Three Days in Bath, England

Discover this UNESCO World Heritage Site built on Britain’s only natural hot spring

Pulteney Bridge/Photo courtesy of visitbath.co.uk

Just two hours west of London, nestled in the rolling hills of Somerset county, the historic city of Bath was founded by the Romans as a thermal spa, which marked the beginning of Bath’s history as a spa destination. Wander the city’s medieval abbey, marvel at the abundance of elegant, 18th-century Georgian architecture, explore the impressively preserved Roman bathhouses and then head to the spa to soak in the mineral-rich hot spring water and discover first-hand the natural resource that has been drawing people to the city for more than 2,000 years.

Day 1 

Morning Start in the city centre with a tour of the 18,000-square-foot, 15th-century Bath Abbey, built from honey-coloured Bath stone. Take in the vaulted ceiling and the luminous mix of clear and stained-glass windows. Monday through Saturday, climb the 212 steps to the top of the Abbey Tower for spectacular city views.

Afternoon Across the Abbey courtyard, tuck into delicate, pinky-finger-pointing sandwiches paired with a glass of prosecco at the Pump Room Restaurant. If you’re feeling bold, try a sip of the spring water from the Pump Room’s fountain. Next door, wander the historic Roman Baths’ terrace and look down on the steaming waters of the Great Bath then go 12 feet below street level to see more of the original Roman site and explore the museum.

Evening The Gainsborough Bath Spa hotel rivals the opulence of Imperial Rome, merging classic architecture with contemporary design. Sink into the natural thermal pools, relax in the sauna and cool off with crushed lavender ice. Dine at Johann Lafer at The Gainsborough restaurant, then head to the bar for a cocktail tailored just for you. 

Day 2 

Morning Set on the corner of an immaculate row of 30 Georgian houses and overlooking Royal Victoria Park, the museum at No. 1 Royal Crescent offers a vivid insight into aristocratic life in 18th-century Bath. Walk through the house, from the parlour and drawing room to the scullery and servants’ quarters; knowledgeable guides in each room will share stories and answer questions. 

Afternoon Jane Austen lived in Bath for five years, and the city was the backdrop for two of her novels—Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. Visit the Jane Austen Centre, set in a 250-year-old Georgian house, to find out more about this celebrated author through contemporary exhibits, one of which gives you the opportunity to dress up in period costume. Enjoy a proper cream tea at the centre’s Regency Tearoom, then take a guided walking tour of Austen’s favourite spots in the city.

Evening The Circus is a circular cluster of townhouses that was key in the city being awarded World Heritage status in 1987. Look closely and you’ll see emblems such as serpents, acorns and nautical and masonic symbols carved into the stonework. Follow your appetite to nearby The Circus Café and Restaurant. Order the white wine-steamed mussels with a side of fluffy chips and finish with a rich dark chocolate and star anise truffle.

Day 3 

Morning Grab a latte and a flakey almond croissant from Indulgence Café & Patisserie on Bathwick Street, then stroll down nearby Great Pulteney Street. As you head west along this impressive boulevard lined with classic Georgian five-storey houses and ornate street lamps, you can almost hear the clip and clatter of bygone horse-drawn carriages. At the end of the street, browse the boutique stores on Pulteney Bridge. The bridge spans the River Avon and is one of only four bridges in the world that is lined by stores on both sides. Walk around to Grand Parade and look back for a picture-perfect view of this Venetian-inspired arch bridge.

Afternoon Pay a visit to one of the oldest houses in Bath. Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House and Museum is set on an alley of charmingly weathered storefronts. Try Sally Lunn’s original Bath bun—similar to the French brioche—toasted with a sweet or savoury topping like marmalade, cinnamon butter, bacon or roasted vegetable. After lunch, head downstairs to the cellar to explore the original bake-house kitchen.

Evening Treat yourself to a few more hours of pampering at the Thermae Bath Spa. Start with a circuit of the four aroma steam rooms, each infused with its own essence, such as lotus flower or eucalyptus mint, then wind down in the Hot Bath pool with a signature Watsu massage, which combines elements of shiatsu massage and acupressure. After, head up to the rooftop open-air pool and relax in the mineral-rich waters as the sun disappears behind the city’s rooftops and spires. 

Getting there: WestJet flies to London 28 times a week from six Canadian cities.