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Best things to do in Bath

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Where in the world: Europe  /  UK  /  England  /  Somerset  /  Bath
Although this small city has been a popular spa destination since ancient times, there are other interesting things to do in Bath that don't involve visiting its World Heritage-listed Roman Baths. A walking tour is a good way to gain an introduction into the city highlights, such as Bath Abbey, one of England's last grand medieval churches, and The Circus, a fine example of Georgian architecture. Fashionmongers will love trying on Victorian costumes at Fashion Museum Bath, which also offers various activities for families with children. For retail therapy, check out the shops lining both sides of Pulteney Bridge, an elegant 18th-century structure.

Bath is best known for its World heritage site, History Museums, and Spas.

Top 15 things to do in Bath

1. The Roman Baths

See how ancient Romans bathed at The Roman Baths. Hot springs have bubbled up in Bath since time immemorial, and the Romans began developing a temple and public bathhouse here around 60 CE. Today, you can tour the various sections of the incredibly well-preserved complex, including the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, and the Roman Bath House. The main area of interest is the open-air, column-lined Great Bath. When you enter the site, make sure to take the audio guide that's included in the ticket price. After touring the different areas, enter the museum to see artifacts collected from the original bath. As tempting as it might be to bathe yourself where ancient Romans once did, the site does not permit you to enter the water.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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2. Bath Abbey

Experience the rich history of Bath Abbey, one of England’s last grand medieval churches. Begun in 1499, the abbey was designed with a cruciform plan, used relatively rarely in other churches of that time. The interior contains fan vaulting, low aisles, nave arcades, supporting buttresses, and 52 windows, occupying about 80 percent of the wall space and giving the abbey an unusual impression of lightness. Climb the 212 steps to the top of the abbey’s tower to see the bell chamber, stand on top of the vaulted ceiling, and sit behind the clock face. There’s no need to pre-book your guided tower tour, with tickets sold at the abbey’s gift shop.
Suggested duration: 30 minutes
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3. Spas

Suggested duration: 2 hours
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4. West of England Falconry

West of England Falconry Ltd's charitable activities are funded by the proceeds of Hawk Walks, Owl Encounters and Open Days plus public donations. Day-to-day operations are supported by a team of dedicated volunteers.

Charity number: 1152982

Zoo license number: 18/01661/ZOO
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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5. The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa

One of the best examples of Georgian architecture in the UK, The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa is a street of terraced houses laid out in a crescent shape. The stone facade retains all the original detail from the Georgian period and is a testament to that era's elegance. It is best viewed from the royal park adjacent to the building, where the entire crescent can be seen from the concave side. Most of the houses are offices or private residences, but a hotel and the Georgian House Museum on street level give a peek into what the rooms may have looked like when the buildings were first opened.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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6. The Jane Austen Centre

Visit The Jane Austen Centre to learn how the historic city of Bath influenced the famous author and her writing. When you first enter the site, listen as a guide tells you about Austen's life in the city. Afterward, wander through the exhibition to see period dress and furnishings. Finish your visit in the Regency Tea Rooms on the second floor. Costumed staff here will serve you traditional British tea and homemade cake. The gift shop offers a fine selection of souvenirs for Austen fans.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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7. American Museum & Gardens

Get a better understanding of American history and culture at American Museum & Gardens, one of the most extensive collections of Americana outside the United States. Located near Bath on the 48.5 hectare (120 acre) grounds of Claverton Manor, the museum follows the story of America from its earliest settlers to the 20th century. Learn more about the founding fathers, the wild West, the Civil War, and Native Americans. Check out the textile display that includes over 40 original quilts, as well as the folk art gallery with various oddities. Step outside to wander the colonial herb and Mount Vernon gardens, modeled after the grounds of George Washington's home.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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8. Pulteney Bridge

No ordinary stop on your tour of the region, Pulteney Bridge is one of only four bridges in the entire world designed to be lined by shops on both sides. The bridge was built in 1773 for William Pulteney, whose wife had inherited property on the other side of the Avon River, directly across from the city of Bath. Pulteney was something of a visionary, recognizing in the simple village settlement across the water a great potential for becoming a prosperous city suburb. Pulteney hired noted Scottish architect Robert Adam, who based this elegant structure on the bridges he saw and admired in Italy. Stroll across the river at dusk, and photograph the grand old bridge as the sun sets over the landscape.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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9. No 1 Royal Crescent, Bath

Discover what life was like for the wealthy residents of No 1 Royal Crescent, Bath and their servants in this historic house museum. Walk within one of the greatest examples Georgian architecture to be found anywhere and explore its ten historically furnished rooms. Wander through the luxurious parlor, gentlemen’s retreat, and withdrawing room. See how the house was kept running in the servants’ hall and kitchen. Visit the exhibition gallery and information room to learn more about the residents of No.1 Royal Crescent and how the house was restored. Members of staff are on-hand to answer any questions.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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10. The Circus

