This post lists the best free walking tours you can take in Bath, including self-guided tours and small group tours.
WHAT ARE FREE WALKING TOURS?
Free walking tours are tours that have no upfront booking fees or costs. Depending on the company you go with, you reserve your spot or show up on the day and determine at the end how much the tour was worth for you.
Since they're so convenient and budget-friendly, groups of participants get pretty large. If you want to ensure a smaller group setting to give you more time to interact with your tour guide, we suggest checking out paid small group tours.
TIP: If you'd rather get a ride through Bath instead of walking, the hop-on-hop-off bus tour is popular!
WALKING TOURS IN BATH
The city center of Bath is quite small, which means you can cover most of it during one walking tour. The below tours are the two main walking tours available, including one that is run by the city itself.
Footprints Tours offers a free, introductory walking tour of Bath that lasts approximately 2 hours. The guides are local and well-versed in local history, culture, and architecture. You'll get an overview of the Roman baths, Jane Austen's life, and how the city changed during war. Tours are in English and you can request Spanish.
Mayor of Bath's Guides
The city of Bath has a group of volunteer tour guides who give community-focused walking tours. You'll learn about current events and culture, as well as how Bath evolved into what it is today. These tours have run for the last 85 years, so you can expect a knowledgeable guide.
It’s easy to customize your own experience and be in charge of your sightseeing in Bath with a self-guided tour. It's up to you when you start walking and whether or not you make pit stops along the way.
Strawberry Tours lists two free downloadable audio tours. One focuses on the World Heritage sites in the city, from the Roman Baths to impressive Georgian architecture. The other audio tour focuses on Jane Austen's life in Bath and how the city influenced her novels.
Chevening Self-Guided Tour
This blog describes the City of Bath as a British fairy tale and includes a lovely, in-depth self-guided walking tour. There are 7 main stops on the list with 2 bonus stops. It includes time estimates for walking between stops on the tour, so you know what to expect.
GETTING THERE FROM LONDON
Thanks to it’s convenient location just west of London and southeast of Bristol, Bath is easily accessible from many locations. If traveling from London, there are several ways to get to Bath, including by car, train, or coach.
Visitors traveling by car to Cambridge can do so via the M11 or A1. The route is relatively straightforward and perhaps a better option for those hoping to go elsewhere after their time in Cambridge.
However, anyone who is traveling directly between London and Cambridge is better suited to take the train, as traffic coming in and out of London is often very heavy.
Trains depart for Bath roughly every hour from King's Cross, Euston, Paddington, Waterloo Station. During peak times, trains depart even more frequently. The length of the journey varies amongst train types, and thus visitors should expect travel time to take anywhere between 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours and 2:45 minutes.
Generally, trains departing from Paddington Station are much faster than those departing from Waterloo, so check the departure station before booking. Additionally, the cost of the journey also fluctuates. Those travelling during ‘Peak’ hours will pay more than those travelling during ‘Off Peak’ or ‘Super Off Peak’.
Tips for saving money on train tickets:
- Buy ‘Off Peak’ or ‘Super Off Peak’, rather than the standard ‘Peak’ fare.
- Check whether it’s cheaper to depart from certain stations over others.
- Purchase your tickets ahead of time. Buy online by at least midnight the night before, and you’ll save.
- Buy a return ticket rather than 2 one-way tickets. This will massively reduce the overall price of the journey.
- Deliberate over buying an ‘Anytime Return’ ticket before you do so. Oftentimes, an ‘Anytime Return’ is more expensive than an ‘Off Peak Return’. The former means that you can hop on any train at any time when you’re ready to head back to London from Bath. However, the latter requires that you only travel during off-peak hours, such as after evening rush hour. ‘Anytime Return’ is much more convenient, but ‘Off Peak’ can be cheaper.
- Remember you might be applicable for discounted travel. Students, people between 16-25, and seniors over 60 all qualify for discounted rail cards.
There are also several coach companies that offer services between London and Bath. The companies we recommend most are National Express and Megabus, as both have coaches departing from either location every 1-2 hours throughout the day.
The price of the journey varies immensely, depending on how far in advance you purchase your ticket. Tickets purchased within a few days of the journey, for example, can be astronomical, whilst tickets purchased at least a month in advance are often much cheaper than the train.
THINGS TO DO IN BATH
Roman Baths - The things that make Bath Bath, the Roman Baths are a must for any visitor to the city. The Baths are home to one of the most ancient religious spas in the world. Visitors love the Roman Baths, and rank them as the #1 thing to do in Bath.
TripAdvisor Rating: 5 stars.
Rooftop Pool at Thermae Bath Spa - The one disappointing part about the Roman Baths is that you can't actually bathe in them. Luckily, there is a lovely spa with a rooftop pool where you can take a dip and relax.
TripAdvisor Rating: 4 stars.
Jane Austen Centre - Serious Jane Austen junkies should consider visiting the Jane Austen Centre. Though she was not born in Bath, Austen spent several of her adult years here. The Centre is quite small (especially for the £11.00 price tag), but worthwhile for those who adore Jane Austen.
TripAdvisor Rating: 3.5 stars.
Pulteney Bridge - Completed in 1774, this world famous bridge is one of the architectural gems of the city. The shops along the bridge make it particularly unique. Definitely go for a stroll across it during your visit in the city.
TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars.
Bath Abbey - A beautiful, large Abbey in the centre of the city. Bath Abbey is free to enter, though donations are encouraged. The Abbey also runs Tower Tours for those hoping to learn more about the building's history.
TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars.
Royal Victoria Park - A stunning green space that offers an escape from the rest of the stone city. Perfect for picnics in the summer, though especially beautiful in the autumn and spring.
TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars.