Bath can be a spendy city with plenty of places to splash the cash, but it’s also possible to enjoy exploring the city without spending a penny (although, ironically, you’ll need some change to use most of the public loos here!).
While there is no such thing as a free lunch, if you find yourself around the Abbey Courtyard, take a wander around the local fudge shops there for a free sample of a sweet treat to set you up for sightseeing.
If you’ve already checked out our ideas for activities under £50, you’ll love our list of budget-friendly freebies. We’ve rounded-up completely free ways you can enjoy the city, ranging from self-guided tours and incredible sights to family-friendly attractions, beautiful blooms, and cultural spaces.
1. Free Walking Tours
Bath has plenty of commercial walking tours on offer, from ghost-themed ones to comedy trails and historic routes, but the city also offers completely free walking tours too.
Since the 1930s, the Mayor’s Guides, a team of volunteers who love the city, have been providing free tours of Bath.
City walking tours run twice a day on Sunday to Friday (10.30am and 2pm), 10.30am on Saturdays, and on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 6pm (May-August). Look out for their Mayor’s Guides badges and meet them by the sign outside of the Pump Rooms/Roman Baths.
They do not accept tips or gratuities and there is no booking needed, just show up!
There are some steps and slopes but if you’re a wheelchair user then they can adjust the route to make it accessible.
Explore the quieter side of Bath on one of the summer Pulteney Estate Walks that take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11am between May and September (also leaving from the Pump Rooms) and take in Great Pulteney Street, Sydney Gardens, and the Kennet & Avon Canal.
2. Self-guided Tours
If you’d rather do your own thing and explore at your own pace, download a free audio app for a self-guided tour of the city. Visit Bath’s World Heritage Site Walking Tour takes you through the major sights, with historical and cultural information to bring the tour alive.
Download the map and let the different voices guide you around the city from the Abbey to Bath Street and Thermae Bath Spa, up to Queen’s Square, the Circus, Royal Crescent, Bennet Street, and down The Paragon to Milsom Street, Pulteney Bridge and Grand Parade. Each spot on the map has its own chapter, so you can hop around if you don’t want to follow that route.
Literary fans can follow the Footsteps of Jane Austen with another free audio tour that takes you around the city and highlights historic sights and spots like Sally Lunn’s House and the Royal Mineral Water Hospital that were popular in the Regency Era.
The tour also includes excerpts from Austen’s novels that mention places in Bath, such as a romantic scene from Persuasion that takes places along Gravel Walk.
3. Walking Trails
If you’re more into the Great Outdoors than listening to history, Bath has plenty of trails around the city to explore. The National Trust’s Bath Skyline Walk is a six-mile (four-hour) circular route that takes in sweeping views of the city and quirky sights like Sham Castle, a ‘folly’ aka an 18th Century facade of a castle.
Check out other local National Trust sites here, including the Prior Park Landscape Garden that can be seen as part of the Skyline route. Terrain varies from surfaced roads to rocky and uneven sections, steps, and stiles.
If biking is your jam then the Two Tunnels Greenway is a great way to see another side of the city. The flat, shared use walking/cycling route connects Bath to Midford Valley and gives impressive views of Bath as you head out of the city through a tunnel that takes you out into woodland.
The second tunnel in Combe Down is the longest walking/cycling tunnel in the UK –look and listen out for a light/sound installation inside, too!
Solo walkers can join in with Bathscape’s free walking groups to explore Bath, from city walks to themed activities, and countryside jaunts.
Download free maps and podcasts online, or join in a weekly wellbeing walk. If you’re feeling really energetic try the 20-mile Circuit of Bath walk that weaves around the hills and valleys of the entire city. Every September the free Bathscape Walking Festival brings together ramblers for guided walks and talks, too.
4. Explore Amazing Architecture
Bath is home to incredible architecture that you can experience just by walking around; take a look at the wonders of the Circus and Royal Crescent and see if you recognize them from your favourite TV show. They regularly appear in period dramas like Bridgerton (follow our guide to spot other filming locations around town!).
