Stylish self-catering holidays and short breaks in Somerset

Sally's Detailed Visitors Guide to Bath

Many of my guests visit the World Heritage City of Bath when on their family holiday in Somerset; they find the city to be an irresistible destination that's steeped in history, culture and relaxation. From wandering picturesque city streets to taking in the breathtaking views from the surrounding hills, Bath offers a truly unforgettable experience.

To help you plan your perfect trip, check out my comprehensive visitors guide to Bath helping you make the most of your visit. I've answered some of the most common questions I'm asked about Bath by guests staying at my self catering holiday accommodation in Somerset

Is the city of Bath worth visiting?

Yes, the city of Bath is definitely worth visiting! With some of the UK’s most stunning Georgian architecture, a fascinating rich history, and natural hot springs at the Roman Baths, it’s a beautiful city that would be a real shame to miss.

This very charming city has something to offer everyone, old and young alike, so do check it out if you have the chance. It would be a shame to skip seeing such a beautiful city.

How long should I spend in Bath?

There's always plenty to see and do in Bath but 2 days in the city is usually enough time to really enjoy all that it has to give. This should give you enough time to explore the main attractions and take some leisurely strolls through its streets and parks.

If you're on a tight tourist schedule, you can still see a lot of Bath in one day but you'll need to squeeze things in. It's worth prioritising the top attractions and planning your itinerary carefully to make the most of your time. I've listed some ideas further below to help you. 

Is Bath considered the most beautiful city in the UK?

Bath is often considered to be one of the UK's beautiful cities, thanks to its rich cultural heritage, beautiful Georgian architecture and picturesque streets and parks.

The city’s beauty is what makes it a popular tourist destination in the UK, and it's also been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in recognition of its outstanding architectural significance.

For me I'd say its definitely one of the top 3 most beautiful cities in the country (but then I could be a little bit biased).

Is Bath a "posh" city?

Bath can be seen as an expensive place to live and visit and because of this some tend to think of it as a "posh" city, mostly due to its elegant Georgian architecture more than anything else. I've always found Bath to be a fairly diverse city with a range of areas and communities, so not all parts of the city could be considered "posh". There are a number of places in the city that are more affordable to live and cater to a wider range of residents.

Ultimately, whether you think Bath is "posh" is going to depend on your own personal life experiences. While there is certainly a sense of grand elegance and refinement in parts of the city, there is also a welcoming spirit that makes Bath a great place to visit and explore regardless of your background or budget.

Is it better to visit Bath or Bristol?

Both Bristol and Bath have a lot to offer visitors, but they each have their own different vibe and attractions.

Bath is a much smaller city (however traffic always seems far worse than in Bristol) and often considered to be a more relaxed destination, with lots of opportunities to explore its stunning Georgian streets, visit museums or even soak in the natural hot springs at Thermae Bath Spa.

Bristol, on the other hand, is a much larger and more diverse city, known for its vibrant street art, music scene, and cultural festivals. The city has a more energetic and urban feel about it, with a bustling resurgent harbourside, a wider range of restaurants and bars, and more shops and entertainment opportunities than Bath. I prefer quality over quantity to I will choose Bath over Bristol every time.

If you’re visiting the South West Uk then I'd say it is worth checking Bristol out, parts of the city are worth exploring including seeing The SS Great Britain and Clifton Suspension Bridge. It’s only 15 miles from the centre of Bath so isn’t a huge leap to get over there either by bus or train.

Is Bath a walkable city?

Yes, for most people Bath is a very walkable city with many of its attractions located within easy walking distance of each other. I’d recommend parking your car in one of Bath's Park and Ride car parks and then use buses (as well as your legs) to get around the city. I always try to avoid driving my car into Bath if I can, the traffic can be something of a nightmare!

The city centre (within the confines of the original medieval town's footprint) is relatively compact with its historic streets and beautiful architecture make it an absolute pleasure to explore on foot anyway.

Some of the main attractions in Bath that are within easy walking distance of each other include:

The city also has many beautiful parks and gardens, just perfect for a leisurely afternoon or early evening stroll, including Royal Victoria Park and Parade Gardens. Public transport is plentiful if you do decide that lots of walking isn’t for you.

If you are interested in some of the city's walking tours, there are a good number available in Bath, including self-guided tours and guided tours led by some VERY knowledgeable locals. I’d say pop into the city’s Tourist Information Centre who can provide you with more information or Google "walking tours Bath" to find someone to book.

What is the name of the river that runs through Bath?

