One of Chester’s defining features is its history as a Roman town. With a history that stretches back nearly two millennia, the city covers all periods of British history, from Romans to Saxons, the Middles Ages to the Georgian Era and all the way up to the modern day where Chester stands as the most populated settlement in Cheshire.
Originally the largest fortress in Britannia, the city was pegged to become the capital of the province. With the largest military amphitheatre in Britain, it was a settlement to be reckoned with until the Romans retreated from Britannia in the 5th century.
It was the Saxons that built the now famous City Walls – originally to protect the city from attack and now a major tourist draw thanks to their upkeep keeping the majority of the route intact.
The River Dee that runs through the city is a key part of Chester’s history as an important port in the Middle Ages. Being one of only four in England to have wine imported through it and being famous for its fur trade made it a potential rival for nearby Liverpool
The 16th Century onwards shaped much of the architecture that we see today, from the famed Chester Rows and Eastgate Clock which sits atop the city walls.
How to Get to Chester
As a major city in Cheshire, the transport links to Chester are great, making travelling to the beautiful city easy. With so much to do in the city and just beyond, you’ll never be stuck for how to get to anywhere within the city and just beyond.
Cheshire is serviced by three main motorways, the M6, M56 and M53. The M53 ends just minutes drive from the centre of the town, or carry on the M56 to approach the city from the North.
The M6 is the main motorway to be used if approaching from further afield. Travel north or south and join the M56 at junction 20 or 20A (depending on your direction) and head west.
If you leave the M6 earlier when approaching from the south, you can travel through the pretty town of Winsford in Cheshire.
If you’re travelling to Chester from London, you can now reach the city in just two hours, either on a direct line or with a short stopover in Crewe.
Merseyrail puts on regular services from Wirral and Merseyside and hourly trains from Manchester are a direct service.
If you’re visiting Chester from overseas, the nearest airports are Manchester Airport and Liverpool John Lennon Airport. Both are around 40 minutes drive from the city and receive flights from all over the world. Both airports also have great rail links.
Areas of Interest in Chester
Thanks to Chester’s city walls, the majority of the city’s tourist areas are located within the ‘original’ city boundaries.
The north of the city is home the stunning Chester Cathedral and its grounds, as well as some of the tourist-friendly sections of the city walls. While in the centre of town, you’ll find all the main shopping streets, including the famed Chester Rows.
Just outside the walls, to the South West of the city centre is Chester Racecourse, where regularly meets are held throughout the summer. And, to the south of the city walls lies the beautiful River Dee, where there are boat trips, parks and quaint, traditionally English ice cream shops and cafes.
Chester’s Claim to Fame
Chester’s claim to fame definitely lies in its city walls. They are the best preserved medieval walls in England, with all but 100 metres of the original structure still standing. The walls are Grade I listed and are mostly still open for the public to walk along.
You can participate in a guided tour of the walls, which takes around an hour and a half or make the adventure on your own. From the vantage point of the walls, you can spot the cathedral, the amphitheatre, the river and the famous Eastgate Clock – the second most photographed clock in Britain.
Things to Do in Chester
You’ll never be short of things to do in Chester. Whether you’re looking for an amazing shopping experience, an exciting adventure or a party like no other, Chester has it all.
It’s fast becoming one of the best cities for tourism in the North West, even when pitted against neighbouring Manchester and Liverpool.
Take a tour of the cathedral and discover the nearly 100 year history, or venture to the racecourse for a fun summer meet.
Autumn brings about the legendary Chester Literature Festival, one of the most well-known events of the year. It’s also the best time to take part and enjoy Chester Music Festival, a classical music feast that’s suitable for everyone.
In the winter, you must visit the Christmas markets, dive into a world of twinkling lights and festive treats. Browse the German-style log cabins and find a trinket or two for that special someone.
Chester has developed a reputation for great eating and drinking options that are suitable for every taste and budget. There’s a Michelin star restaurant at The Chester Grosvenor, one of only four restaurants in the UK to have been awarded one or more Michelin stars consecutively for the past 27 years.
Or try out the Olive Tree Brasserie on Watergate Row, a Mediterranean style restaurant. Venture to Newgate Street for Picanha by Fazenda to try the highest rated restaurant on TripAdvisor, serving up Brazilian food in a stylish steakhouse setting.
For drinks, Chester has long been a place for the cosmopolitan to gather and sup on fancy cocktails and premium spirits. The Waiting Room Bar & Lounge at The Queen Hotel is a great place to go for local drinks and cask ales or try Liquor & Co for experimental cocktails and a friendly atmosphere.
Where to Stay in Chester
Chester is a city that will transport you through time, with a diverse choice for accommodation.
Historical buildings line every street and there’s plenty of hidden gems of where to stay in Chester. But it’s not just traditional accommodation you’ll find in the city, there’s plenty of modern and stylish places to stay.
Millions of people visit Chester every year and there’s the perfect accommodation for everyone. Stay self-catering if you’re with a larger group or a family, or book a romantic getaway with that special someone.
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