In this post, I’ll take you through a list of the 10 best historical sites and castles in Bath and its surrounding area. There’s a lot of history in the region, which makes Bath the perfect location to base yourself for a cultural trip to learn more about some of Britain’s greatest historical treasures.
The city of Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and dates back to Roman times. There’s beautiful architecture to admire at almost every turn in Bath as well as some great historical sights to experience, both in the city and a little further afield.
10 Best Castles in Bath
If like me, you’re a bit of a history buff and love taking in some culture during your traveling adventures, Bath is the right place for you. England has a rich history dating back thousands of years. Its castles are perfect for today’s keen explorers as they are surprisingly well preserved – despite the monarchy, religion, and politics changing a lot over the centuries!
This list of 10 of the best historical sites and castles in Bath explores the majesty of centuries-old castles and churches, temples that helped form cities, and ancient monuments that are still not quite fully understood, even to this day.
1. Farleigh Hungerford Castle
(Most Famous Castle in Bath Overall)
One of the best castles in Bath, easily accessible from the city itself, is Farleigh Hungerford Castle. Dating back to 1377, the site features the two original castle towers, a chapel, and a crypt complete with 6 lead coffins. Large parts of the outer stone walls still remain to this day so it’s like glimpsing into a bygone era!
Visitors can enjoy extensive access to this, the oldest castle in Bath, 7 days a week. I opted for the audio guide and it was a great way to learn about the history of the site and to hear stories of the distinguished families that have lived there. The Hungerfords called the castle home for 300 years but went through several disasters and scandals. Hearing these tales really brought the visit to life.
You’ll also find a shop selling a range of English Heritage gifts including wines, jams, toys, souvenirs, gifts, and books. The picnic area within the walled garden is a wonderful spot to have lunch too. My husband and I did just this when we had finished exploring the grounds.
Farleigh Hungerford Castle Details and Information
Address: A366, Farleigh Hungerford, Bath BA2 7RS, United Kingdom
Operating Hours: 10 am – 5 pm Mon-Sun
Entrance Fee: $8 for adults, $5 for children (5 – 17 years)
2. Sham Castle
Sitting proudly up on the hill and easily accessible whilst hiking the Bath Skyline Walk, Sham Castle features two traditional circular turrets and two square towers. Impressive lights at night illuminate the front of Sham Castle, which really gives it the appearance of a truly ancient building.
I stumbled across Sham Castle whilst hiking and felt as though I’d discovered some ancient lost ruin. It’s a terrific sight to behold and a wonderful spot to look down on the city of Bath from. I highly recommend a short hike to check it out, as it’s one of the only centrally located Bath castles.
Sham Castle Details and Information
Address: Golf Course Rd, Claverton Down, Bath BA2 6JG, United Kingdom
Operating Hours: Accessible 24/7
Entrance Fee: Free to walk around
3. Berkeley Castle
One of the many great castles close to Bath, and one I really enjoyed because of its serious historic provenance, is Berkeley Castle. The almost 1000-year-old structure is in immaculate condition and just a 50-minute drive from Bath. The Berkeley family has maintained it since they took it over in the 12th century.
Historical sources claim Berkeley Castle to be the site of the murder of King Edward II as the castle offered the monarch protection after he abdicated his throne following immense political pressure. It’s said that he was killed here on 21st September 1327, but rumors to the contrary continue to this day!
Featuring huge historical significance and access to some of the great rooms, galleries, keeps, and gardens, Berkeley Castle stands as a terrific monument to England’s past. It was absolutely worth the short trip from Bath to visit such a magnificent site.
Berkeley Castle Details and Information
Let’s move away from the castles of Bath to one of the most famous monuments in the world – Stonehenge. This prehistoric stone structure is under an hour away and very easily accessible from Bath, making it an ideal destination for a day trip. I’d never been before, despite my sister living minutes away from the site!
Stonehenge is around 5,000 years and there is still a lot of debate about how it was built, and for what purpose. One of the great mysteries of Stonehenge ties in with a particular significance to the summer solstice. Stonehenge is considered one of Britain’s most important historical sites. It’s an incredible place to tick off your list.
Many, many people from around the world visit Stonehenge every day. But this summer was my very first visit. I was certainly glad to have booked my admission ahead of time though, it was very busy. I strongly advise you to do the same. Click here to find out more information.
Stonehenge Details and Information
5. Nunney Castle
Another of the well-preserved castles near Bath is Nunney Castle, just 16 miles away on the outskirts of Frome, Somerset. This moated castle dates back to the 1370s and was built by a local knight, Sir John de la Mare.