The River Avon flows through Bath, providing a picturesque backdrop to the city’s charming streets. The Avon was an important historic waterway in Bath's past (as well as its springs) and begins its journey just north of the Cotswold village of Acton Turville, flowing through the counties of Wiltshire and Somerset.  The river then reaches Bath and meanders onto Bristol and ends its journey at the Bristol Channel.

Is Bath considered to be in the Cotswolds?

Bath is not usually considered to be in the Cotswolds, as it is located in North East Somerset, which is a separate county from Gloucestershire where the majority of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is located. The Cotswolds is a stunning area of hills, valleys, and picturesque villages that stretches across several counties in England, including Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, and Wiltshire.

That being said, Bath is very close to the Cotswolds, and visitors to the city could easily visit the southern part of the Cotswolds for a day trip. The southern Cotswolds area includes towns thst visitors love such as Cirencester, Tetbury and Malmesbury as well as beautiful countryside and attractions like Westonbirt Arboretum and the Cotswold Water Park.

Can you swim in the Roman Baths?

No, sadly it's not possible to swim any longer in the actual Roman Baths. The Roman Baths are a historical UNESCO World Heritage Site, and swimming is not permitted in order to preserve the ancient architecture and artifacts. 

However, there are other options for swimming in Bath's thermal spring water. The Thermae Bath Spa which is located next door to the Roman Baths offers a unique opportunity to bathe in naturally warm, mineral-rich waters, much like the Romans did. You can also take a dip in their rooftop swimming pool with some stunning views over the city (it's worth booking in advance).

How far is Stonehenge from Bath?

I get asked this a lot by my visitors!

In all honesty it's not that far between them but I'd still say they're best visited on seperate days. Stonehenge is roughly 38 miles (61 km) from Bath making it relatively easy to reach by car, bus or train.

By car, you'll find the journey takes around an hour, depending on traffic conditions. The route takes you along the busy A36 and A303 roads and traffic is usually heavy.

By bus, I'd suggest taking the Stonehenge Tour bus, which departs from Bath city centre and takes you directly to Stonehenge. The journey takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes each way.

By train, you can take a train from Bath Spa station to Salisbury's train station, which is the nearest station to Stonehenge. From Salisbury, you can then grab a bus to get you up to Stonehenge, which is located around 9 miles (14 km) away. The journey takes about 45 minutes each way by train.

Overall, while Stonehenge is not that close to Bath, it is still reachable by car or public transport and is definitely worth a visit if you have the time. Check out my visitors Guide to Stonehenge for lots more information!

Oh, and if history is your thing, then do check out my "History of Bath" blog post for some more fascinating facts!

Where's the best place to park in Bath?

Trust me - and I really mean this - Bath is a notoriously difficult city to park your car in mostly because there aren’t that many car parks in the city's confines. I ALWAYS strongly recommend, as an alternative, that you use Bath’s excellent Park and Ride system to get you in and out of the city instead.

If you’re stubborn and are determined to drive your car then here are some of Bath's car parks that you might find useful:

SouthGate Bath

This multi-story car park is located in the city centre, near the SouthGate shopping centre. It's open 24 hours a day and offers over 800 parking spaces.

Charlotte Street Car Park

This car park is located near the city centre, just a short walk from the Royal Crescent and the Circus. It offers around 500 parking spaces and is open 24 hours a day. It charges for parking per hour based on how polluting your car is!

Bath Cricket Club

This undercover car park is located a little further out, east of the city centre but is still within walking distance of many of Bath's top attractions. It provides 110 parking spaces and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Manvers Street Car Park

This car park is a short walk from Bath Abbey and the city centre, making it highly convenient and unusually you will typically get a space. It offers 159 parking spaces but please note they do not accept payment by card, so have some change with you! In my opinion the parking spaces are a bit tight so if you're in a larger SUV type vehicle you might want to consider parking elsewhere!

Podium Car Park

This 3 storey car park is located near the city centre, just a short walk from the Abbey and the Roman Baths. It offers 550 parking spaces and is open 24 hours a day. Due to its location it's a favourite for local city shoppers so be warned it can get very busy and you may have to queue to get in.

I also would add that parking in Bath is expensive, especially in the city centre, so I'd stick with the city’s Park and Ride system, trust me it’s a lot less cost and stress!

Where to park for free in Bath?

If you know where to look there are a few free parking spaces in Bath but they're limited in number and usually in high demand. Most of the parking in Bath is paid parking, either on the street or in one of the city's many car parks. If you do want to park for free then you may have to park further away from the city centre and walk in or get a bus into town.

