Highlights of Chester: A weekend away in a city full of history

6 April 2022

Chester is one of the most picturesque cities in the UK. With beautiful Tudor-styled buildings, ancient ruins and the only full circuit city walls in the country, Chester is one of a kind.

Chester perfectly shows England's history, as it has been occupied by Romans, Vikings, Danes, Saxons, Scots and Normans - a little bit of history is still seen back in its artefacts and ruins.

Only a short drive or train ride from neighbouring cities like Manchester and Liverpool, Chester makes for a perfect weekend getaway. Especially since it's also home to one of England's best zoos.

In this itinerary, we'll show you an easy and efficient way to make the most of your time in Chester. We've included all the best things to do in Chester, so you're sure not to miss any of its best highlights.

Walk the Chester City Walls

At over 2,000 years of age, the Chester City Walls are the oldest, longest and best-preserved ancient city walls in the UK. But that’s not all. It is also the only full circuit city wall remaining in the country.

The full circuit is around 1.8 miles, and you can walk across all four gates: Northgate, Eastgate, Watergate and Bridgegate.

See the Eastgate Clock

When walking the Chester City Walls, make sure to stop by the Eastgate. The gate itself was built in Georgian times to allow coaching into the city, but it is now also home to the second-most photographed clock in the UK (after Big Ben).

The Eastgate Clock was introduced to the gate in 1897 for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. It has since grown into an iconic symbol of the city of Chester. On top of the Eastgate, you can also find one of the best photography spots in Chester – look forwards to the city centre for a lovely view of the Chester Rows.

Shop in the Chester Rows

Speaking of the Chester Rows, they’re not just pretty to photograph: they also house some of the best independent shops and eateries in the city. Some parts of this iconic Tudor-style building dates back to the 13th century – it’s certainly no surprise Chester is one of the most picturesque cities in the UK!

The Flower Cup and Naughty Badger are two of the best cafes in Chester and both located in the Rows. But if you’re not after a quick coffee break, the Rows also host a variety of shops selling anything from jewellery to vintage clothing.

Visit Chester Cathedral

The cathedral in Chester is one of the most impressive buildings in the city. It took almost 500 years to build! Parts of it date back to 1092, but the cathedral has seen many adjustments over the years to fit new styles. The cathedral is free to visit, but donations are welcome.

Walk through the Roman Gardens and Amphitheatre

Chester's Roman history is apparent not only by its beautiful city walls but also by the remains of the amphitheatre and the Roman Gardens.

Many artefacts and ruins have remained in the city, making it some of the best free things to do in Chester. The Roman Gardens were constructed in 1949, and inside, you can find the remains of the Roman fortress of Deva, the old bathhouse and ancient underfloor heating systems.

You can easily spend a few hours walking through the gardens, but don't forget to stop by the amphitheatre too. It is the biggest stone-build amphitheatre in the country and, during summer months, outdoor theatre productions are held here.

Take a boat ride on the River Dee

Just a small walk from the Roman amphitheatre, you can find the riverside of the River Dee.

One of the best and most relaxing ways to see some more of the city and its surrounding countryside is by taking the River Dee Cruise. You can choose between either a 30-minute or a 2-hour long cruise.

There are also options to book a themed cruise, including the Chilli & Quiz Cruise, the Fish & Chips Friday Cruise. Afternoon Tea Cruise and more.

After your cruise, make sure to spend some more time on the riverside. There are some restaurants, bars and ice cream parlours -- perfect for a drink or ice cream cone near the water during the summer months.

Visit Chester Zoo

Chester is also home to one of the best and most ethical zoos in the UK: Chester Zoo. It's a perfect addition to your trip to Chester if you're visiting for more than one day, as you'd want to take at least a full day to explore this amazing zoo.

Chester Zoo puts a lot of money into research to prevent the extinction of certain animals and they fund global charities, helping animals all across the globe.

The zoo itself is home to more than 35,000 animals, making it a great place to learn more about the animal kingdom and the amazing species that inhabit our planet.

All in all, Chester makes for a wonderful weekend away in England. From the beautiful architecture and ancient sights to one of the best zoos in the country – Chester most certainly deserves a visit!