A basic guide to living in Bath

Roman Baths, in Bath
Roman baths. Photograph by Neil Howard

Those of us who live in Bristol think of Bath as the posh city, the one where we go to take a walk, spend an afternoon or do our Christmas shopping. It’s one of the most beautiful cities at that time of year, as Christmas markets, with more than 129 wooden stands (installed from November 26 to December 13), flood the streets in the city centre.

We also like it because by using the bike path linking Bristol and Bath we can reach the city in an hour and a half, going over the old railway tracks. Bath’s other selling points are its Roman baths, visited by hundreds of tourists each year, and its microclimate, different from the rest of the UK and similar to what we have in Bristol. But what else does this beautiful city have to offer? You’ll find out in our basic guide to living in Bath.

1. General information about the city

Pulteney Bridge, in Bath
Pulteney Bridge

Bath is located in the county of Somerset, in the southwest of England. It is situated 20 kilometers southeast of Bristol. It was founded as a thermal complex by the Romans under the Latin name Aquae Sulis (“the waters of Sulis“) 43 AD. The Romans built the complex and a temple in the valley of River Avon, near the source of the thermal waters. It became popular because of its thermal waters during the Georgian era, which led to a major expansion and left a famous legacy of Georgian architecture constructed using Bath stones.

Bath was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987. The city has a great variety of theaters, museums and other cultural buildings, which has contributed to its development as a tourist destination. Each year it receives more than 3.8 million day visitors and one million tourists who spend more time there. There are two universities (the University of Bath and the Bath Spa University) and numerous secondary and higher education centres.

Population: 83,992 inhabitants (2001 data)
City Council website: bathnes.gov.uk/

2. Transportation

In our Basic guide to public transportation in the southwest you will find the best ways to move around Bath. However, the reference website for transport in this area is TravelWest. For routes between cities, you can use TravelinesW. The train and urban bus routes in the metropolitan area of Bath are managed by FirstGroup.

You can always take a bike and ride along the path that leads to Bristol and takes about an hour and a half. The scenery is nice and quiet, as the path goes over an old railway line. In the article “10 unique experiences you can have in Bristol“ you will find more information. You can also consult the official website that has information about this flat 13-mile path.

The best way to move around the city, given its small size, is walking. This way you can walk through the centre with its department stores and ‘posh’ shops.

The closest airport to Bath is in Bristol: Bristol Airport.

3. Tourism

Royal Crescent, in Bath
Royal Crescent. Photo by Vic Xia

The main attractions of Bath are, as we mentioned outright, its thermal baths and cultural buildings. At Christmas, we find precious markets with all kinds of ornaments for the home and food typical of the time of year like chestnuts and mulled wine. In the leisure section of this guide you will find more information on the tourist attractions of Bath, although the main ones are its Roman baths.

Other tourist attractions include the public parks, the Royal Victoria Park, located a short distance from the city centre, being the most important one. It was opened in 1830 by Princess Victoria, who was only 11 at the time. The park overlooks the Royal Crescent and occupies an area of ​​23 hectares. Inside, there is an avenue lined with trees, an obelisk dedicated to Queen Victoria, a lake, a botanical garden and an aviary. It includes a playground for children, a skatepark, a pond with boats and tennis courts, lawn bowls and golf.

Other notable parks in the city are Alexandra Park, Parade Gardens, Sydney Gardens, Henrietta Park, Hedgemead Park and Alice Park.

We also can’t forget Bath Abbey (from the fifteenth century), the Rebecca Fountain (next to the abbey), Royal Crescent, the Pump Room, (a room where the thermal water for consumption is extracted), Milsom Street (the commercial area of ​​Bath), the St Michael’s Church, The Circus, Pulteney Bridge, Longleat  (an ideal safari to go with children) and the obelisk of Orange Grove. Bath visitors can also bathe in the only natural hot springs in Britain: the impressive thermal baths Thermae Bath Spa.