It would be irresponsible of me to not tell you there are 3 better free car parking options:

Lansdown Park and Ride

This is a free car park located on the northern outskirts of Bath, just off the A4. From here, you can take the Park and Ride bus into the city centre for a small fee. This is a good option if you're visiting for the day and want to avoid paying for parking in the city centre.

Newbridge Park and Ride

Located on the western edge of Bath. The car park is free, and you can jump on the bus into the city centre for a small fee.

Odd Down Park and Ride

If you're coming in from Frome and the south then this free car park would be the most likely to use if you do want to jump on a bus into Bath City Centre. 


Some residential areas around Bath do have free on-street parking, but it's important to check signs and restrictions carefully, as many of them will have time limits or parking restrictions for non-residents. I try to be responsible and not park in Bath's residential areas, it just makes life harder for the people who live in the city when parking is at such a premium.

In some of my guests experience it's too easy to end up with a parking ticket from one of Bath's overly zealous parking wardens so looking for a free space can end up being a more expensive option. Not ideal.

What is there to do in Bath for kids?

As a parent with young kids myself, I can honestly say that Bath is an amazing place for families with kids of all ages. With its mix of historical attractions, beautiful parks, and great shopping, Bath offers an exciting day out for everyone. Whether you're looking to explore the city's past, relax in nature, or just shop for some unique souvenirs, there's plenty to keep you and your little ones entertained.

Here are some ideas you and your family might want to check out:

Visit the Roman Baths

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Kids can learn about the history of the Roman Empire and see the ancient Roman baths, including the Great Bath, a heated bathing pool. There are also interactive displays and exhibits to engage kids of all ages. You can’t go in the actual Roman Baths these days but you can visit  and book a session in the hot pool there instead.

By the way if Roman history floats your boat and you're happy to travel further afield then do check out Cirencester, a Cotswolds town founded by the Romans almost two thousand years ago. This Guide to Cirencester is a really detailed and useful resource.


Explore Bath Abbey

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This beautiful Gothic church offers guided tours and educational materials for kids, as well as a tower climb with stunning views of the city.


Visit the Bath Postal Museum

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Kids can learn about the history of the postal service and participate in interactive exhibits, including a chance to sort and deliver letters. It’s actually very good!


Explore the Victoria Art Gallery

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The gallery features works of art from the 15th century to the present day, including a collection of British oil paintings. There are also interactive exhibits and activities for children.


Enjoy a picnic in the park

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Bath has several beautiful parks and green spaces (with play areas too), including Royal Victoria Park and Sydney Gardens, which are perfect for picnics and outdoor play.


Visit Bath City Farm

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This community-run farm is home to a variety of farm animals, and kids can interact with the animals and learn about farm life.


Take a boat tour on the River Avon

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Kids can see Bath from a whole new perspective on a boat tour along the River Avon! Ran by Pulteney Cruisers, the tours include commentary and information about the city's history and landmarks.


Visit the Herschel Museum of Astronomy

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Kids can learn about the history of astronomy and see exhibits on the work of William Herschel, a famous astronomer who lived in Bath.


Visit the American Museum

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Located in a Grade 1 Listed Building and sitting just outside Bath, this stunning museum recreates periods of American history and is a real eye opener! It's one of my children's favourite places to go and explore, the gardens there have to be seen to be believed!


Walk along the Royal Crescent

The Royal Crescent is one of the most iconic landmarks in Bath, and a stroll along this beautiful terrace of Georgian houses is a must-do activity!


Visit the Jane Austen Centre

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Bath is famous for its connections to Jane Austen, and the Jane Austen Centre is a great place to learn more about her life and work.


Relax at the Thermae Bath Spa

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If you want to unwind and relax, the Thermae Bath Spa is the perfect place to do so. This modern spa complex offers a range of facilities including a rooftop pool, fed by naturally hot spring water, with stunning views of Bath that the kids will just love!


These are just a few of my ideas for things to do in Bath with your children, but there's always plenty more to discover in this beautiful city.

What are good things to do in Bath City Centre?

Bath's city centre might be compact but it is packed with things to see and do! Here are some suggestions, including some lesser-known activities and attractions:

Visit No.1 Royal Crescent

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Located in the heart of Bath this immersive museum is housed in a beautifully restored Georgian building, showcasing a range of exhibits and artifacts that highlight how wealthy people would have lived in splendour in the late 1700's. 


Check out Mary Shelley's House of Frankenstein

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If you're feeling brave enough then why not step into this cutting edge visitor attraction that resides over 4 atmospheric floors in a Grade II listed property and offers visitors a highly immersive experience. From what I hear this is an amazing experience but isn't really suitable for younger children.


