Bath Introduction Walking Tour, Bath

Bath Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Bath

The only English city designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, Bath is a gorgeous city packed with history. Artifacts have been found from the Bronze and Iron Age in the surrounding hills. The Romans were the first to build around the remarkable hot mineral springs at the beginning of the first century. They constructed a temple and baths here, and since then, people have flocked to Bath for its healing waters. The Roman Baths are still one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region, drawing thousands each year.

Bath Abbey, the last great Gothic medieval church built in England, has a notable history and architectural appeal. King Edgar the Peaceful was crowned here in 973. The city underwent a significant transformation during Georgian times, and much of its iconic architecture, like The Circus and The Royal Crescent, are from that era. Pulteney Bridge, another of the town's most prominent landmarks, is one of the few shopping bridges in the world.

You'll also enjoy green spaces, like Victoria Park, Parade Gardens, and Sydney Gardens. If you feel hungry, stop at Sally Lunn's Bunns for an iconic, local, and unique teatime treat.

Jane Austen, the famous 18th-century writer, lived in Bath and set two of her novels in the city. You can learn more about Austen and her character's lives, which provide an incredible historical insight into life in Bath during the Regency period, at the Jane Austen Centre. You can also visit one of Austen's houses and see some sites used in her novels. Fans will love imagining themselves dancing with Mr. Tilney in the Upper Assembly Rooms or shopping along Milsom Street in the footsteps of Anne Elliot.

Just walking the cobblestone streets is a great way to soak up Bath's impressive history. Explore the most notable sights of Bath by taking this self-guided walking tour.
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Bath Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Bath Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: England » Bath (See other walking tours in Bath)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 11
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles
Author: rose
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Pulteney Bridge
  • Bath Abbey
  • Roman Baths
  • Sally Lunn's Historic Eating House
  • Bath Street
  • Theatre Royal
  • Jane Austen Centre
  • Fashion Museum
  • The Circus
  • Royal Crescent
  • Royal Victoria Park
Pulteney Bridge

1) Pulteney Bridge (must see)

Bath is a city of unique landmarks, and none are more recognizable than the Pulteney Bridge. Depending on who you trust, there are only one, two, or three other bridges in the world that are lined with shops. Whatever the exact number is, there certainly aren't many others like it.

The bridge opened in 1774 and was designed by Robert Adam. The bridge was the brainchild of William Johnstone Pulteney, who named it after his wife, Frances. His vision was to create a new town nearby, but he needed a grand bridge to connect it to Bath. Adam's design was drafted in the Palladian style, harking back to the 16th-century Venetian architect Andrea Palladio.

The Pulteney Bridge is a World Heritage Site and an English Grade I Listed Building. You will find restaurants of various cuisines, independent shops, and Bath Rugby Club's official store along the bridge. The roadway is a busy thoroughfare through Bath to this day.

The best views of the bridge are actually from the south side, either from the Parade Gardens or the Beazer Garden Maze.

To the south, the River Avon flows over the crescent weir. The shops on the north side were heavily altered and expanded by these owners in the 18th and 19th centuries. Their cantilevered floorplans show in stark contrast to the beautiful Georgian stone bridge as viewed from the south.
Bath Abbey

2) Bath Abbey (must see)

The Abbey here was founded in the 7th century and reorganized and rebuilt several times over the centuries. It began as a convent and later became a monastery. Then it was a cathedral with a bishop until it became a parish church in 1539. The current building was begun in 1499, making it the last great medieval church in England. King Edgar the Peaceful was crowned here in 973.

It's a stunning example of Gothic cathedral architecture. The cruciform layout has seating for 1,200. The trademark fan vaulting was added in the 1860s as part of ongoing works to complete the Abbey's original design intention.

Why You Should Visit

The Abbey is a gorgeous historic building that is worth seeing in its own right. The church is 225 feet long and 80 feet wide.

About 80 percent of the Abbey's wall space is dedicated to windows; the stained glass is spectacular! Specifically, look out for the King Edgar Window, which shows the crowning of King Edgar the Peaceful, and The Great East Window, which shows the story of Jesus in 53 scenes.


Keep an eye out for the 635 various memorials on the walls throughout the Abbey.

