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Home | Guidebooks | Bath and Bristol

A visitor’s guide to Bath and Bristol

About Bath and Bristol

The city of Bath, renowned for its Roman Baths, has long been a destination for relaxation and wellbeing. 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. 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 a cosmopolitan and dynamic destination with museums and galleries, Banksy’s street art, and the annual Harbour Festival.

Bath and Bristol only have 13 miles between them, so why not spend some quality time exploring these historic cities during your next Cotswold stay.

  1. Brunel’s SS Great Britain – Bristol
  2. Thermae Bath Spa – Bath
  3. We The Curious – Bristol
  4. Bristol Zoo – Bristol
  5. The Wave – Bristol
  6. Bristol Hippodrome – Bristol
  7. Roman Baths – Bath
  8. Boat trip on the River Avon – Bath
  9. Bath Ghost Tours – Bath
  10. Bristol Museum and Art Gallery – Bristol
  1. Jane Austen Centre – Bath
  2. Roman Baths – Bath
  3. Thermae Bath Spa – Bath
  4. Cabot Circus shopping centre – Bristol
  5. We The Curious – Bristol

Fashion Museum Bath in Bath
14-minute walk from Bath Spa Train Station

Home to both historic and contemporary fashions, the Fashion Museum Bath is an interesting and visually spectacular museum. It is a worthwhile visit for tourists, fashion specialists, and all those with an eye for sartorial elegance.

No.1 Royal Crescent in Bath
18-minute walk from Bath Spa Train Station

This museum is a very immersive and interactive experience. The property, which is the first house in Bath’s famous Royal Crescent, has been meticulously decorated to fit with its 1776 time-period. You can arrange an exclusive visit, a guided tour, or a quiet visit. Prepare to be taken back in time and experience life in Georgian Bath.

Victoria Art Gallery in Bath
8-minute walk from Bath Spa Train Station

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 a beautiful and interesting gallery – inside and out.

Victoria Art Gallery, Bath

Arnolfini in Bristol
15-minute walk from Bristol Temple Meads Train Station

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 whilst taking in picturesque Bristol.

Banksy Walking Tour in Bristol
Multiple locations

When visiting Bristol, Banksy’s work, dotted around Bristol’s streets, buildings, and ships is a must-see for art lovers. The mysterious artist has been sporadically creating art works in Bristol and beyond since the 1980s. Many of the artworks are now preserved in galleries including Bristol’s M-Shed, but some remain on the streets. A self-guided Banksy walking tour is available to download, meaning you are free to wander around Bristol’s streets, taking in Banksy’s artwork at your own pace. A great way to see the city and soak up its culture.

Bristol Hippodrome in Bristol
19-minute walk from Bristol Temple Meads Train Station

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!

Children’s Literature Festival in Bath
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! 

Jane Austen Festival in Bath
September

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 Bath Festival in Bath
May / August

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.

Avon Valley Railway Murder Mystery in Bristol
Multiple dates throughout the year

Avon Valley Railway runs Murder Mystery events onboard their trains. A great event for train enthusiasts and Miss Marple’s 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.

Bristol Craft Beer Festival in Bristol
July / August

Held at Bristol Harbourside, the Bristol Craft Beer Festival is a must for craft beer drinkers. Festival goers will enjoy a huge selection of beers from world-class breweries. If all the drinking has left you with an appetite, the festival is also host to a great selection of food outlets, including East African food, and pizza. As always, music is a big part of Bristol Craft Beer Festival, and previous events have played host to musicians such as Future Boogie Records, Norman Jay, and DJ Yoda.

Bristol Harbour Festival in Bristol
Dates vary

Bristol Harbour Festival is completely free to attend and is a great way to spend a day or weekend at 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.

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta in Bristol
August

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!

Bristol Balloon Fiesta

Bathexit Escape Games in Bath
22-minute walk from Bath Spa Train Station

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.

Open-top Bus Tours – Toot Bus in Bath
Multiple boarding locations

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!

Aerospace in Bristol
27-minute walk from Patchway Train Station

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 packed full of inspiration for younger and older generations alike.

Aerospace, Bristol

Bristol Aquarium in Bristol
17-minute walk from Bristol Temple Meads Train Station

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.

Clifton Observatory in Bristol
51-minute walk from Bristol Temple Meads Train Station

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 Matthew in Bristol
18-minute walk from Bristol Temple Meads Train Station

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.

Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House in Bath
5-minute walk from Bath Spa Train Station
Perfect for: lunch, hot drinks, evening meals

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.

The Hare and Hounds in Bath
7-minute drive from Tetbury
Perfect for: food, drinks, refined pub food, beer garden, dog-friendly

The Hare and Hound has stunning views across Bath and is great for an evening meal in classic English pub surroundings.

The Ivy Brasserie in Bath
9-minute walk from Bath Spa Train Station
Perfect for: breakfast, lunch, dinner, relaxed and sophisticated dining, alfresco dining

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!

The Locksbrook Inn in Bath
36-minute walk from Bath Spa Train Station
Perfect for: alfresco dining, drink, 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.

