A London to Bath Day Trip: Your Perfect Guide
A London to Bath day trip combines two of the most interesting places to visit in England. Here's how you can do it yourself, how to find a good tour to join - and how I hope to convince you to stay for longer in this honeystoned slice of history. Roman Baths, Georgian terraces and Jane Austen await amid a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Let's go...
How to Organise a London to Bath Day Trip
In its simplest terms, just hop on a train from London Paddington station and in 90 minutes you'll be in Bath Spa. It's a relatively short but steep walk from the station to the historical highlights. Bath is popular, however, as an international World Heritage Site and there are some things you need to know to make the most of your London to Bath Day Trip.
How about a weekend? Where to stay in Bath
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful Bath has plenty of great places to stay, from hotels to guesthouses. Stay a little longer than a day trip and spend two days in Bath before heading into the neighbouring Area of Natural Beauty, the Cotswolds. If you book or buy through these links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
- With young children: the luxurious self-catered apartment that overlooke The Circus. Book with Hideaways.
- For romance: The Queensberry Hotel on Russell Street. So lovely, I stayed here on my honeymoon.
- For a great view and a sense of history: The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa. Sleep in the architectural majesty itself with great views of the city.
Join a London to Bath Day Trip Tour
In general, I'm more of an do-your-own-thing traveller, but that's easier said that done when we're talking about the city I was born and the city I lived in.
If you want to join a tour to save time, you'll find plenty. I haven't tested them individually but Get Your Guide do have a great reputation for managing different tours. If you book, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
London to Bath DAY TRIP Transport Options
Under normal circumstances, the train is the easiest and most comfortable way to travel from London to Bath Spa. Even the arrival in the station gives a glimpse at the architectural beauties that await. However, for completion, here are the other main options. Always remember, though, that parking in central Bath is a nightmare for residents and visitors alike...
London to Bath By Train
Trains leave regularly (every 30-60 minutes) from London Paddington Station in West London. This is also the closest main London station to Heathrow Airport and has the Heathrow Express hub in case you want to tempt fate and swoosh back to London just in time to catch a flight. Ticket prices vary according to the time of day you travel and how far you book in advance. Check out the details on the National Rail Journey Planner here. If you are only planning on a London to Bath Day Trip (rather than a weekend, hint, hint) then you will need to go early to beat the crowds at the Baths themselves. Early trains are typically more expensive (another reason why it's good to make a weekend of it.)
- Duration: 90 minutes.
London to Bath by Bus
Long distance buses tend to be the cheapest option, but also the most uncomfortable. Or at least they used to be. National Express, the main coach company, has improved drastically in recent years, with seats now offering better comfort, wifi, footstools, an onboard toilet and, well, that's about it.
The journey time is longer, though, and heavily influenced by traffic.
- Duration: 2-3 hours.
London to Bath By Car
Don't do it! In all seriousness, it's not that bad - I've done it plenty of times - but the final stretch can be hideous, and that's before we get to the parking.
The driving route is actually pretty easy, once you escape the entangled mayhem of London. You simply head west on the M4 motorway (creatively titled "the West" on the signposts) until you hit the brown heritage signs for Bath Spa.
In the city centre, the roads are narrow, steep and designed for Jane Austen's time, with an indecipherable, vexatious one-way system thrown in for good measure. Parking is expensive and hard to find.
- Duration: 2 hours to Bath, 2 hours to park
London to Bath as a Tour
Leave the hoi polloi behind and leave the parking headache to your tour guide. Many London to Bath tours also whisk you off to Stonehenge and Oxford as well. While these are both amazing places, they're not particularly close by and you'll miss most of what Bath has to offer. Stonehenge doesn't require that much time but Oxford deserves at least half a day.
So, if you're really tight on time then choose a multi-stop tour. But wherver possible, chill baby. These old places are designed for people to go slow!
- Duration 12-15 hours if you count the whole thing.
Unusual Fact About Bath
Legend has it that The Circus was inspired by the circle at Stonehenge and the thought that Bath had once been the Druid centre of England.
Bath Itinerary: How to See Bath in a Day
Right, then, now's the time to pay attention. If you're arranging this London to Bath day trip yourself then there are a few things you need to book in advance. With that taken care of, you can slot the rest around it and enjoy!
- Early entry into the Roman Baths
- A session at the Thermae Bath Spa
- Possibly the Pump Rooms
The Roman Baths
Imagine the shock of the poor Roman soldiers stationed at the edge of the western Empire. Damp and cold and eating turnips instead of suntanned and relaxed in the land of fresh olives and grapes. It's easy to imagine why they built such a magnificent complex around the natural thermal springs in Bath Spa - and all the more amazing that so much remains today.
Head straight to the Roman Baths and join a guided tour, followed by morning tea and cakes at the neighbouring Pump Rooms.
The Pump Rooms
Switch from 2000 years ago to 200 years ago in the era of Jane Austen in the lavish, chandelier-dripping Pump Rooms next to the Baths. To the sound of the violin, tuck into sponge cakes and cream tea and grab a taste of the highlife that would have inspired so many of Austen's famous novels. (There is a Jane Austen museum but to be honest, it's not that informative. Better to spend time soaking up the atmosphere in the other buildings in Bath if you only have a day.)
