From its stunning cathedral to its vast offering of bars and restaurants, you can’t beat Chester for a great day out.
Whether you like to spend the day shopping, dining or simply soaking up the culture, you’ll find so much on offer during a day-trip to the city.
And following the news earlier this year that it has been voted one of the top 10 UK cities with the best hosting skills by digital travel platform Booking.com, you can be sure that you’ll be given a warm welcome by local residents too.
Read our handy guide below to find some of the city’s hotspots – all of which are within easy reach of Chester station - and plan your daytrip to this jewel in the region’s crown today.
For something to drink
When it comes to bars and pubs, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Chester. From family pubs that look out over the river to city centre bars that serve up the best cocktails, there really is something for everyone.
Some stand-out places to try include The Old Harkers Arms, a lovely traditional ‘London boozer-style’ pub on Russell Street with a relaxed, unpretentious atmosphere and a drinks menu that earned it a place in the ‘Top 10 Whisky Pubs’ in the 2018 Good Pub Guide Awards.
Chain bar The Botanist, which is tucked away close to the Cathedral is also worth stopping at for a drink. Marvel at its beautiful interior as you sip at cocktails with quirky elements – such as being served in a beaker infused with wood smoke – and then make plans to return for a longer stay.
Walking distance: Botanist – 16 mins; The Old Harkers Arms: 20 minutes.
For something to eat
A world away from burger-serving fast-food restaurants, Burger Shed 41 on Bridge Street is a fully-fledged, extremely hip joint that whips up fantastic food against a background of Cuban jazz and indie rock and a cool, industrial-inspired interior.
Brought to you by the people behind Urbano32 further down Bridge Street and Ring O’ Bells in Christleton, it’s no surprise that this US-inspired eaterie has garnered a loyal following from locals, and has won rave reviews from visitors too.
The menu boasts a wide range of meat, fish, chicken and vegan burgers, hot dogs and tacos, and dirty fries and salads, with various seasonings giving them their unique edge, while kids will love the milkshakes and floats as well as the menu offering dishes such as popcorn chicken.
Just be sure to leave room for dessert.
Walking distance: 18 minutes
To shop at independent stores
For a shopping experience with a difference, head to The Rows; beautiful half-timbered galleries that you have to climb narrow steps to reach, which form a higher tier of shops along Watergate Street, Northgate Street, Eastgate Street and Bridge Street in the city centre as well as smaller areas such as Rufus Court and Godstall Lane.
The buildings alone – some of which date back to the 13th century while others are Victorian replicas - are impressive and instantly recognisable as one of ‘the faces’ of Chester, but it’s the mixture of independent and established retailers housed inside that will really sell it to you.
Head to The Rows Jewellers on Bridge Street for a special occasion buy or to just window shop, family run Harriet & Dee on Watergate Row for gifts, cards and accessories and lifestyle shop NICHOLS & Co on Bridge Street Row for women’s wear, homeware and their own brand of soya wax scented candles.
Walking distance: 18 minutes to Watergate Row
For a coffee break
Also up on The Rows on Watergate, you’ll find independent coffee shop The Flower Cup, which serves speciality coffees provided by ethically sourced Neighbourhood Coffee, locally sourced Tea From The Manor and an all-day contemporary brunch menu in the most beautiful, green setting.
Forgot old-fashioned full English dishes swimming in fat; here, in a green botanical setting, you can enjoy delights such as avocado on toast, salmon hot cakes and tofu hash. For those with a sweet tooth, there are great pancakes on offer too.
Then, if you like the plants you see, you can head next door to partner shop The Violet Palm to buy your own.
Walking distance: 19 minutes
For a relaxing walk
As well as great shops and some amazing places to eat and drink, Chester is blessed in its proximity to the River Dee which offers some lovely walks along its banks. Head to the Groves area where you’ll find cafes, ice-cream, boat-trips and bands, then walk over the bridge to the other side of the bank to the meadow for a gentle stroll.
While there, you might be inspired to hire a rowing boat or small motor boat and tootle up and down the river yourself. Alternatively, why not book a cruise aboard the Lady Diana, the Mark Twain or the Jackie on the family-owned ChesterBoat cruise operator with its Half-Hour City Cruises, Two-Hour Iron Bridge cruises and even Fish & Chip Fridays for an evening meal and admire the envy-inducing houses that line the river’s banks.
Walking distance: 17 minutes
For soaking up the history
There are many reasons why a trip to Chester should include a walk along its city walls. Firstly, they’re the oldest and longest defensive walls in Britain; secondly, parts of them are almost 2000 years old; thirdly, Chester is Britain’s only city that has managed to retain the full circuit of its ancient walls; and finally, it’s worth walking along them if only for the stunning views into the city alone.
You can reach the walls through a number of access points around the city, some of which offer accessible ramps, but the four main gateways are Northgate, Eastgate, Watergate and Bridgegate. The number of repairs going on around the walls means you may have to leave and re-join the path at certain points, but on the plus side it gives you plenty of opportunities to stop off for a coffee and a bite to eat.
Walking distance: 7 minutes to the Northgate point
For seeing the city
The stunning Chester Cathedral, which was founded as a Benedictine abbey in 1092 and rebuilt from around 1250 onward in the Gothic style, is the jewel in Chester’s crown; not just for its jaw-dropping buildings but also for what takes place inside them.
Its inspired programme of events means that a trip there could see you viewing an art installation, such as Saving The Deep, which features over ten sculptures created from waste collected from just three beach visits, one day; and a team of LEGO builders building a 4m x 2m recreation of Chester Cathedral the next.
The Cathedral also offers a brilliant tower tour combining a whistle-stop, guided journey through 900 years of history with a tough climb up 216 steps to the top of the central tower, which stands 125ft above ground and is the highest point in Chester.
Along the way you’ll see secret spaces that have been inaccessible to the public for 1000 years; a feature which alone is worth the ticket price which starts at £6 per person/£20 per family (two adults, three children) for the 30-minute tour.
Walking distance: 16 minutes