You can spend a few minutes or an hour and more exploring the Abbey. If you only have 15 minutes, you can take a quick walk, admire the windows and carved angels, and see the fan vaulted ceilings. If you have time for a more extended tour, you can spend more time reading the memorials or reflect or pray in the chapels.

Keep an ear open for the impressive Klais Organ that is played every Sunday and for regular recitals. Organs have been played in the Abbey since 1634, though the current model is newer. The organ was entirely rebuilt by Klais in 1997, using many parts from historical instruments in the building.

Look for the sculpture on the west side of Jacob's Ladder, complete with angels climbing to heaven.
Roman Baths

3) Roman Baths (must see)

The Baths at Bath are fed by a natural spring system. Rain falls on the nearby Mendip Hills, and it flows down through limestone aquifers until it is more than 4,000 meters (13,100 feet) below ground level. Geothermal energy heats and pressurizes the water, which rises to the surface and escapes through natural fissures. The 46-degree Celcius (115-degree Fahrenheit) water bubbles up at more than a million liters (250,000 gallons) per day.

This natural spring has attracted visitors to the area for more than 2,000 years. The Celts worshiped here, and the early Romans dedicated the springs to the goddess Sulis. As such, the Roman name of the town was Aquae Sulis. It is also believed that pre-Roman British king Bladud built the original baths here and that their healing powers cured him and his pigs of leprosy.

Between 60 and 70 AD, the Roman temple was built. The Baths, or thermae, were created over the next 300 years or so. After the Romans withdrew from Britain, their complex fell into disrepair and was gone by the 6th century.

Today the spring is housed inside an 18th-century building designed by John Wood, the Elder, and John Wood, the Younger. The buildings were further expanded during the Victorian era in a similar style. The main entrance is currently through the Grand Pump Room, where visitors drank the waters and many social functions were held.

Why You Should Visit

The Roman Baths intricately connect all points of Britain's history. The natural spring has been worshipped or visited by every resident and conqueror to pass; a visit to the Baths is a walk through time. The Baths are quintessentially unique to this location, and no visit to Bath would be complete without taking the waters, so to speak.

The site is one of the most popular tourist attractions and one of the finest historical sites you can visit in northern Europe. It is remarkably well preserved, with elements on display from each phase of its history.


The museum is the place to go to learn the history of the Baths. There you will find thousands of Roman artifacts from the area, many thrown in the spring as an offering to Sulis.

Most people spend from two to three hours to a half-day touring the Baths and museum.

Unfortunately, you can no longer swim in the Baths. But there are several smaller spas nearby that capitalize on the same spring system, and aquifer-drawn water is still served in the Grand Pump Room.
Sally Lunn's Historic Eating House

4) Sally Lunn's Historic Eating House

Inside one of the oldest houses in Bath, you will find some delectable treats. As the story goes, Sally Lunn was a French immigrant who arrived in Bath in 1680 and established this bakery. The house was built around 1482, but the masonry oven and other elements on the ground floor date from around 1137.

The lower level of the home hosts a museum where you can tour the original kitchen. The house still serves food based on their trademark recipe, the "Sally Lunn Bunn." In the evening, they serve fine English food, including some spectacular pies.

But all is not as it seems at Sally Lunn's Historic Eating House. While the food is excellent, and the house is very old indeed, there is little historical evidence of one Sally Lunn, or Solange Lyon, as the story goes. The building was purchased in the 1930s by the enterprising Marie Byng-Johnson, who opened a tearoom and claimed to subsequently discover an "ancient document" that told Madamoiselle Lunn's story. The "Sally Lunn Bunn" moniker had already long been used to describe the sweet teacake throughout Britain.

Regardless of the details, Sally Lunn Bunns are an iconic Bath original. There's no better place in town to take tea, and there's no better accompaniment than the original teacake. Savory or sweet, with tea or coffee, you can't go wrong. Just don't forget the clotted cream.
Bath Street

5) Bath Street (must see)

Spanning the short distance between the Roman Baths and the Cross Bath, Bath Street was built in 1791 by Thomas Baldwin. It was first called Cross Bath Street since it leads to the Cross Bath. In 1688, James II welcomed a son, nine months after his wife, Mary of Modena, bathed in the waters. The cross was erected to celebrate the birth of Prince James. This stamp of royal approval only increased the bath's popularity. Thermae Bath Spa now runs cross Bath.

