Thinking about visiting Bath only have a few hours to spare? I’ve got you covered! Learn how to spend half a day in bath and still have a good time. I recently visited Bath on a Sunday when stores are opened with limited hours so I can share my experience with you.
My son, Mikael, recently visited me and Madison here in England from Colorado Springs, CO, and I wanted him to experience as much of England as he could, since he was only going to be with us for 3 weeks. One of those weeks, however, was spent exploring Croatia and Slovenia. And while there’s tons to do in London, there is much more to England than London.
So I decided to rent a car and explore as much of England as I could together with Mikael and Madison. Bath is of one of those places that I’ve always wanted to visit, but getting to Bath from London is fairly pricey, as round trip advanced tickets (even with a Railcard) for me, Mikael and Madison was around £125 and the trip is around 1½ hours.
Sunday in the UK is considered family day, so unlike the US there is limited hours to do much. Many of the places that I wanted to visit opened either at 10 or 11am and closed at 5pm on Sunday (the Bath Abbey opens at 12 noon). Since I knew that beforehand, I decided to get an early start and head out at 9am so by the time we got to Bath, we would be able to simply get our day started.
I had a rough guide about what we wanted to do, but ended up going from one experience to the other quite haphazardly since we had no idea where each was located beforehand. But guess what? Now you don’t have to. So if have plans on visiting Bath on a Sunday, like I did, here’s what you can do with your limited time in the best time efficient way. This itinerary is for you!
Here is your guide to making the most out of half a day in Bath.
Take a Boat Tour
While most might suggest the TootBus Tour that you’ll see the many tourists hopping on and off around Bath, I am going to tell you to save your money and NOT do that. Not only is it expensive at £22 per person, but you see, Bath is a very compact city and it’s very easy to walk around. From my limited time there I learned that I could easily get from one experience to the next quite easily in less than 15 minutes mostly. I wished I had know this before we got to Bath, because then I could have easily added a few more things to my itinerary.
The Boat Tour which you can easily access from along the River Avon, a few steps from the Pulteney Bridge is not only affordable but you get an experience like no other. Compared to the bus tours, the boat ride was a steal. The price of the Boat Tour is £10 per adult, and £5 per child. If you have really small children or more than two, you can, however, negotiate or haggle the price for your children.
The tour lasts roughly one hour.
You get to tour along the River Avon and see sights along the way that you won’t get to see on the bus, and you get an amazing commentary from a local guide. We learned a lot during the tour including learning where the term “Daylight Robbery” came from.
We noticed a few homes along the river that had windows completely covered and learned that back in the day, homes were taxed based on how many windows you had. So the more windows you had, obviously the more taxes you had to pay. So people would cover their windows so that they didn’t have to pay exorbitant taxes, hence the term, “daylight robbery”.
Our tour guide was hilarious, and we laughed and learned and laughed some more, and got up close to the small “waterfall” there in front of the Pulteney Bridge. It’s a one of a kind experience and only available on the boat tour.
Walk Along Pulteney Bridge
The Pulteney Bridge is not just a bridge, it’s a very unique bridge and one of four that’s currently built this way. If you notice closely in the photo above, you’ll see it has shops built above (on) it along its side. Once you’re done with your tour, you’re already right in front of the bridge so simply walk across and visit the tiny shops. But before you do that, you’ll meet a cute little maze (the Beazer Garden Maze) that the kids can try and walk and find their way through to the middle.
Visit the Victoria Art Gallery
The Victoria Art Gallery is on the corner of the Pulteney Bridge and is a great place for art lovers to visit. It is totally free to enter and is rather small. It consists of one floor of exhibits and a ceramics section. The kids might actually enjoy it as they make it interactive for the kids. There’s a “find me” game that will have them looking around searching for hidden objects in the artwork and around the museum.
Realistically you can do the Victoria Art Gallery in under and hour, but if you really enjoy art and poring over the details, then take as much time as you want. But if you’re in Bath for the Bath Abbey, then you’re going to want to hurry as you do need to be at the Bath Abbey in line before 2pm. You can prebook timed tickets for the Roman Baths so you can plan around that.
Visit the Bath Abbey
The Bath Abbey was the highlight of my trip to Bath and it did not disappoint. Unfortunately as of March 2023, it’s no longer free to enter, but the fee is very minimal. Adults – £3, Students – £2.50, Children (5-15) – £1.50 with families getting an additional 10% discount. If you’d like to get an audio guide that will be an extra £3.50. The times are also limited on Sundays. They open at 12pm – 2:30pm with the last entry being 2:15pm.
There is an additional tower tour that you can do, but it is not available on Sundays. If the Bath Abbey tower is something you need to do, then visiting on a weekday would be your best option.
If you’re one of the last few who got to enter at 2:15pm, you won’t get thrown out of the Abbey, but the choir comes in to “rehearse” I think around that time so you can hear them practice and it was such an experience. I can’t say for sure if it happens every Sunday afternoon, but we sure were lucky to get a grand performance from them.
