A weekend in South-West England: Bath, Stonehenge & Salisbury

During the Easter weekend my friend Tamara and I spend three days in England. After several trips to London, we were very much looking forward to explore England beyond the capital. Our plan was to fly into London and then take the train towards Salisbury, where we would stay for 3 nights. From Salisbury we would further explore Stonehenge, Bath and Salisbury itself of course. Unfortunately Tamara’s flight got delayed three hours, which resulted in us missing the last train to Salisbury and being stranded in London for the night. I can hear ya’ll think, there are worse places in the world to be stranded in than London, and that is very much true, but it also meant for a stressful start of our vacation. We last-minute booked a hotel in the city, leaving the rest of our adventures for the next day…

Day 1: Bath

We didn’t want to mess up our travel itinerary more than it already was, so we decided to travel directly to Bath from London Paddington Station, instead of going to Salisbury first. The journey on the South Western Railway took about an 1 hour and 20 minutes. After we dropped off our bags at the storage facility near the station, we were finally ready to explore the beautiful city of Bath and start our vacay.

Sophisticated Bath is full of history that dates all the way back to the Roman Empire. But the city’s so much more than that. One day in Bath is enough to see the highlights, but I would have loved to stay longer to truly experience the city vibes. I’d suggest to stay for two days or a weekend, so you can enjoy the city at a much more leisurely pace. Anyhow, we made the most of our day in Bath, so why don’t I share with you guys my tips?

Admire gothic architecture at the Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey is the largest church in Bath and one of the highlights of the city. Originally constructed in the 7th Century and later rebuilt in the 12th and 16th centuries this gothic cathedral is a prime example of Gothic and Northern European architecture of the time.

Wander around the Pulteney Bridge

The Pulteney Bridge was built-in the 18th century and was the place to promenade in the time of Jane Austen. To this day Pulteney Bridge is a lovely place to wander around, shop and sightsee. It’s one of the only bridges in the world to have shops built across its full span on both sides, similar to Ponte Vecchio in Florence. The stunning horseshoe weir cascading beneath the Georgian bridge was built to prevent Bath from flooding.

Pulteney Bridge is often used as a filming location for many movies and series. Famously, it was the scene of Javert’s (played by Russell Crowe) suicide in the latest film version of Les Misérables. It’s also used in the new ‘Wonka’ movie with Timothée Chalamet, which will be released later this year.

Brunch at Cortado Café

Cortado Café is a cute coffee spot near the Pulteney Bridge. I had the avocado toast with a coffee and both were really good. The staff was nice and was constantly making sure that everybody had what they needed. Can highly recommend this café.

Take a Bridgerton walking tour

Before visiting Bath I had absolutely no idea that Netflix’s Bridgerton series was filmed here, let alone that there was a tour about the series. Tamara wanted to go on a walking tour of the city, but unfortunately the historical tours were sold out for the day, leaving only the Bridgerton one available. Before booking, the guide told us that the tour also focused a lot on the history of the city, especially during the Roman times and Regency period. That and the fact, that we both really enjoyed the show, we decided to join.

During the tour we visited several exteriors that were used in the series, including the store of the ‘Modiste’, Lady Danbury’s estate in the Holbourne Museum and the home of the Featheringtons in the Royal Crescent. The latter being one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture in the UK. Most of the crescent-shaped houses are private residences, but you’ll also find some boutique hotels here too, which you can enter to have a look at the houses from inside. There’s a large lawn in front of the Royal Crescent, perfect for picnics and people watching on a sunny day. I actually would have loved to stay at the Royal Crescent a little longer and take a look inside one of the houses, but unfortunately there wasn’t time for that. Down the street, you can find the Circus, a quintessentially English ‘roundabout’ surrounded by some more iconic, curved Georgian houses.

We also passed the Jane Austen Centre. Which is, according to our guide, a must-do for all literature buffs and Jane Austin fans. The famous Pride & Prejudice author, lived in Bath for 5 years towards the beginning of the 19th Century.

Besides the history of Bath and Bridgerton stories our guide also told us about other movies and series that were filmed there, like Netflix’s Persuasion with Dakota Johnson and The Duchess with Keira Knightley for example. The two hour walking tour ended at the Pulteney Bridge.

Afternoon tea at Pulteney Bridge Coffee Shop

A bit hungry and thirsty, we made way to the cutest store upon the Pulteney Bridge. We enjoyed a delicious piece of cake and coffee with a great view, before heading to the Roman Baths.

Visit the Roman Baths

The Roman Baths are one of the world’s best-preserved ancient Roman spas. It was where people went to wash, unwind and socialize in 70AD. The bathhouse complex also housed a temple dedicated to the healing goddess Sulis Minerva. There is also a fascinating museum that takes visitors below street level to the Roman Sacred Spring, the Temple of Minerva and the original foundations of the bathhouse.

It’s without a doubt the must-do attraction in Bath. We booked our tickets in the morning for the afternoon, as we hoped it would be less busy. As that wasn’t really the case, I would suggest to book the first time slot upon opening, to enjoy the baths at a quitter pace.

Despite the name; be aware, that you can’t actually swim in the water. However, Bath has established itself as a spa city and a place where you can truly pamper yourself. If you are looking for a similar experience make sure to check out the Thermae Bath Spa where you can enjoy a hot bath with rooftop views of the city. As we were only there for the day, we unfortunately didn’t have time to do that. Otherwise I would have loved to experience that.

Dinner at Nando’s

As it already was around 7pm when we left the Roman Baths, we decided to head back to the train station to catch our train to Salisbury. We spotted a Nando’s next to the train station and as we hadn’t had dinner yet, that came in super handy. Nando’s is the home of the legendary South African flame-grilled PERi-PERi chicken and sauces. It’s more of a fast-casual dining experience than a gourmet meal. That said; I love their burgers. My favorite is by far the Butterfly Burger. So delicious!

