Picture the city of Bath and what do you imagine? The Royal Cresent? Shops? Jane Austen or Bridgerton, perhaps? It’s all there, certainly, but look again and there’s much more besides.

The city boasts some impressive tourist attractions. Bath Abbey is breathtaking, and the recent creation of the Discovery Centre underground has added depth to the quality of a visit there, with information and activities.

No 1 Royal Cresent, meanwhile, offers a fascinating insight into how life would have been for those who lived in the world-famous street back in the 18th Century through its excellent audio-visual tour.

Then there’s the Roman Baths… the list goes on.

All these popular attractions are worthy of your time, but the real joy of Bath is discovery. Step off the main thoroughfare with a sense of curiosity and there are wonders everywhere.

Look one way and see a vignette of a Georgian street with the greenery beyond; glance the other and spy a ghost sign for a long-gone dairy or bicycle shop still visible in the sandy Bath stone; duck left and find a tranquil hidden courtyard of a former hospital.

Down a side street we stumbled into Bath’s smallest pub, Coeur de Lion, where we enjoyed lunch and a pint while admiring the décor, including a rather charming stained glass window. Off a bustling square near the Abbey, we enjoyed a pick-me-up caffeine hit in the Columbian Company coffee shop.

South Wales Argus: A ghost sign for a long-gone bicycle shop in BathA ghost sign for a long-gone bicycle shop in Bath

In a courtyard near the Theatre Royal we saw the sculptural handprints of some of the famous souls to tread the boards – Penelope Keith, Peter Ustinov, Nigel Hawthorne and more.

If, like me, you’re somewhat food motivated, The Oven is one of the best pizza places in the city and worthy of a visit, but best to book as it's so good it's almost always full. Ditto at The Scallop Shell, which serves excellent fish and chips if you can afford to splash out, and the gelato in Swoon is heavenly.

If you like to shop, there are plenty of places to lose a few hours and more than a few pounds. There’s no shortage of well-known stores in and around Milsom Street, and Walcot Street has some good independent traders from Meticulous Ink's fine stationery to Graham and Green's homewares. But it is exciting to get off the main drag and check out the side streets too.

South Wales Argus: Inside the Apex Hotel Orange Artichoke restaurant in Bath.Inside the Apex Hotel Orange Artichoke restaurant in Bath.

The Apex provides an ideal base from which to explore the city, located right in the centre. You can start your day with a dip in the pool or sauna, then head for a lovely breakfast in The Orange Artichoke to fuel-up for another day of exploring (salmon and scrambled eggs for me and eggs on toast for my companion), and you experience a taste of luxury when you come back to rest and recover at the end of the day.

Our superior double room boasted a luxuriously large bed that was so comfortable it was difficult to drag ourselves out of; not to mention the temptation of whiling away time sitting in the mustard-coloured armchair by the window, sipping a coffee from the Nespresso machine and looking out across the rooftops towards Newton St Loe. We were lucky enough to watch two hot air balloons drift by, which is not an uncommon sight in the city if you're looking up.

As long you keep your eyes open, you won’t be disappointed in Bath.

Bath visitor fact file

Room rates at the Apex are from £103 for a City Double room, £127 for a Superior Double and £184 for a family room.

An annual pass for No 1 Royal Crescent is £22 for adults and under 18s go free.

Bath Abbey tickets cost £6.50 with discounts for concessions.

Find out more about Walcot Street at walcotstreet.com.