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Bath, a historical city and UNESCO World Heritage site, is famous for its Roman baths, hot springs and Georgian architecture, attracting millions of visitors each year. It boasts museums, theatres and parks, and more than enough hotels, restaurants and bars to accommodate its large amount of annual visitors. Bath is surrounded by the picturesque countryside typical of Somerset, and a car rental is a great way to explore the area. It is just on the outskirts of the beautiful Cotswolds region, as well as being just a short drive away from Stonehenge, the Forest of Dean and the laidback city of Bristol.
Who to Book With
A number of well-known worldwide car hire suppliers have offices in Bath, including Hertz, Thrifty and Europcar. Most branches can be found on the western edge of the city near Lower Bristol Road (A36). Booking online in advance is the best way to snatch the lowest rates as well as to ensure the vehicle of your choice.
Best time to go
Bath plays host to visitors throughout the year, although the busiest months tend to be from June to August. This is when the winds are at their lightest, although the driest months are actually April and May. Winter in Bath is less crowded and when rates on accommodations may be lower.
Need to Know Essentials
When picking up your car rental, the following documents are needed:
- Both parts of your UK driving license or an International Driving Permit
- Some form of identification, such as a passport
- The credit card used when making the booking
- Confirmation of booking
Most of Bath is easy to walk around, while its hop-on hop-off tour bus stops at all the main attractions. Driving is not recommended in the city itself due to heavy traffic, although a car is the best way to explore the city’s surrounding area. Parking in the city centre is not easy, as there are limited spots that are quite expensive. Those with a vehicle can park in one of the city centre car parks or at one of three convenient Park and Ride lots found on the outskirts of the city. Regular buses run from these car parks to downtown Bath, costing £3 return or £12 for 10 journeys, including parking.
Walking is the best way to explore Bath, as the entire city is only 11 square miles. Public buses are reasonable, but visitors should not rely on these alone. Taxi drivers, found outside of the Bath Abbey (pictured) and the railway station, are also more than willing to zip tourists around the city.
Bath’s Victorian Bath Spa Railway station sits on the National Rail’s Great Western Main Line, connecting the city east to London Paddington and west to Bristol. Trains run every 30 minutes, with the journey to London taking approximately 90 minutes. The railway station was built in 1840 and is an attraction in its own right, listed as a Grade II building. The Oldfield Park Railway station, just outside of the city centre, provides commuter train service to Bristol Temple Meads along the Wessex Main Line.
The majority of Bath’s taxis can be found at the railway station, outside of the Abbey and on Milson Street near the Circus roundabout. There are numerous taxi companies in Bath, including Abbey Taxis and V Cars, which will take visitors on a tour of the city, to an exact destination or to a nearby airport.
The public bus system in Bath operates from the bus station next to the Spa Bath Railway station. Fares are more expensive here than in most other UK cities, with a FirstDay ticket costing £4.10. Tickets are bought directly from the driver, with most buses running from around 06:00 until after dark.
In its ideal location at the northeast end of Somerset, Bath offers all sorts of daytrip opportunities. The lively city of Bristol is just 15 miles to the west, while the picturesque town of Bradford-on-Avon is just a 20-minute drive to the southeast. Those that wish to spend time on the beach can drive west along the A37 to Weston-super-Mare, while travellers that prefer stunning landscapes can continue south along the coast to Quantock Hills.
Stonehenge - This is arguably the UK’s most visited and famous site, located off of A36 near Amesbury. This prehistoric monument is believed to date back to between 3,000 and 5,000 BC, and, together with Salisbury, makes for a fantastic daytrip. Stonehenge is open all year from 09:30 until 18:00, except for on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
The Grand Pier - Located in Weston-super-Mare this pier is filled with attractions and is especially appealing to families, although anyone can enjoy spending a day here. This indoor theme park, open year-round, is home to rides, such as go-karts and roller coasters, a massive arcade, numerous restaurants and a pirate-themed bar.
Glastonbury - A town of myths and legends, is known for its alternative spirituality, New Age lifestyle and famous music festival. Its Abbey is one of the so-called burial places of King Arthur, while its Tor is a place of myths and goddesses.