Check in at The Kings’ Head Inn in Salisbury

The journey from Bath to Salisbury takes about an hour. Unfortunately we were confronted with some delays (2hours!), so we arrived at the hotel in Salisbury little before midnight. We stayed at The King’s Head Inn, right in the heart of Salisbury. If you are looking for an amazing place to stay in the city, this lovely 3-star hotel is where you need to be. The rooms are very spacious and the staff was absolutely wonderful! The site of The Kings’ Head Inn has been a hotel since the 15th century. Pretty cool right?!

Day 2: Stonehenge & Salisbury

No sleep for the wicked! We booked the first time slots at Stonehenge, so we left the hotel around 8.30 to get there in time. Unfortunately the Stonehenge tour bus wasn’t running yet, so we had to grab a taxi to get us there.

Visit Stonehenge

Stonehenge is one of the most mysterious monuments in the United Kingdom. Is it a place of worship, celebration or time tracking? Nobody knows for certain why these stones were erected thousands of years ago, or what they were used for. It’s for sure a very impressive place to visit. I can tell you that. As we had booked the first time slot and were the first one on sight, we had the stones for ourselves for a couple of minutes. Which was such a cool experience. Especially with the fog being there. That only added to the mythical feel of the place. Some say it’s only a pile of rocks, but for us it was very much of a bucket list thing, so we absolutely loved our visit.

After spending some time at the stones, I would recommend to check out the Visitor Center too. The Stonehenge Exhibition is on permanent display, showing more than 250 archaeological objects and treasures ranging from jewelry, pottery and tools to ancient human remains. There was also a special exhibition taken place highlighting the surprising relationships between Stonehenge and Jomon Japan. Both were very interesting. Outside you can walk around some Neolithic houses, which gave us a pretty good idea about the way people lived 4,500 years ago.

The general admission for adults is £20. Make sure to buy your tickets in advance on the website, because they tend to sell out quickly.

Enjoy a traditional pub lunch at Haunch of Venison

After a couple hours at Stonehenge, we had worked up an appetite, so we headed back to Salisbury. If you are looking to enjoy a traditional pub lunch, Haunch of Venison, is definitely the place to be! This 700 year pub serves a tasty and seasonal menu that focuses on English favorites like good old Fish & Chips & Venison Dishes. I had the Trio of Venison and it was so good.

The Haunch of Venison is also said to be one of Salisbury’s most haunted spots! There was a mummified hand found in the fireplace. The lone hand belonged to a disgruntled patron from centuries ago. Apparently, he lost it as penance after being caught cheating at a card game.

Visit Salisbury Cathedral

The medieval town of Salisbury is often visited in combination with Stonehenge, as there only 15km’s apart. Salisbury is most known for its stunning cathedral. Many consider it the one of Britain’s most beautiful buildings. Salisbury Cathedral has the highest church spire in the country.
If the tallest spire don’t inspire you to visit Salisbury Cathedral then its biggest draw most definitely will. The cathedral is also home to one of four surviving 1215 Magna Cartas, which you can see up close within the Chapter House building. The Magna Carta is one of the most known symbols of justice and human rights in the world.

Explore Cathedral Close

Surrounding Salisbury Cathedral is Cathedral Close. This was traditionally the location where members of the cathedral lived their day-to-day lives. It reflects architectural styles from the 13th through the 20th century. The houses and little park are absolutely beautiful. Especially on a sunny day.

Coffee Break at Sonderson Coffee

We stumbled upon Sonderson Coffee while wandering through the streets of Salisbury and really liked the vibe there. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re looking for a good cup of coffee from an independent local shop.

Stroll around medieval Salisbury

While wandering the cute little streets of medieval Salisbury you are transported back in time. The architecture is particularly beautiful in the area around Poultry Cross, which used to be where the market was being held in the Middle Ages.

Salisbury has four original city gates. My favorite, High Street Gate, dates all the way back to the 1200’s. It once housed a small lock-up jail for those convicted of misdeeds within the liberty of the Close.

Oh, and make sure to spot the Salisbury Clock Tower too! We absolutely loved strolling through this cute little city.

Dinner at The Shah Jahan

After relaxing a bit at our hotel, we were in the mood for Indian food. We decided to have dinner at The Shah Jahan an authentic Indian restaurant close to our hotel. I had the Chicken Tikka Masala and I really liked it. After dinner we called it a night. We had to get up early to catch our train back to London, where we would spend the last day of our UK adventure. Click here for a full London Travel Guide.

Practical Information

• Bath & Stonehenge are some of the most popular touristy places to visit in Great Britain (besides London). Because of that I recommend to buy your tickets for the Roman Baths, Bath Abbey and Stonehenge online in advance.

• I am big fan of travelling by train, but the South Western Railway turns out isn’t actually know for their punctuality and great service. We experienced this first handed and lost a lot of valuable travel time because of it. Tickets are also very expensive in comparison to the rest of Europe. The receptionist at our hotel told us that locals barely use the trains and prefer to travel by car. So that might be something to bare in mind. That is if you don’t mind driving on the left side of the road.

• The nearest airport to Bath is Bristol International Airport. The A4 Air Decker bus service will take you directly from the airport to Bath. The journey takes about an hour. There are also regular connections by rail and coach from London Heathrow and London Gatwick.

• Southampton Airport & Bristol International Airport are the closest airport to Salisbury. However the connections by rail and coach from London Heathrow and London Gatwick are much easier than from Southampton & Bristol.

• The city centers of Bath & Salisbury are very walkable, so no need to use public transportation during your time there.

• Currency: Pound sterling (£)

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