What to know before travelling to Chester

Are you looking for somewhere different to go on your next UK city break? Let us introduce you to the enchanting Cathedral city of Chester. Renowned for its vast history, dating back to Roman times, classic cobblestone streets, unique two-tiered mediaeval arcades, and the country’s most complete city walls, it’s little wonder why this fascinating city is one of the top places to visit in the UK.

Where is Chester?

Chester is the county town of Chesire, England. It is located on the River Dee and lies south of Liverpool, close to the English-Welsh border.

Is Chester worth visiting?

The history at the heart of Chester is arguably one of its biggest draws. Its roots date back to Roman times when it was known as 'Deva Victrix,' - a legionary fortress. Learn more with a visit to Britain's largest Roman Amphitheatre and take part in one of the city's Roman Tours, guided by an authentic Roman soldier.

Looking for some more reasons to visit Chester? Here are 10 to get you started!

  1. Chester has 'the most complete' city walls in Britain, built to protect the city by the Romans 2000 years ago. Walk them and enjoy a unique view of the beautiful city.
  2. It's home to a 1000-year-old Cathedral with Europe's finest examples of Mediaeval carvings.
  3. Chester is one of the best retail hubs in Britain - enjoy a sensational shopping experience at the 700-year-old Rows galleries featuring high street heroes, independent boutiques and vintage stores.
  4. Enjoy a Race Day at the UK's oldest (still in use) race course.
  5. It's a culinary hot spot - experience world-class dining at The Grosvenor with its exceptional menus designed by highly-skilled chefs, using only the very best seasonal produce.
  6. Take in a show at the Storyhouse with performances across all genres, including dance, opera, drama, comedy and music.
  7. Book a relaxing sightseeing cruise along the River Dee with ChesterBoat, showcasing the Queen's Park Suspension Bridge, Grosvenor Park and Boughton.
  8. Discover fascinating prehistoric artefacts at the Grosvenor Museum, along with interactive models, galleries and activities.
  9. Take a selfie at Eastgate Clock - one of the most photographed clocks in the world!
  10. Meet some of the rarest and most exotic animals in the world at Chester Zoo - a fun day out for all the family.

Top attractions in Chester

Start planning your Chester city break. Here are the top visitor attractions to add to your itinerary…

Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo is one of the most visited UK attractions outside London. Home to over 20,000 animals from 500 different species, it is a must-visit for animal lovers and guarantees a memorable experience for all ages. With over 128 acres of zoological gardens to explore, you can easily spend an entire day there, visiting the animals, meeting the rangers and participating in exciting educational events.

The Rows

Whether you’re visiting the city for a spot of retail therapy or fancy people-watching with a coffee in hand, it’s all going on at The Rows. The Rows are among Chester’s most iconic features. Dating from the 14th century, these two-tiered galleried walkways line the four main streets in the city centre and host a variety of shops, restaurants and cafes in their old stone and half-timbered buildings. You could say it’s a double-decker high street!

Eastgate Clock

Eastgate Clock is another famous Chester landmark, sitting high above the city’s walls. Designed to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897, it’s considered the 2nd most photographed clock in England after Big Ben.

Chester Cathedral

Head to the historical wonder that is Chester Cathedral to witness its fascinating architecture and experience one of the best views of the entire city from its tower. Before it was instituted as a Cathedral in 1541, it was known as Benedictine Abbey, and even before that, it was a Saxon place of worship. But what makes this Cathedral even more interesting is the unconventional events it hosts. Yes, the Cathedral regularly puts on modern art exhibitions and movie nights and has even been known for its abseiling activities. Not your average place of worship!

Roman Amphitheatre

Chester boasts the largest stone-built Roman Amphitheatre in Britain, which was the scene of the country’s most extensive archaeological excavation in 2005. Artefacts uncovered at these excavations are displayed in the Grosvenor Museum, but it’s well worth visiting the Amphitheatre itself to witness the impressive surroundings first-hand.

In Roman times, the Amphitheatre was used for entertainment, including circuses, festivals and gladiator fighting, as well as military training by the famed 20th Legion. Visit free of charge and stand in the very spot Romans walked some 2000 years ago - something to tick off a history buff’s bucket list for sure!

Is Chester a good place for families?

With a wide range of attractions, restaurants and leisure activities, Chester is most certainly family-friendly and a great city break destination for all ages. Along with Chester Zoo, some of the best places in Chester to take children include Blue Planet Aquarium, Grosvenor Park and The Ice Cream Farm.

Blue Planet Aquarium - Get up close with tiger, nurse, and zebra sharks in the 70m-long underwater tunnel, watch scuba diving teams carry out daily feeds in the Aquatheatre and meet the Giant Pacific Octopus in the Octopus lighthouse. With over 50 different exhibits to explore, Blue Planet Aquarium in Chester provides a fantastic family day out. 

Grosvenor Park - Need to get some fresh air and let the kids let off some steam? Head to Grosvenor Park, just outside the city walls, overlooking the River Dee. This Grade II registered award-winning park dates back to 1867. It is one of the best examples of Victorian gardens in the UK, with formal avenues lined with trees, statues, sweeping lawns and spectacular bedding displays. It’s also got a fantastic, fully-accessible play area built from natural materials and a charming miniature railway open for train rides during weekends and school holidays. 

When the kids are tired from running about, take them to the Lodge Cafe and enjoy a light lunch or quintessentially British afternoon tea! The park also hosts an eclectic programme of open-air performances in the summer, each promising high-quality entertainment in the most beautiful setting.

The Ice Cream Farm - If there’s one place your kids will definitely want to visit in Chester, it’s the Ice Cream Farm! Officially holding the Guinness World Record for the ‘largest ice cream parlour,’ this family-friendly attraction boasts over 50 flavours of ice cream, a drive-thru service and several themed play areas for kids to explore. Visit Daisy’s Garden, explore the magic of the Flavour Forest and let the kids have a go at off-roading in a mini Land Rover on the Rocky Road. They’re guaranteed to leave with full tummies and a massive smile on their faces!

What is the best part of Chester to stay in?

There’s a reason Chester was named Staycation City of the Year in 2021 and that’s because the standard of accommodation for visitors is very high, with plenty of choice whether you’re after a budget, boutique, family-friendly, luxury or romantic hotel.

If it’s your first time visiting, we recommend staying within the city walls to be close to all of the top tourist attractions, though other popular boroughs include Hoole (10 minutes from the city walls), Upton (quieter and further away from the city) and Boughton.

Search and book Chester hotels with Plans Change

It’s time to book your Chester city break. Use our handy hotel search tool to get the best deals on hotel rooms in Chester, along with added perks like free cancellation. Alternatively, check out our Resale Deals for one-of-a-kind hotel discounts.

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