The city of Bath in England was once the Roman city of Aqua Sulis. Sitting atop the UK’s only natural hot spring, the Romans thought the hot water was the work of the gods. Today, the Roman ruins still fascinate visitors alike. Here is what I discovered during my visit.
I arrived to the city of Bath via train from London’s Paddington station to the Bath-Spa station. Booking my tickets via the Great Western Railway company, I paid just under 20 pounds for my ticket. It is worth noting that the price of the ticket did include a free seat reservation. This can come in handy during the busy commute hour.
In all, the journey took about an hour and twenty minutes.
Bath-Spa station is located about a ten minute walk to the city centre. Stepping off the train, I found that I didn’t need a map. There were plenty of tourists heading the same direction I was. Following the street, it was nearly a straight line to my intended destination.
Tickets to the Roman Bath
I pre-booked my tickets for the Roman baths in advance. If you are able, I’d highly encourage you to do the same. It is one of the most popular sites in the city and slots can fill up quickly, especially on a weekend. I paid 20 pounds to visit on a Saturday. It is slightly cheaper to visit on a weekday.
Tickets are assigned a 15 minute windows in which you can join the queue near the front entrance across from the Bath Abbey. My tickets were for between 12:30-12:45. I was able to join the queue right at 12:30.
Ensure you have the ticket QR code preloaded onto your phone or printed if you require a paper ticket.
After my ticket was scanned, I was offered a free audio guide. It was useful at first, but by the mid point of exploring the site, I was overwhelmed by the information. Still, it is extremely useful if you want to know more about a particular display case or area of the site.
The Roman baths allow small bags inside, but no suitcases. There are also no storage or locker facilities on site. If you have a large bag, find a place like stasher where you can store your bag for the day.
Exploring the Site
Entering the facility, the first area is a viewing deck overlooking the Great Bath. You have the option to walk outside and around the upper deck. This is one of the best areas to take photographs to fully appreciate the history of where you are standing. The outdoor deck provides spectacular views of Bath Abbey. Additionally, the statues of past Roman governors and important figures are equally impressive.
The next area of the site covered the history of the city of Aqua Sulis and of what it might have been like to live there in Roman times. I was especially intrigued by the coins and sheer amount artifacts that have been uncovered. It’s difficult to believe that the site remained hidden until being rediscovered during the Victorian era.
The deeper one travels toward the lower level of the site, you truly come to appreciate the sheer size of the baths. The museum was clever in that they built the displays with many glass panels so that visitors have the ability to see the ruins up close. I took quite a few photos of the pipes, great drain, and many temple ruins around me.
The pipes are remarkable. I can’t believe that after 2000 years, they are still in use and working well. So much of the modern infrastructure we use today was invented by the Romans.
At the end of the walk through, visitors will find themselves on the lower level of the Great Bath. Notably, swimming is not allowed (due to bacteria and untreated water). There is a thermae bath nearby if you’d like to book a relaxing spa day, though next door to the Roman baths.
On the lower level, guests also have the option to explore some of the other baths and gym areas. The tour ends with the option to visit the gift shop and or take tea in the connected Pump rooms.
I dearly wanted to take tea in the Pump Rooms, but I couldn’t believe some of the prices of the items! 100 pounds for tea for two is more than I was comfortable paying.
How Much Time Should You Allow?
I spent about an hour and a half exploring the site and taking photos, but if you have a family I’d allow at least 2-3 hours. There is so much to see and if you take the time to read all the displays or use the audio guide it will take you much longer.
Is It Worth It?
For me, one-hundred percent, yes. But that’s a question you’ll have to answer for you. I was impressed with the information and the size of the ruins. Having been to Greece, the ruins are very well labeled and maintained.
Will It Be Busy?
In al likelihood, yes. If you’d like to avoid crowds, try later in the day. A lot of people tend to visit sites first thing in the morning. As a solo traveler I’ve learned that during lunch or late afternoon is perhaps the best time to have some freedom to see things with lighter crowds.
Anything Else I should Know?
Wear comfortable shoes, there is a lot of walking to do. If it’s a cold day, wear layers as you will be outside if you explore the bath area. Also ensure your camera or phone are fully charged.