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 museums, street art or a trip on the Waterbus.
Bradford on Avon (also accessible by train) is a medieval wool town with historic buildings and riverside walks. And Lacock is a perfectly preserved village owned by the National Trust. Both Bradford on Avon and Lacock have been used as film locations.
Wells is the smallest city in England. Visit for the Cathedral, museums and the medieval Bishop’s Palace and Gardens. A little further afield are the cathedral city of Salisbury and the Saxon hilltop town of Shaftesbury, with an ancient abbey and spectacular views.
Houses and Gardens
There are several options for those who enjoy historic houses and gardens. Dyrham Park (6 miles from Bath) is a 17th century baroque house with a deer park and extensive gardens and walks. Another nearby house is Great Chalfield Manor (7 miles away), a medieval manor house with an Arts and Crafts style garden.
Probably the most famous house in the area is Stourhead (20 miles). 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 (34 miles), an Elizabethan house and garden that has featured in film and TV productions including the 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility.
The most famous prehistoric site in the area is Stonehenge (34 miles away). However, Stonehenge attracts more than a million visitors a year and I usually recommend that people go to Avebury instead (27 miles). There is more to see at Avebury than Stonehenge; you can get right up to the stones; and there are fewer visitors.
20 miles 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, 26 miles 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. 18 miles from Glastonbury is Cadbury Camp, an iron age hillfort that has been associated with King Arthur’s court at Camelot.
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 (24 miles away) is a spectacular natural landscape with steep cliffs and caves full of stalactites (however be warned that it can get crowded). Elsewhere walkers can follow the canalside path from Bath, or hike parts of the Cotswold Way, a 102 mile trail from Bath to Chipping Camden. 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
- Some of the places on this list are accessible 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 tours 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.