Please sign in to post.

Can't decide. Bath or York?

My husband and I will have 3 days following our 7 day Steves' London tour and wish to take a side trip. After reading Rick's books and browsing other sites, we had tentatively decided on Bath, visit to the thermal spa, and with a Mad Max tour of Cotswalds, Avebury, etc. But now I have found and read many wonderful things about York. They both seem to have the historic architecture and myriad activities we enjoy. We are not shoppers. Both cities have wonderful B&B's and hotels, and tours, too. I don't think we have time to visit both. We will celebrate our 36th wedding anniversary during this time, but both seem to be lovely and romantic cities. So, can't decide. Will do much more research, but what would you do? Bath or York? And if we end in Bath, has anyone flown out of Bristol? Or is it always best to fly out of London? Thanks for your thoughts.

Posted by
3580 posts

Three days would be the perfect length of time for a first visit to Bath. Bath and York have very different histories and are not really comparable in most ways. Both have a major church; both are great walking cities. It's not too difficult getting from Bath to Heathrow; take the bus directly to the airport or do a train/bus combination. If you can use the Bristol airport to get home, I think it can be reached more quickly than Heathrow from Bath.

Posted by
410 posts

As a city I prefer Bath - the architecture is gorgeous, lots to see and do and the area around it wonderful. York is also great and a very interesting city but I found it more clogged with tourists than Bath and perhaps less beautiful. Certainly I would rank Bath the more romantic of the two.

The area around York is one of my favourite parts of England - you really could not go wrong with either choice.

Posted by
31465 posts

Sharon, as the others have said, there isn't enough time to see both with only three days. However, either city is a good choice.

Which city to choose will probably depend on what attractions (including day trips) interest you the most? Bath is best if you want to see Stonehenge or Avebury, or as you mentioned a Mad Max Tour of the Cotswolds (BTW, the MM tours are great!). York is best if you want to see historic sites such as York Minster (which is magnificent and the Evensong service is incredible!), but also the things like Eden Camp (if you like WW-II history), Castle Howard, the NY Moors & Steam Railway or the Railway Museum (one of the best!).

I've flown out of Bristol, but not sure what trans-atlantic flights will be available, as it's a smaller airport? LGW or LHR or even Manchester might be your best bet (depending on what city you choose).


Posted by
3428 posts

I vote for York! It is one our favorite places in the UK. We always stay at the Royal York- it is the train station hotel. Really convient and most of the rooms have recently been renovated. The garden outside the hotel, though small is really beautiful. Bath can be "done" in a day. York has such texture and flavor. If you do choose York- eat at least one night at Gert and Henery's. It is a resturant in a "daub and timber" or half-timber crooked house located right at the edge of the Shambles near the town center. Their food is marvelous and a great value.

Posted by
993 posts

Kent is right. You can't go wrong whichever you choose. I've been sat here revisiting my past trips to both places. The day trips from Bath certainly make it attractive and just a short walk from the Baths are the worlds best pasties. Bath itself offers a lot. That said, I love York and thats where I'd go. The minster has my heart. The railroad museum, the Castle museum.. there is something for everyone. If you decide on York, be sure to have afternoon tea at Bettys. Sorry, I have never flown out of Bristol, only Gatwick and Heathrow. Be sure to tell us what you decide.

Posted by
515 posts

Golly. Just as I think we are decided on Bath....such a decision...Wish we could see it all. We will just have to plan for a full fortnight over there in a couple of years. We are leaning toward Bath, mostly because of logistics and the proximity to Avebury and Cotswalds, but still haven't made reservations anywhere. Will definitely let you know what we decide. And thanks so very much for all the input. I just adore this helpline. What an amazing assortment of information, perspectives, and love of travel!

Posted by
964 posts

Both cities are truly beautiful, but traveling to Bath from London is very easy. I would think flying out of London will be the easiest. You can get easy and cheap travel to and from Bath by National Express coaches from London Victoria coach station.
You'll also probably be able to get National Express back from Bath direct to the airport in London when it's time for your homeward journey.

Buses are fine in the UK, cheap, clean (usually!) easy and frequent.
Hope you have a great trip!

Posted by
20 posts

I would make it York -- accessible in 2 hours by high speed train from King's Cross. Besides the wonders of the Minster, the Castle Museum, and walking the town walls, there are plenty of side trips (Yorkshire Dales, Fountains Abbey, Castle Howard, Whitby) that are more than worthwhile.

