It's always been an elegant place to visit for a short break - never more so than in Georgian era, when high society flocked to Bath to take the waters at Britain’s only natural hot springs. These days it's just as good a place to escape to for the weekend, with a beautifully preserved 18th-century city centre, an unrivalled and picturesque position surrounded by hills, and a rich cultural life that means there's always something going on - whether it's an arts or music festival, or just the usual buzz of its many cool bars, excellent restaurants and vibrant venues. There are also plenty of terrific places to stay in Bath – see our guide to the city for some of the best options, or check out our list of favourites at the end of this article.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Bath at first sight is its location – spread across rolling hills with all sorts of vistas and viewpoints over the city – and it's not a bad idea to orientate yourself on arrival by taking in some of these views. The most most obvious one is the Bath Skyline Walk, which was once voted the best National Trust walk in Britain and provides a stunning panorama of the city. You could also treat yourself to a session Thermae Bath Spa, which has a rooftop mineral pool (gurgling at a constant 33.5°C) that enables you to appreciate Bath's streets and the surrounding hills as you wallow. You can also climb the 212 steps in the Abbey itself – tours lead up onto the roof of this grand 15th-century church and give a predictably impressive view of the city.
For an alternative lookout, leave the city centre and make the haul up Lansdown Road to 40-metre-high Beckford’s Tower – a 1.5-mile detour but worth the effort. Built for a 19th-century eccentric, the 154 steps to the top lead to a fabulous panorama of the city, after which you can refresh yourself at the nearby Hare & Hounds Pub , whose beer gardens enjoy grand views as well. The pub looks out to 191m-high Solsbury Hill, a flat-topped summit, once site of an Iron Age fort, that was most famously celebrated by Peter Gabriel in an eponymous song and has super views over Bath and the Avon Valley; you can walk or take the bus out to Batheaston to begin the ascent. Finally, one of the best lookouts is Camden Crescent, a Regency sweep that is far less-lauded than the grand and rather overrun Royal Crescent – from Camden you can see the city’s spires and the views down the valley. Or you can keep walking further up to perhaps the city’s best-named secret lookout, a road called Perfect View...
Once you've done all this, it's time to explore the city's more conventional sights – the iconic Roman Baths – quite rightly Bath's premier attraction; a couple of excellent museums – the Holburne Museum and the Herschel Museum of Astronomy; and of course the Jane Austen Centre, which explores the famous author's considerable connections – she set two of her novels here and in all spent. not less than five years in the city. By this time you might be ready for a bun from Sally Lunns – a touristy but almost obligatory stop on any Bath weekend!