Michael Driver / © Culture Trip

The Insider Guide

Bath has been a spa ever since the Romans built some picturesque Roman baths on the valley of the River Avon in 60CE. Bath Abbey followed in the 7th century, and much later came the charming Georgian architecture (and a certain Jane Austen). These days, history combines with a thriving modern foodie scene to make Bath a vibrant, green city. Here’s our guide.

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The Main Attractions

The Romans weren’t quite as original with their place-names as they were with their cutting edge infrastructure, but the name of Bath still rings true to the city today. The well-preserved Roman Baths remain one of the top attractions in the city. They're built on a hot spring, with geothermal energy raising the water to between 69 and 96 degrees. The gothic beauty of Bath Abbey stands metres away, and though you can’t actually get in the water of the old Roman Spas, you can get in Britain’s only natural thermal spa at the Thermae Bath Spa a one-minute walk down the road, and enjoy the natural waters the Romans and Celts before them would’ve bathed in. It really is the Georgian architecture that characterises Bath these days, most notably the sweeping form of The Royal Crescent, built between 1868 and 1775, which is now home to a museum to Georgian life at No1 Royal Crescent, as well as (fittingly) a five-star hotel and spa, as well as some private housing. The Victorian romanticism continues inside the Assembly Rooms, a fashionable Georgian meeting place and Grade I listed building which features in two of Jane Austen’s novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. Fans of Austen will certainly want to stop by the Jane Austen Centre, to learn more about the author who lived in the city in the early 1800s. "Oh!," as she wrote in Northanger Abbey, "Who can ever be tired of Bath?" The Pulteney Bridge which crosses the River Avon was spectacular when designed by Robert Adam in 1769 and remains so now, and The Circus, a historic ring of Victorian townhouses, are another fine example of the architecture. It really is a remarkable city to stroll around – particularly if you’re interested in Austen’s literature and can transport yourself back as you walk. One of the leafiest cities in Britain, you'll also find views backdropped by hills, and the shops before you in no short supply of local artisan goods – whether you're veggie, vegan or just after good fresh food. Britain’s original wellness destination still has a lot to offer now.

Neighborhoods in Bath