Chester offers a rich history and superb architecture in a wonderful riverside setting. Add fabulous shopping, restaurants and bars, and you have a great destination for a short break away
Why visit Chester?
The picturesque city of Chester is one of Britain’s historic gems and the perfect place to visit for a relaxing break. Wherever you go in Chester, you’re surrounded by history. The two-mile walk along the city walls offers excellent views, Chester Cathedral and the remarkable Rows. These medieval two-tiered buildings and the city’s cobbled streets are home to independent retailers, specialist shops and high street favourites, making the city a paradise for shoppers.
Take time out for a stroll along the banks of the River Dee. Alternatively, enjoy a cruise on the river or hire a boat and explore under your own steam – an ideal way to spend a sunny afternoon with family or friends. Grosvenor Park offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city’s streets. This tranquil Victorian park is a riot of colour in spring and summer, and stages many events throughout the year.
One of Chester’s most popular attractions, and a real treat for all the family, is Chester Zoo. These award-winning zoological gardens are home to around 20,000 animals, from majestic elephants to fragile butterflies. Another of the city’s top destinations is Chester Racecourse, the oldest racecourse in Britain. Enjoy the glamour and excitement of race days with family or celebrate with a group of friends.
The city is a haven for food lovers and Chester weekend breaks give you plenty of time to sample dishes from the many independent food shops, bustling cafes, family-friendly eateries and romantic fine dining restaurants. It also boasts a stylish mix of bars, historical pubs and riverside terraces where you can relax and unwind in the evening.
A brief history
Chester was founded by the Romans in 79AD, its harbour and position on the River Dee making it an important outpost during the Roman occupation. Following the departure of the Romans, the city saw a period of conflict involving the Welsh, Saxons and Danes. The arrival of the Normans saw the construction of Chester Castle and a period of stability.
The port flourished as a trading route and Chester’s prosperity grew, resulting in the granting of its city status in 1541. By this time, the River Dee had begun to silt up, leading to a gradual decline in trade. The Industrial Revolution saw the arrival of the railways and the Chester Canal. The city’s affluence began to grow once more as aristocracy and the upper classes moved to Chester and away from the industrial areas of Liverpool and Manchester. Much of Chester’s distinctive Jacobean-style architecture dates from the Victorian era and was designed by the architect John Douglas.
When’s a good time to visit Chester?
The city has a number of festivals and events taking place throughout the year and you may want to plan your short breaks in Chester to coincide with them.
The Chester Food, Drink & Lifestyle Festival takes place at Easter and is one of the biggest festivals of its kind in the country. You’ll find celebrity chefs and cooking demonstrations alongside award-winning local and regional producers, and food stalls offering cuisine from around the globe. The festival takes place in the beautiful surroundings of Chester Racecourse.
Horseracing enthusiasts will want to attend the May Festival, the biggest event in Chester’s racing calendar, as the horses take centre stage for three days of racing. The racing moves to the river in June, with the annual Chester Regatta, the oldest regatta of its type in the world.
Cultural highlights include the Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre’s annual summer season; the Chester Music Festival, a classical music festival first held in 1967; and the Chester Literature Festival, which takes place in October and features appearances from authors, comedians, actors and poets.
Chester certainly knows how to celebrate Christmas. Proceedings begin in November with a parade to mark the switching on of the Christmas lights. There are more parades throughout December, as well as a Christmas market, spectacular animal lanterns at Chester Zoo, and carol services and a Christmas tree festival at the Cathedral.
By air: The closest airports are Manchester International and Liverpool John Lennon, which are both about 40 minutes by road. If travelling by road Chester is well connected to the motorway network.
By rail: Chester is only two hours by train from London and the city has direct links to Scotland, Derby, Birmingham and the West Midlands. Crewe is the northern hub of the rail network and there are regular connecting services throughout the region.
By road: If you’re travelling by car, the M56 or M53 are easy routes into the city.
Bus-wise, Chester is linked by national coach services and has a network of frequent local buses. There are open-top bus tours around the city and cycle routes leading to the surrounding areas.
Why not take a look at our hotels in Chester and see this amazing historical city for yourself.