The historic buildings lining each side of the street are all registered as Grade I listed buildings. It's a lively tourist destination as folks walk between the various sites of Bath. You can see the Abbey in the distance, and the west side of the Roman Baths complex is visible at the end of the road.

Bath Street is lined with shops and restaurants, making it the perfect hub for finding afternoon tea or doing some window shopping. It also acts as a time machine; the absence of shop signs and neon lights will transport you back to Georgian times. It's appealing unchanged architecture make Bath Street a popular backdrop for movie scenes. During the winter holidays, look for the streets to be lined with the Bath Christmas Market festival.
Theatre Royal

6) Theatre Royal

Opened in 1805, The Theatre Royal in Bath remains one of the largest provincial theatres in the UK. Located in the busy Seven Dials area of Bath city centre, the theatre hosts touring plays, musical performances and stand up comedy. The theatre is also the centre of Bath’s renowned Shakespeare Festival, which takes place throughout the month of March. The theatre complex also houses two smaller studio theatres – the Ustinov Studio, which hosts an annual puppetry festival, and The Egg, a newly opened children’s studio which runs regular arts and theatre workshops for children and families.

The Theatre Royal is one of several fine examples of Georgian architecture in the city of Bath. The main theatre building was originally built in 1720, and was designed by architect Thomas Greenway. Local socialite Beau Nash was the first resident of the building, before it was converted into a theatre in the early 19th century. Rebuilt after a fire in 1863, the ornate red and gold interior of the theatre’s 900 seat auditorium was restored as part of a complete overhaul of the theatre in 2010. The Rivals, a play set in Bath’s Georgian heyday, premièred to commemorate the theatre’s restoration and reopening.
Jane Austen Centre

7) Jane Austen Centre (must see)

Nothing typifies Regency life in Bath so much as a classic Jane Austen novel. The world-renown author lived in Bath from 1801 to 1806. Two of her novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, were set here. So it's no surprise that in Bath you will find the Jane Austen Centre. Nestled in a Georgian house near the imposing Bath Abbey, The Circus, and the Roman Baths, this museum aims to share the wonders of Austen's Georgian-era Bath with the world.

The Centre has actors in Regency costume to create an immersive experience. There is a carefully crafted, waxwork statue of Jane. The waxwork often surprises visitors as it stands at 5'8", quite tall for a Georgian lady. Forensic artists spent over three years creating the sculpture. There is only one likeness of Jane Austen; a portrait drawn by her sister, Cassandra. However, other family members criticized the portrait and felt it did not capture the true Jane Austen. See for yourself whether or not the sculpture matches your expectations. You'll also find a gift shop and a tea room operated by the Centre.

Why You Should Visit

Ardent Jane Austen fans will need no encouragement to stop at the Jane Austen Centre. But the Centre is designed as an immersive experience for the whole family, with guides in period costumes add to the charm. Learn about Bath's history, especially about Regency-era life and customs.

The building itself, part of a block on Gay Street, is an English Heritage Grade II listed building.


The Centre organizes Bath's Jane Austen Festival every year in September. The ten-day celebration features over 80 events, including a summer ball, a costumed promenade, and a masquerade ball.

Do not miss the Centre's Regency Tea Room, which has been awarded the Tea Guild's Award of Excellence. If you've visited the Centre, you get 10 percent off at the Tea Room.
Fashion Museum

8) Fashion Museum (must see)

The Fashion Museum is located inside Bath’s historic Assembly Rooms, a ten minute walk north of Bath city centre. The museum houses historical fashion collections from the 18th century until the present day. Early exhibits include Victorian men’s waistcoats and elaborately embroidered silk gowns. The museum is known for its impressive collection of works by 20th century fashion designers, including Vivienne Westwood and Norman Hartnell. The museum also houses regular additional exhibitions, with recent collections ranging from 17th century fashion accessories to cutting edge contemporary trends. In addition, the Fashion Museum offers educational fashion workshops for kids, and study facilities for fashion students.

