Nestled in the heart of Britain, Chester offers an array of exciting activities and attractions for visitors to explore. As one of the country’s greatest heritage cities, history buffs will find themselves surrounded by a wealth of ancient sites and well-preserved landmarks. This thriving city combines its rich past with modern entertainment, making it an ideal destination for travellers of all ages.
When traversing the hallowed streets of Chester, visitors can immerse themselves in the city’s vibrant culture. With the most complete city walls in Britain, together with the largest Roman Amphitheatre, a 1000-year-old Cathedral, and the renowned 700-year-old Rows galleries, every corner of Chester tells a captivating story.
From historical tours and day trips to parks and cultural experiences, Chester has something for everyone. Whether taking a leisurely stroll along the picturesque riverside or participating in a thrilling outdoor activity, there is no shortage of delightful things to do in this charming city. So, pack your bags and set out to discover the wonders that Chester has to offer.
The Chester City Walls are a significant historical site, dating back to the Roman era. These ancient walls have been expanded and maintained over the centuries and now stand as a testament to the city’s rich history. Visitors can take a leisurely walk along the well-preserved walls while admiring stunning views of Chester and learning about the fascinating past of this historic town.
The Eastgate Clock is another iconic landmark in Chester. Erected in the 19th century, it stands atop the Eastgate, a part of the original Roman Walls. This beautiful timepiece is known as the most photographed clock in England after Big Ben in London. A walk along the Chester Walls will lead you to this impressive structure, providing a perfect photo opportunity for visitors.
Founded in the 11th century, Chester Castle boasts a mixture of architectural styles, reflecting the different eras it has witnessed. The original motte-and-bailey castle was built by the Normans, and the 14th-century Agricola Tower is one of the surviving relics from this period. The castle also houses the remains of a Benedictine Abbey, which adds to its historical significance. Visitors can explore the castle grounds and admire the grandeur of this historic site.
Chester is renowned for its well-preserved Roman ruins, providing a glimpse into the town’s rich history. The Roman amphitheatre is one such site that attracts history enthusiasts from far and wide. As the largest Roman amphitheatre in Britain, it once seated up to 8,000 spectators and served as a centre of entertainment and military training. Visitors can there explore the ancient ruins and uncover the city’s Roman heritage.
In addition to these landmarks, there are other fascinating historical sites to visit around Chester, such as Peckforton Castle, a stunning 19th-century castle built in a medieval style. Chester boasts a wealth of historical attractions, making it a prime destination for those interested in exploring the past.
Museums & Exhibitions
Chester Cathedral Museum
Chester Cathedral Museum is a must-visit attraction for those interested in exploring the rich history of Chester. The museum, housed within the beautiful Chester Cathedral, offers visitors a unique opportunity to delve into the cathedral’s past and learn about the people who helped shape its history. With a range of fascinating exhibits, including artefacts related to the cathedral’s construction, ancient manuscripts, and religious artefacts, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions throughout the year, showcasing local and international artists’ work. These events add a contemporary element to the historic setting, making it an engaging experience for art and history enthusiasts alike.
Chester Zoo Exhibitions
One of the most popular attractions in Chester, Chester Zoo offers a variety of exhibitions that aim to educate and inspire visitors about the wonders of the animal kingdom. With a strong focus on conservation and education, the zoo is home to over 21,000 animals and 500 different species, making it an ideal destination for families and wildlife enthusiasts.
At Chester Zoo, visitors can explore themed exhibitions dedicated to various habitats, such as the Realm of the Red Ape, where they can observe orangutans and other primate species up close. Additionally, the zoo offers interactive experiences, such as daily talks from zookeepers, which provide insights into the animals’ lives and the ongoing conservation efforts.
Moreover, Chester Zoo hosts temporary exhibitions throughout the year, often showcasing artwork inspired by the natural world. These exhibits further enhance the visitor experience, fostering a deeper appreciation for the beauty and importance of wildlife and their habitats.
Chester offers a range of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy. From exploring its rich history on the city walls to experiencing water adventures on the River Dee or attending exciting events at the racecourse, Chester has something for everyone.
Tour the City Walls
Chester’s city walls are a must-visit attraction, providing a fascinating insight into the city’s ancient past. Spanning approximately 2 miles, these well-preserved walls date back to Roman times and offer beautiful views of Chester’s architecture and surrounding countryside. Visitors can join guided tours led by knowledgeable local guides, or use a self-guided tour app to learn about the city’s history at their own pace. Either way, walking the city walls is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon in Chester.
