If you’re looking for history, culture and the great outdoors all in one place, Chester is the perfect destination. We’ve put together some of the best things to do in Chester to take the pressure off so you can focus on enjoying your time in the city.
With the oldest racecourse, largest Roman amphitheatre in Britain and 1,000 year old cathedral, to name just a few, Chester is steeped in history. As well as its rich history, Chester is also home to a vast array of beautiful outdoor spaces and parks as well as the award-winning zoo, one of the most visited attractions outside of London. Not only will you leave knowing more about the history of Britain as well as getting some fresh air, there’s always opportunity to get a bit of culture on your trip, from visiting a gallery, catching a theatre performance or refining your palate at a wine tasting session.
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What to do in Chester - Local Nature and Wildlife
Surrounded by the gorgeous Cheshire countryside, Chester has so many outdoor spaces, located both in the city walls and further afield. Whether you’re looking for an action-packed family day out or a relaxing stroll around a garden, there’s something to suit everyone.
Home to more than 500 endangered species and HQ to the award-winning Act For Wildlife campaign, Chester Zoo is definitely worth a visit for the animal lovers out there. From mammals and birds to reptiles, amphibians and fish, Chester Zoo brings together some of the most spectacular and rare animals.
Looking for somewhere to keep the whole family occupied? Why not try The Crocky Trail outdoor adventure playground. Follow the mile-long trail through fields and trees as you come across different obstacles, including the Crocky Stream which can be crossed by a wobbly bridge or fallen log - you decide!
Caldy Valley Nature Park
Caldy Nature Park is a small area of wetland, woodland and meadows close to Chester city centre, perfect for whiling away an afternoon. You can follow the circular route around the park, wandering along the babbling brook; you might even see a water vole, hedgehog or heron on your journey.
This Victorian park, one of the first examples in the UK, is extremely popular to residents and visitors alike, with tree-lined paths, statues and large sweeping lawns surrounded by ornamental shrubbery and bedding. Simply go for a stroll to take in the beautiful surroundings or attend one of the many events at the open air theatre. Take a look at what’s coming up on their website.
Fancy stretching your legs and seeing the great outdoors? The Baker Way links the heart of Chester to the Delamere Forest and can be walked in either direction with bus and train links at both ends. Expect to see local wildlife, steam mills and Dee Valley Water’s imposing water tower along the way.
You can find the walking route here.
Explore the city and surrounding countryside from a different perspective, armed with maps and route descriptions so you can explore at your own pace. Cycle by the canal, take a visit to Chester Zoo or just cycle around the city - whatever you decide.
Things to do in Chester - Explore the Local History
Chester has a rich history and a large amount of architectural and archaeological treasures that are still preserved to this day. Whether you’re a history buff or not, the city’s interesting past is more than enough to keep you hooked.
Founded in 1092, Chester Cathedral has a rich and varied history, including the largest set of monastic buildings in the UK, a Georgian square and the remains of a Roman barracks. It’s also a centre of musical excellence, hosting orchestral performances, concerts and weekly organ recitals.
Experience the sights, sounds and smells of Roman Britain at the Dewa Roman Experience. Explore the reconstructed granary, barracks, bathhouse, taverna and market stalls, marvel at the collection of artefacts from both Chester and the wider Roman Empire, and take part in some historically themed activities in the ‘hands-on’ room.
Founded by William the Conqueror in 1070, Chester Castle sits in the south-west part of the city and visitors now have the opportunity to visit its Agricola Tower and walls. The 12th century Agricola Tower was the first stone gateway to the castle and visitors can take in the fantastic views of Chester from the walls. Located on the ground floor is the chapel of St Mary de Castro where you can still see the wall paintings dating from as far back as 1240.
Celebrate Chester’s cultural heritage at the Grosvenor Museum, taking a journey through the fashion and domestic interiors from the 17th century through to the 1920s. There is also an art gallery spanning 500 years of art in Cheshire, a silver gallery that showcases the definitive collection of Chester silver and the Roman galleries displaying the largest collection of inscribed and sculpted Roman stones from a single site in Britain.
For the history and architecture lovers out there, the Gothic revival town hall is full of sculptures and art pieces that celebrate the historical significance of Chester. The iconic building also plays host to comedy gigs, TV shows and even royal visits so it’s worth taking a look at the event calendar to see what’s coming up during your stay.
Telling the story of soldiers from the 17th century through to the present day, the Cheshire Military Museum is perfect for those looking to immerse themselves in military history. Follow the exploits of the Regiments of Cheshire, including their travels across the world, the wars they fought and experience life in the trenches for a World War One soldier.
