What to do at the weekend:
Visit The Roman Baths in Bath
We love a bit of history. It’s one of the great things about the UK – there’s so much of it to explore!
While spending a weekend in Bath, Somerset, we – of course – had to add the famous Roman Baths to our itinerary.
It’s definitely one of the best things to do in Bath and a must-see if you’re visiting the city.
What are The Roman Baths?
As the name suggests, The Roman Baths are baths that were used by the Romans (we know, shocking right)?!
Situated in the centre of the UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath- previously known as Aquae Sulis – is where you’ll find this spectacular sight.
As one of the main tourist attractions in the city, The Roman Baths are steeped in history and date back around 2000 years.
It is here that the Romans constructed a spectacular temple and bathing complex on what is actually the site of the UK’s only natural hot spring.
Pretty cool we know!
The water is still naturally hot even today.
A Step Back in Time
While exploring The Roman Baths you’ll get to step back in time to discover the ancient sacred springs used by the Romans all those years ago.
During your visit you’ll get an up close view of the original bathing complex and hundreds of incredible artefacts.
Brilliantly preserved, the site is now a monument and museum to England’s rich heritage.
What is the history of The Roman Baths?
The Roman Baths are in fact one of the ancient world’s greatest religious spas.
Back when they were founded, Roman Britons flocked to the site to worship a the Goddess of Wisdom known as Sulis Minerva.
And bathe in the natural thermal springs of course.
The baths were used by visitors from across the Roman Empire as a place of worship and healing.
Within the complex, the Romans constructed a temple to honour Sulis Minerva.
This is now one of only two classical temples which still remain from the Roman Britain period – so it’s definitely worth a visit.
What is there to see at The Roman Baths?
There’s a lot to see at The Roman Baths.
Alongside the main baths complex, you’ll get to venture through the ruins of the Temple of Sulis Minerva and take in the comprehensive collection of artefacts in their museum.
As you walk around you’ll be treading on ancient pavements that have been used for thousands of years.
The Great Bath
The main centrepiece / iconic part of the site is the Great Bath.
Here you’ll see beautiful stone columns surrounding the water.
It’s easy to imagine how ornate and special this place would have been when it was first built.
The bath is fed with water from the Sacred Spring, which you’ll catch a glimpse of through some windows towards the beginning of your walk around the complex.
It sits in what would have been the courtyard of the Temple of Sulis Minerva
The Great Bath is the perfect spot for a few Instagram shots if that’s your thing (and you can get an unobstructed view).
Around the edges of the Great Bath you’ll find remains of the changing facilities, gym and Laconicum (sauna).
Throughout these areas projections on the walls help to explain their history and how they would have been used by the Romans.
Before you head out at the end of your visit, there is a drinking tap where you have the chance to try the famous water.
In the museum you can discover a whole host of incredible artefacts.
It is home to the Beau Street Hoard which includes 17,660 Roman coins.
As you make your way around the museum complex, other key artefacts include the Roman curse tablets.
These are sheets of lead or pewter which are inscribed with the prayers of 130 people.
Once the prayer had been written, they were thrown into the spring where they believed the spirit of Sulis Minerva lived.
By throwing the tablets into the springs it was thought that they would achieve retribution for any wrongdoings.
The tablets are VERY old – ranging from the 2nd to the 4th centuries AD.
The Temple Pediment and Gorgon’s Head
Another of the most well-known objects on display is the temple pediment and Gorgon’s head.
It is thought that this was sculpted in the later part of the first century AD.
Within the impressive stone sculpture, you can spot many intricate details.
These include a dolphin’s head helmet, a small owl, and snakes running through the main head’s beard and hair.
Every time you look you’ll see something new.
Just before you step out into the spot of the Great Baths, you’ll also get to see the overflow and drainage from the hot spring – where you can really feel the heat!
Audio Guides and Signs
As you walk around The Roman Baths, there are many signs which include great information on the history and significance of certain elements and artefacts.
Included in your ticket price, you’ll also be given an audio guide which is simple to use and really adds to the visit.
Each sign you see is given a number which can be typed into your audio guide to head a specific bit of information.
The audio guides are available in 12 languages.
They work in the same way as a phone – holding it to your ear to hear the information.
However, if you’d prefer, you can bring your own headphones to plug into the device.
Definitely make sure you grab your audio guide as you leave the ticket point as it is really helpful for keeping you informed as you venture around the complex.
When is the best time to visit the Roman Baths?
If you visit on a weekend, prepare for it to be busy.
It is after-all one of the major things to do in Bath and perhaps the city’s biggest tourist attraction.
We’ve not been on a weekday, however we would assume The Roman Baths are far quieter during the week than they are on a Saturday or Sunday.
We went on a Saturday and struggled to see some the artefacts because of the number of people.
One smaller room in particular was so packed that we skipped it altogether.
That was the main downside in our opinion.
We still enjoyed our time at the baths of course, but it would have been better with half the number of people!
Can you go in the water at The Roman Baths?
No you can’t unfortunately – although that would be cool!
Sadly the water quality is deemed to poor to swim in in this day and age.
Safety first and all that.
Thermae Bath Spa
If you do fancy a swim, just around the corner you’ll find the Thermae Bath Spa.
This uses the same water as The Roman Baths, however it’s been treated so it is safe to bathe in.
Here you can spend the day, or a couple of hours relaxing in the spa facilities.
Inside you’ll find steam rooms, an ice chamber, infrared room, showers and a pool which includes hot tubs.
The stand out of the Thermae Bath Spa is the rooftop pool.
Here you can have a soak in the naturally warm water, while also soaking up spectacular views of Bath.
Tanith has been here before and would definitely recommend it if you’re looking to unwind.
A basic 2-hour session in the spa (no treatments included) is £38 Monday to Friday, and £43 on the weekend.
How much does it cost to visit The Roman Baths?
Visiting The Roman Baths isn’t the cheapest day out.
Particularly since you’ll only spend a couple of hours maximum exploring the site.
That being said, as such a spectacular and interesting piece of history, it’s one of those places that you have to see.
On a weekend, an adult ticket will set you back £25.50, and a child’s ticket is £18.00
If you’re lucky enough to be able to visit on a weekday you’ll save a couple of pounds per person, with adults costing £23.50 and children £15.50 (every little helps)!
They do offer other rates for students and seniors, and there are also a couple of family options available which may help you save some money.
Blue Peter Badge holders can enter for free – however you must have your badge with you when you attend.
We’re jealous as we ALWAYS wanted a Blue Peter Badge (UK readers will understand).
More Things to do in Bath
Bath really is a charming city that is full of history and things to keep you occupied.
Alongside the Roman Baths, sits Bath Abbey – or “The Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.”
This incredible building is a parish church of the Church of England and former Benedictine monastery in founded in the 7th century.
If you are feeling energetic, you can climb the 212 steps to the top of Bath Abbey’s Tower for stunning views across the city.
The Royal Crescent
Unlike anything else you’ll see, The Royal Crescent is an impressive row of 30 terraced houses laid out in a crescent. It dates back to 1774 and is definitely worth a look.
The Royal Crescent is now actually home to a 5-Star Hotel and Spa if you fancy pampering yourself during your visit to Bath.