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City Culture Break

City Culture Break

Discovering the bright lights beyond London...


If you’re an urban adventurer, you’re probably wondering what other cities you should visit beyond the undisputed pleasures of England’s capital. Well exploring the cities of the South West couldn’t be easier via the Great West Way...

The Great West Way City Break 


 Day 1

To reach your first city stop, simply hop on a train at London Paddington, enjoy the view, and before long you’ll arrive in…

 Bath

 Did you know? There are a total of 7 crescents in Bath, including the famous Royal Crescent.

Just a 1 hour 30 minute train journey from London, this belle of a city hugged by fresh, flourishing pastures feels worlds away. Unlike many a metropolis, the pace of life here is gentle. Or should that be genteel. For Bath is a dignified, fashionable sort of place. It has been since its most famous former resident, Jane Austen’s day. Given that so much of the handsome golden architecture from the Regency period remains, you might wander if anything has changed. But spend a day here and you’ll realise it’s as contemporary as it is classic.

Morning

Given the compact layout of the city, and its UNESCO World Heritage status, a self-guided walking tour is highly recommended. So grab a flat white and a croissant at one of the hip cafes in the centre - Colonna & Small’s perhaps - and take a leisurely stroll to get your bearings. Without too much ado you should pass sights including The Circus, Pulteney Bridge, Bath Abbey, Bath Assembly Rooms and the arc of golden homes synonymous with the city: the Royal Crescent. The latter was specifically designed to give city residents the feeling of living in the countryside.

 Afternoon

Treat yourself to a leisurely lunch at one of Bath’s cafes or a tour of Bath's culinary delights with Savouring Bath. There’s a buoyant foodie scene in the city, culminating in the Great Bath Feast each year, so you won’t be short on options. Amid the selection of vegan Indian wraps, Filipino chicken boxes and modern British salads, you’re bound to find a favourite.

Fully energised, it’s time for some culture. Bath is blessed with some amazing museums. Highlights include the Fashion Museum (where you can dress up), the Jane Austen Centre (where you can meet Mr Darcy) and some very respectable art, design and history museums in the form of The Holburne Museum, Victoria Gallery and No 1 Royal Crescent - a time capsule back to the 1770s. Some more niche options include Bath Museum of Architecture, the Museum of East Asian Art and the American Museum in Britain - the only American folk art museum outside the US is in an elevated position on the outskirts of the city.

Evening

After a busy day of culture you deserve some pampering. Take a dip in the rooftop pool at Thermae Bath Spa, much-visited for its healing waters. Or, if you’re here in the summer, have a torchlit dinner at the Roman Baths. Then, tired and happy, relax back at your hotel. There are some really interesting places to stay in Bath, ranging from the University of Bath campus in summer, just a short bus ride from the centre, to the literary-themed Tasburgh House where Jane Austen once slept.

 A few more ideas...

 - Walk the Bath Skyline for amazing views over the city
 - Take a themed walking tour (architecture, comedy, food, ghosts…)
 - Shop around at Bath’s boutiques
 - Taste a sugary Sally Lunn bun
 - Visit Prior Park landscaped gardens


Day 2

Get up bright and early - you’re off to Bristol! It’s just a 15-minute train journey from Bath, but there’s so much to do you’ll want to make the most of your day.

Bristol

Did you know? Bristol has its own currency, the Bristol Pound, which helps boost local businesses. You can buy the colourful notes at the Tourist Information Centre on the Harbourside.

As the ‘capital of the Southwest’, Bristol has a different feel to Bath. In some ways it more closely resembles London, with its distinct, characterful neighbourhoods to explore - from the leafy avenues of Clifton Village to the graffiti-splashed streets of Stokes Croft.

Morning

Since one of Bristol’s most famous sons is Banksy, start your day with a Bristol Street Art Tour. Or, better yet, arrive early enough for brunch at one of the Harbourside cafes, and then go on the tour (they start at 11am every Saturday and Sunday). Your tour will explore the history of street art in the city, while guiding you around a mix of brand new and well-preserved artworks - including some Banksy originals.

Afternoon

Bristol does street food lunches very well. So, depending on what day you’re visiting, some options to try include St Nick’s Market, The Harbourside Market and the Tobacco Factory Market. Vendors inevitably change, but there’ll always be a great mix of global cuisine to try, from Jamaican curried goat to Nepalese momos. You could also check out Cargo, a cool new container development at Wapping Wharf where you can get delicious bites to grab and go, like chip-stuffed Greek wraps, fresh Indian curry boxes and melty cider and cheese toasties.

When you’re suitably stuffed, discover Bristol’s other famous son: Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Although the Victorian engineer may not seem to have much in common with Banksy, he too was a brave pioneer. You can visit one of his most remarkable achievements, the SS Great Britain - the world’s first great ocean liner - and get a feel for how the passengers from steerage to first class experienced long voyages across the Atlantic. Included with your ticket price is the new Being Brunel exhibition, an immersive experience which takes you inside the brain of the man himself. If you have time, venture up to Clifton Suspension Bridge - another of his projects that, sadly, he didn’t live to see finished.