I know a lot of folks love Bath, and we did enjoy the Roman Baths as well as the proximity to the Cotswolds, but we were somewhat disappointed in Bath itself. It was the ONLY place in England where we were approached by panhandlers, and the only place where the streets and sidewalks were less than spotlessly clean.

Posted by
215 posts

We love Bath and three days is just right. Visit
the Romans baths after dark when it is almost empty
of tourists, lovely and romantic. Also, have after
noon tea at the pump room. My wife and I have been married 31 years so are about your age. Bath is
a great town for us.

Posted by
16 posts

This is a great question actually. As you know, you can't go wrong either way. I grew up about 15 miles from Bath and visit the city frequently. I still love the city and am still learning more about it each time I visit.
I visited York a few times when I was younger and even at a young age, it captivated me. The history behind this city is amazing.

If I was to pick only one city, it would have to be Bath. Seriously, get a guide book and don't miss anything. There really is so much to see and do. It's not just a high street for shopping.

Posted by
1717 posts

Hello Sharon. In my experience, being in York was much more enjoyable than being in Bath. I went to Bath directly from York. Both of those towns have medieval centers. After being in York, Bath was disappointing and mediocre and boring and unfriendly. York is a tourist's delight. York could be described as being totally "touristy", but that is okay if you are a tourist. York has better museums, and a better cathedral, and a lovely park with green grass and big trees, and pleasant English people who have time to talk with American tourists. York has a wonderful B & B : 23 St. Mary's. If you go there, try to have conversation with Chris (Julie's husband) in the parlor (front room) in the evening. Being a guest in that B & B costs less than a tiny ugly hotel room in London.

Posted by
25 posts

Wow! So many opinions. My husband and I just visited both of these cities last summer. I didn't notice York being any cleaner or more wonderful than Bath. I think both are great choices. I agree that York has better museums, but the baths are amazing. I would also like to add that from Bath you can easily get to Glastonbury. Standing at the top of Glastonbury Tor with the wind blowing in your face was one of the highlights of our trip. I think it is one of the most beautiful views in all of England.

Posted by
25 posts

Ok, I admit, I am biased, but as York is my home city of the last 10 years, I think I have a right to be. I would go for York everytime, and I see it everyday! Sights not to miss? Of course York Minster, one of the most spectacular and beautiful churches in the world. The Castle museum is fascinating and takes a good 3 hours to see properly. Take a trip up the river to the bishops palace, wander in the Museum gardens, stroll down the Shambles, walk the Bar Walls, feast at Gert and Henry's in the Newgate Market - the best food in York. Explore the "Quarter" - the little streets around the back of Stonegate, grab a taxi and ask to be taken to the Wetherby Whaler on the bypass, the best fish and chippie in Britain. And above all wander arond this beautiful city and soak up the history of England itself. Enjoy my adopted city, we look forward to meeting you! (Sorry about the exchange rate)!!

Posted by
11805 posts

In my mind they are both top destinations. I'll add another variable to the subject.

The history/architecture in Bath is from Georgian and Roman times. The history/architecture in York is Viking and Medieval (with follow-on growth to the city). That difference is what makes it hard to choose between them, one doesn't really substitute for the other.

If you have a preference for one period, that may help you decide.

Posted by
588 posts

I think Brad made a great point regarding the historical differences of Bath and York. I've been to both cities . . . you can't compare them. I've been to Bath twice & definitely would go again. Both cities are clean and safe. I did love evensong in York Minster. If you are a Jane Austen fan, go for Bath!

Posted by
21709 posts

Been to both but I am with Ron and Terri. If I had to pick one, especially for three days, it would definitely be York. Take evening walking tour of the wall !

Posted by
588 posts

If you decide on Bath, highly recommend the pub crawl tour. It is inexpensive and very informative. Also recommend touring the 1 Royal Crescent home to get an up close and personal look at Georgian architecture. Also eat at Sally Lunn's. Both York and Bath are great places . . . just very different. Have fun!

Posted by
29 posts

Have been to Bath once and York twice. It's close but two votes from here are for York. Walk the wall. Walk the river. Walk the steeple. Sing at evensong. Sip tea in the crypt at St Crux. Grub and bitter at any pub. Cheers.

Posted by
11212 posts

I have a different take on it....first ask yourself if you'll be going back to the area. If yes, do one city now and the next, the next time.

If you're not going back, then do both. Both cities are easy day trips out of London. Sure, you won't see them in depth, but at least you'll get a a taste of both cities.

That's how I got introduced to those cities. I based myself in London and took very early morning trains to get to each city and then returned that night.