United Kingdom

Visiting the Roman Baths in Bath, England

It’s not a trip to Bath, England without visiting the place that gives the city its name. The hot spring waters of the Roman Baths are the only of their kind in Great Britain. While you can’t jump in for a dip while you’re there, you can visit and explore what is left of the baths the Romans created around the springs way back in the second century!

Visiting The Roman Baths In Bath, England

Visiting The Roman Baths In Bath, England

The entrance to the Roman Baths is quite a sight to see. I was completely in love with the high, domed ceilings and their intricately-designed reliefs and sparkling chandeliers! Both the entrance and the adjacent Pump Room are newer additions added in the 1700-1800’s. The baths themselves are located below street level and accessed by making your way through the museum.

Visiting The Roman Baths In Bath, England

Audio guide handsets are included in the price of admission and are offered in eight different languages. They’re about the look and size of my first cell phone in the late 90’s, and will make you look really cool as you walk through the museum. Promise. Hand-held British sign language devices are provided for the deaf and audio guides with enhanced descriptions are available for the blind. High five, Roman Baths!

Visiting The Roman Baths In Bath, England

Visiting The Roman Baths In Bath, England

The museum is full of artifacts from Aquae Sulis, what we know as modern-day Bath. The name is Latin for ‘the waters of Sulis’. Before the Romans took over, the hot springs had been a Celtic shrine dedicated to the goddess Sulis. When the Romans came, they combined their similar goddess Minerva with that of Sulis to form Sulis Minerva – a goddess that could be worshipped by both Celts and Romans visiting the springs. The temple honoring Sulis Minerva, the baths, and several private dwellings made up the small town of Aquae Sulis.

Quite a few of the original pieces of the town (including its people!) have been uncovered through the years, making for a very interesting and fairly accurate historical timeline of the city. It depends on how much of the audio tour you’d like to listen to, but I recommend allowing yourself at least an hour or more to walk through the interior portion of the museum.

Visiting The Roman Baths In Bath, England

Visiting The Roman Baths In Bath, England

Visiting The Roman Baths In Bath, England

Visiting The Roman Baths In Bath, England

After stopping at the Sacred Spring, visitors are allowed to enter the most famous portion of the museum, the Great Baths. After glancing at the above photos, you’re probably asking yourself the same questions I was, why is the water green? and why the heck did the Romans want to bathe in green water?

Because the baths are exposed to direct sunlight and there are no longer any bathers in the water to stimulate movement, perfect conditions have been created for algae to form. Back in the days of the Romans, the baths were covered, limiting the amount of sunlight that could reach the water. Most likely, the waters the Romans were bathing in were the same color as the water found in your own community pool. Nowadays the baths are routinely drained and cleaned to prevent too much build-up, but even after a good cleaning the algae forms rapidly, giving the bath water its characteristic green hue.

Visiting The Roman Baths In Bath, England

Visiting The Roman Baths In Bath, England

There is still more to see inside the Roman Baths even after you’ve left the Great Baths, like the heated rooms, and my favorite – the circular, cold-water plunge pool. The heated rooms, what we now call saunas, were level floored rooms sitting atop stacks of stone tiles which allowed for hot air to be circulated in and out to heat the floor and walls. The heated rooms were located in both the east and west baths, most likely so that men and women could be kept separate. The cold-water plunge pools were for quick dips after spending too much time in the heated rooms. (I loved the way this one sparkled!)

Before you exit the Roman Baths, make sure you grab a cup and try the spa water flowing from the spout. It’s warm and tastes absolutely disgusting, but if you’re at all superstitious, the water flowing from these springs is rumored to cure all sorts of diseases and ailments. (The Romans were convinced it did, anyway!)

So while you’d probably prefer to get your swim on at the nearby Thermae Bath Spa, the Roman Baths should still make it onto your to-do list. The baths were the only attraction in Bath that we paid to see, besides our small donation inside Bath Abbey, but I thought they were well worth the money. If you’ve got small children, there is a children’s audio guide providing a more kid-friendly experience throughout the museum. Just watch them around the Great Baths – you do not want to have to dive into that green water after them!

Roman Baths: Website
Address: Abbey Church Yard, Bath BA1 1LZ

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Visiting The Roman Baths In Bath, England

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  • Emmymom
    October 24, 2013 at 8:50 PM

    I was wondering why the water is green. When I first saw the audio tour picture I thought everyone was on cell phones, but yea those would be big cell phones :)

  • Mrs. Match
    October 18, 2013 at 2:34 AM

    Absolutely stunning. Ha, I was totally thinking that looked like an old school cell phone.

