes: Aladdin’s Cave, The Secret Garden, or The Master, which range in difficulty. Each escape room lasts for an hour. The question is, will you get out in time? Note: There is a minimum age of 14 years for these escape rooms.
Dive into a great day out with all the family at Bristol Aquarium. The aquarium is home to hundreds of different species of marine life. You can walk through the underwater tunnel, where you can watch Pufferfish, tropical fish species, and eels in the colourful coral reef swim above your head. As well as all things sea-life, the aquarium has a huge botanical house. Here you will find hundreds of exotic plant and tree species in a tropical atmosphere.
Retreat to Calcot Spa to relax and revive. They offer seasonal wellness remedies and holistic treatments alongside traditional choices. After your treatment of choice, their wonderful outdoor hot tub takes you away to another world.
This beautiful spa encapsulates the history of the Bath waters in stunning surroundings. The spa includes a circuit of natural thermal pools beneath a four-storey glass atrium.
You can choose to visit the Thermae Bath Spa for a two-hour experience and spend time in the thermal pools, or also add on a treatment for a truly relaxing experience. Enjoy views across Bath from the rooftop pool for a really special day.
Alongside a treatment menu Lucknam Park also has a range of mind and body sessions including massage and a dry floatation experience. The award-winning facilities include thermal rooms, swimming pools and a lounge.
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Please Note: Information correct at time of publishing. Please check the destination/attraction direct website before visiting to confirm opening hours and visitor details.