HDR Pulteney Bridge over the River Avon in Bath, UK

HDR Pulteney Bridge over the River Avon in Bath, UK ()

Parliament. Big Ben. Buckingham Palace. The West End. London’s hustle and bustle and historic sites draw over 30 million visitors each year. According to the UK’s National Office for Statistics, Americans make up its largest constituent of travelers, even more than Britain’s neighbor across the channel, France. And yet, while London is certainly bursting at the seams with tours and activities (the Tower of London is a personal favorite of mine), the crowds and city can also be a bit overwhelming. Fortunately, just a quick train ride away is the perfect overnight getaway, Bath.

The former Roman hotspot is easily reached in less than an hour and a half via multiple daily trains from London’s Paddington station. A roundtrip ticket on will run you about £65 for an adult, but discounts apply for children and families. For instance, for my family of five utilizing a Friends and Family rail pass card, the total round-trip cost for a Saturday in September is £120 on the same website.

So, what is it that makes Bath so different from the UK capital? For starters, it has been THE leisure destination for Londoners for thousands of years! For the ancient Romans, a soak in the mineral springs of Aquae Sulis, Bath’s original Roman name, was an enticing getaway from old Londinium. Today, “London” travelers can enjoy those very same springs thanks to the Roman’s innovative and detailed building skills. In fact, the large and steaming Great Bath has remained completely intact and leakproof for over 2,000 years. The Roman baths of Aquae Sulis are preserved today in a wonderful, albeit slightly pricey, museum. Purchase your timed entrance tickets online at Each ticket includes a handheld audio guide that takes you through the history and architecture of each room, with an additional character-lead narration option for younger children provided at each listening station. The tour leads through a couple of hours’ worth of pools, artifact galleries, and several bathhouse rooms with digital reenactments to bring the space to life. You might be tempted to touch the dreamy waters, but be warned, those lovely Roman architectural details unfortunately also included heavy amounts of lead! A relaxing poolside sip of prosecco or cold lemonade (available at a small bar towards to end of your tour at the Great Bath) is just as relaxing….and a whole lot safer. The baths can be a busy attraction, so get there early, or better yet, tour it on a weekday!

Aside from the baths, there are exquisite green spaces such as the Parade Gardens and Victoria Park You can also see stunning examples of Georgian stone buildings at the Royal Crescent and the Circus. Plenty of High Street shopping makes Bath a fantastic option for those travelers seeking a balance between the big city of London and the thatched-roof countryside cottages of the Cotswolds.

Bath has been a tourist destination for millennia, why not check it out for yourself?

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