4. Accommodation

Bath is an expensive city, compared to the towns around it. Therefore, the housing there is too. Finding a good apartment at a good price is not easy, but it’s not impossible. Try your luck with these websites, considered the 10 best websites for finding inexpensive accommodation in any part of the UK. This article may also be of interest:

5. Work

As is the case in most cities in England, it is easy to find work in the service sector. If you have a medium level of English, you won’t have any problems finding work in a bar or a restaurant. Finding a job in your professional sector will depend on the sector and your English level. The best thing to do is come to Bath with a job. And if that is not possible, leave a CV (with a cover letter, both correctly translated, as we explain in this article) wherever there are offers and you would like to work. These articles on how to find work in the UK will help you with this task:

6. Leisure

Bath International Music Festival
Bath International Music Festival

Today, Bath has five theatres (Theatre Royal, Ustinov Studio, the egg, el Rondo Theatre and Mission Theatre) and attracts internationally renowned companies and directors, including an annual season of Peter Hall. The city also has a long musical tradition. Bath Abbey is home to an organ form the German firm Klais Orgelbau and is the largest concert hall in the city, with 20 concerts and 26 organ recitals every year. Another prominent concert hall is The Forum, an art deco building with 2,000 seats which was the most luxurious cinema in Bath.

As for festivals, since 1948, the city has been home to the annual Bath International Music Festival, where genres such as orchestral, chamber music, contemporary classical, jazz and world music converge. The event takes place in late May or early June and lasts two weeks. Other annual cultural events are the Bath Film Festival (since 1991), the Bath Literature Festival (since 1995), the Bath Festival of Children’s Literature (since 2008), the Bath Fringe Festival (a festival of art founded in 1981), and the Bath Beer Festival.

Fashion Museum, Bath
Fashion Museum

As for museums, the city is home to the Victoria Art Gallery, opened in 1900, which exhibits more than 1,500 pieces, ranging from British oil paintings from the seventeenth century to contemporary works of art. The Museum of East Asian Art, founded in 1993, has 2,000 objects (which include pottery, jade and bronze) on display and has one of the largest collections of East Asian art in the country outside London.

The Holburne Museum of Art exhibits the art collection of the 19th century by Sir William Holburne. The original collection is noteworthy for its silver items and European paintings, but it also includes Italian bronzes, works in majolica, porcelain and glass, furniture and miniature portraits.

The Bath Postal Museum, established in 1979, provides information on the development of mail since 2000 BC to the present day and the evolution of British mailboxes. Its artifacts include pens and inkwells, post horns, mailboxes, Egyptian papyri, Sumerian clay tablets, postal cars, letters and seals. The Fashion Museum, which opened in 1963, has more than 30,000 articles of women’s, children’s and men’s clothing from the 16th century onwards and has items by renowned contemporary designers such as Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, John Galliano and Donatella Versace.

The Jane Austen Centre  is a permanent exhibition on the life of writer Jane Austen in Bath between 1801 and 1806. The Herschel Museum of Astronomy, opened in 1981, is dedicated to the life and work of William and Caroline Herschel. Located in the former home of the brothers (New King Street No 19) it was where William, with the help of a telescope of his own design, discovered the planet Uranus in 1781. The Roman baths are one of the biggest tourist attractions in southwest England, and have a collection of Roman reliefs and gemstones with figures of gods, other mythological characters and animals.

Finally, the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, founded in 1824, has a collection of 7,000 volumes on topics as varied as natural history, theology, European and local history, including dictionaries of ancient and foreign languages, and thousands of fossils and plant specimens, among other things.

Bath Buns
Bath Buns

As for the cuisine, Bath has restaurants awarded with five Michelin stars, traditional pubs and rural tea rooms. The city is also the origin of two culinary teatime delicacies: Bath Buns and Sally Lunn Buns, baked according to a secret recipe. The region also produces cider, cheese and beer. The cheddar cheese has become world famous, and you can only find the original one here. You can also look for locally brewed beers: the Abbey Ales of Bath.

7. Studying in Bath

Bath has two universities (the University of Bath and the Bath Spa University) and numerous secondary and higher education centres.

8. Extra information

If you have any suggestions or comments for the guide, you can leave it in this article or send an e-mail to bristolenos@gmail.com. Our team hopes you will find it helpful during your adventure in this beautiful city.

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