Ask anybody for their ideal image of any English city and chances are they'll come up with something close to Bath - a fashionable haunt for the cream of British society for the last 300 years. It has grand Georgian terraces, Palladian parades and townhouses of honey coloured stone. It is one of Britain's most attractive cities and still exudes an air of gentility and sophistication.
Bath is grand and elegant and is ideal for a weekend visit. Visitors throng here and it is not hard to see why. For more than 2,000 years, the city's fortune has revolved around its hot springs and the tourism the water has attracted. When the Romans invaded Britain 2,000 years ago they called Bath "Aquae Sulis" and founded the baths here in the mineral springs (which you can still visit).
Throughout the 18th century, Bath was the fashionable haunt of English society. In 1702 Queen Anne made the trek here from London to the mineral springs of Bath, and this made the city the most celebrated spa in England.
Bath rightly boasts of being the best planned town in England. Its fashionable period in the 17th and 18th centuries coincided with one of Britain's most creative architectural eras, producing virtually an entire town of stylish buildings. 18th century architect John Wood the Elder and his son designed a city of stone from the nearby hills, so substantial and lasting, a feat that means Bath today is the most harmoniously laid out city in England.
During Georgian and Victorian times it attracted leading political and literary figures such as Dickens, Thackeray, Nelson and Pitt. Jane Austen set Persuasion and Northanger Abbey here and Gainsborough established himself as a landscape painter.
It is full of museums, but the greatest enjoyment comes from wandering the streets. Admire the two most famous crescents - Royal Crescent and The Circus. The city is compact and leisurely and ideal for a short break. It really is a unique place - hot springs, Roman period baths, medieval heritage and stately Georgian architecture, as well as a thriving spa scene and great shopping. There is truely something for everyone.
Our highlights were:
- Wandering the streets, enjoying the beautiful buildings - especially the Royal Crescent, which is absolutely stunning.
- Spending a morning in the lovely shops - Bath is full of quaint and unusual shops that are different from most high streets in other towns and cities in England. It is a great place to do some early Christmas shopping.
- Visiting the amazing Roman Baths - there is so much to see, learn and find out about here. To think you are actually walking in the footsteps of the Romans and seeing where they bathed and worshipped the goddess Sulis Minerva is a fantastic experience. The self guided tour is great for adults and children and this is a must see if you are in Bath.
- Visiting Longleat House and Safari Park - just half an hour drive from Bath, this is a fun and different day out amid beautiful countryside.