I had so many questions before my first visit to the ancient Roman Baths in Bath, England. Questions like: Why are there Roman Baths in England? Can I go swimming in the Roman Baths? Are the Roman baths worth a Day trip from London? What do I need to know for my visit? In this blog, I’ll share what to expect along with the practical tips that helped prepare me for my first visit to the Roman Baths in Bath, England based on my experience visiting London and taking a day trip the famous ancient site.
What are the Roman Baths?
Long story short, Britain was invaded by Romans in 43 AD. Some 30 years later, the Romans built baths in 75 AD, which served as a religious complex that was later turned into a buzzing bathing, social, and political center. Today, the ancient Roman Baths are a wonderfully preserved site of and one of the greatest religious spas of ancient times. Furthermore, they still contains the natural hot water from the city’s thermal springs!
Today, the site contains the Sacred Spring, Temple, Roman Bath House, and a museum of wonderful artifacts.
Where are the Roman Baths in England? How do I get to Bath from London?
Just a short day trip from London, the ancient Roman Baths are located in the center of Bath, England. Overall, it’s about 120 mi, 2-3.5 hrs from London. There are a couple of different options to get to Bath from London.
- Drive. There are no direct parking spaces in the center of Bath, however, there is a park n’ ride lot about 10 minutes away from the ancient roman baths. From the park n’ ride, there is a free bus that will take you to the site. Another option is to attempt to find street parking or park your vehicle in the car park, which is about £2/hr on average with rates based on the length of stay. Lucky for us, the city of Bath created an entire site dedicated to parking in Bath.
- Take a train. The Great Western Railway (GWR) trains depart from London Paddington Station to the Bath Spa stop. Tickets start at £15.50 one way and the entire ride lasts about 1.5hrs. Once the train arrives at the Roman Baths stop, it’s a 5- to 10-minute walk to the site.
- Group Tour. This is what I did; I took a small-group tour that stopped by Stonehenge, Bath, and Windsor. The tour met at a centrally located spot in London and included all entry fees, transportation, and personal tour guide. The first tour below is the one I booked, but there are plenty of Bath day trips from London to choose from.
How Much Does it Cost to Visit the Roman Baths?
Prices vary based on the specific season and day of the week (weekend vs. weekday). As with most travel destinations, I’ve found the prices are generally cheaper in the Fall/Winter months than summer. Here’s an idea of what it costs:
- Adults = £16 (Super off-peak ) to £20 (peak);
- Kids ages 6-18 = £9 (Super off-peak ) to £13 (peak); free under 6
On the official Roman Baths website, there are also Family discounts (2 adults, up to 4 kids or single adult and kids). I can not stress this enough, but if you purchase tickets online in advance you can take advantage of the 10% off online booking discount!
Aside from purchasing tickets directly through the site, the group or private tours will cost more because it includes transportation, a driver, personal tour guide, multiple stops, etc. It also helps to know that the City of Bath offers a “museum saver pass” discount that grants admission to the Roman Baths, fashion museum, and Victoria art gallery.
How can I Prepare for my Visit to the Ancient Roman Baths?
There are a few things you need to know in order to make your visit to the ancient Roman Baths a smooth and memorable one.
- The site is generally Open 9:00 or 9:30am to 5pm everyday except December 25 & 26; but hours vary based on time of year. I spent about 2hrs exploring the site.
- The tickets are timed entry tickets, and like I said before, buy in advance!
- Best time to visit i= the morning during the non-summer months. In addition, there are hourly free tours starting at 10am.
- The inside of the Roman Baths are narrow and there’s a lot to see and read. To some people who may be a bit claustrophobic, it may feel crowded because the site is underground and enclosed.
- Pack light, pack tight. There are multiple levels of stairs and as such, no strollers are allowed. There are lifts available to 90% of site.
- Prepare for the smells. The Roman Baths are naturally warmed by geo-thermal heat, which has a distinct aroma. You get used to it but expect the smell to hit when you first walk through. Also keep in mind the site is below street level and beside a literal bath so it will be humid.
- Audio guides are available for adults and kids included in admission price.
Can you go Swimming in the Roman baths?
NO! The water is from a natural hot spring. It has a green tint, foggy film on the surface, and there is smoke…in sum, it contains untreated water. Please don’t touch it (it is against the rules) and since you can’t touch it, you certainly can not swim in it!
What Else do I Need to Know for my Visit to the Ancient Roman Baths?
I’m glad I did not skip the interactive exhibits inside – I read about the many activities, viewed artifacts, and watched video re-enactments of how the space was used. If you take the time to read the descriptions, watch the re-enactments, and listen to the audio guide, it’s super cool and enhances the overall visit.
It also helps to know there are special events throughout the year. One such activity is the “Torchlit Summer Evenings” where torches are lit along the perimeter of the baths at 6pm in the summer and 4pm winter. On those nights the baths remain open until 10pm. I wasn’t able to attend, but from what I read it’s a pretty intimate evening and gives people goosebumps to see the torches lit just as they did in ancient times. This event runs from late June to late August. There are also special Kids dress-up events, T’ai Chi on the Terrace, and other activities throughout the year. Some of these events are free and others are at an extra cost.
Finally, the city of Batch has a lot of local shops, activities, spas, and other things to do, and see. Don’t sleep on the city of Bath, everyone!
I hope this blog helps you to know what to expect when visiting the ancient Roman Baths in England. With a little preparation and practical tips, I believe you’ll have an amazing time!
So tell me, are you excited for your trip to the Roman Baths? Leave your comments below!
Antoinette | Frolic & Courage