Bath is one of the UK’s most famous and visited cities. However, for all its appeals, it’s not a huge place – you could easily see all of its attractions in a weekend in Bath. If you’ve got a bit longer in the area, why not check out some of its amazing surrounding spots?
Bath is located in Somerset, one of the most rural counties in the country. This means that there are some epic nature spots to visit, as well as peaceful, countryside life. Bath is also close to Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire, so there’s plenty to visit in the area!
These are just some of the best day trips from Bath – ones that I’ve tried and tested and are quite easy to reach from the city. There are, of course, countless more places to visit in Somerset, as well as spots across South West England and even South Wales, if you don’t mind venturing a bit further.
However, here’s my list of some of the best Bath day trips!
The Best Day Trips from Bath
Explore the city of Bristol
Bristol’s always going to be top of the list! I’m currently living in Bristol, and I highly recommend visiting the city – even if it’s just as a day trip from Bath.
There are so many things to do in Bristol – I’ve spent five years of my life here and haven’t seen them all – which many people find surprising, as it only has a population of 500,000. But it’s absolutely packed with historical attractions, hip bars and restaurants, and diverse modern cultures.
So, what to do in Bristol in a day? First, I highly recommend the SS Great Britain. This was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and at its time was the largest boat to ever be created. It also used a range of new engineering technologies that made it as strong and long-lasting as it was. It was initially used to take holidaymakers to New York, and then for migration purposes to Australia. The ship has now been restored and mimics scenes from when it was a migrant clipper, and there is also a museum about the boat’s history and one about Brunel.
The Harbourside is also well worth a stroll around – check out all the boats as you go and keep a look out for the brightly coloured houses on the hillside. In the centre, there are many shops, bars, and restaurants.
Bristol has quite a few different suburbs and neighbourhoods. Stokes Croft has some of the best street art in the country, with some people dubbing it ‘Bristol’s outdoor art gallery’. Stokes Croft is also a great place to grab some lunch; you can get food from all over the world here.
Clifton is home to the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge (also designed by Brunel) and elegant Georgian houses; similar to those in Bath. It’s well worth walking up here for views over the city and into Somerset. You can walk over the bridge to Ashton Court, which is a large council owned estate with deer!
I could go on forever about Bristol, but you should just about have enough for a day here! Check out my Bristol archives for more information.
How to get there: to reach Bristol, you can take a train from Bath Spa direct to Bristol Temple Meads. Trains only take 13 minutes and leave a few times an hour. Driving is also an option, but it takes longer (around 40 minutes) and parking in Bristol can be a pain.
Learn About Ancient History at Stonehenge and Salisbury
Stonehenge is one of the UK’s bucket list attractions. Nobody is sure of the sarsen stone circle’s origins, or indeed how it got there, miles from where it is believed to be sourced from.
However, it is nowadays celebrated by Druids, and locals and tourists alike agree that it is a somewhat magical place. It’s definitely worth visiting, although it is one of those places that you only really need to see once in your life (it’s kind of expensive, and you can’t get as close to it as you’d think!).
Woodhenge is also nearby – it is a Neolithic site that is the remains of an ancient burial mound, dating from 2300 AD. And Old Sarum is well worth visiting – it is the remains of the original Salisbury, up the hill from today’s, housing the remains of an Iron Age Fort!
Once you’ve experienced the area’s ancient history, I’d recommend heading down the hill to check out nearby Salisbury as well. Most famous for its grand cathedral, which was the inspiration for many cathedrals all over the country including Exeter’s, Salisbury is a historic, yet small city.
The cathedral is open to tourists, as is the chapter house which holds a copy of the Magna Carta (a charter of rights which Britain was built upon, dating back to 1215). There’s also the Salisbury Museum, which explains the history of the city in more detail.
How to get there: Salisbury is one of the best day trips from Bath by train – the train is direct and takes 55 minutes. Driving takes about an hour as well.
Drive Through the Beautiful Cotswolds
Bath sits right on the edge of the Cotswolds, making road tripping through the hilly region one of the best Bath day trips. This region of the country is huge, so you certainly won’t see it all in a day, but you could explore a few bits around Bath.
