The timeless beauty of Bath and Bristol

The timeless beauty of Bath and Bristol

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

Although movement in the U.K. is a bit limited right now, there are some amazing sights to see when we can travel within the country again. Get away from the hustle and bustle of your local area and head to the picturesque southwest region of England. Spanning the River Avon, the historical wonders of Bath and harbor city of Bristol are waiting to be discovered.

Bath

Situated a little more than 90 miles southwest of London, the timeless beauty of Bath is nestled in a small valley above the River Avon. Dating back to the Stone Age, the city has enjoyed a reputation of lush relaxation throughout much of its existence. When the Romans conquered the area during the 1st century AD, they built lavish temples and bathhouses. Natural hot springs well up along the Pennyquick fault line, creating near-perfect temperatures for baths. Visitors can tour the well-preserved bathhouse in the city center. Complete with a main bath, pump room and temple courtyard, there are plenty of interactive exhibits and displays to capture your imagination.

For book lovers, the Jane Austen Centre chronicles the life of the popular British novelist. While the city may not have been her favorite (she lived in Bath for five years with her family), they have happily adopted her as their own. Visitors can enjoy a spot of tea in one of the tearooms and try on vintage clothing from the late 1700s. If your trip through history has left you a little hungry, no trip would be complete without tasting a Sally Lunn bun. These semi-sweet teacakes are a local favorite. Similar to French Brioche, this bun is best eaten hot with a little pat of butter and a steaming cup of tea.

Bristol

If you travel 11 miles southwest of Bath, you’ll happen upon the historical harbor village of Bristol. Straddling the River Avon, this once bustling maritime spot has been transformed into an art and culture mecca full of eclectic museums, trendy galleries and inventively delicious restaurants lining the waterfront. With spectacular 360-degree views from the top of Cabot Tower or strolling through the grounds of Bristol Cathedral (dating back to 1140), you could easily spend a day or two exploring Bristol.

Nautical history buffs won’t want to miss Brunel’s SS Great Britain. This behemoth iron steamship was once the longest passenger ship in the world. Sailing through its glory days in the mid-1800s, passengers were ferried across the Atlantic in 14 days. Visitors can step back in time and walk the decks of the storied ship. If you’d prefer to keep your land legs, check out the Clifton Suspension Bridge. The crossing offers beautiful views of the Avon gorge and spectacular views of the city from the cliffs on the other side. If you’re lucky, you can also take a peek at the Clifton Rocks Railway. Only open a few times a year, this old rail station was built into the cliffside used a funicular to take passengers from the harbor to the city above. The BBC used the railway as a backup communications hub during World War II. It’s a fascinating piece of history.

Art aficionados will want to stop by the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. With three floors full of natural history, unique artifacts and varying works of art covering many different periods, it’s easy to lose yourself here. If you’d rather stay outside, take a walking tour of Banksy’s murals. The infamous anonymous artist is a Bristol native and has left an indelible and slightly permanent mark on his hometown. While some of his works have been removed, many can still be found painted on the sides of buildings.

If you’re itching to take a break from your local area, spending the weekend in Bath and Bristol will recharge your batteries and is absolutely worth it.

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