The charming city of Bath is only 115 miles away from London, close enough for a great weekend getaway but far enough for a real change of scene. Whether you are interested in Jane Austen, Roman antiquities, bathing in luxurious hot springs, or shopping till you're dropping, this lovely city should be in your travel plans.
If you're going for the day, you should plan ahead and reserve train tickets. The train is the fastest way to get to Bath, but tickets can become prohibitively expensive if you don't book well in advance. The bus is the cheapest method, but it takes more than twice as much time as the train. If you have a car, Bath is a great place to stop and explore while on a road trip in the southern U.K.
|Train||1 hour, 20 minutes||from $20||Arriving on a time crunch|
|Bus||2 hours, 55 minutes||from $9||Traveling on a budget|
|Car||2 hours, 25 minutes||115 miles (185 kilometers)||Exploring the local area|
What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From London to Bath?
Buses provided by National Express leave about four times per day from London to Bath, and even though it's the slowest way to get there, it's also the most wallet-friendly. Tickets start at 7 pounds—or about $9—and don't fluctuate much even if you're making your purchase at the last minute. While train tickets can soar in price if you don't book in advance, even a same-day bus ticket shouldn't cost more than 13 to 18 pounds, or about $15–$20.
The total journey takes just under three hours by bus, making it a bit too long for a day trip. However, if you don't want to spend the night in Bath but don't want to make the long trip back to London by bus, you could spend the day in Bath and then go on to Bristol in the evening which is only 15 miles away.
Buses depart in London from Victoria Station with connections to the Circle, Victoria, and District lines of the Underground. The Bath bus station is located in the city center adjacent to the main train station and you can easily walk to most destinations in town.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get From London to Bath?
If you want to explore Bath for a day and then head back to London, the train is your most realistic option. The journey only takes one hour and 20 minutes and trains depart from London every 30 minutes, so it's easy to head out in the morning and be back in London by dinnertime. You can look at the schedule and reserve tickets through National Rail, but do so as early as possible. The "Advance" tickets are released about eight to 10 weeks before the travel date and are the most affordable. Once those sell out, tickets can double or triple in price. Flexibility is key to finding the best deals, so if tickets seem expensive, try looking at other times throughout the day or a day or two later.
Trains leave London from Paddington Station, with connections to the Circle, Bakerloo, District, and Hammersmith & City lines of the Underground. You'll arrive at Bath Spa station, which is centrally located and easily accessible to the rest of the town on foot.
Tip: If you're planning to return to London on the train, always purchase two separate one-way tickets instead of a roundtrip journey. That's the only way to take advantage of the cheapest pricing.
How Long Does It Take to Drive?
Bath is only 115 miles from London and if you're driving your own vehicle, the drive takes about two and a half hours barring traffic—and you should plan for traffic. Just getting out of London can cause significant delays, and the M4 highway that goes between the two cities is a popular commuter route. Once you arrive in Bath, it's not easy to park in the city center and the best option is to park outside of the city and take the shuttle into Bath.
If you're planning to visit just Bath, driving isn't the most feasible option. It's much slower than the train and only slightly faster than the bus, but in addition to gas, you'll likely need to pay congestion tolls in London and parking in Bath. If you're planning to drive, take advantage of having a vehicle by exploring around the local area. After Bath, you can continue on to Bristol, Exeter, or even Wales.
When Is the Best Time to Travel to Bath?
Bath and the neighboring cities are home to many workers who commute to London. As a result, weekday evenings are a particularly busy time on the roads and trains, when the workday ends and people are traveling back home. You'll usually find the cheapest weekday train tickets if you depart before 4 p.m. or wait until later in the night. Since Bath is a popular destination for a quick getaway, Saturday morning trains are also popular and quickly book up.
As with much of the U.K., the summer months are the most comfortable time to visit Bath to experience good weather. June, July, and August see temperatures hover around a pleasant 70 degrees Fahrenheit, perfect for walking around and seeing the main sites. Summer is also the high season for tourists and this small town can sometimes feel overwhelmed by visitors. If you can, visit in the shoulder season of May or September when you're still likely to see sunshine but with fewer crowds.
What's the Most Scenic Route to Bath?
The two main highways—called "motorways" in the U.K.—that lead from London toward Bath are the M3 and M4, and each one of them passes through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty—or AONB—designated by the British government. The M3 connects to the A303 and drives along the Cranborne Chase AONB with its rolling hills of chalk formations. The M4 cuts directly through the North Wessex Downs AONB and provides plenty of luscious green backdrop to spice up your drive.
Both of them take roughly the same amount of time in normal conditions, so check traffic if you're driving to make sure there aren't any serious backups on the route you choose.
What Is There to Do in Bath?
As the name implies, Bath is most famous for its ancient Roman baths, and visitors can tour these well-preserved pools and learn about their 2,000-year history. If afterward you're inspired to indulge in your own bathing experience, local spas in Bath continue the historic tradition but with modern facilities, such as the Thermae Bath Spa. If you're a shopper, Bath is also known as a retail hotspot in the local area. Apart from the chain stores that you can find in all parts of the world, the city is also full of special boutique shops where you can find one-of-a-kind articles to commemorate your trip.