In the 16th century, the castle was besieged during the English Civil War, but Nunney’s elegant tower, however, is still very well maintained. Four round corner turrets and the connecting walls are all encased by the castle moat. Its remnants highlight the strength of the castle as a fortress for many centuries before its eventual demise.
Nunney Castle is free to visit and as vague as it sounds, the official opening times are simply during any reasonable daylight hours. I took a casual drive to Nunney one afternoon and had no problems freely exploring the grounds. It was really quiet and I loved just imagining the history that has played out below my feet.
Nunney Castle Details and Information
Address: Nunney Castle, Castle St, Nunney, Frome BA11 4LW, United Kingdom
Operating Hours: Open during any reasonable daylight hours
Entrance Fee: Free
6. Bath Abbey
Bath Abbey is an architectural masterpiece that stands as a prominent symbol of the city. I love how the glorious Gothic structure dominates the city’s skyline and it’s located right in the heart of the city center. Originally founded in the 7th century, it now welcomes visitors from around the world.
The interior of Bath Abbey features intricately carved stone vaults, stained glass windows, and a pretty spectacular nave. The fan-vaulted ceiling is remarkable and creates a stunning canopy over the central aisle.
Bath Abbey continues to play a role as a place of worship and community in Bath, hosting regular services, concerts, and events that welcome both tourists and locals alike. The architecture and the sense of history at Bath Abbey, make it a must-visit for history buffs. Be sure to add this one to your Bath itinerary!
Bath Abbey Details and Information
Address: Bath BA1 1LT, United Kingdom
Operating Hours: 10 am – 5 pm Mon-Fri; 10 am – 6 pm Sat; 1.15 pm – 2.15 pm & 4.30 pm – 6.15 pm Sun
Entrance Fee: $7 for adults, $5 for children (5-15 years)
7. Thornbury Castle
If you’re looking for a hotel castle stay in Bath, you’ll need to head a little out of town to one of the castles close by. Thornbury Castle is just 23 miles away and offers some stunning luxury accommodation that combines 16th-century grandeur with modern splendor.
Constructed in 1511, Thornbury Castle isn’t a true military fortress, but rather an example of an early Tudor country house. Henry VIII seized the castle in 1521 after he beheaded the original owner for treason and went on to stay at the site with Anne Boleyn for 10 days in August 1535.
Thornbury Castle is simply beautiful and will tick all the boxes if you’re craving a slice of English history. The 26 rooms are extravagantly finished. The castle grounds are truly stunning too. Click here to book your stay and vacation like a royal.
Thornbury Castle Details and Information
Address: Castle St, Thornbury, Bristol BS35 1HH, United Kingdom
Operating Hours: N/A for the hotel. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner 7 days a week.
8. Roman Baths
A visit to the Roman Baths is an absolute must during a historical visit to Bath and somewhere I head to whenever I’m in the area. Dating back to around 70 AD and created by the Romans, it comprises well-preserved baths, a temple, and a variety of historical artifacts.
The hot spring water, thought to have healing properties, still flows into a pool within the site. Although you’re not allowed to access the thermal waters themselves, visitors have the opportunity to explore the historic chambers and see what life would have been like for the ancient Romans.
This popular attraction is a highlight of the bath tourism scene and receives over 1.3 million visitors annually. I’d advise booking ahead and securing your tickets in advance to save time and avoid being disappointed.
Some friends who visited us in Bath enjoyed checking out the many ancient treasures on display and further insights in the adjacent museum. They booked a 1.5-hour Blue Badge historical tour of Bath that includes entry to the Baths. Click here to find out more information.
Roman Baths Details and Information
Address: Abbey Churchyard, Bath BA1 1LZ, United Kingdom
Operating Hours: 9 am – 6 pm Mon-Sun (last entry 5 pm)
Entrance Fee: $25 – $29 for adults, $15 – $18 for children(6-18 years)
9. Sherborne Castle
One of the most popular castles around Bath that’s absolutely worth visiting is Sherborne Castle. This Tudor mansion built in the 16th century, is around an hour south of Bath. It’s a delightful example of English, historical construction complete with stunning landscaped gardens.
Close to this site are the ruins of Old Sherborne Castle, leased from Queen Elizabeth I to Sir Walter Raleigh in the late 16th century who apparently fell in love with the original 12th-century structure after a short visit to the area. However, rather than renovating the old structure, he built a new lodging which later became Sherborne Castle, as we know it today.
My favorite part was exploring the magnificent gardens, but sections of the castle are open to visitors most days throughout the year too. I recommend booking online and checking the availability and opening times as different events can affect the castle and gardens’ accessibility for guests.
