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Bath on a budget: free and low cost ideas

02 May 2017

Sometimes the best things in life really are free, or at least very affordable. Here are some of the best low cost and free things to do in Bath.


Set amongst the beautiful rolling countryside of the south west, charming Bath is one of the most attractive cities that England has to offer.

Named for the natural hot springs the city is built upon, this sophisticated city has been reeling in the visitors since the 18th century when it became a favourite retreat for the high society crowd. These days, Bath's grandiose Georgian architecture has not lost its lustre, and a combination of historical sites and contemporary culture makes it a vibrant choice for a city break.

Despite the tempting boutique shops and array of attractions that come with a price-tag, it is perfectly possible to enjoy Bath on a budget – ideal for planning a quick break when you're feeling a bit short on cash.

If you subscribe to the notion that the best things in life are free, then get thee to the beautiful city of Bath where, amongst the delightful attractions which do cost a little bit of cash, you can have some fun without causing too much damage to your bank balance. How? Let us enlighten you with our favourite free things to do in Bath...

1. Take a walking tour of the city

No need to book yourself onto a paid tour in Bath, simply tag along with one of the daily free walking tours that showcase the historical and architectural highlights of the city.

The Mayor of Bath's honorary guides pride themselves on providing an interesting and entertaining tour, filled with fascinating facts about the people, personalities and past of Bath – no dry as dust tour lectures taking place here. Tours start outside the elegant Pump Rooms in the Abbey Churchyard and last for two hours. Expect to take in the famous Roman Baths, the 16th century medieval Abbey, the impressive Royal Crescent, and much more besides.

2. Indulge your cultural side with a museum visit

Culture vultures will find themselves in seventh heaven in Bath, home of a variety of excellent galleries and museums; although some charge a small entrance fee, not all do. Drop into the Victoria Art Gallery, Bath's best-loved public art museum, to explore an Aladdin's cave of more than 1,500 works, or pay a visit to the Holburne Museum which houses collections of fine and decorative art – both are free!

3. Explore the Abbey

Although a tour of the Abbey tower costs £6 per head, you can enter this magnificent building for free, though a small donation is encouraged to contribute to the upkeep. Bath Abbey has been a place of worship for Christians for over 1,200 years and the spectacular stained glass windows and regal columns of honey-hued stone create a wonderfully calming experience of light and space. Look out for the ladders of angels carved into the west front – you might spot Lucifer falling from grace.

4. Stroll the Skyline

The Bath Skyline is one of the most popular National Trust walks in the region. Get your walking shoes ready for the 10km hilltop walk that wends its way through picturesque countryside dotted with unique sights such as an Iron Age hill-fort and Roman settlements. Birdwatchers and nature lovers alike will enjoy this 3.5-4 hour walk through hidden valleys, woodlands and patchworks of beautiful meadows – you can even bring your pooch along for the ride.

5. Discover the Kennet and Avon Canal

Another for those who wish to get out and about in the fresh air, a stroll along the Kennet and Avon Canal will unveil some of the world-class countryside that sits right on Bath's doorstep. Whether you choose to stroll on foot or hire a bike for a leisurely cycle, you can discover sights such as Pulteney Bridge – home to the second-deepest canal lock in the UK – Sydney Gardens, and Cleveland House, the former headquarters of the Kennet and Avon Canal Company. If you fancy a break, grab some refreshment in one of the numerous canal-side pubs. Give yourself 3.5-4 hours to complete the walk.

6. Visit the Roman Baths

The wonderfully preserved Roman Baths are arguably the biggest tourist draw in the city. Set in the majestic shadow of the opulent Abbey, the Baths offer a fascinating glimpse into the past. Explore the Great Bath where the Romans would come to socialise, indulge in the healing properties of the water and worship the goddess Minerva, then discover the history of the place with a good poke around in the museum.

7. Take a dip in the Thermae Spa

Relax and unwind at the Thermae Bath Spa where steam rooms, thermal waters and a luxurious, heated rooftop pool await. Book yourself in for a massage or beauty treatment, and don't forget to visit the spa restaurant where an extensive menu offers both healthy and indulgent choices.

8. Indulge in afternoon tea

The tradition of afternoon tea has long been a popular pastime in Bath; as a result, the city offers a range of excellent places to indulge. With its glittering chandeliers and elegant string quartet, the Pump Room is an option drenched in 18th century sparkle whilst Bea's Vintage Tea Rooms offers a quirky experience with tea-sets and waiting staff straight out of the 1940s.

Visiting Bath for the day? Try one of these Bath restaurants.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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