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Planning a trip to the UK can feel a little overwhelming. The sheer volume of must-see attractions and vast territory might leave you second-guessing your itinerary. That’s why we think it’s a great idea to concentrate on one area – and explore the heck out of it! West England is the perfect place to start. Bath and Bristol pair ancient surprises with modern delights that check all your travel boxes.
Roughly an hour and a half from the hustle and bustle of London and tucked into the valley of the River Avon is the city of Bath. This World Heritage Site has been a center for health and wellness for more than 2,000 years thanks to its natural hot springs.
Here elegant Roman architecture and ancient spas mix with a vibrant modern culture that charms and enthralls its visitors.
These magnificent Roman structures were built 2,000 years ago as a place to socialize and heal in the natural hot waters. Today you’ll find beautifully preserved ruins and an interactive museum filled with treasures and artifacts that tell the stories of the ancient Roman people.
Give your bathing experience a modern twist and soak in the famed waters of the Thermae Bath Spa, Britain’s only natural thermal spa. The main spa is a contemporary blend of glass, stone, light, and water surrounded by the beautiful city of Bath. Definitely a worthwhile wellness stop!
Since 775 AD, three different churches have occupied this site. The current abbey, begun in 1499, is the last great medieval church to be built in England. See the ladders of angels, hear the stories from its incredible past, and visit the Gethsemane Chapel.
Bath is home to world-class museums, many of which are housed in some of the city’s finest buildings. Highlights include the Holburne Museum, Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein, No. 1 Royal Crescent, and Herschel Museum of Astronomy.
Each has a unique focus and flair that will make your visit to Bath so much more memorable.
Step into Regency Era Bath and learn how the city inspired Jane Austen’s classic stories. Enjoy a guided tour by costumed docents, try your hand with ink and quill, or dress the part of a lady.
Follow your experience with an authentic afternoon tea and exquisite, sweet treat at the Regency Tea Room.
Savor the local flavors of Bath while exploring its history, architecture, and culture. Enjoy a culinary revolution featuring handcrafted foods and beverages while you walk the city streets.
Bristol is your next amazing stop in West England. It’s a cosmopolitan playground on the banks of the River Avon where maritime history blends beautifully with a contemporary eclectic vibe.
Banksy is a world-famous artist shrouded in a cloud of mystery. His work now sells for millions – but it wasn’t always so appreciated.
As a teen, Banksy (possibly Robin Gunningham but never confirmed), spraypainted his unique style throughout the city. Some of his earliest works are still visible if you know where to look!
Just south of the old town wall is King Street, a nearly unchanged, 17th-century street in the heart of historic Bristol.
Once a place for sailors to dock, it’s now the heart of the thriving theatre district. Here you’ll find incredible food, handcrafted brews and cocktails, and a history rife with controversy.
Be sure to stop for a pint and a bite at the 1606 Hatchet Inn– rumored to have been a favorite watering hole for Blackbeard!
The S.S. Great Britain was the world’s first steam-powered passenger ship. The 322 ft. ship was the longest in the world when it launched in 1845.
Now residing in the harbor, you can tour the ship that changed the world. Explore museums, and the historic dockyard, or even climb the rigging.
Perhaps more than anything else, the Clifton Suspension Bridge symbolizes Bristol’s innovative spirit. Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, it “marks a turning point in the history of engineering and has come to symbolise a city of original thinkers and independent spirit.”
The bridge is open every day of the year, but during the warmer months, you can book a truly unique experience. Don a hard hat and go behind the scenes of Brunel’s masterpiece – you can even explore his hidden chambers.
There’s so much more to learn about these magnificent cities in West England. The Destination Dispatch team recently caught up with Kathryn Davis and Jon Chamberlain from Visit West to learn all they could about Bath, Bristol, and some of the other extraordinary regional highlights.
This is a must-watch episode for anyone thinking about a UK trip!
Planning a trip to the UK is more manageable when you break it down. These spectacular cities offer a vibrant cultural scene, unparalleled ancient history, and an adventure you’ll never forget!
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