Bath is the epitome of Georgian elegance and is a wonderful place to visit at any time of the year. It’s a pleasurable day trip from London (take Great Western Rail from Paddington); or stay a night or two and truly indulge in all the romantic things to do in Bath!
Personally, I love Bath because it’s easy to get around but has all the perks of a city like shopping, coffee, plenty to see and do. Bath is rich in history – the buildings tell many lifetimes worth of tales, dating back to the Romans right through to Jane Austen, and even the birth of Royal Mail. And, aside from anything else, the city is strikingly beautiful.
It’s one for the romantics, for sure – a very special place, like York (which you also must visit). Here are seven of our sweetest ideas for you to explore…
7 romantic things to do in Bath, England
Bath Abbey Tower Tour
Bath Abbey is the divine structure that makes for a perfect meeting spot in the town centre. It is an utterly surprising find as you’re wandering the old streets, and you’ll have your phone in hand snapping pictures before you even realise what you’re doing!
Indulge in some people watching in the square, and when you’ve gathered your breath, climb to the top for a bird’s eye view of the area.
If this idea takes your fancy, you can book exclusive personalised tours which take place out of hours. Watch the sun set over this uniquely lovely place, away from the tourist crowds. More at bathabbey.org/towertours.
Stroll along the Gravel Walk
This is fine for all, but Austen fans will especially rejoice because it is the setting of Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth’s proposal in Persuasion.
Continue your wander through to Royal Victoria Park for a picnic, and wind up your exploration in the lovely woodland of the Botanical Gardens.
Be mindful after dark though, for although it might seem pretty at dusk it is said that a number of Bath’s former residents often also wander here. Particularly notable is a white haired man who will appear before you on the Gravel Walk, only to vanish back into the night. Spooky, although perhaps a romantic pursuit for the ghost-hunters (like me) among you…
Take to nature – canal ride, row boat or horse drawn carriage ride
As you step off the train into the city of Bath, you’ll spot signs for visitor information centres. Drop in and enquire about one of the unique opportunities to interact with nature.
Back in town, we suggest skipping the cab line and instead take a horse drawn carriage ride around the city, just like in Austen’s romantic age. Be enchanted as you pass by grand spaces like the Royal Crescent, Royal Victoria Park and The Circus. Courtyard Carriages will make it happen.
Stay overnight in a romantic hotel!
Bath is brimming with excellent accommodation options for all budgets. If you’re willing to splash out for a special occasion and take full advantage of this city’s status as a centre for romance, this one looks nice – the Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa. It’s centrally located with sublime views of the city! We’ve not stayed here, but sure would like to. Seems so very Austen-esque.
Another decadent property I spotted on our travels was Bath Spa Hotel, a five star stay overlooking the breathtaking Bath landscape.
Jane Austen festival in September
Yes, yes and yes!
Indulge in regal splendour – performances, balls, workshops, promenades, fairs, lunches, breakfasts (and the odd Mr Darcy sprinkled around town for good measure)…
There are even short tours of the surrounding area on offer so you can get your entire literary and adventure fix with the least amount of effort. If you’re a fan of the author, don’t miss visiting in September. More at janeaustenfestivalbath.co.uk.
Note: there’s a plethora of Austen experiences open all year round too if you can’t make it in spring.
Thermae Bath Spa
Bath is of course famed for its ancient baths and healing waters, and now thanks to Thermae, we can all take a dip.
After you’ve explored the interesting old ruins, step it up to contemporary times in an utterly indulgent and romantic manner. Thermae now boasts a sensational rooftop pool with sweeping city views. There’s plenty of other treatments you can enjoy too – the best of modern pleasures and old world lush blended into a sublime chance to unwind and feel the love.
Country walks and quaint villages
When we visited Bath recently, we actually took the Hop on Hop off bus tour, which features two routes through Bath. One travels around the city and explains the local history, and the other highlights the outskirts upon the hilltops overlooking the city’s skyline. This is an excellent way to get your bearings in the city. Helpful too, because Bath is very hilly so it’s easy to get tired making your way around. An option like this makes it simpler to identify the places you might like to go back to, and the skyline journey in particular showcases some lovely walks.
Suggested places to visit include the ‘prettiest village in England’, Castle Combe (accessible from Bath), Kennet and Avon canals which are some of the loveliest waterways working their way through England. The tour guide also pointed out walks you can try nearby to stops on the tour’s itinerary such as around Middle Hill Lodge.
