Visitors will find plenty to see and do in the UNESCO city of Bath, but it is also ideally situated for a variety of days out. The town is surrounded by beautiful countryside, with several historic towns and prehistoric sites within easy reach. Here are some of the best day trips from Bath.
Towns And Cities
You could spend several days in the historic city of Bristol, a short train ride away. Take a day trip from Bath for the many museums, the street art (this is the home of Banksy), and the waterside restaurants and other attractions.
One of the best ways to explore Bristol in a short time is to take a trip on the Waterbus. This will allow you to explore the historic SS Great Britain as well as the Avon Gorge and Clifton Suspension Bridge.
Bradford On Avon
Bradford on Avon (also accessible by train) is a medieval wool town on the edge of the Cotswolds. It has historic buildings, riverside walks and plenty of pubs and restaurants. The quaint town centre has often been used as a film location.
Read more – What to See and Do in Bradford on Avon.
Lacock is a perfectly preserved village owned by the National Trust. It is known as a place where several films have been made, and also for its ancient abbey and as the home of William Fox Talbot, a pioneer of photography. It is possible to get to Lacock by bus, but the easiest way to get there is to drive.
Read more – Films And Photography At Lacock.
Wells is the smallest city in England. Visit for the Cathedral, museums and the medieval Bishop’s Palace and Gardens.
A little further afield is the Saxon hilltop town of Shaftesbury. Here you can enjoy the ancient abbey, historic pubs and spectacular views.
Read more – Best Things To See And Do In Shaftesbury.
Salisbury is 65 km from Bath but has the advantage of being on a direct train route (the journey takes around an hour). Here you will find one of the finest Gothic cathedrals in Britain, and the largest cathedral clost in the country. There is also a medieval town centre and several historic houses and museums. Read more – The Best Things To Do In Salisbury.
Houses And Gardens
There are several options for those who enjoy historic houses and gardens.
Dyrham Park (12 km from Bath) is a 17th century baroque house with a deer park and extensive gardens and walks. It is managed by the National Trust.
Great Chalfield Manor
Another nearby house is Great Chalfield Manor (14 km away). Also managed by the National Trust, it is a medieval manor house with an Arts and Crafts style garden.
Probably the most famous house in the area is Stourhead (40 km). The 18th century Palladian mansion is full of period furnishings and paintings, but the garden is even more magnificent. This is a world famous landscape garden, with a lake, temples, grottoes and woodland.
Also worth a visit is Montacute House (65 km). This is an Elizabethan house and garden that has featured in film and TV productions including the 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility.
There is a wealth of historic (and prehistoric) sites close to Bath. You’ll find stone circles, chalk figures carved into hillsides and places steeped in mystery and legend.
Stonehenge And Avebury
The most famous prehistoric site in the area is Stonehenge (44 km away). However, Stonehenge attracts more than a million visitors a year and I usually recommend that people go to Avebury instead (41 km). There is more to see at Avebury than Stonehenge; you can get right up to the stones; and there are fewer visitors. Read more – Uncovering the Mystery of Avebury’s Stones.
34 km from Avebury is the atmospheric Wayland’s Smithy, a neolithic burial place. Close by is the Uffington White Horse, one of many chalk figures of possibly ancient origin that are carved into local hillsides.
Glastonbury, 45 km south of Bath, is perhaps better known today for its annual music festival. But it is also one of the earliest Christian sites in Britain, and the reputed burial place of King Arthur. Climb to the top of the Tor (for the views), explore the ruins of the Abbey, and enjoy the new age culture of the town. 29 km from Glastonbury is Cadbury Castle, an iron age hillfort that has been associated with King Arthur’s court at Camelot.
Read more – Visit Glastonbury: History, Myths And Legends.
Countryside And Hiking
Bath is on the edge of the Cotswolds, a beautiful area of hills and medieval villages, and the River Avon and the Kennet and Avon Canal run through the town. This makes it an excellent place for hiking and for countryside days out.
Cheddar Gorge (38 km away) is a spectacular natural landscape with steep cliffs and caves full of stalactites. There are lots of opportunities for circular walks here. However, be warned that it can get crowded at peak times!
The Cotswold Way is a 164 km trail from Bath to Chipping Camden. Although it starts in the centre of Bath (beside the Abbey) it gets into the countryside remarkably quickly. The trail can easily be broken down into sections for day hikes.
Other Countryside Days Out
Elsewhere walkers can follow the canalside path from Bath, or the 20 km Two Tunnels Circuit (suitable for both walkers and cyclists).
Finally, don’t forget to visit one of the many vineyards and cider farms for which the area is famous.
Day Trips From Bath: Some Practical Information
- There are opportunities for day trips from Bath by train or bus. However you will have a greater choice of day trips if you hire a car.
- Some sites – such as Lacock and Stonehenge – are very popular for day trips from London. You may wish to time your visit for first thing in the morning to avoid the crowds.
- Most visits involve a certain amount of walking. Remember that this is a very hilly area!
Are there any places that you would add to this list? Let me know in the comments below.