Snap a photo of Pulteney Bridge and the exterior of Bath Abbey, then stand on the steps against the Roman Baths to sneak a peek into the ancient pool, or take a look through the windows of the Pump Rooms for a glimpse into Georgian life. If you’re near Pulteney Bridge and need a moment of zen, check out the Beazer Maze by the Weir for a little distraction.
If you’re a resident of Bath & North East Somerset, you can apply for a Resident’s Discovery card to get in free to attractions like the Roman Bath and Victoria Art Gallery.
5. Parks & Gardens
Bath loves its blooms and the small city has a huge choice of parks to explore, whatever the season. Royal Victoria Park (‘Vicky Park’) is in the heart of the city, and The Botanical Gardens are a great place to enjoy some tranquility amongst the flowers and trees.
Take time to smell the flowers on the scent walk, check out the rock garden and pool, and see the replica of a Roman Temple. There’s also the Great Dell, a disused quarry that now is home to a woodland garden and aerial walkways with views across the park.
Close to the city centre is Henrietta Park between Henrietta Road and Great Pulteney Street, where you’ll find a pretty pergola covered in roses, blooms of flowers, and a sweetly scented Sensory Garden. Head to Alexandra Park in the Beechen Cliff area of the city for amazing views of Bath (and choux pastries from one of our favourite cake shops!).
Bath has smaller gardens to explore– take a picnic in the summer to enjoy the green spaces close to town. Parade Gardens, right in the heart of Bath by the Weir and Abbey, is a pleasure garden with 3D flower beds and summer concerts in the bandstand.
Entry is free for Residents Discovery card holders or 2 for visitors– you can get a great view of the flower displays from up on the street if you don’t want to pay. Sydney Gardens in Bathwick, near the Kennet & Avon Canal is a free garden that acts as a pretty escape from urban life. It’s also the site of the Party in the Park and Bath Carnival in July.
6. Arts & Culture
Elsewhere the Holburne Museum offers free access to the Collection on Wednesdays from 3pm and on the last Friday of the month from 5pm – 8.30pm (excluding January and December). Look out for free entry for NHS workers and kids during half-term, as there are free options for young people and carers. Check out our top museums and galleries for more info!
If you love watching art in action, visit Bath Aqua Glass in their new Walcot Street home to watch the artists blow glass shapes in the studio, or take part in a paid workshop and grab a coffee in the cafe.
7. Bath Markets
Entry to all of Bath’s markets is free and there are lots to enjoy! The Bath Christmas Market brightens the city once a year during the festive period but others run year round, rain or shine.
Even if it is raining, Guildhall Market is Bath’s permanent indoor market, and the city’s oldest shopping centre. Here you’ll find cute book stores, tea shops, and places to grab a bite. It’s also a cheeky short cut from the Abbey to Pulteney Bridge.
Green Park Station is undergoing construction work until April 2023, but is still open for business with markets on Fridays (featuring local businesses in cute cabins), Saturdays, and Sundays in the old historic train station. Bath Vintage and Antiques Market runs on the last Sunday of every month and every Saturday (9am-1.30pm) you’ll find the Farmers’ Market, which claims to have been the first one in the UK!
Walcot Flea Market has been held at the city-end of Walcot Street for more than 40 years and it’s the best place to pick up antiques, curiosities, vintage threads, and have a poke around at the wonders on display.
8. Bath City Farm
Family-friendly and free, Bath City Farm is ideal for kids and animal-lovers of all ages! There is no entrance fee to visit the farm and meet the animals, enjoy the adventure playground, and explore the woodland and nature trails, while taking in some spectacular views of Bath.
Pick up some feed at the shop and meet the resident goats, sheep, pigs, Shetland ponies, and chickens that live on the farm. Signs let kids know more about the animals and there are often activities and events happening that give you an interactive experience at the farm.
Although you don’t have to pay to visit, Bath City Farm is a local charity that provides green spaces for people living with poor mental health, learning disabilities, and other complex needs, so make a donation if you can.
The 37 acre farm has been known as Bath City Farm since 1990 and attained charitable status in 1995, today you’ll also find a community cafe and shop here too.
Amy is an award-winning travel writer born and bred in Bath. She has written for national newspapers and magazines from the Guardian and Mail on Sunday to Conde Nast Traveller and Good Housekeeping. Now she’s helping travellers explore Bath, one story at a time.