Water Activities on River Dee
For those seeking a more active adventure, the River Dee offers various water-based activities. ChesterBoat provides relaxing river cruises, allowing visitors to take in the city’s stunning riverside scenery while enjoying a leisurely trip along the water.
For the more adventurous, kayaking is a popular option. Dee River Kayaking offers social paddling experiences, with regular evening sessions that cater to all skill levels. Participants can enjoy a unique perspective of Chester while also getting a fantastic workout.
Horse racing enthusiasts and newcomers alike will find plenty to enjoy at Chester Racecourse. Known as the oldest racecourse still in use in England, this historic venue hosts numerous high-quality horse racing events throughout the year. Visitors can soak up the thrilling atmosphere, indulge in delicious food and drink, and try their luck with a flutter on the races. In addition to racing, the racecourse also hosts other outdoor events, such as open-air concerts and food festivals, ensuring there is always something interesting happening at this iconic Chester venue.
Shopping and Dining in Chester
The Rows Shopping Experience
Chester is home to a unique shopping experience known as The Rows. The Rows are a series of half-timbered buildings dating back to the medieval period, which now house an array of shops, boutiques, and cafes. Shoppers can stroll along the cobbled streets and experience the charm of Chester’s vibrant history whilst browsing for their favourite items.
High Street Names
In addition to The Rows, Chester boasts several popular high street names situated around the city centre. The Eastgate area, in particular, is home to well-known shops and department stores, catering to those looking for the latest fashions and popular brands. Whether you’re seeking designer clothing or budget-friendly options, Chester’s high street has something for everyone.
Chester offers a fantastic variety of restaurants and dining establishments catering to all tastes and budgets. Visitors can indulge in mouth-watering local cuisine or sample dishes from around the world. With everything from cosy cafes serving delicious coffee and snacks to elegant fine-dining establishments, there’s something for every palate and occasion.
- Shrub: One of Chester’s newest plant-based cafes, offering delicious menu items such as Salt ‘n’ Pepper Edamame, Poké Bowl, and Laksa Curry.
- Cafés and Coffee Shops: Chester is home to a wide range of independent and chain cafes and coffee shops, perfect for a relaxing break during a day of shopping.
For those seeking fresh produce and handcrafted goods, Chester’s local markets are a must-visit. The city is host to numerous seasonal markets and specialist food events showcasing both local and international delicacies. In addition to food markets, visitors can browse antique, arts, and crafts stalls, offering unique items and gifts that can’t be found on the high street. These markets provide an excellent opportunity to experience the local community spirit and engage with the individuals who create and source these products.
Art and Culture
Chester Music Scene
Chester has a thriving music scene with a variety of live music venues and events throughout the year. From intimate gigs at cosy pubs to larger concerts at Chester’s iconic venues like the Chester Live Rooms and Storyhouse, there’s an opportunity to enjoy a wide range of musical genres. Visitors can also attend the annual Chester Folk Festival, showcasing the best in folk music from local and national acts.
Theatre and Performances
The historic city of Chester is home to several theatres, offering diverse performances for all ages. One of the top venues is the Storyhouse, which hosts a variety of plays, musicals, dance performances, and even cinema screenings. Additionally, the Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre provides a unique experience for visitors, with their open-air productions during the summer months.
Festivals and Events
Alongside its rich cultural offerings, Chester also boasts a vibrant festival and events calendar. Annual highlights include the Chester Literature Festival, featuring acclaimed authors, poets, and performers celebrating the written and spoken word. For those who enjoy visual arts, the Chester Arts Fair offers the perfect opportunity to explore and purchase contemporary artworks from local and international artists. Moreover, Chester also hosts various food and drink festivals, such as the Taste Cheshire Food and Drink Festival, where visitors can sample delicious local produce.
Accommodation in Chester
The Chester Grosvenor
The Chester Grosvenor is a luxurious 5-star hotel that provides guests with a comfortable and elegant stay. Located in the heart of Chester, it is convenient for exploring the city’s attractions and enjoying the vibrant atmosphere. The hotel offers a range of plush rooms and suites, designed to cater for all tastes and budgets. Guests can expect top-notch amenities and services, including a spa and fine dining options.