Words can’t describe how lovely it is here, although many writers have attempted to do so throughout history. Why not visit and see for yourself? You may find the Visit Bath website useful, and book your train tickets in advance for the best deal, Trainline.
If you’ve found this helpful or have a tip to add, please let us know in the comments.
Don’t write this lovely little seaside area off, it’s absolutely worth your time. What to do in Hastings? History, creative experiences, shopping and yummy food await.
What to do in Hastings: history
Take a trip through time with us to Hastings, in Sussex, England.
October 14, 1066 − a most famous date that changed the course of English history. The English army, led by King Harold, was deployed on Senlac hill, where the town of Battle and its beautiful abbey presently stand. William (“The Conqueror”), positioned his army strategically, and although it’s understood to have been a close battle, at the end of a very long and bloody day in time, William won the war, bringing Norman rule to England. —click here to read the story
Creative things to do in Hastings
When we think of creative escapes within easy proximity to London, usually somewhere like Brighton or Whitstable come to mind. But, recently we decided to venture further down the coast for the first time, to historic Hastings.
If you want to know what to do in Hastings, stop and chat to the locals. They’ll give you tips on all the ways to experience living history and where to get the creative juices flowing. From castles to caves and ghost tours, this quirky, poignant and pretty seaside stop-over is ideal is brimming with options.
A photographer’s dream
Gardens, ocean and cliff-top landscapes abound, making it simple to find what to do in Hastings that is perfect for you. It’s the colourful maritime heritage that makes this place excellent for discovering unique shots, whether you’re an amateur or pro photographer. Hastings and nearby Rye and Winchelsea belonged to the Cinque Ports Confederation and this heritage is still evident in their fishing trade and medieval experiences.
Take a free walking tour of the Stade (organised by the Hastings Fishermen’s Museum) or through Hastings’ quaint Old Town (also free, organised by Old Hastings Preservation Society), get your bearings, then explore and image-capture til it’s time for bed. On a sunny day, the light here is divine at sunrise and sunset.
More of what to do in Hastings? Get amongst the antiques shopping! Interestingly, there’s plenty of delightful vintage shopping here, but not so much that it’s overwhelming (like in some other larger cities).
If you’re seeking one-off trinkets and pieces to make your home stand out, wander the boutique stores of Hastings’ Old Town and be ready to snap up a delicious deal. Wander off to Courthouse Street too, and you’ll discover a treasure trove of surprises that’s been a local secret here for over 30 years − known as Courthouse Mews − ask for Dee or Beverley. The sale space is vast once you move through the front of this vintage shopper and collector’s dream!
Wine and dine
There’s a number of lovely wineries in the area, including award-winning Sedlescombe Organic and Carr Taylor that offer tasting experiences among other events throughout the year.
Or head to Hastings for a unique day, week or month cooking experience with renowned chef and restaurateur, Paul Webbe. Where better to refine your seafood culinary skills than in the town that boasts Europe’s largest beach-launched fishing fleet? Drop the team a line and ask about the Hastings fish and seafood school. bon appétit!
Man’s best friend
We very much loved how dog-friendly Hastings turned out to be, and will return for this reason. Why leave your best mate at home when you can bring them along with you for extra joy and companionship. And, if you’re craving a fix of uplifting dog energy, this place works well too, because there’s plenty on hand who are happy for an extra pat on the head (or bum scratch as the case may be).
Write it out
Wander the alleys, chat in the pubs, meditate on the beach − be inspired, and write or blog til your heart’s content. Hastings is big enough to not get bored, but small enough that you can really relax and take it all in.
From Far from the Madding Crowd in Dorset to Frankenstein in Manchester, England staged one big, beautiful movie set in 2015, and crowds flocked to see where their favourites were shot.
VisitEngland’s Chief Executive, James Berresford said: “Our research shows that 40 per cent of tourists want to visit locations they’ve seen on the big and small screen [like Downton Abbey], so we know there is a huge appetite for ‘set-jetting’.”
VisitEngland teamed up with Creative England to select some of the biggest films to grace our screens in 2015, revealing to film buffs exactly where the action was shot…
INTO THE WOODS
The film adaptation of the eponymous Broadway musical Into the Woods features an all-star cast including Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick and Johnny Depp. Showing off a number of quintessentially English locations, the soon-to-be Disney hit was shot at Dover Castle in Kent, Waverley Abbey and Virginia Water in Surrey, the Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire, Hambleden Village and Hambleden Barn in Buckinghamshire. The film follows the classic tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel-all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife, their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch who has put a curse on them.
