With its cobbled streets, medieval walls and history dating back to the Romans, there’s certainly no shortage of fascinating Chester tourist attractions. We’ve shortlisted our favourite historic buildings, city parks and essential stadiums for your visit.
Attractions in Chester
Founded as a Roman fort in AD 70, virtually everywhere you look, you’ll find a historic building or reminder of the city’s vivid history. Start your visit with a walk around the city walls. Built as the first line of defence and fortified during the 12th century and again during the Civil War, they stretch for nearly two miles around the city. The most complete Roman and medieval defensive wall in Britain, you can follow in the footstep of Roman soldiers and medieval archers and take in the Roman amphitheatre remains, the famous clock on Eastgate, Chester Castle and try your luck on the Wishing Steps. There are plenty of tours available or you can make your way around yourself, with a full circuit taking anywhere from 40 minutes to several hours depending on how many coffee shops, pubs and points of interest you stop off at!
One place definitely worth investigating is the Eastgate Clock. Reputed to be one of the most photographed clocks in the UK – second only to Big Ben – Eastgate Clock dates back to 1899, while the prominent arch it stands on was built in the 2nd century. The clock was erected to mark the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria, with faces on all four sides, and was designed by Chester architect John Douglas. Built at a cost of £651 – about £70,000 in today’s money – the clock had to be hand wound until 1992, when an electric winding mechanism was installed.
No trip to Chester would be complete without a visit to Chester Cathedral. Founded as a Benedictine abbey in 1092, the cathedral is an imposing landmark in the heart of Chester and includes Norman and Gothic architecture. The church was extensively restored in the 19th and 20th centuries, with the addition of the bell tower, and is now a popular destination for tourists. Thanks to its regular concerts and excellent choir, it’s also a music destination in its own right. There’s a gift shop and café on site (make sure to grab a jar of honey, courtesy of the cathedral bees), plus they’ve opened up the beautiful gardens, which include their Falconry centre. With falconers on hand to answer any questions and regular displays, it’s a great family-friendly addition to the site.
Few things in life are better than a relaxing stroll along a picturesque river, and the River Dee park offers exactly this. With wildlife all around and a variety of boats cruising the river, including a restored paddle boat and pedal boats for hire, the area comes alive during the summer but is equally atmospheric any time of year. Take a stroll over the suspension bridge for stellar views along the river or take the weight off your feet at any number of local bars, cafés and pubs en route. You can also take one of many boat tours on offer, from a quick 30-minute round trip to a more in-depth two-hour cruise with plenty of fascinating commentary and historical insights along the way
Located a short walk east from the city centre, Grosvenor Park is a small but perfectly formed green space. Trainspotters of all ages will love the miniature railway near the entrance, whilst the younger members of the group will get plenty out of the action-packed park with its swings, slides and climbing frames. With plenty of wide, well-kept paths, it’s perfect for joggers and fitness fans, with a small café offering breakfast, lunch and snacks.
Close to the city walls in Pepper Street, and full of fascinating artefacts, is the Roman Garden. Established in the 1950s, the garden follows the southern section of the wall and is packed full of maps and helpful guides explaining the city’s Roman heritage.
The oldest racecourse in England, Chester Races date back to the 16th century. Now part of the fashion and social worlds as much as a sporting event, the races are held between May and September every year and attract some of the best riders and racers in the world over a dozen flat-course races. The main event is undoubtedly the season opener, with the three-day May festival welcoming thousands of spectators keen to have a flutter on the fillies in action. The bars and pubs are packed during race days, with high-stakes fashion encouraged.
Located in the heart of Chester, the 65-acre course also hosts regular polo matches during the season, while the stadium and its various restaurants and bars are also home to regular events and parties throughout the year. And our Chester City Centre hotel is just 1.4 miles away from the action, taking only seven minutes by car or taxi.
Opened in 1992, the 5,000-capacity Deva Stadium is home to Chester FC; a team that emerged after Chester City was forced to close its doors. The team currently battles it out in the National League, one rung below the main four FA leagues and the ground – pub quiz experts take note – straddles the Welsh and English borders. Their traditional rivals are Wrexham, Tranmere Rovers and Macclesfield Town. Located a 20-minute walk out of town to the west, the ground is equipped with an on-site Social Room for a pre- or post-game drink, with several fast food outlets dotted around the stadium.