Yak Yeti Yak in Bath
4-minute walk from Bath Spa Train Station
Perfect for: lunch, dinner, Nepalese cuisine

Yak Yeti Yak is a Nepalese restaurant who buy their ingredients from small, local traders in Bath where possible. Whether you choose you 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.

St Nicholas Market in Bristol
14-minute walk from Bristol Temple Meads Train Station
Perfect for: brunch, lunch, snacks, takeaway

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.

The Apple in Bristol
15-minute walk from Bristol Temple Meads Train Station
Perfect for: drinks, al fresco drinks

The Apple is great for a sunny pint on the terrace. 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!

The Cottage Inn in Bristol
34-minute walk from Bristol Temple Meads Train Station
Perfect for: food, pub classics, drinks, bar snacks, alfresco dining

The pub is in a prime location on Bristol’s beautiful harbour, and dates back to 1868. The Cottage is a great place for a pint and some refined pub grub.

The White Lion in Clifton, Bristol
4-minute walk from Clifton Suspension Bridge
Perfect for: food, drinks, alfresco dining

The White Lion may just have the best view in Bristol. Sup a pint or G&T whilst taking in panoramic views of Brunel’s Suspension Bridge and Avon Gorge.

Wild Beer Co. in Bristol
20-minute walk from Bristol Temple Meads Train Station
Perfect for: beer, food, snacks, alfresco drinking and dining

Wild Beer at Wapping Wharf overlooks The Matthew which is moored at Bristol Harbour. Expect new and exciting craft ales, and a great food menu, too.

Bath Balloons in Bath
22-minute walk from Bath Spa Train Station

Take to the skies to see the Bath from a different perspective – a hot air balloon! Hot air balloons are a tranquil way to take it all in away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. Choose from an exclusive or shared flight, morning or afternoon. Bath Balloons also fly from several other locations, including Bristol and Gloucestershire.

Original Wild in Bath
19-minute walk from Bath Spa Train Station

Original Wild offer Stand-up Paddle boarding (SUP) tours in Bath, as well as kayaking, raft building, and climbing and abseiling. They offer a range of SUP trips to suit your requirements, including a trial session for beginners, and an exclusive SUP safari, where you’ll be guided around Bathampton, have a chance to swim in the waters, and stop to see the wildlife.

Bristol Activity Centre in Bristol
Hollywood Lane – 7-minute drive from The Mall at Cribbs Causeway
Portishead – 21-minute drive from The Mall at Cribbs Causeway

Bristol Activity Centre are based in two locations – Hollywood Lane, near Patchway, and Portishead. Visitors can get active with paintball, bubble football, clay shooting, or quad biking. If you wanted to extend your stay in the area, the Hollywood Lane centre is in a great location for The Mall at Cribbs Causeway, Wild Place Project, and Bristol Golf Club.

Sherlock: The Official Live Game in Bristol
18-minute walk from Bristol Temple Meads Train Station

Step into the brilliant world of Sherlock Holmes as you navigate the city, uncovering clues, solving puzzles, and cracking codes. This experience is highly interactive – you will be walking around Bristol and will be assisted digitally by the cast of the BBC adaptation. A must for any fans of Sherlock, and a great way to see the city!

The Wave near Bristol
29-minute walk from Pining Station

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. 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.

The Wave, Bristol

Green Park Station in Bath
11-minute walk from Bath Spa Train Station

If you are on the lookout for local and organic produce, the covered markets at Green Park Station will provide. You can also discover vintage glamour and unique antiques as well.

Milsom Street in Bath
11-minute walk from Bath Spa Train Station

For high fashion and luxury one-off goods, Milson Street is the place to head to, with the lively Milson Place courtyard also a hub of social activity.

SouthGate in Bath
2-minute walk from Bath Spa Train Station

SouthGate is the largest shopping centre in Bath, with over fifty shops to explore for the ultimate shopping experience.

Cabot Circus in Bristol
14-minute walk from Bristol Temple Meads Train Station

The most well-known shopping area of Bristol, with over 100 stylish stores. If you are in the mood to shop, head to Cabot Circus, where the unique dome-shaped glass roof is larger than a football pitch.

The Arcade in Bristol
18-minute walk from Bristol Temple Meads Train Station

Visit the Grade II listed Victorian shopping arcade for independent retailers and hidden gems. It also provides a useful walkway between Broadmead to Horsefair.

The Galleries in Bristol
16-minute walk from Bristol Temple Meads Train Station

A three-storey shopping centre with a range of high-street stores to visit, located in the heart of Broadmead.

Bath Abbey in Bath
6-minute walk from Bath Spa Train Station

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 wonder around and admire the architecture, light a candle for someone special, or join a service. Whatever the purpose of your visit, it is worth spending some time here.

Pulteney Bridge and Weir in Bath
8-minute walk from Bath Spa Train Station

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.

Sham Castle in Bath
28-minute walk from Bath Spa Train Station

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.

Bristol Cathedral in Bristol
21-minute walk from Bristol Temple Meads Train Station

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.

