Beautiful Bath is famed for its enchanting Georgian architecture. Widely considered a jewel in the West Country’s verdant crown, the city has some stunning buildings which were surely a key factor in the decision to name it a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Though hot air balloon rides are a popular way to chase a fine view of this unique town, a less costly option is to discover the place on foot.
Here’s our guide to the perfect walking tour of Bath’s architectural landmarks:
Start the day right with breakfast at The Wild Cafe. With its unpretentious menu and pretty blue door, this is a perfect spot to tuck into an energy-boosting plate of goodness. Over coffee, whip out the map and begin to familiarise yourself with the route for your architectural oddessey.
Smoothies and fry-ups demolished, leave the café turning left along Queen Street, and you’ll soon reach reach the historic Trim Street, which has many listed buildings to feast your eyes on. General Wolfe’s House at Number 5, built by Thomas Greenway, is of particular architectural note, and the smart aesthetic of these early-1700s houses and shops makes a pleasant start to your tour.
Returning to the crossroads with Queen Street, follow Trim Bridge until you reach Upper Borough Walls, where you’ll see the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases. This Grade-II-listed space remains active and is still known locally as the Mineral Water Hospital, originally built to cure Bath’s Georgian population with a splash or two from the city’s allegedly healing springs.
Now head left along Upper Borough Walls, which takes its name from the medieval remains of the old city wall still standing today. Take in the many impressive listed buildings here, including the Full Moon Hotel and Gascoyne House.
Now at the end of Upper Borough Walls, head past the Victoria Art Gallery to take in Pulteney Bridge and Weir.
Here you’ll find many cute coffee spots for your caffeine fix, including Bath Coffee House, perched on the bridge itself.
Heading back along the bridge, breeze past the Guildhall Market (potentially another excellent snack-stop, with plenty of hearty cafés to help you refuel). Follow Grand Parade around until it meets the Orange Grove, where you’ll spot the triumphant gothic turrets of Bath Abbey.
After a pause to breathe in the cathedral’s magnificent interior immersed in silence, step back out onto the bustling street and look southwest towards the legendary Roman Baths.
Give yourself time to contemplate the building’s remarkable façade, resisting the urge to reach for your smartphone with a good long stare. The majestic Roman columns are far too grand for a couple of camera clicks.
Next on our tour is the Grand Pump Room, another resplendent historic building fashioned in buttery-yellow Bath stone. Finished in 1799, the Pump Room’s exterior features Corinthian half-columns and impressive colonnades.
Heading west now, along Bath Street, stroll along until you reach the Hospital of John the Baptist. This is one of Bath’s better-kept architectural secrets but worth a peek since it outdates much of the town’s Georgian structures by a long way. Built in 1180, it’s another Grade-I-listed building in Bath’s collection.
Now it’s time for lunch. Head north along Westgate Buildings and nip into Boston Tea Party for a filling and colourful meal to enjoy as you watch the world go by.
Once re-energised, stride north again up Saw Close, where to your left you’ll see the Theatre Royal (a noted example of one of the finest surviving Georgian theatre buildings).
Follow Barton Street, pass through pretty Queen Square and head along Gay Street until you reach the Circus. This terraced row of listed buildings making a perfect circle has been home to the likes of David Livingstone and Hollywood actor Nicholas Cage.
Mosey along Brock Street to Bath’s crowning architectural glory: Royal Crescent. This elegant curve of houses is a sight to behold; designed by architect John Wood the Younger and built between 1767 and 1774, it is among the best-loved examples of Georgian architecture in England. Stand back into the Royal Victoria Gardens for the most memorable view.
Finally, make a beeline for the Marlborough Tavern and settle down for a sophisticated feast and a serious debrief of Bath’s inspiring design, accompanied by a well-deserved pint.