Bradford on Avon
Bradford on Avon is one of my favourite Cotswold towns, and it’s only about a 20 minute drive from Bath. As the name suggests, it sits on the River Avon (you can actually hike or cycle here). There’s a small museum, lots of historic houses and a really charming tea room called The Bridge Tea Rooms, that looks a little like its falling down. Also, it’s not technically in the Cotswolds, but Frome is near Bradford on Avon and is another Somerset town that’s well worth visiting.
Castle Combe is a half hour drive north east, and it is definitely one of the best towns in the Cotswolds. There’s a lot of history here, including a 13th century church and 14th century market square.
Malmesbury is a little bigger, and is a historic market town in the heart of the Southern Cotswolds. Its size means it doesn’t have quite the same allure of the smaller towns of the Cotswolds, but it’s still definitely worth checking out as you drive on through. There’s lots of history here, including the seventh century abbey.
Tetbury is just north of Malmesbury, and can also be visited on a day trip from Bath. Tetbury prospered under the wool industry, and still has many of the wool merchant’s houses to this day. Nowadays, it is one of the most stylish towns of the Cotswolds, with lots of boutique stores.
There are plenty more gems in the Cotswolds – Bibury, Stow on the Wold, and Bourton on the Water are just a few! However, these are all a little further afield. The four places mentioned above are all well worth visiting in their own right – or you could easily visit Castle Combe, Malmesbury, and Tetbury on the same day.
How to get there: Bradford on Avon is an easy train journey from Bath, taking around 15 minutes – it’s one of the easiest places to visit near Bath by public transport, for sure! Driving takes around 25 minutes.
The northern Cotswold towns are a little more complex. It’s a half hour journey from Bath to Castle Combe, and a 50 minute drive to Malmesbury and Tetbury. If you’re going by public transport, you could take a train from Bath to Chippenham and then go onwards by bus to Malmesbury or Castle Combe.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a public transport route to Tetbury that doesn’t take a very long time – despite it only being a 13 minute drive from Malmesbury, the public transport route goes via Swindon and takes two and a half hours!
Be Charmed at Cheddar
Sitting on the edge of the Mendip Hills is the small yet busy town of Cheddar. Cheddar is famed for its gorge – the deepest in the country, the remains of ‘Cheddar Man’ (potentially the oldest remains found in the country), and of course – Cheddar cheese!
You can go hiking in the gorge, climbing up one of the ladders to epic viewpoints at the top. It’s also well worth driving through the gorge either on the way or the way back. This adds some time to your day trip, but it’s pretty cool!
There are also the Cheddar caves – these are closed at the moment but I will try to update here as soon as I hear that they are open. You can check for updates here.
In the town, try some cheddar cheese from the local suppliers, and sample some of Somerset’s best cider. It’s a pleasant town to stroll around, with lots of little tearooms and eateries to pop into!
How to get there: It’s a bit complicated, but possible, by train and bus. Take a train to Bristol Temple Meads, and then transfer to Weston Milton. Then you can take the 126 bus to Greenhill House. It takes just under 2 hours. Driving wise, it’s an hour drive through Somerset countryside.
Hike in the Mendip Hills
The Mendip Hills is an expanse of countryside stretching from just south of Bristol in the north, to Cheddar in the south; and from Weston Super Mare in the west to Frome in the east. It’s a great destination for hiking and exploring a rural side of British culture.
Popular hikes include Blackdown, which is the highest peak in the area, and Three Priddy Droves. I especially like the tranquil village of Blagdon and the nearby Blagdon Lake. Or you can hike from Wells to Glastonbury, or Shepton Mallet to Frome – all places worth visiting and included on this day trips from Bath list!
How to get there: It’s a 45 minute – 1 hour drive, depending on where in the Mendip Hills you are going. If you don’t have a car, the best option is to take a train to Bristol Temple Meads and then change to the 672 Mendip Explorer.
Have some Beach Time at Weston Super Mare
There are definitely better beaches in the South West (Lulworth Cove on the Jurassic Coast, Exmouth, Croyde and Woolacombe, and all of Cornwall to name but a few…), but Weston Super Mare is the closest to Bath.
Weston Super Mare is a resort town; somewhere that the population of Bristol head to on hot days! There’s a pier here, and lots of amusement arcades. You’ll also be able to laze on the beach and enjoy a classically British fish and chips!