The Bath Abbey is so much more than a “church” and there is quite a bit you can see and do while you’re visiting. The stained glass windows are not only beautiful but the Great East Window tells the story of Jesus in 56 scenes, while the West Window tells the stories of the first five books in the Bible including Noahs Ark. And there’s King Edgars window which shows his crowning as the first King of England. There are also memorials commemorating the lives of people from the 17-1800’s.
You can spend as little as 15 minutes (but why would you?) or a few hours easily here. But it’s Sunday so your time is limited so lets get going to the Roman Baths.
Take a Peek Into The Roman Baths
Now, the Roman Baths might also be something that you’re interested in doing. I wasn’t, but I had to add it to the list, because it’s also a must-do while in Bath apparently. You’ll have to book a timed slot, and you’re not allowed entry outside of your alloted slot. Check out the Roman Baths website for more detailed info.
I had seen photos beforehand of the Roman Baths and they didn’t entice me to want to visit, but it’s a must-do while in Bath apparently. It’s also just a few footsteps away from the Bath Abbey, so there’s no walk. We weren’t able to get tickets for the day we visited as our trip was a spur of the moment adventure. Tickets are also a tad bit more expensive when visiting on the weekends compared to weekday tickets which is another thing to take into consideration.
Visit The Jane Austen Centre
Now this was my other reason for visiting Bath. I love reading and having read Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion and Emma, I knew I wanted to visit The Jane Austen Centre. The centre is open daily 10am – 5pm.
If you didn’t know, Jane spent some of her life in Bath and Persuasion is partly set in Bath and I wanted to know more about the woman she was growing up. The Jane Austen Centre chronicles the life and times of James Austen and introduces you to her family. It also includes a regency tea room.
While the museum is small it’s very interactive and immersive and there are costumed actors who never leave character who can answer all your questions. The highlight of the visit was dressing up in the regency costumes and having your photo taken with Mr Darcy from the book Pride and Prejudice.
After your visit, feel free to browse around the gift shop and take a gift or two home. Or you can have tea if you’ve pre-booked. Once again, we didn’t prebook anything since we were winging this trip to Bath.
Walk Along the Circus
Literally up the hill, about a 2-minute walk from The Jane Austen Centre is the Circus. The Circus is a circular road flanked by three curved rows of townhouses in a circle. There are 30 houses in total set in groups of 8, 10 and 12. We were told that the designed was inspired by Stonehenge and the Colosseum in Rome. It’s said that several famous people have lived (and are currently living) in these home including actor Nicolas Cage. I cannot confirm this as I personally didn’t see anyone famous while I was there. And I did look. ☺️
And The Royal Crescent
Also a few minutes walk from the Circus is The Royal Crescent. The Royal Crescent was also designed and built by the same person who did The Circus. However, instead of these homes being in a circle, these Georgian terraced homes are build in a curve (or crescent) facing an open green lawn. There are 30 Georgian-style houses which includes private homes, a museum (located at 1 Royal Crescent) and a hotel (The Royal Crescent Hotel).
Spend the Rest of Your Time in the Royal Victoria Park
If you made it to the Royal Crescent and you’re on the lawn you would have an amazing view of the Royal Victoria Park, once again not too far away, about a 5-minute walk. The Royal Victoria Park is a beautiful park and a great way to decompress and relax after the amazing day you just had in Bath. There are playgrounds, a pond where you can feed the ducks and a gorgeous botanical garden.
Things You Can Add to Your Itinerary If You Have More Time
I wasn’t able to get everything that I wanted to do in Bath on my list because I had such short a time there. You should, however, consider them for yourself.
- Sally Lunn’s House – A historical eatery and museum and one of the oldest structures in Bath, constructed around 1482. We heard they make the best buns, so be sure to grab some while you’re there.
- Bath Assembly Rooms & Fashion Museum – The Assembly Rooms are part of the Bath UNESCO World Heritage sites.
- Holburne Museum – It’s located in Bath’s Sydney Pleasure Garden and was Baths fist public art gallery.
Now you might have noticed that I didn’t add in anywhere to eat. That’s because we walked with a packed lunch that we could easily eat since we didn’t have that much time. However, Bath is filled with quite a few shops and restaurants that you can eat at. However, I can’t recommend any to you as we didn’t eat at any restaurants. I’ll be sure to let you know where to eat and what you must try when visiting if I happen to go back to Bath and try any of their restaurants.
Bath is a beautiful city filled with lots of history and much to do so if you find yourself with limited time. I do recommend visiting during the week as you’ll have much more time to spend in each location, and you can also add a few more things to your itinerary as well. Another plus for visiting on a weekday is that tickets for a few of the attractions are also a tad bit cheaper.
But if you don’t have a lot of time or you’ve made plans to visit Bath on a Sunday like we did, I hope our itinerary will help. Have a wonderful time in Bath!