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Visiting the Roman Baths with toddlers

Visiting the Roman Baths with toddlers

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On the face of it, visiting the Roman Baths with toddlers is probably a bad idea. This top attraction in the UNESCO city of Bath in England doesn’t have a children’s play area, the cafe isn’t the type of place you’d expect to find a Fruit Shoot and it’s one huge water hazard. So, why did we visit the Roman Baths during our recent weekend in Bath?

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Basically, it was because I wanted to go. Yes, a rare day out for the benefit of mummy! I love history and despite a previous fail visiting a UNESCO world heritage site with young children, I thought we should give it another whirl. As a bit of a spoiler, I’m so glad we did.

Bath Abbey from the Roman Baths - Visiting the Roman Baths with toddlers

About the Roman Baths at Bath

The Baths were built by the Romans some time between AD 61 and AD 75 following the suppression of the Boudican Revolt. The Baths harnessing the UK’s only thermal spring and cementing the settlement’s place as a historic spa town. The buildings were expanded and used for three centuries before they fell into disuse.

Excavations on the site began 300 years ago with many fascinating ancient artefacts being uncovered. The buildings, including a temple to the Goddess Sulis Minerva, now make up the best preserved ancient Roman bath complex in Northern Europe.

Visiting the Roman Baths with toddlers

We visited on a Friday afternoon in term time. There were no queues at the entrance but the Baths were still busy with coach parties of tourists and people wandering in off the street like us. Audio guides are included in the price of your entry and you pick these up in the entrance hall once you’ve paid for your tickets.

Top tip: if your children are old enough to hold an audio guide get one for them as well. For every piece of audio intended for grown up ears there’s another that has been recorded with children in mind. Ancient characters tell them about the spring, the temple and the Baths. Even if your children won’t listen to all the stories they will still want to hold the guide and pretend it’s a phone or camera.

Mr Tin Box and I made the mistake of only taking two guides and missed out on the commentary ourselves while the girls hogged them.

You start by wandering out on to the terrace above the steaming green waters of Great Bath. The liquid is this colour because of the algae growing in it.

In Roman times there would have been a roof protecting the warm waters from the sunlight which encourages the sludge to grow. This honestly doesn’t detract from the scene though – if anything it makes it even more intriguing for little ones.

Dotted around the terrace are roman sculptures, or soldiers as Tin Box Tot called them. The audio guide tells you more about them, but by this point we’d lost those to the girls.

Tin Box Baby in gallery - Visiting the Roman Baths with toddlers

Tin Box Tot running - Visiting the Roman Baths with toddlers

Great Bath from terrace - Visiting the Roman Baths with toddlers

Roman statue on terrace - Visiting the Roman Baths with toddlers

Tin Box Tot and Baby with audioguides - Visiting the Roman Baths with toddlers

Were sent the girls’ snuggly Regatta Kids fleece hoodies by Hawkshead and I think they’ll be coming everywhere with us until the weather warms up!

The Roman Bath Museum

Before you reach the level of the Great Bath itself you walk through the museum. This is packed with wonderful exhibits of ancient coins that were thrown into the water centuries ago for good luck, as well as video walls showing you the cast of characters who would have visited the baths.

You are also given an insight into the world of the Goddess Sulis Minerva who was associated with the spring. She was originally worshipped by the native Britons but was adopted by the Romans. The head of a statue of the Goddess was discovered during works near the Baths in the 1700s and is now on show here.

We skipped through much of the museum as our girls were already getting restless but were able to entertain them for a short while at an exhibit demonstrating how the massive blocks of Bath stone used to build the complex were moved around.

Throughout the museum you also get glimpses of the spring water as it works its way towards the Great Bath. Amazingly 1,106,400 litres of water rise from the ground here every day at a temperature of 46°C.

Temple courtyard - The Great Bath - Tin Box family looking at Grand Bath - Visiting the Roman Baths with toddlers

Head of statue of Goddess Sulis Minerva - Visiting the Roman Baths with toddlers

Moving a Bath stone in the museum - Visiting the Roman Baths with toddlers

The Great Bath

As we entered the Great Bath I have to admit that I clung onto our girls a little tighter. And it was a good job too.

As soon as Tin Box Baby got close to the water she was raising her little foot to step in. This, and the worn and uneven floor, put me a little on edge for the 15 minutes we stayed in this part of the Baths. But what a place? It was stunning!

In a recess on one side there was a costumed character talking about Roman life in Bath and showing visitors tools and games used centuries ago. Some of the older children there at the same time as us were lapping up the historical details as they were brought to life.

Tin Box Tot and Traveller by Great Bath - Moving a Bath stone in the museum - Visiting the Roman Baths with toddlers

The Great Bath - Tin Box family looking at Grand Bath - Visiting the Roman Baths with toddlers

Tin Box family looking at Great Bath - Visiting the Roman Baths with toddlers

Roman costumed character in the Great Bath - visiting he Roman Baths with toddlers

Chain mail tools - visiting he Roman Baths with toddlers

From the Great Bath we walked through the West Baths.

