Visitors are drawn to central Bath like metal to a magnet. This is the location of the city's ancient historic sights – the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey. Independent stores and smart eateries line the streets fanning out all around – many are pedestrianised and make for vibrant and sophisticated places to stroll.
Making a beeline for the main drawcards of the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey is not only instinctive, it's also a great tactic – it gives you more chance of securing a slot on the abbey's superb Tower Tours.
You could squeeze the neighbourhood's two big sights into a day, but that'd mean rushing things. Allocating two days gives you more time to soak up the atmosphere, indulge in a cream tea and head out on a walking tour. Three days could see you also relaxing at Thermae Bath Spa, having leisurely lunches and adding another museum or two.
Central Bath is best explored on foot. The bulk of the neighbourhood's sights and eateries are in the area around the Roman Baths, with busy shopping streets leading north up towards the Royal Crescent. Another swathe of mainly chain stores makes up the SouthGate shopping centre, which stretches between the baths and the train station.
During the day, central Bath is crowded with visitors – if you can, linger on into the evening, when you'll feel the city acquire a relaxed vibe, with both locals and visitors thronging restaurants and bars.
- Roman Baths Sipping mineral-rich waters after exploring one of Europe's most atmospheric, ancient spas.
- Bath Abbey Tower Tours Clambering up 212 steps, emerging onto the abbey roof and seeing extraordinary views.
- Thermae Bath Spa Unwinding in the sauna then soaking in naturally heated waters in a roof-top pool.
- Bizarre Bath Comedy Walk Laughing your socks off on a hysterical – not historical – guided walk.
- Pump Room Sampling traditional afternoon tea in a gracious restaurant to the strains of a string trio.
The cafes and pubs of central Bath are an excellent way to experience the neighbourhood's different moods. During the day, drink in the heritage at tourist-focused eateries such as the Pump Room and Sally Lunn's. As the offices close and day-visitors head home, then pubs such as the Griffin Inn and Salamander become teaming with locals having a post-work pint.