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Europe’s culture and history is one of many things visitors find appealing. Oftentimes, popular attractions draw large crowds. But, what if two similar attractions in two different countries offered two opposite experiences? How would you know which one offered more of an authentic experience?

Travel planning can be challenging. Oftentimes, there are so many things to see, do, and experience, and so many places to go that it can be daunting. We have explored to historic bath houses and are sprinkling this post with information about each place so you can plan your visits!

Disclaimer: We received complimentary tickets from the Roman Baths and extend our thanks to them! This post also contains ads and affiliate links.  If you make a purchase, we might make a little extra travel money, at no extra cost to you. As always, all opinions are our own.

Baths of Diocletian – Rome, Italy

Rome is a city full of so many amazing historical sites that it is hard to know where to start. Of the many top spots are the Roman Baths.

Located in a rather unassuming building off the Pizazza de le Repubblica are the Baths of Diocletian, which were named after an emperor.

The Baths of Diocletian are located behind these walls.

A short walk through a serene garden takes visitors into the building where you can see the spectacular baths in all their ancient glory. Or not….

The main focus of the Baths of Diocletian is to serve as a museum full of countless artifacts. Wandering around this place takes you through room after room of vases, sculptures and other works of art. That’s fine and everything is cool, but truthfully that’s not what we came to this spot to see.

Ancient artifacts fill the area.

After being saturated with sculptures and endless corridors filled with items, going back outdoors toward the courtyard is a nice break. Finally, when the main bath is happened upon, it is met with some feelings of disappointment. Seemingly pushed off to the side and completely drained, it is hard to envision the Romans of years gone by meeting up in this once thriving spot.

The pools are completed drained in the Baths of Diocletian.

There is a small stairway that allows you to walk into the empty pool. Here, you can see the water would have only been a few feet deep. By walking into the pool and towards the back, visitors finally get a glimpse of how grand this space might have once been with views of a singular archway.

The impressive arch and intricate tile work are a pleasant surprise hidden in the back of the main pool.

Rome‘ Baths of Diocletian are empty, anticlimactic, and full of echoes. Given the dominant role as a museum, it seems there are far better places in Rome to take in these types of items.

So what if there was something better?

The Roman Baths – Bath, England

Similar to Rome, the City of Bath offers a wide array of historic sites. Getting off the train, it only takes a few short steps into town to realize this magic of this charming city. Filled with gorgeous buildings, there are tons of places to visit in this small city. Perhaps most notable are the Roman Baths, for which the city received its name.

Surrounded by beautiful buildings (including the Bath Abbey), this recognizable spot offers an entirely more authentic and engaging experience than Rome’s Baths of Diocletian. There are a few displays made of up artifacts, but they do not comprise the bulk of this special site. Visitors work their way through a collection which includes not only historic items, but also contains unearthed discoveries of the bath house structure itself.

Looming in the background, the Bath Abbey brings an even more authentic feeling to the Roman Baths.

Walking past trickling water into the main pool’s courtyard literally transports visitors back in time. The pool has water in it and trust me, even though the water is warm, this makes it so much cooler!

Surrounded by beautiful Georgian architecture, it is hard not to imagine what this place must have been like in its prime. The tan stonework compliments the green water, giving this space an earthy feel.

This Roman bath house is very notable.

Finishing out the walk through this space leads from additional pools to ancient changing rooms more!

Want to know what is even better?

Just prior to exiting, you can actually sample the spring water! Expect it to be warm and metallic in taste, but such a cool thing to be able to try!

How cool is it to be able to sample the water?

Clearly, if I had to pick a favorite between these two Roman Baths, I would pick those of Bath, England as the winner! I feel like I learned more here and the experience was more immersive. While both are important historical places to visit, I found Bath’s Roman pools to be much more of a special place to visit.

It is interesting how very different two similar places can be. But, that is one of the many things that travel teaches us!

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28 Comments

  1. I would choose Bath, England. The buildings are more interesting looking and the architecture is awesome! Enjoyed the post – thank you!

    1. We really enjoyed it there – it was beautiful! And, as a bonus, they were using it for a Netflix movie set while we were there. We were able to see all the crew and actors!

  2. I haven’t heard about the Dioletian bath in Rome, but sounds like I didn’t lose much. The architecture of the Roman bath is so beautiful, it must be an awesome feeling to visit it. Next time when I’ll be in Bath!

    Thanks for sharing this interesting comparison!

  3. I’ve been to the Roman baths in Bath loads, it’s so close to my home town, so although they are amazing, they’ve sort of list their impact a bit. But I’ve never actually heard of Diocletian Baths. I will be adding this to my ruins bucket list so I can compare them myself 🙂

  4. I’ve visited the Roman bath – and many other beautiful places in Bath – but did miss out on the Bath of Diocletian. Never mind, I wouldn’t mind going back for another day in alluring Bath, anyway.

  5. I love historic places and so The Baths of Diocletian and Roman Baths looks very interesting to me.It is hood that you recommend Roman baths, and so I would also prefer it too.

  6. This is so interesting since I was in Bath a couple years ago. You wouldn’t think England would trump Rome for something Roman but I really enjoyed the Roman baths in Bath too!

    1. It is easy to miss! The church next door with the meridian line is much more exciting for people in the area.

  7. I had heard so much about Roman Baths but didn’t know about Baths of Diocletian until I read your post. We had taken a day trip to Bath when we had visited London and had a memorable experience exploring the Roman Baths there. True that the Baths of Diocletian seem rather stark in comparison through your photos, but being a history buff I’d still like to visit them too.

  8. I visited Bath two summers ago and fell in love. I could definitely see why your chose it as the winner! It feels as though you are walking among the spirits of those who visited years and years ago. That’s the value of its authenticity as you mentioned!

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