With just 13 miles separating Bristol and Bath, the cities are perfectly placed for a two-city getaway in the South West.
Each city has its own special atmosphere, with stunning places to visit and great options for a day trip, whether you want to immerse yourself in the history of each city, enjoy a romantic getaway or embark on an action-packed family holiday.
Bath is a visual dream. A UNESCO World Heritage city with elegant Georgian architecture and streets steeped in history, it provides an opportunity for visitors to enjoy a relaxing and culture-rich getaway, and is the only place in the UK where you can bathe in naturally hot spa water.
Bristol moves to the beat of its own drum. With world-famous street art lining the cityscape, a bustling Harbourside and a calendar packed with internationally-renowned events, it has its own unmistakable identity and independent spirit.
What to do
With more than 2,000 years of history spanning Bristol and Bath, the two cities have a rich heritage to explore. Walk in the steps of the Ancient Romans at the Roman Baths, located at the heart of Bath’s World Heritage site. Or fast-forward to the world of twentieth-century aviation and be one of the first to discover the new home of Concorde 216 at Aerospace Bristol. Plus don’t miss the wonderful Tapestry Here & Now exhibition, an ambitious survey of contemporary tapestry, on show at at Bath’s Holburne Museum until 1st October. The Holburne Museum has a calendar of events throughout the year, and offers free admission, open daily 10am to 5pm (Sunday and Bank Holiday 11am to 5pm).
Connecting both of the cities, Isambard Kingdom Brunel is the engineer behind some of Bristol and Bath’s most iconic sights: Clifton Suspension Bridge, Temple Meads and Bath Spa railway stations, the Great Western train line from London, improvements to Bristol’s Floating Harbour and the SS Great Britain.
Brunel’s awe-inspiring SS Great Britain invites visitors to become immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of life aboard the world’s first great ocean liner, and even gives visitors an opportunity to climb the rigging for some of the best views in the city.
Both cities are brimming with activities to capture the hearts of the entire family. As the latest edition to Bath’s art scene, The Edge offers a host of creative activities such as the Brutalist Playground – a surreal and alternative landscape for playtime. Meanwhile, At-Bristol Science Centre uses a hands-on approach to engaging children in science, with a host of interactive exhibits which aim to inspire the next generation of inventors and innovators.
What to see
Culture lovers need look no further than the diverse offerings of Bristol and Bath. As one of Europe’s leading centres for contemporary arts, Bristol’s Arnolfini and Spike Island exhibitions are a must-see after a tour of the street-art nestled among the city streets. The contrasting Georgian grandeur of the Royal Crescent in Bath, which celebrates its 250th anniversary this year, is a perfect complement for those looking to explore the diversity of Bristol and Bath’s artistic offering.
Built upon Bath’s famous natural thermal waters, those seeking a romantic getaway can immerse themselves in the luxury of the Thermae Bath Spa after a stroll through the city’s picturesque Prior Park. In the evening, couples can discover Bristol’s buzzing theatre and music scenes with a trip to either Colston Hall or the Bristol Old Vic, both of which host a variety of gigs, festivals and plays.
How to get there
Travelling between the two cities couldn’t be easier. Families can travel quickly and easily between Bristol Temple Meads and Bath Spa with GWR trains. Family day return (2 adults and 2 children) prices start from just £22.80, and the journey takes as little as 12 minutes. First Bus operates a group ticket service across Bristol and Bath, and from just £13 a family can have unlimited travel across the cities. Driving between the cities takes around 40 minutes along the A4.
To take in the South West’s picturesque countryside, you can hire a bike and spend the afternoon cycling along the dedicated Bristol and Bath Railway Path. Running alongside the River Avon, this flat, off-road route offers some fun pit-stops along the way, including the Avon Valley Railway, a beautifully restored Victorian station and Warmley Waiting Room, a sweet café in an old station waiting room with a Tardis ‘Dr Who’ Loo.
The journey can also be made as part of a five-hour river cruise between the two cities with Bristol Packet Boat Trips, which includes a stop at a riverside tavern and a full bar on board.
However you choose to explore Bristol and Bath, the cities are guaranteed to inspire and charm with a host of complementary and contrasting sites and activities. For more information about the two cities, see Visit Bristol and Visit Bath
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