One of the most stunning cities in the country, Bath, nestles between the beauty of the Cotswolds and Somerset. With its naturally occurring hot springs, the Roman city has a multitude of historic attractions, architectural masterpieces, and natural aesthetics for tourists.
But what sort of value for money do those visitors get?
Something that will not cost you a penny but is one of the most enjoyable things to do is simply to walk. Bath is situated within a valley, and the hills that surround it boast some unbeatable views of the Georgian city. Following the canal out into the countryside is also a delight.
One of the hills is Lansdown, and from the Approach Golf Course (which costs around £5 for 18 holes on a short distance course), the view of the city is breathtaking. Another great view is from the historic landmark of Prior Park. The National Trust-owned, landscaped gardens are beautifully maintained. However, a family of four must donate £15 to the National Trust, to appreciate the attraction.
The route to this tourist attraction is also a little challenging. There are no parking spaces available (unless you have a disabled pass). Parking in town and getting the bus (which goes every 30 minutes) is one option. The other is to walk a mile up a very steep hill.
The Pump Rooms, which look onto the original Roman Baths, are a great way to sample the Georgian lifestyle. Enjoy some afternoon tea while being serenaded by the pianist, if you are willing to part with a hefty £34 (for two people).
A new way to sample Bath is a trip to the ‘Thermae Bath Spa’, which boasts the most modern architecture in the city. The glass panels and synonymous bath limestone mix effortlessly, and provide a stunning setting for the rooftop pools.
The spa offers a variety of luxuries, including the ‘Twilight Package’ and numerous spa treatments and therapies. These all come at a rather more luxurious price tag too. Treatments, spa sessions and simple swimming packages range from £13 to a not-so-credit-crunch-friendly £110.
Another way to get a feel of Bath without having to apply for a second credit card is to visit Bath Abbey, the spectacular landmark at the centre of town. Go on a Sunday, to hear the world famous Bath Abbey Choir, who have sung for everyone from Pavarotti to the Queen. Expect to pay a donation of £2.50 per person but it does go towards maintaining the beautiful building.
A more mainstream way to see the attractions of Bath is with the ‘City Sightseeing Tour Bus’. Running in countries all over the world, this provides a well-rounded tour of all of Bath’s sights.
The tour takes you all the way from Lansdown, (home to The Royal Crescent, the Circus, and the Assembly Rooms), to the opposite end of town, the American Museum, and Prior Park (all of which are worth visiting). The tours are tourist friendly, well-priced at under £10 for adults, and also offer discounts to other attractions.
Staying in Bath will cost a family of four £98 per night at the Hilton, or £90 per night at Pratt’s Hotel, also in the centre of town, for a twin bedded room.
A short and easy drive north-east from Bath is the start of the Cotswolds, an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Sweeping green valleys, small villages and isolated farms make this a beautiful region.
First stop should be Westonbirt Arboretum. For under £10, you can marvel at nature’s ‘Garden of Eden’, and during the autumn months, the array of colours and textures is a magnificent sight.
In picturesque Bourton-on-the-Water, a visit to child-friendly ‘Birdland’ will cost a family of four £16. But with a double room at the Old New Inn costing almost £80, it is hardly a cheap place to visit. Two other major attractions in Bourton include the model railway (£7.50 for a family of four) and the Cotswold motor museum (£11.50 for a family of four).
Another family-friendly location is the Cotswolds Wildlife Park, outside of the quaint village of Burford, recently voted sixth most pleasant place to live in the world. The park offers a wide selection of activities, but for a family of four, charges a rather steep £37 for entry to the park alone.
Trains are not a viable way to get around the Cotswolds, a car is the only option. Restaurants are charming, but the prices are not. Two cups of coffee in Stow–on–the-Wold set me back nearly £6.
There is value to be found in the Cotswolds if you plan your sightseeing carefully and avoid some of the obvious tourist hotspots. And with beautiful scenery around every corner, there are plenty of free sights on offer.Reuse content