Go on a food tour

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Bath has a fantastic food scene, with plenty of local produce and artisanal food and drink producers. Going on a food tour is a great way to explore the city's culinary offerings and learn about its food heritage.


Watch movies at the Tivola Cinema

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Step into a world of cinematic wonder at this lovely little movie theatre, where you can catch the latest films and experience them in all their cinematic glory. Sink into luxurious extra-wide sofas (with in theatre dining) and enjoy state-of-the-art all-laser projection technology allowing you to fully immerse yourself in Hollywood's latest blockbusters.


These are just a few suggestions for things to do in Bath's city centre. There are plenty more activities and attractions to discover, including shopping, dining, and exploring the city's parks and gardens.

Where to eat in Bath

After all that exploring you might be looking for somewhere to grab a bite to eat. Thankfully Bath has a vibrant food scene, with a wide range of restaurants, cafes, and pubs to suit all tastes and budgets. Here are some of my suggestions for some of the best places to eat in Bath:

The Scallop Shell

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The Scallop Shell is a popular seafood restaurant in the centre of Bath, known for its sustainable menu, attentive service, and seaside-inspired ambiance in a contemporary setting.


OAK Resturant

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If you're looking for vegetarian or vegan food, OAK Restaurant is a fantastic option. Their menu features inventive and delicious plant-based dishes that are sure to satisfy.



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A cosy pub located in the heart of Bath's city centre, serving up traditional British pub fare like fish and chips, bangers and mash, and pies. This place knocks it out the park when it comes to Sunday lunches!


Ole Tapas

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Ole Tapas is an authentic Spanish restaurant found in the heart of Bath, offering a wide range of delicious tapas dishes, refreshing drinks, and an atmosphere that captures the lively spirit of Spain. Its a popular destination for locals and visitors alike.


Cafe Lucca

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Cafe Lucca is a charming cafe, renowned for its delightful selection of Italian-inspired cuisine, artisanal coffee, and warm and welcoming ambiance that invites guests to relax and unwind.


Clayton's Kitchen

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Clayton's Kitchen is a high end, sophisticated restaurant situated in the heart of Bath, renowned for its expertly crafted seasonal British cuisine, extensive wine list, and refined yet relaxed atmosphere. It's a permanent favourite for discerning locals and travellers alike. 


Sally Lunn's Historic Eating House

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How could I not love Sally Lunn's historic eating house located in one of the oldest buildings in Bath? Famous for their Sally Lunn bun, a sweet and buttery bun that's been a Bath institution since the 1700s, it's a must-visit!


The Bath Bun

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A charming tea room that serves up a range of sweet and savory treats, including their namesake Bath Bun, as well as cream teas and afternoon tea. 


The Ivy Bath Brasserie

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A stylish restaurant located in a beautiful Georgian building in the heart of the city. They serve up classic British dishes with a modern twist, as well as a range of cocktails and wines. Not exactly budget prices but the quality of the food always leaves me impressed. 


Menu Gordon Jones

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A small, intimate restaurant located just a short walk from the city centre. They serve up an ever-changing tasting menu featuring modern British cuisine with a focus on local and seasonal ingredients.


The Oven Pizzeria

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A pretty romantic pizza restaurant located just a short walk from Bath's city centre. They serve up delicious wood-fired pizzas made with locally-sourced ingredients. 


Henry's Restaurant

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Henry's Restaurant is a beloved spot in Bath, celebrated for its exquisite British and European cuisine, exceptional service, and elegant ambiance, offering both à la carte and tasting menus that showcase the best of local and seasonal ingredients.


Sotto Sotto

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A hidden gem of a restaurant tucked away in a historic underground cellar and offering a truly unique dining experience that exceptional Italian cuisine, carefully curated wine list and an intimate atmosphere that exudes warmth and charm.


The Herd Steak Restaurant

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If you''re craving a steak then you'll want to make a beeline for this stylish steak restaurant that offers locally sourced beef as well as an excellent drinks collection. Makes for a perfect night out too!


Are there any market days held in Bath?

Bath puts on a number of very decent markets held regularly throughout the year, offering a range of goods and produce. Here are some of the most popular markets in Bath:

Bath Farmers Market

This market is held every Saturday from 9am to 1:30pm at Green Park Station, Bath's original train station. The market offers a range of local produce including meats, cheeses, vegetables, bread, and more. *Note the market has temporarily had to move!*

Bath Artisan Market

This market, considered to be Bath's Best Independent Market, is held on the first Saturday of every month in Queen Square and features a range of handmade and artisanal goods including jewelry, clothing, ceramics, and more.

