Skip to main content.
Guides

A City Guide to Ancient Chester

Find a place to stay

Chester is a classically English city on the River Dee, with a history stretching back 2,000 years to the Roman occupation. Compact yet majestic, it has long been a weekend-break favorite, drawing thousands of visitors each year. And rightly so - it offers beautiful Tudor buildings, culture, family activities, and a friendly vibe that makes travellers feel at home.

The city walls

 

Roman remains are scattered throughout the city, but none are more celebrated than Chester’s red-sandstone city walls. They are the most complete Roman ramparts in Britain, encircling the city centre and walkable for the entire 2-mile circuit. From the top, you can look down on charming streets and old sandstone buildings. Posing beneath the legendary wrought-iron Eastgate Clock, built to honor Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee, is an essential photo-op.

 

The racecourse and the zoo

 

Chester is particularly popular for its racecourse, known as the Roodee, and for its world-class zoo. Race days bring merriment and hordes of enthusiasts to the city, chasing fun and excitement. If you haven’t booked tickets, you can always see the action from the top of the city walls. Less than 5 miles north, Chester Zoo is the most visited attraction in Britain outside of London, offering gorgeous gardens and 12,000 animals.

 

  • Chester Racecourse, The Racecourse, Chester CH1 2LY; Tel: +44 1244 304610; Website: Chester Racecourse
  •  

  • Chester Zoo, Upton-by-Chester, Chester CH2 1EU; Tel: +44 1244 380280; Website: Chester Zoo

 

Chester's unique buildings

 

Architectural masterpieces from all eras of Chester’s history cluster within the city walls, from the sturdy medieval castle to the imposing Victorian town hall. Another iconic set of buildings are the medieval half-timbered shops known as the Rows. Built in a unique style, these 2-tiered covered galleries have been standing for 700 years.

 

  • Chester Castle, The Castle, Chester CH1 2AN; Tel: +44 1244 317606; Website: Chester Castle
  •  

  • Chester Town Hall, Northgate Street, Chester CH1 2HJ; Tel: + 44 1244 304660; Website: Chester Town Hall

 

A vibrant cultural scene

 

Chester has an active arts scene, with festivals and parades held throughout the year. Summer is the high season for music, folk, and literature festivals, as well as open-air theatre in Grosvenor Park. With its magical markets and twinkling light parades, Christmas time is particularly atmospheric. A one-off cultural icon is the Chester town crier who bellows out proclamations at the city centre cross, carrying on a 500-year tradition. Don’t forget to drink a pint of traditional English ale in one of the many pubs peppering the laneways.

 

 

Best excursions from Chester

 

Conveniently positioned in northwest England, Chester is about an hour by train from 2 of the country’s liveliest cities - Liverpool and Manchester. Both are crammed with shops, restaurants, pubs, and the famous clubs and live venues that continue these cities’ musical legacies. For outdoor adventure, head to the white water centre in Snowdonia National Park, 45 miles away in Wales. Sensational rafting on mountain rapids is guaranteed during the summer months, as water levels are controlled by dams upstream.