- Top tip - taste the thermal water but don't blame me for the reaction!
Right next door to the Bath Spa is the Bath Abbey, a grand building with origins in the 7th century that would command a lot of attention, if it weren't for all the other things going on in Bath Spa. Officially the Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, it's one of the largest examples of perpendicular Gothic architecture in the world and has some spectacular gargoyles on the outside. You can keep the visit short if you need to move on...
Pulteney Bridge & Shops
Walk around to the water's edge and across the stony Pulteney Bridge to see another of Bath's highlights. The boutique shops and crafts here contrast with the crashing of the water over the weir. Walk back in to the cluster of shops that make their way up to the Circus to grab a spot of lunch.
Circus and Crescent
The Circus (a circle) and Crescent (ahem, crescent) form two astounding architectural structures right in the residential area of Bath. All in matching honeyed stone and designed by John the Elder, they were built between 1754 and 1768, and remain today a kick-ass piece of work.
The Assembly Rooms and Fashion Museum
Now, hang on. Don't be afraid of the word "fashion." The Fashion Museum covers clothes from hundreds of years ago up to pretty modern times and it's a fascinating look at history - and the perfect complement to all that stone.
The Assembly Rooms also conjure up ideas of Jane Austen balls (disclosure, I've been to a ball here - and my own wedding!) In more practical terms, they serve a good cup of afternoon tea.
Thermae Bath Spa
The new spa on the block, this purpose built complex takes the pre-Roman idea of water therapy and reinvents it for the 21st century. The key piece is the rooftop pool where you can drift amid the steam and see the spires and stone of Bath around you and the hills that stretch off to the Cotswolds.
It doesn't have an exclusive vibe and does seem focused on the numbers but the view makes up for that. Book a session at the Thermae Bath Spa here.
Then it's time to head back to London. But you haven't even scratched the surface of this stunning city, with artisanal shops, cooking courses, Jane Austen's actual home, hidden passageways, blue glass traditions and more. As you can probably tell by now, I love this city. Please stay a little longer...
But if you are on a London to Bath day trip then it's time to head back to the Big Smoke. And leave those Georgian dreams for another time...
Top Tips for Your London to Bath Day Trip
- Stay for more than a day! There is so much more to see and modern-day Bath has a great atmosphere beyond the tourist stops.
- Head to the Roman Baths early to beat the crowds.
- Take a tour of the Baths to bring the stories to life. The covered museum is pretty good but you need to hear the stories of how skin was scraped with oil by hand from another living person, I reckon.
- Don't drive here if you can help it.
- Book your session at the Thermae Bath Spa for sunset if you can - the view from the rooftop pool is incredible.
- Bath is compact but steep. Wear comfy walking shoes and be prepared for a super cardio workout if travelling with children.
- Most museums in Bath are really child friendly and there are plenty of green spaces. However, the Roman Baths themselves are uneven and slippery in places and much harder. Might be an idea to tag team this if you are travelling with very young children. Likewise, the Thermae Spa is not really meant for kids.
London to Bath With Young Children
If you're travelling with young children, then there's no question about it. A London to Bath day trip is not the best way! Instead, book a self-catering spot and tone up your calves on the hills. Bath is a great place to visit with young children but you'll need to pace yourself. It also might be worth driving, as long as one of you can drop off the others and the luggage and then face the parking struggle alone.
We loved this little apartment, right in the centre of the city. It had great features so that we could enjoy a couple's evening but toddler lab could rest. Here's more information...
Two bedrooms, one with twin beds and a travel cot provided. One spacious double bedroom. Having two rooms like this, and a lounge, meant that once baby Lab was asleep, we really could feel as though we were on a romantic trip away (rather than hiding in the bathroom to eat dinner. This has been done...)
There's also space for the travel cot in the main room as well, though. So if your baby is younger than six months they can still sleep in the same room as you, in accordance with current health guidelines.
A small but beautifully decorated and well equipped kitchen served all our needs for a weekend break. It also made life much easier than forcing baby Lab to stay still in restaurants every night. She's pretty good (and we still ate out a lot - see future posts for where to eat in Bath!) but it certainly gave us options. Hideaways also provided a high chair, which again made life easier.
As for romance? Well, there was a lovely bottle of wine and glasses left to welcome us into our stay. Plus some less romantic but still very useful products in the shape of bin bags and washing up liquid.
Hideaways Circus House: Family Friendly
Yes, yes, yes! The only two things to note (a lot of white, which is a little nerve-wracking, and several flights of stairs with no lift) are more than made up for by the provision of highchair, travel cot and a wonderful box of toys.
Disclosure - we received a complimentary stay at Circus House for review purposes. However, as ever, as always, we kept the right to write what we like. Otherwise there's just no point!
Hideaways offer a wide selection of personally inspected, self-catering holiday cottages across the South of England and the Welsh Borders. Our range includes quirky follies, gate lodges and converted chapels as well as traditional thatched cottages, state-of-the-art barns and chic town houses and apartments.