Here we could see pillars designed to support underfloor heating and a cold water plunge pool that the Romans would have used after a visit to a sauna-like room. Our last act of our visit was to take a sip of the spring water which is drawn up through a borehole sunk below the King’s Bath.

Mr Tin Box, the Tot and I all decided the mineral infused water wasn’t actually that pleasant. However Tin Box Baby went back for more!

Is it possible to visit the Roman Baths with toddlers?

Yes! I loved it and while its primary audience is not families with pre-schoolers we still had a great experience.

As with all days out and travel with kids you have to manage your expectations. You’re not going to read all the information and they will dash past historically significant artefacts, but that’s why I always buy the guidebook for reading later.

Toddler temperaments aside, the Baths do offer facilities for families like us, so we were certainly welcome.

Family facilities at the Roman Baths

There are lots of facilities for families at The Roman Baths, although you have to remember that this is an ancient site so they might not on par with modern attractions. I had to do quite a bit of wriggling to get into the small toilet cubicles by the entrance with Tin Box Tot, while Mr Tin Box had to enter the ladies toilets with Baby to find the baby changing area.

On the plus side, there’s a safe place to leave your pushchair in the entrance hall and baby carriers are supplied so make it easier to walk up and down the many steps in the Bath complex. The children’s audioguides are a great idea for kids over the age of five and there were plenty of exhibits they can touch – many more than I expected.

Have you been to the Roman Baths? And would you visit with young children?

More things to do in and around Bath

In Bath we can recommend a visit to the American Museum & Gardens and more family-friendly attractions. Within an hours drive you have a host of world famous attractions to explore in South West England including Stonehenge, Longleat Safari Park and Cheddar Gorge.

We can also recommend hopping on the train to Bristol to see SS Great Britain, or driving to Haynes International Motor Museum. Of course the Somerset coast isn’t far away either.

Disclosure: we were given a press pass to visit The Roman Baths courtesy of Visit Bath. All views are my own and those of my family. We were sent the Regatta fleece hoodies by Hawkshead in exchange for a feature on the blog.

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On the face of it visiting the Roman Baths with toddlers is probably a bad idea, but we didn't let that stop us during a weekend in the UNESCO city of Bath

Monday Escapes blog linky with Tin Box Traveller, Extraordinary Chaos, Mini Travellers and Travel Loving Family

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Rusha Sams

Tuesday 2nd of May 2017

Loved this post and that priceless photo of your kids with the audio tour of the Roman Baths! I linked your post to one of my most recent ones, "Immerse yourself in history (but not the water) at the Roman Baths in Bath, England." We had a great time there reading and taking pictures, and we're impressed that you could keep your kids so interested! Pretty neat! Best wishes for always great travels with your family! Rusha Sams of Oh, the Places We See.

Claire Hall - Tin Box Traveller

Tuesday 2nd of May 2017

Thanks for the link back! I'd have loved to have spent more time there - it's so beautiful and brilliant for photos. Taking kids to a place like this is always a challenge but we couldn't miss it!

Rusha Sams

Tuesday 2nd of May 2017

I forgot to include the link to my post on the Roman Baths: Hope you enjoy!

Catherine's Cultural Wednesdays

Sunday 2nd of April 2017

Now I'm looking at the diary and trying to work out when we can fit in a visit to Bath #citytripping

Claire Hall - Tin Box Traveller

Monday 3rd of April 2017

Me too! We'd love to go back already :)


Thursday 30th of March 2017

We are visiting Bath in May and I cannot wait! This just made me even more excited, looks like it was a fabulous time!

Claire Hall - Tin Box Traveller

Friday 31st of March 2017

It's lovely. I want to go back already!


Tuesday 28th of March 2017

Your little ones look like they had a fantastic time! Maybe you need to take them on more Mummy-outings, you might be surprised? Keep in mind that I have exactly zero kids so I know nothing! #CityTripping

Claire Hall - Tin Box Traveller

Wednesday 29th of March 2017

LOL! All you need to know is what you enjoy and not to lose sight of that. Kiddie days out can be fun too but I want to bring them around to my way of travelling one day. It's a matter of testing the water, or Roman Bath, a bit at a time :)

Sarah Christie

Tuesday 28th of March 2017

It looks so great Claire, do you know even when the boys were little I always avoided places with play areas. Call me grinchy but its my worse nightmare I would much rather a trip like this and they have always loved it, kids are so curious aren't they? x

Claire Hall - Tin Box Traveller

Wednesday 29th of March 2017

We did quite a bit of both Sarah. I enjoy a bit of light relief but if I don't get some culture every now and again I go stir crazy. That's why I love National Trust properties and trips to the countryside. Everyone's a winner!

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