Last Updated on 25/06/2022
The city of Bath in Somerset, England is renowned for its incredible Georgian architecture. Many tourist from all over the world flock to Bath to admire this truly unique city. Here is the perfect Bath walking tour if you want to see all of the top architectural sights on a short visit.
In this guide you will discover the top things to see in Bath and how you can explore them on a self-guided Bath walking tour. This post outlines directions for the walking tour and incudes historic information about the sites, plus additional optional stops.
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Bath Walking Tour
Bath is a city that is renowned for its striking Georgian architecture. And if you visit the city, you don’t want to miss spotting some of the most incredible and inspiring buildings Bath has to offer. This self-guided Bath walking tour will take you through the city on foot so that you can see the best sights in a short space of time.
The tour will take you approximately 1 hour to complete, however, there are some additional, optional stops highlighted on the route if you want to fill a whole day in Bath. As you will be on your feet, make sure to wear comfortable shoes and don’t forget your camera!
The tour starts in the centre of Bath in Abbey Churchyard (BA1 1LY). If you would like a great audio tour to narrate your route, Visit Bath have a wonderful free World Heritage Audio Tour that you can download to accompany your journey.
12 Unmissable Things To See In Bath
Here are the top 12 unmissable things to see in Bath. These are the sights you’ll be visiting on this Bath walking tour. So grab your audio guide and get ready to explore!
- Bath Abbey
- Roman Baths
- Thermae Bath Spa and Cross Bath
- Queen’s Square
- The King’s Circus
- The Royal Crescent
- Assembly Rooms
- The Paragon
- Milsom Street
- Pulteney Bridge
- Great Pulteney Street
- Grand Parade
Bath Walking Tour: The Sights
If you’ve only got a few hours in Bath, here is a self guided Bath walking tour so you can see the main sights. The route includes some recommended bonus attractions if you have more time in the city. The walking tour will take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
To begin the tour, head to Abbey Churchyard (BA1 1LY).
Start your tour facing the ornate West front of the Abbey. The Abbey was the heart of the medieval city. In the late 9th century, King Alfred built medieval Bath over the original Roman city, so there is very little evidence of the Roman inhabitants today.
The Bath Abbey that you see today is a Tudor Abbey that was rebuilt in 1502. It was one of the last Abbey’s built in England before the dissolution of monasteries.
Services still take place in the Abbey today throughout the week. You can go inside the Abbey to admire the impressive stained glass windows and incredible vaulted ceilings. You can also take a tour up the tower to see Bath from above!
Before you move on to the next stop on the tour, be sure to glance over at The Pump Room. It was a popular place to be seen in the 1790s, and was where you came to take the natural spa waters for your health. You can still try a glass of spa water from the fountain today.
With your back to the Abbey, walk towards Stall Street then turn left. Follow the street until you reach the entrance to the Roman Baths on your left and the large UNESCO seal on the floor.
The Roman Baths in Bath is one of the finest thermal spas of the ancient world. It was built about 2000 years ago around England’s only hot springs. If you have time, you can enter the Baths and enjoy audio guides and interactive displays, following in the Roman’s footsteps.
Outside the Roman Baths you will see a brass UNESCO symbol on the floor. The city of Bath is recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. This is due to the creative genuis of the architecture in the city.
If you stand with your back to the Baths and look down Bath Street, you can see a good example of this. Almost all of the buildings in Bath are built using the yellow Bath stone, which was considered a prestigious building material and gives the city a cohesive look.
With your back to the Roman Baths, walk straight ahead down Bath Street, until you reach The Cross Bath at the end.
Thermae Bath Spa and The Cross Bath
The Cross Bath was a popular venue to swim in the healing hot waters during the 18th Century. Today, it stands across the road from its more modern counterpart, Thermae Bath Spa. This building was built between 1999-2003 and is an example of a modern building in the middle of the historic city.
Before you move on, take a look at the building behind the Cross Bath. This is St John’s Hospital and it is an early example of palladianism architecture in Bath. It was built by the architect John Wood the elder. He was the first architect to introduce the palladianism style to Bath and it defined the way the rest of the city would look.
With The Cross Bar on your left, stay with the curve of Bath Street. Pass by The Little Theatre and continue on to Westgate Street. Turn left on Westgate Street and follow the road as it becomes Saw Close, Barton Street and ultimately Gay Street. Turn left into Queen’s Square, a square park with an oblisk at the centre.
Queen’s Square was the first great development by John Wood in the city. It began in 1729 and was completed in 1736.
Queen’s Square was designed as four rows of terraced houses around a central square garden. The goal was to make a row of terraced houses look like a country house as a means of attracting the wealthy to stay in the city.
Optional stop: The Herschel Museum of Astronomy is located just a short walk from Queen’s Square. It is dedicated to the many achievements of brother and sister William and Caroline Herschel, who were celebrated astronomers and talented musicians. William discovered the planet Uranus in 1781. Find it at 19 New King Street, Bath BA1 2BL.
