Student cities: studying in Bath

Canoe down the canal, enjoy a free gig, shop till you drop or soak in a rooftop pool.

Bath is so cute it’s on the travel plans of millions of tourists. It’s also a thriving student destination.

There aren’t many places in the world like Bath, where almost every single road is attractive. It’s a zone of visual loveliness hemmed in by hills adorned with suburbs that are equally picturesque.

Also a plus is the friendly energy of its shops, markets, festivals and nightlife – and all of its students and tourists mingling together. There’s a nice, easy-going charm to the place.

Free and cheap stuff to do in Bath

The city has been making a name for itself as a festival centre. It hosts festivals for food, film, international music, literature and digital arts, plus there’s a two-week fringe festival at the end of May covering comedy, circus, cabaret and theatre.

If the weather isn’t great there are free lunchtime music gigs in some of the pubs at the weekend, and the ODEON and Little Theatre Cinema are good for student cinema deals. Very close to the main University of Bath campus is the American Museum in Britain, where there’s no admission charge for students.

Outdoors, the obvious tourist spots are Pulteney Bridge and the beautiful, semicircular Georgian crescents, the best of which is the Royal Crescent. But one of the best things to do is get on a bike, cycle along the Kennet and Avon Canal towpath and hire a canoe or electric day boat at the Brassknocker Basin next to the Dundas aqueduct. Equally fun is to picnic on one of the many evenings hot air balloons take off from Royal Victoria Park. You can watch the pilots preparing for take-off and firing up the afterburners and the passengers scrambling into the basket.

For a more expensive treat, a dip in the top-floor, open-air pool of the Thermae Bath Spa is a great experience. It’s great to be there when it is cold and raining as its mineral rich water is steamy in comparison. The view across the city centre is enchanting.


A lot of Bath’s shops are simply great to browse around – and wonderfully named too. If you like books, you could easily spend an afternoon sitting in the so-called ‘bibliotherapy’ section of Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights – an award-winning three-floor independent bookshop.

The covered market called Green Park Station offers the very height of what trendy retailers call ‘one-off shopping experiences’, which means it’s full of stuff that’s nice to buy not need-to-own. Expect specialist stalls devoted to cake, candles and ‘upcycled’ furniture to ‘pop up’ and entice you.

The Guildhall is a more traditional market but its array of goods is very impressive. Balloons, haircuts, flags, body lotions, cheese, cufflinks, purses and herbal remedies are among the many hundreds of items on sale.

The main shopping centres are Milsom Place and SouthGate. There are specialist stores dotted around edges of both and within the marble columned Victorian arcade called The Corridor, which is just off SouthGate. Head to Walcot Street if you’re interested in vintage goods.


For many years, Moles has been the City’s main nightclub. A couple of its varied music nights have cheesy names. ‘The Big Cheese’ plays Beyoncé, Abba, Lady Gaga, Madness and Take That; ‘Urban Fromage’ night plays Jay Z, Akon and Kanye West. Probably its most eclectic evening is called ‘LIT’, where the DJ plays anything from Daft Punk to old rockers The Rolling Stones to indie band Foals.

If free or cheap live gigs are your preference, try the open mic night at the Pig & Fiddle or St James Wine Vaults, or garage rock at The Royal Oak (the one on Lower Bristol Road, not the pub of the same name on Summerlays Place). The Bell in Walcot Street is a fantastic pub that’s cooperatively owned by 536 of its customers, fans and workers. Its connections mean that its music line-up is unusually international for a local pub. Performing arts students from Bath Spa University sometimes play there too.

But there are plenty of bar-cafés and quieter pubs such as the Saracens Head, Crystal Palace or the Raven (which sells great pies). There are many options for eating out, with vegetarians and vegans well catered for.

Komedia and Chapel Arts Centre are arts venues where you’ll find stand-up comedy. The Theatre Royal Bath is an important regional theatre and host to Shakespeare Unplugged – a biannual festival of Bard-inspired performances.

If you’re looking for work experience

Bath has got quite a lively publishing and media industry. Tourism, leisure and retail are strong, as are education and the NHS.

Universities in Bath

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