The museum awards a Dress of the Year prize each calendar year with the designs by the winner on display at the museum throughout the year. The Assembly Rooms building also has an affordable café, serving hot and cold drinks, sandwiches and pastries. The building is fully adapted for wheelchair users, and also offers audio guides to all collections in seven different languages.

Operation hours: January - February: 10:30 - 16:00; March - October: 10:30 - 17:00; November - December 10:30 - 16:00
The Circus

9) The Circus (must see)

Originally called the King's Circus, The Circus was finished in 1768. The design was formulated by architect John Wood Sr., but he died during construction, and his son finished the project. The plaza consists of three large townhouse buildings, all forming a perfect circle at the meeting of Brock, Gay, and Bennett Streets. The name "Circus" comes from Latin and means a ring or circle.

John Wood Sr. was known for his appreciation of symbology. He admired the Druids and was convinced that Bath had been the hub of much Druid activity in Britain. As such, he studied Stonehenge and built The Circus with the same diameter. He also included many emblems in the design, with serpents, nautical symbols, acorns, and keys from masonic lore. In all, there are more than 525 pictorial emblems and symbols used. The entire design, when viewed from above, looks like a masonic key. A ley-line joins it to the Royal Crescent, which some believe represents the sun and the moon in their designs.

Many wealthy and famous have lived in The Circus over the years. Thomas Gainsborough lived here in the 1700s, and Nicolas Cage had a flat here for awhile. It's also said that if you wander the center plaza, you can find one precise point where all sound will echo.

The building is a Grade I listed building, and like many others in Bath, it is a fine example of Georgian architecture. Each level's facade is designed in a different classical order—Greek Doric, Roman Composite, and Corinthian.
Royal Crescent

10) Royal Crescent (must see)

Just down Brock Street from The Circus lies the Royal Crescent. This moon-shaped semicircular row of houses faces a sprawling lawn. The Crescent was built from 1767 to 1774 by John Wood, the Younger, who also completed The Circus. The Crescent is 500 feet long and contains 114 Ionic columns and many other decorative and distinctive moldings.

The buildings were originally only known as The Crescent, but "Royal" was added in the 18th century with Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany stayed here.

The original design called for 30 equally-sized townhouses, or terraced houses. Today, 18 have been split into various sized flats.

Why You Should Visit

The Royal Crescent is a Grade I listed building. The stone facades of the houses appear much as they did when they were made.

The Crescent provides one of the most stunning views of Georgian architecture that Bath has to offer. With this captivating view of the greenspaces and The Circus in the distance, the Crescent was the first terraced houses built as "rue in urbe" or the country in the city.


If you'd like to see these buildings more up close, check out the Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa, located in No. 16.

No. 1 Royal Cresent is a museum. Here you'll find it preserved as a historic house, with rooms, furniture, pictures, and other items depicting Georgian life between 1776 and 1796. Among the fully furnished and appointed rooms you can tour, there is a Parlour, a Gentleman's Retreat, a Withdrawing Room, Servant's Hall, Kitchen, and Scullery.

Many plaques commemorate the notable and famous people who have stayed in the Crescent.
Royal Victoria Park

11) Royal Victoria Park (must see)

There are landmarks across Great Britain named after its longest serving monarch, Queen Victoria – but Royal Victoria Park was the first to bear her name. Opened in 1830 when the then Princess Victoria was just 11 years old, the 57 acre public park is typical of the municipal gardens that appeared in wealthy cities in the 19th century. Aiming to offer entertainment, social spaces and the tranquility of nature within one space, the park is a popular destination for tourists and local residents to this day.

Royal Victoria Park is situated to the northwest of the city, a ten minute walk from the center. The Royal Crescent is five minutes away, and overlooks the park from the edge of Lansdown Hill. The park boasts an extensive ornamental garden with a monument to Victoria at its center. A boating pond is a popular spot to spend an afternoon, whilst the large public playground is perhaps the park’s highlight. A large, constantly updated collection of unique and creative play equipment caters for all ages, from sand pits to skateboard ramps. The park hosts several outdoor family events in summer, including the popular Hot Air Balloon festival, when the Bath skyline is lit up by colorful hot air balloons launching from the park.

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