How to get there: you can take a train to Bristol Temple Meads and then transfer to a train to Weston Super Mare. Alternatively, it’s an hour’s drive down the M4 and M5.
Visit Mystical Glastonbury and Historic Wells
Glastonbury and Wells are two separate towns (Wells is actually a city, we’ll get to that in a minute!) but they are nearly always visited together as they are really close.
Glastonbury is most famed for being the site of the UK’s biggest music festival. But outside of festival season, it’s definitely still worth visiting. Glastonbury Tor is steeped in Arthurian legends, thought to be the place where King Arthur went after his last battle. It’s topped by St Micheal’s Tower, a Grade I listed building, where you have epic views over the Mendip Hills and Somerset. Be sure to visit Chalice Well on the way back down, where you can try some Glastonbury Water!
The town is also well worth visiting too – it’s full of fascinating shops with a spiritual atmosphere – if you need anything witchcraft-related, here’s the place! You can also visit the remains of Glastonbury Abbey, although it costs 9.50 for adult entry.
Wells is the UK’s smallest city, only given this status because it has a cathedral. The ornate Wells Cathedral is well (pardon the pun) worth checking out, and nearby is Vicar’s Close, which is rumoured to be the oldest street in the UK. If you’re visiting on a Saturday, there’s a farmers market selling local produce.
How to get there: Wells is just under an hour’s drive from Bath, and Glastonbury is about 10 minutes from there. If you’re going by public transport, take the train from Bath to Bristol, and then the 376 Mendip Explorer to Wells. You could also take the 173 bus that connects Bath and Wells, but this takes around 1 hour 20 for the bus anyway. There are buses in between the two towns, or you could hike!
Visit Somerton, the Historic Capital of Wessex
Somerton is located close to Glastonbury. It is nowadays a small, quiet town, but it was the heart of Somerset’s industries for decades. There’s a viaduct just outside town which gives kind of Harry Potter vibes.
Somerton was the old capital of Wessex, so there are plenty of historical buildings and interesting things to check out here. Keep an eye out for the Buttercross which is where dairy products were kept in the Medieval markets, Cow square (named so because cattle was sold there), its unique church, and the many pubs which were ancient coaching inns.
I found this virtual tour really useful when in Somerton!
How to get there: it’s just over an hour’s drive from Bath to Somerton. Unfortunately the route by public transport is not really possible.
Visit Shepton Mallet and the Country’s Oldest Jail
Shepton Mallet is a small market town. There’s some interesting architecture in the town centre, as well as a great vegetarian cafe, but the best attraction by far is Shepton Mallet Prison. This was a prison until 2009, and was actually the oldest in the country. It’s got a long history, with lots of interesting – and often sombre – stories.
You can do a guided tour around Shepton Mallet Prison, or explore independently. I would recommend the guided tour – you will be shown around by one of the ex wardens, and be told the full story of the jail, and you’ll be able to explore at your own pace afterwards. You can book tours here.
How to get there: it’s a 50 minute drive from Bath to Shepton Mallet. The 174 bus takes around an hour and connects the two towns.
Walk Around the Movie Set of Lacock
Lacock is one of the easiest Bath day trips and it’s well worth checking out. A village that grew with the medieval wool trade, you could spend a while in Lacock just checking out all of the quaint and historic buildings.
Lacock Abbey is epic, with an intriguing tale spanning from an abbey to a nunnery. The cloisters were used in Harry Potter films as part of Hogwarts. Lacock Village is owned by the National Trust and has also been the setting of many other films and TV programmes over the years.
How to get there: you can take a train to Chippenham and then a bus to Lacock, which takes less than an hour, making it one of the easiest things to do near Bath using public transport. If you’re driving, it’s just over half an hour, and it can be visited as well as Castle Combe.
Best Places to Visit Near Bath
Hopefully this list has shown you some of the best places to visit near Bath! There are many more, especially if you’re happy to drive a bit longer, but these Bath day trips are some of the best in the area. Whether you’re spending a weekend in Bath, or a bit longer, do try to check these places out for a slice of Somerset rural culture, and to see some of the best tourist destinations in the south west.