Cabot Tower and Brandon Hill in Bristol
18-minute walk from Clifton Down Train Station

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 children’s play area.

Cabot Tower, Bristol

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Both Bristol and Bath are great for walking, either within the centre of the cities or the surrounding areas.

Walks in Bath
The Kennet and Avon Canal which runs through Bath is ideal to stroll along and have a picnic, or for a more concerted walk. Alternatively, try the Bath Skyline Walk, a six-mile route through woodland and along abandoned limestone quarries.

Walks in Bristol
Bristol’s harbourside offers beautiful scenery along the historic waterways. If you have a head for heights, there is a designated route which will take you over all 45 bridges in the city – without crossing any twice! For something more historic, try the Old City.

For more information about walking and cycling, take a look at our Walking and Cycling Guides online.

Bath is a famous health and wellbeing city, with the Roman Baths and Thermae Bath Spa being the most renowned destinations. As well as these popular relaxation spots, here is a list of alternate spas and wellbeing destinations. Get ready to relax and unwind in Bristol and Bath.

Radiance Wellbeing in Bath
8-minute walk from Bath Spa Train Station

This wellbeing centre in Bath is a great option for couples or friends who want either a twin or group booking. For couples or friends looking to relax together, the spa recommends their Tranquillity Full Body Massage Treatment. For a slightly bigger group, the centre is available to book for a group of 4-6, where you and your party will have exclusive use of the facilities.

The Duchess Beauty in Bath
11-minute walk from Bath Spa Train Station

The Duchess Beauty is a small and intimate beauty salon offering boutique skincare and massages. If you have a particular skincare concern, the salon offer a zoom consultation to work out the best treatment just for you, or if you just fancy some relaxation and time out, book in a massage or facial.

Touch Thai Massage Spa in Bath
5-minute walk from Bath Spa Train Station

For a slice of Thailand in the UK, head to Touch Thai. The spa offers a wide range of traditional Oriental massage treatments, including Thai Head Massage and Coconut Oil Massage. Try the Hot Oil Aromatherapy Massage and leave smelling as great as you feel!

Touch Thai Massage Spa, Bath

Bristol HarSPA at Bristol Harbour Hotel in Bristol
15-minute walk from Bristol Temple Meads Train Station

HarSPA is a new subterranean spa and is part of Bristol Harbour Hotel. The spa has seven sumptuous treatment rooms, as well as sauna facilities, a steam room and fully equipped gym. Built in the former vaults of Lloyds Bank Building, the spa has kept some of these original features, including the vault doors. Take the pressure off in Bristol HarSPA, and combine your visit with a gentle stroll around the harbour.

Pure Spa and Beauty in Bristol
21-minute walk from Bristol Temple Meads Train Station

It doesn’t get much more relaxing than Pure Spa and Beauty. Choose from a wide range of treatments, including massage, facials, and body scrubs. Pure Spa and Beauty also have pregnancy therapies available, so you and baby can kick back and relax. The man in your life doesn’t need to feel left out either, with a Time Out for Men experience available. As well as one off treatments, the spa is available to book for a day or party.

The Lido in Clifton, Bristol
32-minute walk from Bristol Temple Meads Train Station

The Lido in Clifton is a cool, calming oasis. Whether you choose only to go for a swim in the lido, or opt for the full spa package, you will leave the lido feeling refreshed and recharged.

Beazer Garden Maze in Bath
10-minute walk from Bath Spa Train Station

Situated near Pulteney Bridge, Beazer Garden Maze is great for younger children. Despite its name, it is more accurately a labyrinth, which is impossible to get lost in. Smaller children will enjoy tracing the winding stone path, and parents can watch (or join in!) without worrying about losing little ones in a traditional maze!

The Georgian Garden in Bath
13-minute walk from Bath Spa Train Station

The Georgian Garden is a recreation of a typical 18th century town garden. You’ll find the entrance between the Royal Crescent and Queen Square and the gardens are in keeping with Bath’s Georgian history, especially Royal Crescent.

Tyntesfield in Bristol
17-minute drive from Bristol Harbourside

Tyntesfield is a Victorian Gothic Revival house set in beautiful and vast gardens. It was once simply a family home, but is now a Grade I listed National Trust property and a great place to visit. Enjoy the gardens in the warmer weather, or get in the festive spirit in winter, when the grounds are decorated with Christmas Trees, decorations and lights.

University of Bristol Botanic Garden in Bristol
24-minute walk from Clifton Down Train Station

The Botanic gardens offer the perfect spot for a relaxing, mindful stroll through the plants and trees. After a walk, you can enjoy a drink from Chandos Deli on the terrace. The perfect destination for a sunny afternoon.

Westonbirt Arboretum in Tetbury, near Bath and Bristol
49-minute drive from Bristol Harbourside

Westonbirt Arboretum is beautiful at any time of the year. Enjoy the dappled shade as you walk amongst the trees in the summer, experience all the colours of autumn as the leaves start to fall, or wrap up in winter, when, at certain times, the trees are decorated with lights to produce a spectacular display.

Westonbirt Arboretum, Tetbury

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