You must be the best judge of your own happiness.Jane Austen, Emma
We both had the best time getting to know Bath with its limestone buildings, quaint streets, and historical charm. It was Jane Austen, in her book Emma, who said, “You must be the best judge of your own happiness.” That is always a true statement. One of the things that makes us happy is traveling and we loved getting to know Bath!
We decided to visit Bath for the day while we were staying in Bristol. We recommend hopping on an early train so you can get to the Roman Bath right when it opens at 9 AM because the longer you wait, the longer the line. Here is our recommended self-guided walking tour of Bath! Follow along with our map.
Bath Abbey is so magnificent and a site to behold while you are here. Both the outside and inside have a lot of character. This church has been around for over a thousand years starting in 675 AD. Take a look at their website to get a sense of the history and people that went through this immaculate cathedral. We were not able to take photos inside and also there was a lot of construction work happening. The parts that were open to us to roam around and see were so amazing though. It was a nice start to our day walking around Bath.
This is one of the key tourist attractions of Bath. To be able to see such a well-preserved Roman Bath with views of the cathedral in the distance is just breathtaking and something you must put high on your list. We made sure we got there a few minutes before It opened at 9 AM.
They do a great job with the layout and the flow of the museum. They go over all of the artifacts and have you go through the history of the Roman Bath before you actually come face to face with it. We would also recommend you get the audio guide. It does a great job of explaining everything in detail and there is also a kid’s version if you bring any children with you.
We don’t want to give too much away about the Roman Bath, but after the Romans invaded Britain they constructed a religious spa out of the thermal springs. They believed that this site would help heal those that needed it and it also became a popular place to socialize while bathing.
There is so much to see in this beautiful garden. You can see a lot of it from above without paying, but there is something about walking around the garden paths that is really soothing. It is just a couple pounds to get in and be sure to get the brochure from the staff member so you can read about all the main highlights the garden has to offer. In our opinion it was well worth taking an hour or two to explore. While in here you can see beautiful floral displays, sculptures, monuments, columns, gazebos, and plenty of benches to sit down on.
Take a look at our Instagram pictures to see what we captured while in the gardens.
Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House and Museum
Then it was lunch time and we chose to each at Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House and Museum, which was not far from the Parade Gardens. Sally Lunn’s restaurant is located in the oldest historic house in Bath. The house has been around since 1482, but Sally Lunn lived here in 1680. If you want to learn more about Sally Lunn and her world-famous buns, then checkout their website. Also, we would recommend you get to the house earlier and maybe have an early lunch because the longer you wait the busier it gets without a reservation.
The inside was just as charming as the outside and was a perfect quaint place to have a spot of tea. We started off by having Sally Lunn’s tea blend, which consists of “a subtle blend of Indian, Ceylon & African teas.” It was very tasty and paired well with the cubed sugar and milk. Then we got one savory bun with smoked salmon with cream cheese and a salad. The bun was great and we could see why it works so well as a sweet or savory. Then we had to try a sweet bun. We ended up getting a bun with their homemade/well-known cinnamon butter and we ordered a side of clotted cream to go with it. Not that the dish needed clotted cream, but we just both really like it! Also, this heavy cream is not readily accessible everywhere, so we get it where we can.
The Jane Austen Centre
Jane Austen lived in Bath and the locals take that very seriously. Not only do they have a museum dedicated to her, but they also have a Jane Austen Festival every year where you have to dress up in old timey attire and you could attend a ball. Needless to say, the locals really appreciate and respect all of the work that Jane Austen did in the realm of classical novels.
This museum does a great job of going through the life of Jane Austen, from her wardrobe, to her family dynamics, to her relationships. Also, you’ll see the staff dressed up in period attire representing characters from her books.
You start the tour by having one of the staff members give you a short description of her life, family, and where she drew inspiration for some of the characters in her books. Then they take you downstairs and let you go through the rest of the museum on your own, where you can find her clothes, letters she wrote, and a short film. At the end of the museum you can find an area where you too can dress up in period attire and take pictures next to Mr. Darcy (a character from her book Pride and Prejudice).
These buildings are known as “The Circus” because they are in the shape of a ring. They go all the way around with three entrance areas and a patch of grass with a tree in the middle of the circle. These buildings are a great example of Georgian architecture and were constructed between 1754 and 1768. It is said that the architect referenced Stonehenge’s diameter when building The Circus. There have even been a few famous people that have stayed in these buildings such as artist Thomas Gainsborough and actor Nicholas Cage.
Even though the interior of all of these buildings has changed with the times, the exterior has not. The exterior still has the shape, stone, and Georgian architecture of when it was first built between 1767 and 1774. These buildings housed many elite people, and you can see their names on plaques outside of the building they owned at the time.
Today there are still people that live in some of these buildings, but there are others that are now part of a hotel. No. 1 Royal Crescent was turned into a museum. You can go in and see how the wealthy lived and how opulent the inside was during its prime.
Botanical Gardens and Royal Victoria Park
This park is so charming and quite large. It was such a nice day so there were many families just sitting out on the grass or enjoying the little carnival rides that seemed to be in the area that day. It is a free open park where you can get lost in the beautifully well-kept botanical garden or around the enchanting ponds.
The botanical garden is labeled with a sign at the entrance way. When you go inside, a well-paved path will guide you all around the botanical garden. There are so many side pavement routes you can take, but we just hugged all the way around the whole perimeter of the gardens. We are sure this garden would also be nice to go to in the spring.
You can see the Pulteney Bride from the Parade Gardens, as seen from the picture above. You can also walk along the bridge, which is what we did too. It is located right across the street from the Bath Guildhall Market.
The bridge was fully completed in 1774. This bridge has transformed throughout the years, but its original concept and layout still remains the same. One of the things that makes this bridge so unique is that there are shops on either side of the bridge. There are only four bridges in the world that have that.
Bath Guildhall Market
The outside structure is so exquisite and inviting. This market has been around for over 800 years. Take a little bit of time to walk around the inside to check out about 20 stands and maybe even enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. There is also a pillar inside that dates back to the 18th century. It is said that the term “Pay on the Nail” took place on this pillar (where the negotiations happened).