March 29, 2016

Day trips from London: a visit to Bath

As this was our second time to visit London, my wife and I wanted to explore other places outside the city that would be easily accessible via either bus or train.

We were able to visit Bath, Oxford, Windsor Castle and Greenwich (which is technically still part of London but was further away from the city centre than most other tourist sites). In this post I will talk more about our visit to Bath.

Getting to Bath

Friends and family recommended that we visit Bath so we decided to go on a weekday after some quick research online on how to get there. Travel by train was the quickest (90 mins) and most convenient way to get to Bath from London with trains departing from London Paddington Station every half hour. Since we decided to visit Bath almost on impulse, I must say that the tickets we purchased were somewhat pricey. A friendly tip I would give is to purchase your train tickets well in advance of your visit. 

Paddington Station

Looking for the proper train to board is pretty straightforward. Just take note that the trains do not terminate in Bath so you will need to look at the train timetable found in several areas in the station for trains that make a stop in Bath. If in doubt, just ask the information desk which platform to board at. That's what we did just to make sure we got on the proper train. The conductor will check your ticket on board so please hang on to it.

In Bath

Once you arrive in Bath, exit the train station and walk towards the town centre where the famous Roman Baths can be found. It's an easy walk (around 5-10 mins) and you will pass many small shops and stores along the way.

The Roman Baths are easily the most popular attraction to visit and it's easy to see why. The Baths are built on top of an ancient hot spring. Although the Baths have gone through several iterations over several hundreds of years, some original stones and ruins still remain. The price of admission (£15) includes an audio guide which is pretty useful.     

The main Bath in the Roman Bath complex

You could spend a good 2-3 hours just in the Roman Baths if you choose to explore everything and listen to the entire audio guide commentary. It's pretty amazing that the engineering done by the Romans still works to this day as the Roman Baths are still a properly working hot spring! We spent and hour or so here before we decided that Bath was such a beautiful little town that we had to explore further on foot.

Just outside the Roman Baths is Bath Abbey. It's free to enter although a small donation (£2) is encouraged. The Abbey is beautiful and worth a stop.

Bath Abbey

From the Abbey we walked around town towards Royal Crescent, a row of stately townhouses in a half-moon shape. We visited No 1 Royal Crescent which has been restored and opened to the public as a museum of sorts. Admission price is £10.

Royal Crescent

The townhouse is not too large, but it's restored with proper furniture pieces from a bygone era to give visitors a peak into the lives of the first home owners. The staff are very knowledgeable, friendly and helpful and are happy to share little bits of information on the house and town history. Imagine, people from that era took a bath only twice a year! They concealed their odor using perfume and women used lead paint as makeup! Wow!

From the Royal Crescent we walked around the beautiful residential and park area before heading back to the town centre. The views everywhere were amazing:

Stores around the town centre

When we got to the town centre, we ended up having a fantastic pizza lunch at a place called The Stable. We ordered a pizza called The Longhorn Jim. It was made of marinated Longhorn ground beef, Bath Pig Co chorizo, field mushrooms, roasted red onions, fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese topped with West Country smoked ham. Yum!

The Longhorn Jim

After lunch, we walked around town some more and headed to Pulteney Bridge. The bridge is famous for having shops build across its full span on both sides.

Pulteney Bridge

We went around some of the shops on the way back to the train station. We took the 4pm train back to the city and found the train quite packed. If there is any reason to book your tickets ahead of time, this is it. If you book ahead, you can get to reserve seats on the train back to London. This is something we did not know and we had to chance upon seats that were being vacated by passengers getting off at earlier stops. Cheaper tickets plus reserved seats, sign me up now!

We thoroughly enjoyed our day trip to Bath and learned a little bit of history (Roman Baths) and learned something very practical (the merits of booking train tickets in advance) as well. I would recommend a visit to Bath for even first time visitors to London. It's easily accessible and the sights are a lovely contrast to the big city lights of London.

Upon arriving in London, we just looked for the exit that connected to the London Underground. Again, hang on to your train ticket as you will have to exit London Paddington station by showing this to a staff member. If you accidentally tap your Oyster card, I'm not entirely sure how much will be deducted.

Hope this post helps and I'm happy to answer any further questions you may have in the comments section. Also, I'm happy to hear what you think of Bath if you have already visited in the past. Just post your comments. 

Safe travels everyone!