Leave Queen’s Square via the same way you entered. Continue to follow Gay Street uphill until you reach The Circus.
The King’s Circus
The King’s Circus or simply, The Circus, as it is known, is an impressive and imposing set of three crecent buildings built to create a central circle. It was a creation undertaken in 1754 by John Wood and completed by John Wood the younger after his father passed away.
The design of The Circus echoes the colosseum, with its three tiers. It is another example of the palladianism architecture design in Bath. However, The Circus is also inspired by ancient British architecture including druid stone circles such as Stonehenge, which is indicated by the acorns along the top of the buildings.
Exit The King’s Circus via Brock Street, one street to the left of where you entered. Follow Brock Street until you reach the Royal Crescent.
The Royal Crescent
The Royal Crescent is possibly the most iconic building in Bath. This sprawling crescent-shaped building is fronted by a beautiful park. This sweeping building was designed and built by John Wood the younger between 1757 and 1765.
Although built by John Wood the younger, the concept was likely created by his father. The idea was to create a row of terraced houses that felt like a country house. Unlike The Circus, this building is far less enclosed and feels like a stately home with a sprawling lawn, rather than an inner city appartment.
This building was designed for the wealthy who would visit for ‘the season‘. They would normally stay for a couple of months each year and could rent an entire house or a series of rooms.
Optional stop: No. 1 Royal Crescent has been restored to reflect what a Georgian house would have looked like during 1776-1796. You can book a ticket to take a glimpse inside and get a taste of how Bath’s wealthy visitors lived.
From Royal Crescent, return back down Brock Street, then take the far exit from The Circus, Bennett Street. Shortly after you leave The Circus, enter the pedestrian square on the right to find the Assembly Rooms.
Optional stop: As you exit The Circus on Bennett Street, you will pass the Museum of East Asian Art. It is the only museum in the UK dedicated to the art and culture of East and South East Asia. Their impressive collection consists of nearly 2,000 sets of objects.
The Assembly Rooms
As the city expanded, Bath required new assembly rooms. The Assembly Rooms were a place for social entertainment such as dancing and live performances. They were originally built by John Wood the younger, but were bombed during the second world war so have experienced significant restoration.
Optional stop: Inside the Assembly Rooms you will find the Fashion Museum. It features a world-class collection of contemporary and historic dress. Discover the evolution of fashion through the ages in these beautiful displays.
Return onto Bennett Street and follow it to the end where you turn left onto Lansdown Road. Cross the road and take Guinea Lane on your right, then turn right again onto The Paragon.
Optional stop: You can add a slight detour to your route to visit the Museum of Bath at Work. This museum tells the story of Bath’s working class at the centre of industry. It includes displays on Victorian ironmongers and engineering works, a soft drinks factory and even the story of mining that famous Bath stone.
The Paragon is an imposing row of 21 Georgian town houses built between 1768-1775. This road was one of the key entrance and exits into Bath, and it really sets the scene for visitors when they arrive in the city.
One building that really stands out on The Paragon is The Countess of Huntingdon’s Chapel. It is one of the few buildings in Bath in the gothic revival style. The Countess of Huntingdon was a Methodist who built the chapel as a means of eradicating sin from the city she felt had become far to decadant.
Optional stop: Inside The Countess of Huntingdon’s Chapel you will find the Museum of Bath Architecture. This museum delves into the history of Bath’s Architecture from the Romans, right through to modern structure and explores how they have been designed to complement each other.
Continue to follow the Paragon as it curves to the right, and cross the road onto George Street. Here, take the first left onto Milsom Street.
Shopping was a popular Georgian pastime. Laid out in 1761, Milsom Street was a key commercial area of the Georgian city, giving the wealthy visitors an opportunity to enjoy some retail therapy. Shoppers could pick up their essentials from milliners, drapers, and dressmakers, or visit a library of portrait artist.
Follow Milsom Street to the end and continue on as it becomes New Bond Street and curves to the left. When you reach Northgate Street turn right, then take the first left onto Bridge Street to reach Pulteney Bridge.
Optional stop: Victoria Art Gallery is a free public gallery that houses Bath and North East Somerset’s collection of paintings, sculpture and decorative arts. It houses over 1500 objects of art including a collection of oil paintings from British artists dating from 1700 onwards. It is located on Bridge Street (BA2 4AT).
There are very few buildings in Bath that were designed by architects who didn’t hail from the city. Pulteney Bridge is one of them though! It was designed by architect Robert Adam and is one of the very few bridges of its type in the country.
Pulteney Bridge is a rare example of a bridge with shops along either side. If you were stood on the bridge, it would be easy to think you were just on any regular street! Across the bridge is the new expansion to the city and the start of the neoclassicist architecture that began to develop in Bath.