Evening

The arts are alive in all their guises in this creative, cutting-edge city. After dinner at one of Bristol’s many independent restaurants, seek some of it out. Depending on your tastes, you could catch some theatre at the Bristol Old Vic - the oldest continuously open theatre in the English-speaking world, even throughout its exciting recent renovations. You could also enjoy live music, see stand-up comedy or do something thoroughly subversive like go an immersive dining experience in a mystery location. Local go-tos for experimental entertainment include Old Market Assembly and Tobacco Factory Theatres.

There are some really fun places to sleep in Bristol so you’ll want to stay the night. Quirky options include a luxury boat hostel, a rooftop retro caravan and a prison turned posh hostel.

A few more ideas…

 -  Trace the story of Bristol’s amazing aviation achievements and step aboard the last Concorde ever to fly at Aerospace Bristol.
 - Take a tour around Bristol Blue Glass and have a go at making your own bauble.
 - Rent a tandem bike with Bristol Tandem Hire and explore neighbourhoods beyond the centre
 - Have a picnic on Clifton Down, with the best view of Clifton Suspension Bridge
 - Enjoy a tasting - wine, beer and gin tours and tastings are all available
 


Day 3

If you have time, venture a little off the Great West Way to explore 2 more excellent cities.

Salisbury

Further south you’ll find Salisbury, a city surrounded by countryside that embraces everything arts and culture. To start visit Mompesson House, the 18th-century property starred in the all-star film version of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility (1995). There’s also Salisbury Playhouse, Salisbury Museum and Salisbury Cathedral. And of course those sacred stones aren’t too far away…

Oxford

If you’re heading north, don’t miss this learned university city. Of course, it’s not all lounging around in the the Bodleian Library, pretending to study. Discover some of the city’s more unexpected attractions, like the Pitt Rivers Museum, full of alarming anthropomorphic artefacts, or The Eagle and Child pub, where C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien used to meet and swap stories. There’s also bikes, board game cafes and strange sculptures to find - including a curious headless shark.

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Product Information

  1. Bath

    Bath

    The golden city of Bath has been welcoming visitors for over 2,000 years. Designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Bath is home to some of the most impressive architectural sights in the world such as the Royal Crescent, the Circus and Pulteney.

  2. The Jane Austen Centre Bath

    BATH, Bath

    All things Austen-related!

    Facilities

    Bookable Product

    • TXGB Bookable Product
  3. Roman Baths

    Abbey Church Yard, Bath

    Epicentre (and raison d'etre!) of the Heritage City.

    Indicative Availability

    Book Roman Baths Online

  4. Brunel's SS Great Britain

    Bristol

    Step aboard the ocean liner that defined an era of modern cruise ships and visit two award-winning museums to discover Victorian innovation and Brunel’s impact on the world.

    Indicative Availability

    Book Brunel's SS Great Britain Online

  5. Savouring Bath

    Bath

    There’s a British Food Revolution happening and Savouring Bath invites you to taste it, right here in Bath!  Discover this top UK foodie destination by using your taste buds, while strolling through its elegant 18th century streets and alleyways. 

    Facilities

    Bookable Product

    • TXGB Bookable Product
  6. Aerospace Bristol

    Bristol

    With Concorde as its stunning star attraction, Aerospace Bristol takes you on a fantastic flight through history. From the earliest aeroplanes, through two World Wars, the Cold War and the space race - discover incredible feats of aviation and step aboard the last Concorde ever to fly.

    Indicative Availability

    Book Aerospace Bristol Online

  7. Prior Park Landscape Garden

    Ralph Allen Drive, Bath

    Prior Park Landscape Garden is a beautiful and intimate 18th-century landscape garden in Bath with stunning views across the city. 2022 will see the completion of a major restoration project on its historic dams.

Itinerary Distances

FromToDistance * (metric)
Bath (51.3856,-2.36168)Bristol Tandem Hire (51.45049,-2.59477)15.95
Bristol Tandem Hire (51.45049,-2.59477)The Jane Austen Centre Bath (51.38422,-2.36337)15.91
The Jane Austen Centre Bath (51.38422,-2.36337)Thermae Bath Spa (51.37941,-2.36053)0.51
Thermae Bath Spa (51.37941,-2.36053)Roman Baths (51.38111,-2.35949)0.18
Roman Baths (51.38111,-2.35949)Brunel's SS Great Britain (51.44917,-2.60841)16.99
Brunel's SS Great Britain (51.44917,-2.60841)Savouring Bath (51.38037,-2.35956)17.01
Savouring Bath (51.38037,-2.35956)Aerospace Bristol (51.52178,-2.58115)19.8
Aerospace Bristol (51.52178,-2.58115)Prior Park Landscape Garden (51.36469,-2.34316)21.65
Prior Park Landscape Garden (51.36469,-2.34316)The Original Bristol Blue Glass - Studio/Shop (51.44216,-2.5637)15.82
The Original Bristol Blue Glass - Studio/Shop (51.44216,-2.5637)Bristol (51.45152,-2.59816)2.35
Total Distance *126.15 miles
Estimated Journey Time4.06 hours

* Approximate distance by road

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