Sherborne Castle Details and Information
Address: New Rd, Sherborne DT9 5NR, UK
Operating Hours: Varying – always check the website ahead of your visit
Entrance Fee: Timed castle tour and garden tickets from $20+pp, garden-only tickets from $15
10. Sudeley Castle
Another of the great castles close to Bath is Sudeley Castle, located around 60 miles to the north. I loved this site because it has some serious extensive royal history. It was previously owned by Kings Edward IV and Richard III. Henry VIII also visited the castle in 1535 and Charles I even used it as a military base during the first English Civil War.
Queen Elizabeth I held a 3-day party at Sudeley to celebrate the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. That’s not all! Buried in the castle’s church grounds, is Catherine Parr, the surviving wife of Henry VIII, making it the only privately owned castle in the world to have a queen buried within its grounds.
To get the full experience I recommend taking a guided tour. It offers glimpses into true royal history, whilst permanent exhibits, the castle rooms, St Mary’s church, and 10 magnificent gardens make the trip from Bath worth every second. There’s even an adventure playground for kids and a nice cafe/restaurant that serves everything from coffee to dinner and desserts.
Sudeley Castle Details and Information
Address: Winchcombe, Cheltenham GL54 5JD, United Kingdom
Operating Hours: 10 am – 4 pm Mon-Sun
Entrance Fee: $20 for adults, $10 for children (3-15 years)
Castles in Bath: FAQs
Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about the best castles and historical sites in Bath, UK:
Beauty is subjective, and what one person finds beautiful, another may not. However, many castles near Bath have their own unique charm and appeal. One of the most picturesque, and my personal favorite, is Nunney Castle.
The medieval castle is located in Nunney, Somerset. This castle is well known for its elegant and well-preserved design, and a stunning backdrop of lush greenery. The castle’s compact size, moat, and symmetry give it a particularly photogenic quality, making it a popular destination for visitors seeking a picturesque castle experience near Bath.
The oldest castle in Bath is Farleigh Hungerford Castle. This medieval castle is located approximately 9 miles from Bath and was originally built in the 14th century, making it the oldest castle in the vicinity of Bath.
The castle has a rich history and is a fascinating site for visitors interested in exploring medieval architecture and heritage in the Bath area.
It’s well known for its rare and vivid medieval wall paintings that can be found within its well-preserved antique chapel. The castle has a rich history and is a fascinating site for visitors interested in exploring medieval architecture – it’s definitely one of the best castles to visit in Bath.
No, you’re sadly not able to sleep in any of the castles in the city of Bath itself. The nearest castle that accepts overnight guests is Thornbury Castle, around 23 miles to the north. This 26-room luxury castle was previously owned by Henry VIII who stayed there during his reign as king in 1535.
The largest castle in Bath is Berkeley Castle located in Gloucestershire, not far from Bath. It features extensive gardens, many halls, vast chambers, and grounds to explore. It is considered one of the biggest castles in the area.
A sham is something fake, deceptive, or not what it appears to be. Sham Castle is not a castle at all but a construction built purely for decoration known as a folly. It was constructed in the mid-18th century and is illuminated beautifully at night.
No, Windsor Castle is located in the UK town of Windsor and is around 90 miles (a 2-hour drive) away from Bath.
Bath is renowned for its historical significance and architectural beauty. It’s most famous for its Roman Baths, offering a glimpse into the city’s ancient past, and its Georgian architecture, featuring iconic landmarks such as the Royal Crescent and the Circus.
Additionally, Bath’s natural hot springs, literary connections, cultural venues, and UNESCO World Heritage status make it a well-rounded destination for history, culture, and spa enthusiasts.
Bath is an excellent place for a weekend break. It offers a mix of culture and history mixed in with a terrific bar and restaurant scene. There are plenty of great sights to fill a weekend itinerary with, no matter what it is you enjoy doing.
I recommend a morning of sightseeing followed by a few pub stops in the afternoon. Bath has some excellent old pubs like the Saracens Head and the Coeur De Lion – my go-to. Take a look at this article for ideas on the perfect weekend in Bath.
Bath is a great spot to locate yourself for some fantastic historical sites. You’ll find castles, churches, cathedrals, monuments, and architecture dating back centuries in the surrounding towns and villages too.
Kings and Queens, emperors, and knights have graced this region for thousands of years and so much of the history is still apparent to this day. Well-preserved historically significant structures offer visitors a glimpse into a bygone era. The stories that have played out in some of these locations boggle the mind.
I loved being in Bath for such easy access to an abundance of culture and history. I hope you enjoy delving into England’s colorful past from your base in Bath too.