Bath Spa on a Budget (Summer 2016)

We all love travelling to new places, and then exploring our hearts out. But, in general, exploring is an expensive pass-time. And as a student, I’m used to finding maximum amusement for free. So, when I arrived in bath that’s just what I did.

Obviously, if you have some spare cash you’ll want to know where you can go spending it, and so at the bottom of the page I have a few recommendations. Food, obviously, will have a separate post, because Bath is great for eating out.

If you have an NUS card then you can get into museums at a discounted price, but it does quickly add up. Which is why the below are all completely free, incase- like me- you never purchased an NUS card.

  1. Find Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights- This is one of the single most beautiful bookshops I have ever browsed. Two floors of shelves lined with beautiful editions, and upstairs there are comfy arm chairs. The staff even take the time to write out reviews of the books at a glance, and tack them to the shelf. Even if you aren’t buying, it’s worth checking this place out. The toilet has some pretty funky wallpaper too (you’ll get it when you see it).
  2. Visit the Guildhall Market- This is right next to the abbey, and even if it isn’t the most fascinating market, it’s still worth a visit. It’s crammed with little shops and knick knacks. Still, if you only have time to do one…
  3. Visit Green Park Station market- this is a better market in my opinion, located on the other side of the city. It’s a converted station, and when the stallholders set up on a weekend then you can browse artist’s sketches, and pick up quite a few free samples (if you do have the money though, head over to Beyond The Kale- and buy yourself a clean treat. My recommendation is the toasted banana bread, slathered in peanut butter)
  4. Walk to The Circus- It’s just something that when in Bath you have to come over all tourist and do. And just two minutes from here you can…
  5. See The Royal Crescent- This is impressive. It’s some beautiful old houses that overlook Victoria Park. So, you may as well…
  6. Have a picnic at Victoria Park. Bring your own food to cut costs, and set up a picnic blanket on the grass here. When its sunny you can watch other tourists take fifty plus pictures of some wildly exciting old houses. 
  7. Find Topping & Co. This bookshop is more of a mature and stylish place to visit, rather than a quirky and comfy one. There are more books here, and ladders to reach them. The staff are, again, super-friendly and great with recommendations. They run events where you can meet writers, and are quick to offer a cuppa while you browse. Find Topping & Company’s book shop- and get a free coffee.
  8. Visit 44AD artspace- Obviously whether or not this has an exhibition running depends on if you can go. I managed to get in on the last day of the exhibition I saw, and the artist was actually there to speak to. Free cosy art gallery, with the best tour guide to show you around their work.
  9. Find Hardy’s retro sweet shop and check out their well cool window display- This is the only place I have ever seen, post-2001, that stocks chocolate frogs, and Bertie Bott’s every-flavour beans. If you have a penchant for pop-tarts, you may want to go and gawp at their range. Who knew you could get maple-bacon flavour?! The window display is massive versions of these sweets- makes you feel like Alice in Wonderland.
  10. Go and take a selfie with the T-Rex head made of shells in PollyFields gift shop- This gift shop has the head of a giant T-Rex looming down from the wall, like a camp Jurassic Park. Get a picture with it.
  11. Ditto with the unicorn
  12. Seek out the best buskers in the city, park yourself on a bench, and give them a good listening to- I found the best ones stood either in the square near the abbey, or Kingsmede Square.
  13. Find works of art around the city- like the statue outside the Abbey. You don’t actually need to pay to see art in Bath; there are multiple statues and building decorations to take a look at.
  14. Grab some free iced tea at Tea Too- This is probably purely a summer thing, but free iced tea is something I’m always down for. Even if free iced tea isn’t available, and you have a tea fan in tow, go and check out the amazing flavours they have. Smell as many as possible. 
  15. Find the street sheltered with multicoloured umbrellas- unfortunately, they don’t offer much protection from the rain- Apparently, every year, Bath do something arty in the city centre. This year it’s an umbrella canopy. 
  16. See the phone boxes filled with books and flowers near the station

  17. Browse the antique and vintage shops- As with the art shops, giving vintage and antique stores a browse is a good idea. Bath seems to have loads of them, especially up the little cobbled streets that are dotted around. 
  18. Join the free Jane Austen Walking Tour- If you want something educational, but don’t want to pay through the nose to go to an actual museum- then every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday you will find a Jane Austen walking tour setting off from outside of the Tourist Information Centre. 
  19. If you’re really into walking, then do the National Trust’s free routes- There’s a wood in Claverton Down with a Bath Skyline trail that’s worth taking for the view. If staying in the centre of Bath you can probably walk the route backwards (be prepared for an uphill climb). Or, you can pay the £2.20 to the top of Ralph Allen Drive, whap out Google Maps, and walk along to Longwood. Eventually, following the pointers, you should be able to make your way down Widcombe Hill from the woods, and back to Bath Spa. It is a LONG walk: you have been warned. 
  20. Visit Victoria Art Gallery- There’s a free gallery upstairs, and another one through the gift shop that you have to pay to go to. The free one is actually the best one in my opinion.
And for those among you with a little more cash budgeted, here is a list of the museums and similar attractions you may want to check out…
  1. East Asian art museum
  2. Fashion museum
  3. The Roman Baths 
  4. No.1 Royal Circle (a house set up as it would have been in Austen’s time)
  5. The Jane Austen Museum
  6. Take the bus up to Prior Park Landscape Garden (about 5 minutes out of the city centre on the bus, and 25 walking up a very steep hill. Seriously, I am used to hills, but walking up this one twice in one weekend broke me. So you may want to pay for a bus, which I did admit to myself I needed to do)

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