  • myfabfitforties
    October 17, 2013 at 5:47 PM

    I love looking at your photos! The sparkly cold plunge pool looks amazing!

  • Jo
    October 17, 2013 at 8:07 AM

    It’s funny I used to swim in farm dams but I’m not sure if would want to go for a dip here

  • Shaylynn
    October 17, 2013 at 5:26 AM

    I’m proud of you for drinking that water, in a “I would never” kind of way. That photo of the green water, the first one.. the first time I saw it stole my breath. And I had the same reaction. I also scrolled the photos and thought.. “why is everyone on their phone?” and then I continued to read. I am a smart, smart girl. In the most special kind of way.

    • Sarah Shumate
      October 17, 2013 at 9:01 AM

      The water coming out of the spout wasn’t green. If it had been, there’s no way you could have gotten me to drink that Kool-aid lookin’ water! Even still, I’ve probably got some kind of baby parasite growing in my belly now.

  • Nicole
    October 16, 2013 at 5:03 PM

    The sauna room and sparkly pool are awesome! So did you drink the water??

    • Sarah Shumate
      October 17, 2013 at 8:59 AM

      I did….one tiny sip. That was enough. It was really warm and had a really weird taste. I wouldn’t do it again… :o)

  • Macey
    October 16, 2013 at 3:06 PM

    PS: I still read your blog. I just don’t always comment because I’m not logged in.

    • Sarah Shumate
      October 17, 2013 at 8:58 AM

      I miss reading yours. Think you’ll ever come back?

      • Macey
        October 17, 2013 at 3:23 PM

        I don’t know…Possibly when things die down around here but I don’t know if they ever will at this point! :D

        • Sarah Shumate
          October 17, 2013 at 3:54 PM

          Is it the Common Core stuff that still got you so busy?! Or just life in general…

          • Macey
            October 17, 2013 at 5:25 PM

            Yeah, we started an Oregon chapter of Parent Led Reform and there are 3 of us. All meetings we go to are at night and they’re more than 50 miles away. So I don’t get home until late and then I’m up early with taking the kiddos to school, coming home and reading articles, documents, etc, and then writing for PolitiChicks. Being an advocate about something close to your heart is awesome…but the actual legwork of being an advocate is not awesome.

          • Macey
            October 17, 2013 at 5:26 PM

            I should say there are 3 of us that are leaders. :D

          • Sarah Shumate
            October 18, 2013 at 7:44 AM

            That is some dedication! I hope all of your hard work pays off!

  • Macey
    October 16, 2013 at 3:06 PM

    Oh my gosh, that is AMAZING!!! I would LOVE to see Roman Baths. Can you imagine what sort of icky things floated around in that pool with all the “commoners” bathing in one spot back in the day? Guh. They were really forward thinking though…with the sauna type room. Either that or we are backward thinking…? LOL

    • Sarah Shumate
      October 17, 2013 at 8:58 AM

      Well, that’s kind of how I feel any time I go to a community pool – I mean…same thing, right? I always take a good shower at home afterwards!

      • Macey
        October 17, 2013 at 3:22 PM


  • Connie Weiss
    October 16, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    Very interesting! Yes, not the kind of water I want to fish my kid out of.

  • Miwa
    October 16, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    Thanks for the wonderful tour! The picture of the heated room had me guessing, but I never would’ve thought it was sauna. So interesting!

  • Keith Wynn
    October 16, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    I would love to travel back in time for a day and experience this time period!

  • Jenn
    October 16, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    So neat! as weird as it may sound, I wish people were still allowed in the water.

  • Katrin
    October 16, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    This looks like my kind of place! I would so love to travel there! I think I know where I will spend one of my next vacations! Thanks for sharing the beautiful pictures!

    • Sarah Shumate
      October 17, 2013 at 8:56 AM

      If you go – make sure you spend some time at he Thermae Bath Spa. That’s the modern day “Roman Baths”. The hot spring water is pumped into the new spa and you actually ARE allowed to swim in that one! :o) It’s the one thing we ran out of time to do, but I will next time!

      • Katrin
        October 17, 2013 at 3:17 PM

        Sounds great! Thanks for the recommendation! :)

  • Tina @ Girl-Meets-Globe
    October 16, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    That dome is amazing!! Did the tour say when the Roman Baths stopped use of the baths? Just curious how long it’s been.

    • Sarah Shumate
      October 17, 2013 at 8:52 AM

      Yeah, it did – I don’t remember the year, but it was when the Romans withdrew from Britain.