A Roman city steeped in history, Chester was founded in the year 79 and was, at the time, one of the major Roman army bases in the UK. Then known as Castra Devana, today the city has changed immensely but still maintains its historical and architectural magnificence. Walk into a dress shop and you could find a set of pillars, or pull up a chair at a restaurant set in old cathedral where monks ate in the Middle Ages. It's mesmerizing stuff but not the only thing Chester has to offer. A compact city centre exploding with shopping options, many excellent restaurants and a collection of Tudor and Victorian buildings make Chester well worth a visit.
You'll find countless ways to pass the time in Chester, but just as enjoyable as your visit will be the drive there. The city's four main roads still follow the same routes laid out almost 2,000 years ago and are home to many of the city's major attractions. Among these is the Eastgate Clock, said to be the most photographed clock in Britain after Big Ben. Surrounding central Chester are the Roman Walls, home to the King Charles Tower and Water Tower which give the town its medieval feel, while Northgate Street is the site of the impressive and iconic Chester Cathedral.
Chester's historic streets are lined with many places to grab a tasty nosh in between sightseeing, or to linger over a long lunch. The city's main four roads along with Bridge Street are the most densely populated 'eat streets' in Chester and are the perfect starting points for the hungry and thirsty. Standout Chester restaurants include Upstairs at The Grill, Simon Radley at The Chester Grosvenor and Sticky Walnut. Those on a budget will feel rich after a meal at Chez Jules thanks to the affordable price, while The Millstone offers a taste of premier British pub dining. For a unique experience, head to Chester Cathedral's The Refectory Cafe where you can dine in a former 'monks only' setting.
Where to Stay
Being a city with a long history and a popular gateway to Northern Wales, Chester is not surprisingly home to a variety of excellent accommodation. From large hotel chains to small family-run Bed and Breakfasts, Chester has more than 100 different accommodation options, so you'll undoubtedly be able to find somewhere that suits your style. One of Chester's best hotel picks is Chester Grosvenor, home to a great restaurant and located almost right underneath the Eastgate Clock. Rowton Hall Hotel will appeal to those wanting to relax as much as sightsee, while Oddfellows is the most unique of the city's hotels and is a great bargain if you stay during off-peak times.
It's hard to believe multi-story shopping was invented so long ago, but Chester's central shopping centred around unique 'Rows' or galleries proves it. First built in the 13th Century, the Rows are the site of what is believed to be the oldest shop-front in England, Three Old Arches. Featuring an indoor market where you can buy everything from clothes and souvenirs to fruit and vegetables, The Rows are also home to many good places to grab a bite. If what you're seeking can't be found at The Rows, then Broughton Retail Park is your next best bet. Bargain hunters should head straight to the Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet.
Chester Like a Local
Forget your Old Traffords and Anfields – Chester may not be home to any high-flying Premier League teams but many locals would swap football for horse racing any day. History has it that the first horse race took place at Chester Racecourse, known to locals as “Roodee”, in 1539 when the local mayor famously allowed horse racing to replace football as the ground's purpose. Still today, racing is very much a part of local life and the Chester Racecourse, close to many city hotels, is renowned for its events as well as being Britain's oldest sporting venue in continual use.