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Bath

Did you see that the Bath tourist Board has restricted coach travel into Bath due to the number of coaches wrecking the streets and environment?

I think this is entirely the fault of Rick Steve's.

I have no idea why Bath is a must see according to Rick Steves! - and therefore Americans think they have to go there.

In my opinion it is certainly worth a half day if you happen to be in the area

However, it is certainly not worth a special trip from London to see it.

Visiting Winchester, Salisbury and Portsmouth Harbour are so much more interesting and worthwhile.

Honestly, forget Bath unless you happen to be in the area

Posted by
1524 posts

b.paul1 - That's your opinion but you don't speak for everyone on this site. Everyone has certain places or things they like. Bath happened to be a wonderful city. The Roman baths makes it a unique attraction in the UK. We all have the freedom to speak and give our opinions on here but don't try to discourage others or your displeasure with Mr. Steves for doing a show about that city.

Posted by
11253 posts

If you think Rick Steves is the reason Bath is crowded, then you overestimate his power.

Almost every British guidebook suggests going to Bath. And that's not just guidebooks for Americans. (By the way, many American tourists have never heard of Rick Steves.)

As for coach travel, RS has maybe a couple of dozen tours a year there. The rest of the coaches are full of tourists from all over the world.

If you don't like Bath, that's fine, but there are many here who do. You post so often about how you don't like it I have to wonder why you despise it.

Posted by
8889 posts

Bath's popularity has nothing to do with Rick Steves, it has a lot to do with the Romans and the Regency.
I first visited it as part of the then customary annual school trip, a half century ago. Also stopped off at Avebury on the way back. No foreign tourists at either then.

Posted by
5697 posts

I say blame Jane Austen. Or the Regency romance writers.

Posted by
519 posts

In defense of Bath, I think it is a lovely and charming city! My mom and I visited a few years ago on a day trip from London, which was well worth it and gave us a taste for a place we definitely wanted to revisit. This past August, we based ourselves in Bath for a week, had a lovely stay and were able to visit other places from there, including the Cotswolds and Wales, very easily.

Posted by
27746 posts

since you are always telling people - in the vast majority of your posts - not to go there because it isn't worth the trip and always encouraging people to go to one or more of the three you list in most posts, why do you care?

Why don't you give a bit of your background or thoughts behind such continued negative thoughts?

Posted by
36 posts

Why do you think I am restricting people’s freedom of speech or opinions - ridiculous

If you think Bath is worth a special trip from London, that is fine,

I don't.

The reason I mentioned Rick Steves is that I see so many posts suggesting flying into Heathrow and then hiring a car to drive to Bath.

I wonder why.

People may disagree but there are far more interesting places closer to London
.

Posted by
504 posts

I spent four days in Bath in September without running out of things to do. I spent a similar time in Portsmouth a few years ago, with the same result. I haven't been to Salisbury, except for a too-brief stop as part of a coach tour (day trip). We've been looking at Winchester as a possible multi-day stay.

I wouldn't mind restrictions on coaches. The big groups tend to sweep through and disrupt everyone else' visit.

Posted by
5262 posts

It's true that Rick Steves recommends going straight to Bath from Heathrow (instead of into London) as a good place to adjust to the time change, and it seems like more people follow that advice than need to. I don't think he recommends renting a car after an overnight flight, and lots of us posters caution against that too. There are many alternatives to Bath for a first non-London stop, including those the OP recommends. But to blame our host for the undeniable crowding in Bath is misguided. I first visited Bath in 1963 based on advice in a long-forgotten guidebook, when Rick Steves was taking piano lessons. Bath is worth more than the half-day our OP recommends. It's popular because there's a lot to see there, and all the guidebooks highlight it.

Posted by
5489 posts

paul,
We love Great Britain and have been to all the places you mentioned in your post.

However, I strongly disagree with you negative opinion of Bath. The Roman Bath Museum is not to be missed. The ancient Cathedral is great, as well as the rest of the city. Bath is not my favorite city in the UK, York is mine.

You probably think Stonehenge is a waste. I see than on these boards from Brits.

Posted by
203 posts

If you’re going to blame any one thing for Bath council’s decision my gut instinct would be to say Chinese tourists, who are both numerous and renowned for ‘whip-round’ coach tourism. However, they’re far from the only ones taking coach rides, and it’s foolish to blame any one group of people for something in the first place.

I don’t blame them for this decision at all. These are places where people live, after all, and if you’re contributing little or nothing to the local economy then it’s easy to cut you off.

Posted by
1242 posts

Rick’s advice to start off in Bath is baffling. I assume it has to do more with how well it works for his tours than anything else. I rarely see advice to fly to Boston and head immediately to Cape Cod to get over jet lag and have a less hectic intro to the USA, for example. It’s pretty odd advice given that London isn’t an intimidating city plus first time or infrequent travelers have already been through quite a lot with an international flight and jet lag and immigration. There’s no national rail train station at Heathrow, so getting to Bath requires the coach or else going in to London and backtracking.

I assume the tour bus limitations are due to over tourism and not really Rick. For many people on organized tours, they’re only hitting London in the U.K. and so day trips to places like Bath or the Cotswolds allow the tour to see something besides London and yet not have to move hotels.

Posted by
21078 posts

I'm one who finds the architecture in Bath aesthetically uninteresting because of the sameness of many of the buildings. However, the town certainly has sights of interest to many (probably most) travelers. I would guess that the Roman baths and the Austen connection are the main draws. I liked the Holburne Museum (art) and the Museum of Asian Art.

I think the idea behind starting in Bath assumes that the traveler does want to visit that town and is flying out of London, so would benefit from making London the last, rather than the first, stop on the itinerary. Since there's convenient transportation from Heathrow to Bath, I think the start-in-Bath suggestion makes sense for those who plan to go there. I doubt that Rick's advice is founded on the idea that London is too difficult a first destination, though I haven't checked his guide book to see exactly what he says.

Posted by
1890 posts

You will note that most people who post on this forum are Americans. Most people outside of the USA & Canada have never heard of Rick Steves - including the British. The tourists in Bath come from all over the world. You don’t have to go by road into Bath. Train is by far the best option as the station is right in the centre and you miss all the traffic jams and parking issues as well as being ‘green’.

Posted by
5552 posts

According to the latest statistics, two thirds of Bath’s 1.1 million overnight visitors were from the U.K. Bath was the 11th most visited town or city by non-UK residents. Of the foreign visitors, 61,000 were from the USA, 51,000 from Germany, 28,000 from Italy and 25,000 from Spain. Most international day trippers came from London and were not staying in the local area.

No one in the UK has heard of RS. Perhaps he contributes towards the 61,000 visitors, but this is the minority of visitors.

I am British and I have only been to Bath once. None of the rest of my family have ever been there. We aren’t interested in Roman history, but the baths are unique.

I like Salisbury, but it can be seen in half a day, as can Winchester. Most of Portsmouth’s history is more modern than Roman, but there is the Roman Portchester Castle. Most visit the historic dockyard.