Chester might not be a particularly glamorous location when compared to the chaos and confusion of London or Manchester, but it is a quintessentially English city with a lot to offer and is a perfect holiday destination for those looking to escape from the rat race for a while and enjoy simply existing amongst some of the country’s most beautiful scenery and historic buildings.
Where Is It?
Chester is situated in the county of Cheshire on the River Dee. It’s also close to the Welsh border, the convenience of which has made it a popular tourist destination for foreign visitors. Chester is a city that’s small enough to explore without feeling intimidated, but just large enough to get lost in, and as it’s also a short drive from Liverpool (up the M53), it’s the perfect base location for an eclectic English getaway. The city is also easily accessible through a rail link direct from London, making it the perfect short-break destination for English families desiring a break from the big smoke.
Where To Stay?
As one of the most popular tourist destinations in the North West, there are plenty of Chester Hotels, campsites and other forms of accommodation available. From more extravagant hotels resting on the city’s outskirts, to B&B’s and affordable, budget and franchise hotels closer to the centre, there will be a holiday home in Chester or its surrounding areas to suit all budgets and all tastes.
What To Do?
As with most cities, you’re never going to have time to fit in everything it has to offer, but give yourself a long weekend and you should be able to squeeze in at least a few of the following activities.
Chester Zoo – Probably the most famous zoo in the UK, and with good reason. Chester Zoo is an attraction with a fascinating history (documented in a recent BBC drama) and even more fascinating creatures. The zoo is situated outside the city in a spacious plot of land. It’s the largest zoo in the country and with the extra space afforded by the land, the animals kept within don’t feel like prisoners in tiny cages, but like permanent guests at a swanky hotel.
The Roman Walls – When the Romans left Chester, they left behind over a mile of walls, which look down on the old city from an almost complete circuit! The 2,000-year-old walls make a gorgeous and interesting walk for history nerds, with sights including a recreated Roman garden and the largest Roman amphitheatre in Britain! History buffs and fans of ancient architecture will also appreciate the 700-year-old Chester Cathedral, and its tranquil gardens.
Eastgate Clock – The Eastgate clock is one of Chester’s most identifiable landmarks. It was first unveiled to the public at the turn of the 20th century for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, and has been drawing in punters (and telling us the time with surprising accuracy) ever since. It’s known as being the second most photographed in the UK (behind Big Ben of course), and has been updated with modern mechanisms to keep it ticking well into the 21st century!
Shopping and Dining – Chester is the ideal location to spend a shopping weekend if you value quality over quantity. One of the most famous shops in the city is Boodles jewellers, which is certainly not for those with tight purse strings, with pieces starting at around £200. Foodies, meanwhile, are spoilt for choice, but we’d recommend either the gourmet delights of Joseph Benjamin, a delightful restaurant and delicatessen hidden away in the old city walls, or Redmond’s Restaurant at Carden Park, an AA Rosette winning restaurant, which uses only the finest local produce.
Chester Racecourse – Debatably one of the most famous racecourses in the world, the site known as “Roodee” is the oldest of its kind still in use in England. Indeed, horse racing in Chester dates back to the 16th century, and whilst it is rather small (at only 1 mile and 1 furlong in length) the history and location of the racecourse (it’s within walking distance of the city centre) make it one of the city’s most popular tourist spots.
Spa Days – The county of Cheshire is famous for its spas, so as the region’s largest and most populous city, it would make sense that if you’re looking for a weekend away at a luxury Spa Chester would be the ideal place to start. The afore-mentioned Carden Park features a gorgeous spa, for example, which offers a variety of relaxing treatments at surprisingly affordable prices.
The Rows – This is the name given to the black and white, half-timbered buildings that line the city’s town centre. They are unique galleried walkways, which feature shops on two levels and have been around since medieval times. Some date back to the 13th century, whilst most date from the 16th century and the Victorian era. Whichever era though, they are certainly a sight to behold and you’ll find some really unique and interesting shops.