This live-action feature is inspired by the classic fairytale Cinderella and brings to life the timeless images from Disney’s 1950 animated masterpiece. English locations including the grand bridge at Blenheim Palace, Black Park in Iver Heath and the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich all help to set the scene for this childhood favourite. Directed by Kenneth Branagh, the film stars Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden and Helena Bonham-Carter.
A LITTLE CHAOS
Starring Kate Winslet, Stanley Tucci and Alan Rickman. The story centres on a female landscape-gardener who is awarded the esteemed assignment to construct the grand gardens at Versailles, a gilt-edged position which thrusts her to the very centre of the court of King Louis XIV. But the 18th century French palace and grand houses were actually shot in England at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, the Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire and Cliveden House in Berkshire. Some of the cast stayed at the Grade I listed, luxury hotel and grand stately home, Cliveden House, during filming. With a garden central to the story, the production also needed some versatile outdoor space and found most of what they were looking for in Black Park, a country park next door to Pinewood Studios, which covers over 500 acres of woodland, heathland and grassland.
FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
A new adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s 1874 novel, the film stars Carey Mulligan and Michael Sheen, with screen play by David Nicholls. Filmed predominantly in and around Hardy Country in Dorset; Mapperton House, Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove, Sherborne, Eype, Purse Caundle, West Bay, Beaminster and National Trust property Cogden Beach all play a part. Few authors have such strong associations with their local area as Thomas Hardy, and today you can explore two of the writer’s houses – his childhood home and Max Gate, the property Hardy designed himself and moved into with Emma after his marriage.National Trust property, Claydon House in Buckinghamshire, also features in the film, doubling up as Boldwood.
Based on Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel of the same name, the latest adaptation features an all-star cast. Daniel Radcliffe will star as hunchback Igor, whilst James McAvoy will portray Victor von Frankenstein. Filming locations included Manchester Town Hall, Chatham Historic Dockyard, the Old Royal Naval College, including King Charles Court, and the bank of the river Thames in Greenwich.
Have you ever set-jetted? Drop us a line in the comments to let us know where you’ve visited and what was filmed there. We’re keen to find this one being filmed in Scotland!…
More things to do in England
We’ve had a helpful piece shared with us via your-rv-lifestyle.com on 100 things to do in England – worth a browse if you’re heading over this way!
Images copyright to individual film distribution companies.
Although there was a period in British history where bathing was deemed bad for the health (and consequently a freshen-up was only scheduled for once or twice a year), there are also important sections of history where a bath was so important that a whole city emerged because of it!
Today’s road trip to Bath included a stop-off at the picture-perfect town of Bourton-on-the-Water, dubbed ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’ – an immaculate little place that continues to demonstrate how inspiringly beautiful England really is.
We also explored a very interesting old National Trust property ‘800 years in the making’, Lacock Abbey and the Fox Talbot Museum.
Located in rural Wiltshire, Lacock village and its Abbey have been featured in numerous film and television productions including Harry Potter, The Other Boleyn Girl, Pride & Prejudice and many more. There are no street lights or antennas here, so the town is easily transformed into a film set for period pieces. The Abbey was originally settled by nuns in the 1200’s. It’s described as being a ‘quirky country house of various architectural styles’, complete with medieval rooms and a cloister court. Another great piece of history associated with this place is the fact that a former resident of Lacock, William Henry ‘Fox Talbot’, is credited with inventing photography, and a museum celebrating this is located in the Abbey.
Bath is a highlight of any trip throughout England. It’s a stunning little city (and a designated World Heritage Site) that really made its mark during the elegant Georgian age when none other than famous author, Jane Austen, resided here. Of course, people were travelling to Bath well before Georgian times. As legend has it, back in the 860s BC, King Bladud – once a Prince struck down with leprosy and forced to leave his home in disguise and take up a job as a swineherd in a regional part of the country – discovered waters that healed him. More on the legend HERE, however it’s these origins that set Bath on the map. So much so that the Romans decided they wanted in on this these ‘magical healing waters’, and the rest, as they say, is history. Roman architecture (or its influence) is seen everywhere in Bath and certainly adds to the city’s charm and intrigue. The original Roman Baths are still the city’s biggest attraction.