Believed to date as far back as 689 AD, The Church of St John the Baptist sits just outside the city walls and overlooks the River Dee. The interior is largely Norman in style and is one of the best examples in Britain of the transition from Romanesque to Gothic style architecture.
Chester is the only place in Britain to have retained the tradition of a regular midday proclamation. Taking place Tuesday to Saturday every week from June to August, the Town Crier proclamation takes place at noon at the High Cross. This is a popular tourist attraction which is why the Town Crier often greets visitors in as many as 15 languages.
Things to do in Chester - The Best Tours and Guided Walks
If you feel like you need a bit more direction on your trip there are plenty of guided walks and tours in Chester to make sure you don’t miss any part of the city. From the historical and educational to the wacky and wonderful, there’s sure to be a walk or tour that fits.
The most complete circuit of city walls in the country, you can enjoy panoramic views of Chester and walk in the footsteps of Roman soldiers, medieval archers and Georgian promenaders. On your walk you’ll be able to see the remains of a Roman amphitheatre, the tower where Charles I overlooked the Battle of Rowton Moor, and the famous clock on the Eastgate.
Explore Chester’s unique two-tiered shopping galleries on the Rows Revealed tour. First built in the Middle Ages, the galleries have been added to over the years, including the Tudor, Victorian and Georgian times. Discover ancient treasures tucked away in amongst the modern, bustling shops, including the remains of a Roman hypocaust, a medieval cellar and a hidden priest hole with connections to Catherine of Aragon.
Step back in time 2,000 years and take a tour of Roman Chester (called “Deva” at the time), Britain’s largest Roman fortress. An authentic Roman soldier will guide you on a light-hearted journey through Chester’s Roman heritage, showing you the hidden past beneath the heart of the city.
Discover the hidden gems of Chester with the Secret Chester Tour, including guide-only access to the remains of the Roman Principia building, the original cathedral (now St John’s Church), passageways dating from the Middle Ages and the medieval gate that is still locked at night.
With 2,000 years of history under its belt and multiple ghost sightings, it’s no surprise that Chester has its own ghost tour. Find out about the mysterious and murky past of Chester on a night time walk where you’ll hear spine chilling tales from one of the most haunted cities in Britain.
What to do in Chester - The Best Arts and Culture Spots
With such a rich history it’s no surprise that Chester offers plenty of choice for those looking to soak up the local culture. From fine art galleries and wine tasting to open air theatre and street food, there’s something to suit everyone from the casual tourist to those wanting to fully immerse themselves.
The Arc is one of the North West’s leading fine craft galleries, showcasing the very best of British contemporary designers and makers. The gallery is located in a beautifully restored 18th century brick and timber warehouse in the city centre and stocks a wide range of handcrafted ceramics, glass, textiles, jewellery, wood, leather and metalwork.
Want to find out how to tell a rioja from a malbec, or maybe just want to try some delicious wines? The Wine School of Cheshire offers wine tasting events throughout the year for both the wine aficionados and novices alike. Depending on which event you choose, you can also enjoy an evening with canapés or a four course lunch.
The famous Watergate Street Gallery opened in 1992 and offers contemporary art that is also affordable. Work is sourced from both local and national artists as well as artists from around the world, including original paintings, etchings and screenprints from some of the world’s leading artists.
This semi-covered event space brings a variety of events to the city, from open air theatre to art installations and markets. Take a look at their website to find out what amazing events are coming up.
Storyhouse is the place to visit to get your arts and culture fix, including a library, theatre, cinema, community hub, cultural centre and restaurant. Take a look at what events are coming up during your stay.
Open Monday to Saturday, Chester Market is Chester’s only street food hub. Enjoy cuisines from across the globe or a refreshing craft beer in a relaxed, communal setting; or grab yourself some locally sourced fresh food from the local fishmonger and butcher. You can also do a spot of shopping for more than just food and drink, with everything from books and vinyl to clothing and footwear.
The oldest racecourse in Britain, Chester Racecourse (also known as The Roodee) is perfect for those looking for an enjoyable afternoon or evening out. Experience the thrill of watching competitive racing accompanied by premium food and drink or go along to one of the varied events taking place. You can find out about upcoming events on their website.
We hope this has given you enough inspiration for your trip and you now have a better idea of all the amazing things to do in Chester. Looking for somewhere to kick back and relax after a long day of sightseeing? Take a look at our short-term lets in Chester, all with a fantastic central location and just minutes away from the attractions and amenities.
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