Bath might be famous for its ancient Roman buildings, but you should also view this fine example of Georgian architecture during your visit. Built between 1754 and 1758, The Circus is made up of three sections of townhouses that curve to form a circle. Wherever you stand within it, you'll face a finely detailed, columned facade. There's no museum to visit here, so just admire the architecture and see if you can capture a 360-degree panorama with your camera.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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11. Brunel's SS Great Britain, Bristol

Discover what it was like to travel aboard the world’s first great ocean liner, Brunel's SS Great Britain, launched in 1843 as the longest and largest vessel of its time. The ship was designed for service between Bristol and New York, and was the first iron steamer to cross the Atlantic. Today, this historic ship serves as a museum and an award-winning tourist attraction, with over 150,000 visitors every year. Stroll the decks, peep inside the luxury cabins of first-class passengers, walk through the busy kitchens, and go beneath the waterline to see the world’s oldest iron hull. Be sure to visit the Dockyard Museum to learn about the ship’s service as luxury liner, emigrant steam clipper, and sailing ship transporting coal to San Francisco.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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12. Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens, Burford

Home to over 260 different animal species, Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens stands as the most diverse privately owned zoo in the UK. Here you can explore 65 hectares (160 acres) of exhibits. The aviary houses include a Humboldt penguin enclosure and the Tropical House, containing lush vegetation, colorful birds, and free-roaming sloths. Head through Woodland Walk to see South American species, such as the giant anteater and Brazilian tapir. In other exhibits, spot Asiatic lions, white rhinoceroses, zebras, and giraffes. As you make your way around the premises, take time to admire the many exotic plantings in the various gardens. Make sure you also leave time to ride the narrow-gauge railway, which is just under 1.6 km (1 mi) and passes California redwood trees and giant rhubarbs. Book your zoo admission ticket online to avoid waiting in line at the entrance.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
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13. Farleigh Hungerford Castle, Norton St Philip

Farleigh Hungerford Castle, sometimes called Farleigh Castle or Farley Castle, is a medieval castle in Farleigh Hungerford, Somerset, England. The castle was built in two phases: the inner court was constructed between 1377 and 1383 by Sir Thomas Hungerford, who made his fortune as steward to John of Gaunt. The castle was built to a quadrangular design, already slightly old-fashioned, on the site of an existing manor house overlooking the River Frome. A deer park was attached to the castle, requiring the destruction of the nearby village. Sir Thomas's son, Sir Walter Hungerford, a knight and leading courtier to Henry V, became rich during the Hundred Years War with France and extended the castle with an additional, outer court, enclosing the parish church in the process. By Walter's death in 1449, the substantial castle was richly appointed, and its chapel decorated with murals.

The castle largely remained in the hands of the Hungerford family over the next two centuries, despite periods during the War of the Roses in which it was held by the Crown following the attainder and execution of members of the family. At the outbreak of the English Civil War in 1642, the castle, modernized to the latest Tudor and Stuart fashions, was held by Sir Edward Hungerford. Edward declared his support for Parliament, becoming a leader of the Roundheads in Wiltshire. Farleigh Hungerford was seized by Royalist forces in 1643, but recaptured by Parliament without a fight near the end of the conflict in 1645. As a result, it escaped slighting following the war, unlike many other castles in the south-west of England.

The last member of the Hungerford family to hold the castle, Sir Edward Hungerford, inherited it in 1657, but his gambling and extravagance forced him to sell the property in 1686. By the 18th century, the castle was no longer lived in by its owners and fell into disrepair; in 1730 it was bought by the Houlton family, Trowbridge clothiers, when much of it was broken up for salvage. Antiquarian and tourist interest in the now ruined castle increased through the 18th and 19th centuries. The castle chapel was repaired in 1779 and became a museum of curiosities, complete with the murals rediscovered on its walls in 1844 and a number of rare lead anthropomorphic coffins from the mid-17th century. In 1915 Farleigh Hungerford Castle was sold to the Office of Works and a controversial restoration programme began. It is now owned by English Heritage, who operate it as a tourist attraction, and the castle is a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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15. Royal Victoria Park

Royal Victoria Park, opened in 1830, was named after the 11-year-old Princess Victoria; it was the first park ever to carry her name. Its 23 hectares (57 acres) were originally laid out as an arboretum, and it still hosts a vast collection of trees. Today the park has much more to offer, including an aviary, a botanical garden, flowerbeds, tennis courts, a boating park, a bowling green, two golf courses, and plenty of lawn for lounging. Look out for the park’s fine ornaments and monuments dotted around the grounds, including the obelisk erected in 1837 to commemorate Princess Victoria’s 18th birthday. The children’s play area includes slides, swings, climbing frames, a sandpit, and more to keep little ones amused. A visit to the skateboard area will entertain older kids.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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