Ideally a few days are required to explore Bath properly – beautiful Bath Abbey (one of the last great medieval churches, begun around 1499, completed 1611), Jane Austen Centre, Assembly Rooms, Fashion Museum, gardens, more museums – attractions old and new. Bath certainly offers something for everyone. It’s a romantic and remarkable mix of ancient and modern history, as well as the very best contemporary dining, coffee, shopping and luxury options. We stayed in the heart of the city at the Abbey Hotel which is ideally situated for exploring on foot (which, by the way, is very easy to do – Bath is a small walking city, however there are numerous tours including the popular ‘red bus hop-on-hop-off option for those daunted by all the hills here).
FUN FACT: Yesterday we all discovered (from a co-traveller!) the origin of the term ‘posh’ (meaning ‘elegant, swanky, rich’). Evidently the term originates from passengers who were travelling on the P&O (Peninsula and Orient) between the UK and India – ‘port out, starboard home’ were the best seats in the house, hence ‘posh’ stuck.
Anyone who has been to York in England knows there’s plenty of cool things to do here. It’s a charming northern English city, and I’m definitely glad to have stopped by, even if just for a weekend.
We wanted an adventure outside of London. York is feasible being that trains take only a couple of hours between the cities.
The journey ends as it did from around 1841, at the beautiful York transit centre. Incidentally, also revealed to us as the largest Roman burial area in York.
While just two hours between London and York today, back in the 1800s the train journey took 14 hours! I wonder how long it was originally between some of our other favourite destinations accessible by train, like Northampton or Kent?
Things to do in York: getting around
We’d recommend booking tickets for the big red bus ‘hop on hop off’ tour.
Just £10 each (at time of writing), with a stop right outside the train station, this proved to be an effective and informative orientation to the city for a pair of wanderers short on time.
For just £7 more we also enjoyed an hour-long river expedition, worthwhile given the city’s former prominence as a major port of trade.
Weekend in York: what you’ll learn
Throughout the day we learned about the old Tudor building, The King’s Manor, where many a monarch has stayed. Legend has it that Anne Boleyn walks through the courtyard in the evenings, head in her arms.
Old Roman and medieval walls and ruins surround the small city, standing testament to centuries of intriguing history, dating back beyond even 2000 years ago when York held as a Roman fortress.
Coming into contemporary times (by comparison), several closed-in windows were pointed out to us, still remaining barred from when the land owners refused to pay a new tax on sunlight in the eighteenth century. It’s where the term ‘daylight robbery’ comes from.
The famous Gothic York Minster Cathedral – one of the biggest of its kind in northern Europe – is of course beautiful, and stands as the tallest building in these parts.
York is traditionally a very religious city, evidenced by many churches.
We were told of a local saying that dates back hundreds of years:
“You can go to a different church every week and different pub every night”
…because both types of establishments are plentiful within the small space.
Haunted hotels in York
Appropriately, we dined for lunch at The Red Lion pub, allegedly the oldest and most haunted pub in the area! 👻
There are – by many accounts – lots of haunted hotels in York.
The Red Lion’s owner Becci Turner turned out to be a lovely young Aussie (we are everywhere!).
She verified “strange happenings” for the first few months after she took up lodging upstairs at the pub. But, she said it has all settled. They’ve “come to an understanding”.
Shopping and exploring
We discovered many carvery shops and even old cobblestone lanes that used to be filled with butchers stores (mostly now tourist shops); meat was big business around here.
Even more amusing were the delectable (to non-Vegans of course) looking meat stores on the old Viking Street of ‘The coopers/wood and barrel workers’ – how appropriate, Cooper does love his meat!
There was another pub called Cooper’s Place – evidently ‘coopers’ (barrel and tub makers) were very important to the Vikings and also residents throughout medieval times.
Can’t go past a bit of history in amongst beer and a bite to eat.
Aside from churches and pubs there are many amazing Viking exhibitions and museums, Roman wall walks and all sorts of cool events on year-round in York. Set yourself up with a schedule before visiting.
It’s quite extraordinary, being from Australia, and wandering the streets of cities that exist amongst fascinating historical ruins and relics. I do somewhat envy those locals who probably take it all for granted.
Welcome to Travel Live learn, where we are passionate about living a life full of great adventures. We are Sarah + Cooper: we know life's short, and we're here to encourage you to make the most of it! We have worked in media, communication and creative roles for many years, and have spent over 10 years living and working abroad. Our hottest content topics here are pet friendly travel, house + pet sitting, and designing a life as expats or digital nomads wherever in the world you want to be. Join our community of over 11,000 like-minded adventurers - find out more by signing up for the mailing list and our Facebook Group. Find us on YouTube too. NEW podcast now live: search 'Freedom and Four Paws' on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts or your fave podcast service provider.