The city of Bath is the perfect spot to base yourself when you’re looking to explore the southwest of England. World-famous UK attractions and breathtaking countryside are all a short train journey or car ride away. Here’s our pick of the best day trips from Bath.
Just an hour’s drive from Bath you’ll find one of the wonders of the world. With a fascinating history spanning 4,500 years, the famous stone circle is an iconic sight on the British landscape. Walk around the circle, and then explore the Neolithic houses next to the visitor centre to get an idea of how people lived all those thousands of years ago.
Bath is the perfect gateway to the Cotswolds, arguably one of the most beautiful settings in the whole of the UK. With its distinctive landscape of rolling hills and honey-hued stone villages, this rural idyll stretches over six counties – from Bath in the south to Chipping Campden in the north. There’s so much to see and do here, so if you’ve only got one day to spare, head to the picture-perfect villages of Lower and Upper Slaughter for a taste of the Cotswolds’ charm.
The quintessential English village of Lacock might look familiar, as it’s made more than a few appearances on TV and the big screen. Everything from Downton Abbey to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has featured the quaint cottages and picturesque streets that remain untouched by modern times. Explore the village, stunning Lacock Abbey and Fox Talbot Museum in a day, before the 40-minute drive back to Bath.
With trains running from Bath Spa to Bristol every 10 minutes, there’s no excuse not to pay a visit to what’s been named as the “best place to live in Britain” by The Sunday Times. Bristol is just a 20-minute train ride away, but it feels a world away from its elegant cousin, Bath. Bursting with colour, character and creativity, Bristol is a buzzing city with a thriving art scene and a real love of food and drink. Culture, cider and excellent shopping – what more could you ask for?
Situated in the stunning Mendip Hills in Somerset, Cheddar Gorge is one of England’s most spectacular natural landmarks. A 50-minute drive from Bath (lots of tour operators offer day trips out here), the almost 400ft-deep (123m) and 3mi-long (5km) gorge is the largest in the country, formed during the last Ice Age. Explore the gorge and the amazing stalactite caves by foot, or if you’re feeling brave, try rock climbing or the cave free fall.
A half-hour drive through the glorious Cotswolds countryside will take you to Dyrham Park, a majestic 17th-century house and garden with its famous ancient deer park. Here, a herd of beautiful fallow deer roams freely through the 270 acres (109ha) of parkland, which is also home to a variety of birds, butterflies, bees and bats, as well as all manner of trees, flowers and plants. Get back to nature with a walk around the magnificent grounds, exploring the park, garden and woodland, and try to spot the eight wooden sculptures around the Journey of Discovery trail.
The national arboretum makes a fantastic day out, whatever your age. With 600 acres (243ha) to explore, filled with around 15,000 individual trees made up of 3,000 different species, it’s a place to truly get away from it all. Stroll along the STIHL Treetop Walkway for a bird’s-eye view of Westonbirt’s glorious trees, or wander through the Old Arboretum and take in the sights and sounds of the countryside. It’s stunning whatever the season, but if you can make it during the autumn months for the jaw-dropping autumn colours, you’re in for a real treat. All this is just a 45-minute drive from Bath.
You’ve heard of the music festival, but there’s so much more to this Somerset town than the Pyramid Stage. The town is steeped in myth and legend connecting to King Arthur and Guinevere, Merlin, and the Isle of Avalon. It’s a truly unique place with a fascinating spiritual heritage, and it’s home to the iconic Glastonbury Tor and Abbey. You can reach the town in around an hour by car from Bath. Add it to your must-visit list to experience the real Glastonbury magic.
Longleat Safari and Adventure Park
Less than an hour’s drive from Bath, Longleat Safari and Adventure Park makes a cracking day out for families. A brilliant safari drive-through (the first outside of Africa – and widely regarded as the best in England) gives you opportunities to spot elephants, lions, rhinos and more. Then there’s the main square where you can wander among playful monkeys, go on a jungle cruise and get up close with cheeky meerkats, and you’ll also want to explore the stunning Elizabethan Longleat House and gardens.
Fancy ticking off two countries in a day? It takes less than 90 minutes to get to Cardiff from Bath. The Welsh capital is packed with fun things to do, including exploring the bars and shops along the buzzing revitalised waterfront at Cardiff Bay, discovering 2,000 years of history at Cardiff Castle and trying your hand at white water rafting at Cardiff International White Water (CIWW).
Wells is a picturesque city in Somerset that’s bursting with history and old English charm. Under an hour away from Bath by car, this much-loved, small city is home to the most breathtaking of cathedrals. Walk around the glorious Gothic landmark, Wells Cathedral, before checking out the medieval Bishop’s Palace and Gardens. If you’re feeling adventurous, Wookey Hole Caves (a striking series of limestone caverns) are a short drive outside of the city, or if you prefer a laidback day, just work your way through the many eateries and traditional pubs that line the ancient streets.
No trip to England would be complete without a visit to the real-life Downton Abbey. Highclere Castle, where the hit TV show was filmed, is around an hour and 20 minutes’ drive from Bath – and well worth the trip. This grand country house, built in the Jacobethan style, is instantly recognisable thanks to the much-loved show, as are the beautiful interiors and the 5,000-acre (2,023ha) estate, including parkland, woodland and landscaped gardens.
For more inspiration, discover our guide on the must-visit attractions in Bath.
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