When you can’t get to Rome, you visit the next best thing, which in the UK is Bath. The seven-hour-drive to this historical place is worth it, believe me, if you are in love with Jane Austen and Roman history.
After a day of research, I came to the conclusion that the best and cheapest way to reach this town from Glasgow is by car. Definitely, one of the smartest decisions in my life, as I had only the weekend to visit and I wanted to spend most of my time in this lovely town. I was visiting a friend; thus, I knew I will be spared the minutes looking at a guide and wondering which way to go next. And I wasn’t wrong, I got the best of Bath in just two days.
If you think that a weekend is not enough, here are the things you can see and do.
1. See the Royal Crescent and the Circus'>
The first things to see there, especially if it is close to your Airbnb, is the Royal Crescent and the Circus. The buildings look monumental, especially early in the morning. Even if you have seen pictures of the place, it is bigger than you can imagine. Taking a photo of them is a challenge but a must. Going in the morning is recommended, if you want to enjoy the view, before the big tourist groups arrive.
2. Visit the Jane Austen Centre
As a Jane Austen fan, I have wanted to visit Bath ever since I found out how much influence the town has had on her work. After visiting the Circle we made a stop at the Jane Austen center, which was no more than a 5 minutes’ walk away. The curators have made a great exhibition taking you back in time to the 18th Century Bath, the town in which you can never sleep because you are out dancing, indulging in the newest fashion, gossiping and meeting new people. Bath was the place to be in those times, and Jane Austen was not an exception. Learning all about the life of the Austen family and trying some clothes from that time were some of the highlights of the trip.
3. Have lunch at Thai Balcony
A great trip is never complete until you have tasted the food a place can offer. As our avid guide had pointed the best Thai and Chinese places in town, we decided to have lunch at a Thai restaurant and leave the Chinese for dinner. And we were not mistaken. Thai Balcony quickly transferred us from Jane’s Bath to Thailand with the first step in this restaurant. From the sculptures, to the waiters dressed in traditional Thai clothes, the atmosphere there was amazing, and the food was one of the best I’ve had. I will recommend trying Tamarind juice as well, it is fantastic.
4. Take pictures of Pulteney Bridge
A quick walk to the bridge was in order before visiting the main sightseeing – the Roman Baths. The bridge had this typical Roman style, which makes you wonder whether you have travelled to Florence in just half an hour or you are still in the UK. The lovely day just made it perfect for snapping some photos and memorizing the moment. If you have a bit more time, you can enjoy one of the cruises or visit Parade Gardens, which are next to the bridge. There is a small entry fee of 1.50 for adults and 0.80 for students.
5. Visit the Roman Baths
Going to Bath and not visiting the Roman Baths would be a crime. This historic place, for which the construction began in 60 - 70 AD has proven that some things can survive the hand of time and tell the history of the visitors of this place. I will recommend a couple of hours for this sightseeing, as there is a lot to see. We spent around 4 hours there because we wanted to see everything. If you have time, you should join one of the free tours, there is a lot to learn about the building and how Bathonians discovered it in the 19th c.. Spoiler: the man whose house was built on those baths, refused to leave his home until it had been proven that there is an actual pool underneath. Also, you get to hear some funny stories about the lives of the curators there. One of the best things there were the projections that brings life to this historic place; they are accurate and present the activities in the different parts of the baths.
6. Have a Chinese dinner at Chilli Family Noodles
If you feel adventurous and want to try mouthwatering, spicy noodle dishes, then Chilli Family Noodles is the place for you. Just off the bus station, Chilli Family Noodles is one of the best places for Chinese street food. With their wide range of noodle dishes, you will find something to suit your taste and the level of spiciness you can tolerate. Also, it was recommended by my Chinese friend, so you know what they say if Chinese people like it then the food is definitely authentic and delicious.
7. Go out for beers at Garrick’s Head
Coming from Scotland, it was refreshing to be staying in an outside bar, drinking beers and playing cards after 10pm. So, no matter how tired you are, I would recommend visiting one of the bars.
8. Visit the University of Bath
The university is reached easily by the busses, which you can get in front of the cathedral. Although recently founded, just 50 years ago, it has established a name for itself and, with its beautiful campus, it is definitely worth visiting. A bit of trivia: You might recognize the logo of the university if you have been to the Roman Baths before that. If not, you are in for a story of mystery in the Roman Baths.
9. Go into the Bath Abbey
Who knew that going into an abbey can be a challenge? Well, first we decided to go into the abbey after visiting the Roman Baths, which of course did not happen, because we spent 4 hours at the Baths and when we finally got there, the abbey was closed. The next morning, we went there first, but the cathedral was not yet opened for visitors, so we had to wait till noon to get in. We didn’t know if we would have time for that, but we still made it. Sadly, we couldn’t go on the roof and enjoy the view, because it was closed, but we managed to have a look inside. So, if you have better planning skills than us, I recommend going there before leaving Bath.
10. Have a Spanish lunch at Tapas Revolution
Incredible atmosphere, friendly staff. I was impressed by how friendly everyone was at the restaurant. We got one of the best bubbly waiters there. He explained everything on the menu and recommended the best lunch tapas option. I really liked the interior of the place, with red chairs hanging from the walls and wine casks instead of chandeliers. The food was delicious, and the mock cocktails were just what we needed before hitting the road again.
11. Visit Stonehenge
Stonehenge, just an hour and a half away from Bath, makes for the perfect stop before heading home. If you are careful enough to pick the right GPS coordinates, it can be even closer. We had a quick stop at Stonehenge Touring Park, due to my excellent map-reading skills. But afterwards, we were on our way to the real Stonehenge. Seeing it was a dream come true, and I wasn’t disappointed at all. There is also an open museum with the replica of the houses, in which the people who built it lived all those years ago. Of course, trying to get a picture there is another touristic challenge.
One more thing to remember is to bring your Costa cards with you, they will become your new best friends on the way back. The amounts of coffee you can drink in a 10-hour drive are unimaginable.
Photo credits: T
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A girl from Bulgaria, travelling around Europe and sharing her travelling experiences! Currently living in Scotland.