Cross Pulteney Bridge, continue straight down Argyle Street and continue straight ahead at Laura Place to find yourself on Great Pulteney Street.
Optional stop: as you cross Pulteney Street, take the stairs down on the right-hand side. It will bring you out into the recreation ground. It is another great green space in the city to unwind and it gives you another beautiful view of Pulteney Bridge.
Great Pulteney Street
Great Pulteney Street is a wide street that was designed for promenading. These buildings reflect the newer style of architecture in the city; they are cleaner with fewer columns or decorations. However, they also mark the end of inner city development in Bath.
As the years went on, people were now wanting to live in Bath, rather than just visit. And residents wanted detached or semi-detached properties with gardens, rather than terraced houses.
Great Pulteney street was designed by Robert Adam as a set of streets for new area town, however it was built by Bath architect Thomas Baldwin. It was complemented by Sydney Gardens at the far end, a pleasure garden for daytime walking and evening entertainment such as fireworks.
Optional stop: you cannot help but spot Holburne Museum as you walk down Great Pulteney Street. This grand building sits at the far end of the street at the entrance to Sydney Gardens. It is home to the personal collection of Sir William Holburne, Bath resident and avid collector of silver, paintings, glass, porceline, furniture and more. As you pass, you can pop in and admire the grand collection in person.
Retrace your steps back down Great Pulteney Street, across Pulteney Bridge and take the first left onto Grand Parade, alongside the river.
This final stop on the tour is an opportunity to admire the landscape surrounding Bath. As the middle classes grew in Bath, they wanted to have detached and semi-detached houses and their own land. This saw the townhouse terraced buildings die out, to be replaced by urban villas on the hillsides surrounding Bath.
Bath is one of the few UNESCO World Heritage Sites to incorporate the whole city. The main reason for this is due to the unique way that Bath seamlessly incorporates the surrounding landscape.
Bath Walking Tour: Know Before You Go
When you visit Bath and take this Bath walking tour, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. Here are my top tips for visiting Bath:
- Wear comfortable shoes! There is a lot of walking and Bath is a hilly city so you’ll spend a lot of time walking up and down hills. I learned the hard way and left with some pretty impressive blisters!
- Car parking in the city is expensive and gets busy. If you are travelling by car, arrive early to avoid disappointment. We parked in Avon Street Car Park (BA1 1UF) which was only a short walk from the city centre.
- When you end the tour on Grand Parade, follow it along the river and past the park to discover Dr Gelato. This impressive ice cream store has a great range of classic and experimental flavours. Make sure to try out their charcoal cone!
For more Bath inspiration for planning your trip, check out these resources:
Guided Tours of Bath
If you want to see even more of Bath following your self-guided tour, a guided tour from a local expert is a fantastic way to learn the hidden secrets of a city!
Bath has a wonderful selection of guided tours for you to try. Each one will show you a different aspect of the city – whether it is the dark, haunted back street or a fascinating stroll through the history of Bath.
Here are the best guided tours of Bath for you to enjoy:
- City Walking Tour with Optional Roman Baths Entry
- 1.5-Hour Walking Tour with Blue Badge Tourist Guide
- Bath Guided Ghost Tour
- City Sightseeing Bath: Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour
- Short Orientation Walking Tour
- Ghost Hunters Silent Disco Guided Tour
- The Bad of Bath Walking Tour
Where To Stay In Bath
If you want to spend more than one day exploring the city, here are some great accommodation options for your stay.
Things To Do Near Bath
If you are planning an extended visit to the area, here are some of the other things to do near Bath to get the most out of your visit:
- Beckford’s Tower: is an impressive gold topped tower just outside of Bath. It offer stunning panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
- Cotswolds villages: Bath sits on the edge of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). This region is made up of beautiful countryside and quaint villages that have a storybook feel. Read this guide to discover the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds.
- Castle Combe: when it comes to pretty Cotswold villages, Castle Combe takes the crown. In fact, Castle Combe is often described as the prettiest town in England! Read this guide to discover the perfect way to spend a day in Castle Combe.
- Malmesbury: this pretty market town in Wiltshire is your quintessential English country town. Complete with historic market cross, grand Abbey and sprawling gardens, it is well worth a visit to admire Malmesbury’s charm. Read this guide to discover the top things to do in Malmesbury.
- Dyrham Park: this stunning country house set in ancient deer park is a beautiful place for a gentle stroll. Dyrham Park is maintained by the National Trust and is just a short drive from Bath.
Bath Walking Tour
So if you are visiting Bath, be sure to bookmark this page or pin it using the pin below so you can visit these top sights on your trip!
Have you visited Bath? I’d love to hear about your visit! Let’s connect on Instagram and send me a DM and tell me what you loved most about this fascinating city!
Until our next adventure,