Local Hostels and B&Bs
For those who prefer more budget-friendly accommodation, Chester is home to a variety of local hostels and B&Bs. These establishments provide a cosy and welcoming environment while still offering close proximity to the city’s many attractions. With a range of different room options and facilities, guests can choose the perfect place to rest their head after a day of exploring Chester.
Day Trips From Chester
Visit to York
York is an ideal destination for a day trip from Chester. This historic city boasts a rich heritage, with attractions such as the York Minster, York Castle Museum, and the famous Shambles. Travelling to York can be easily done via train, with direct services from Chester and nearby Manchester and Liverpool airports.
Some highlights of a day trip to York include:
- York Minster: The largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe
- York Castle Museum: Discover the history of the city and walk through recreated streets
- The Shambles: Wander down this medieval street, lined with timber-framed buildings and unique shops
Exploring the Lake District
The Lake District, a stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers mesmerising landscapes, serene lakes, and charming villages. It’s an excellent day trip from Chester for nature lovers and adventure seekers. Visitors can enjoy a range of outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, and boating, or simply take in the beautiful scenery on a leisurely drive.
During your visit to the Lake District, don’t miss out on:
- Hawkshead: A picturesque village with quaint cobbled streets, shops, and cafes
- Llanberis: A gateway to the Snowdonia National Park, perfect for outdoor enthusiasts
- Boat trips: Enjoy the tranquillity of the lakes on a relaxing cruise or rent a rowboat for a more personal experience
Day in Liverpool
A day trip to Liverpool, just a short train ride away from Chester, offers a vibrant city experience with a rich musical and maritime legacy. Home to The Beatles, you can explore their story at The Beatles Story museum or visit the historic Cavern Club. Liverpool also boasts an impressive waterfront, with the iconic Royal Albert Dock and the striking modern architecture of the Museum of Liverpool.
Here are some key attractions in Liverpool:
- The Beatles Story: Delve into the life and music of the world’s most famous band
- Royal Albert Dock: Explore the bustling waterfront area with shops, bars, museums, and restaurants
- Museum of Liverpool: Discover the city’s history, culture, and people through interactive exhibits and displays
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some free things to do in Chester?
Chester offers several free activities for visitors to enjoy. Strolling around the well-preserved Roman Walls and admiring the historical architecture is a great option. Additionally, visiting the Grosvenor Park and The Groves allows for relaxation and leisure. The Grosvenor Museum, St John’s Church, and Chester Cathedral offer free entry, making them ideal attractions for history buffs.
What outdoor activities can be enjoyed in Chester?
For those who love the outdoors, Chester has plenty to offer. You can embark on walking tours, hike the Sandstone Trail, or explore the picturesque surroundings of the River Dee. The Crocky Trail is an exciting adventure park suitable for various ages while the Chester Zoo is perfect for animal lovers.
What are family-friendly attractions in Chester?
Families visiting Chester will find numerous family-friendly attractions. The Chester Zoo is an excellent choice, housing more than 20,000 animals and species. The Ice Cream Farm offers a range of activities and delicious treats. For those interested in history, the Roman Walls and Chester Castle provide engaging learning experiences.
What can couples do for a romantic day out in Chester?
Couples can enjoy a romantic day out in Chester by taking a leisurely walk along the River Dee or a scenic picnic in Grosvenor Park. Dining in style at Chester Grosvenor offers a sophisticated culinary experience. For a lovely day trip, Snowdonia National Park or exploring the charming streets of Chester city centre adds to the romantic atmosphere.
What are some enjoyable evening activities in Chester?
During the evenings, Chester features various activities to entertain visitors. Food, wine, and nightlife options are abundant, with a diverse range of pubs and restaurants offering a taste of local cuisine. Cultural tours and historical walks provide a lovely evening stroll, while taking in a show at the local theatre adds a touch of culture to your visit.
What unique experiences can be found in Chester city centre?
Discover unique experiences in Chester city centre by visiting the Sick to Death Museum, which documents the history of medicine and healthcare. Chester Shot Tower stands as a fascinating part of the city’s industrial past. Gladstone’s Library is a must-see for book enthusiasts, and quaint shops and galleries offer a delightful way to spend an afternoon exploring the city’s charm.