Bath is 115 miles west of London. It's close enough for a great weekend getaway but far enough from London for a real change of scene.
Getting there is worth any effort it takes but the good news is, it's really easy. 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. Use these information resources to compare travel alternatives and to plan your journey.
How to Get to Bath
Great Western runs trains from London Paddington Station to historic Bath Spa Station on the line that terminates at Bristol Temple Meads Station. Trains run every half hour and the journey takes about 1 1/2 hours. In 2017 their cheapest round trip fare was about £57.50 for off-peak. However, if you can buy your tickets a full month in advance, you can save quite a bit. At the beginning of April, 2017, a round-trip purchased a month in advance as two 1-way, off peak tickets was only £29.
National Express Coaches from London to Bath take about 2hrs 20min and cost from £7 to about £21 each way depending upon how far in advance you buy your tickets and what time you travel. . Generally, there are a limited number of cheaper tickets for every trip which, naturally, are sold out first. Buses travel between Victoria Coach Station in London and Bath Spa Bus and Coach Station every hour and a half.
Bus tickets can be purchased online. There is usually a 50 pence booking fee. National Express also operate Heathrow to Bath bus services.
UK Travel Tips - Check prices on the National Express website. They occasionally post special ticket sales. And be careful about bus schedules. There are some late night services between London and Bath that take more than 7 hours instead of the usual 2 1/2.
Bath is 115 miles directly west of London. Depending upon the traffic, it can take anywhere from two and a half to three and a half hours to drive, primarily on the M4 motorway.
When you are weighing up costs, don't forget that gasoline, called petrol in the UK, is usually considerably more expensive in Britain than in the USA. It is sold by the liter (a little more than a quart) and the price is can be more than $2.50 a quart. In early April 2017, the average price of petrol in London was running between $6.78 and $8.41 a gallon but exchange rate volatility means this price can go up and down.
Parking in Bath may also be expensive. In 2016 municipal parking garages charged £1.60 for an hour and £5.40 for up to 4 hours in the short-stay garages. Long-stay parking, for up to 12 hours, cost £12.50. On-street parking charges are similar but most streets have two or three hours limits. Bath is a small city that's very popular with visitors so parking is always difficult to find, especially during the summer months.
UK Travel Tip: The route between London and Bath is one of London's major commuter routes and the main road from Heathrow Airport to London. Traffic jams that are virtual standstills can happen at any time of day. Although Bath can be a lovely day trip if you are planning to travel by train or coach, it can be a nightmare if you are driving. And, to be honest, Bath is really worth more than a day trip. There is so much to see there and so many different things to do. If you like or prefer driving, why not make Bath part of a West of London itinerary that takes in some of the Cotswolds, historic houses, castles and famous landmarks as well.
If You Do Decide to Stay
I can highly recommend the Villa at Henrietta Garden (formerly the Villa Magdala), a lovely B&B/boutique hotel with a Visit England 5-star rating, just a short walk from the center of Bath. Read my review of the Villa at Henrietta Park.