Bath Vintage & Antiques Market

This market is held on the last Sunday of every month again at Green Park Station, and you can take your time rummaging through a wide range of vintage and antique goods including furniture, clothing, and collectibles.

Bath Christmas Market

A highly popular market held annually in the run-up to Christmas, in front of Bath Abbey, featuring well over 200 stalls selling gifts, decorations, food, and drink. It's a great place to soak up the festive atmosphere and do some Christmas holiday shopping.

Bath Guildhill Market

A lively indoor market in the heart of the city, featuring a diverse range of local vendors offering fresh produce, crafts, vintage clothing, and more, making it a popular destination for locals and visitors alike.


Looking for an example day trip itinerary?

I've got not one, but two itineraries right here, check them out below - I think these can really help you make the most of your day out in Bath:

Itinerary 1


9:00 AM: Start your day with breakfast at The Boston Tea Party on Alfred Street, a popular cafe chain known for its excellent coffee and delicious breakfast options.

10:00 AM: Visit the Roman Baths, one of the most popular attractions in Bath. You can explore the ancient Roman ruins, learn about the history of the baths, and even taste the famous spa water.

12:00 PM :Take a stroll through the picturesque streets of Bath and admire the Georgian architecture. Head to the Royal Crescent, a row of 30 terraced houses that are considered one of the greatest examples of Georgian architecture in the UK.

1:00 PM: Stop for lunch at The Chequers, a traditional British pub located near the Pulteney Bridge. Enjoy some classic pub fare and a pint of local ale.

2:00 PM: Visit the Bath Abbey, a stunning Gothic church that dates back to the 7th century. Take a tour of the abbey, climb the tower for stunning views of the city, and learn about its fascinating history.

3:00 PM: Explore the Victoria Art Gallery, which features an impressive collection of paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts. The gallery is located next to Pulteney Bridge and is free to enter.

4:30 PM: Take a relaxing walk through the beautiful Royal Victoria Park, which features botanical gardens, a duck pond, and plenty of green space to enjoy.

6:00 PM: End your day with dinner at Acorn Vegetarian Kitchen, a Michelin-starred restaurant located on North Parade Passage. This restaurant offers creative and delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes.

This itinerary is just one of my own personal suggestions, but there's always loads more you can do in Bath, I suppose it all depends on your personal preferences. :)

If the one above doesn't tickle your fancy then try this one as an alternative:


Itinerary 2


9:00 AM: Start your day with a really hearty breakfast over at Wild Cafe, a cozy spot on Queen Street that serves up delicious homemade dishes.

10:00 AM: Wander over to the Jane Austen Centre, a museum dedicated to the famous novelist who lived in Bath for several years. Take a tour, learn about Austen's life and work, and dress up in Regency-era costumes for a fun photo op.

11:30 AM: Take a leisurely walk along the Kennet and Avon Canal, which runs through the heart of Bath. Enjoy the tranquil scenery, watch the boats pass by, and perhaps stop for a drink at one of the canal-side pubs.

1:00 PM: Enjoy a slap up lunch at The Scallop Shell, a popular seafood restaurant located on Monmouth Place. Enjoy fresh fish and chips, lobster, or other seafood dishes, all sustainably sourced from local waters.

2:00 PM: Visit the Fashion Museum, located in the historic Assembly Rooms. See a wide range of historic and contemporary fashion items, including costumes from films and TV shows like Downton Abbey and The Crown.

3:30 PM: Visit the Bath Postal Museum, a quirky museum dedicated to the history of the postal service. See old mail coaches, uniforms, stamps, and other fascinating artifacts.

4:30 PM: Take a relaxing soak at the Thermae Bath Spa, a modern spa complex that allows you to bathe in the same natural hot spring waters that the Romans enjoyed thousands of years ago. Enjoy stunning views of the city from the rooftop pool.

7:00 PM: Take your partner to dinner at Sotto Sotto, a romantic Italian restaurant located in a vaulted cellar on North Parade. Enjoy delicious pasta dishes and a great selection of wines.

I hope these itineraries provide a mix of activities, from learning about Bath's literary history to exploring its canals and enjoying a soak in the hot springs. Give me a shout if you want anything even more different, always happy to help!

Well, that rounds off my detailed visitors guide to Bath, I hope it's proven useful to you! If you do want to mention anything Bath related on this page then do get in touch, I am more than happy to update with new attractions, shops and restaurants.