Are you wondering what things to do in Chester?
As part of our best places to visit in Northern England series, we are taking a closer look at this city.
Chester is one of the most underrated cities in England is also one that has features and historic buildings unlike any other in the country.
Some of the best-preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world are here in Chester, which was known as “Dewa” to the Romans.
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Free Things to do in Chester
Nestled in the great county of Cheshire just on the border to Wales, Chester has a lot to offer for tourists and visitors that are completely free of charge.
One of the biggest draws for foreign visitors, Chester is now seen as just a shopping and student city with the occasional professional footballer visiting.
We’re here to help you look past this perception and show you the true spirit of the city.
Walk the Walls
Some of the most iconic walls in the world are right here in the north-west of England. The walled city of Chester was originally a Roman settlement built up during the AD 70s.
A city thousands of years old is bound to have buildings or ruins that still stand to tell the tales of history.
Chester has many structures and artefacts, from Minerva’s shrine to the mysterious Lion statue on top of Pepper Street Car Park.
However, the best way to understand just how historic the city is is by walking the walls. The Grade I listed walls don’t just tell the stories of the Romans.
There are many instances of sections being rebuilt during the Civil war, or during the Victorian era.
Guided tours are popular, but each section of the walls has helpful inscriptions on tableaus to help tourists understand the history.
Visit the Storyhouse
The brand new library, cinema, community centre, and theatre is the most popular spot for the locals. It’s free to enter, so don’t feel intimidated into feeling like you need to purchase admission tickets.
There’s also a café if you’re famished from your trip or just chairs and coaches that you can use to help relax.
Stroll through Grosvenor Park
Grosvenor Park is a tranquil spot that many locals visit to get away from the hustle and bustle. There are many spots for picnicking and there are plenty of squirrels to make friends with.
The site itself is a historic park with ties to the Roman era, plus you can find miniature railways, Cheshire Farm Ice Cream stalls as well as outdoor theatre performances all in the same place.
Experience the High Street (St. Michael’s Row)
Bar none, the best thing to do for free in any city as historic as Chester is just to walk around and breathe it in. The best place to do this in Chester is along the historic St. Michael’s Row.
On the corner of the iconic Chester Cross, the row has some of the very best in Tudor and Stuart era architecture.
The terraced exteriors are incredible to behold, as they seem as though they’ve never changed a single bit in the hundreds of years they’ve existed.
Take Pictures of the Eastgate Clock
The timepiece in Britain that has been photographed the most number of times by visitors is Big Ben. The second? Eastgate Clock in Chester.
This incredible contribution to the city of Chester was presented by Queen Victoria herself and it’s one of the best pictures you’ll take on your trip to this amazing and historic city.
The Clock itself is part of the walls, so you can find the Eastgate Clock if you decide to walk the walls.
Walk through the Historic Cathedral
This is one of the best cathedrals in the UK because it is both stunningly beautiful, symmetrical, and historic.
Blurring the line between modern and traditional, you’ll oftentimes find yourself wandering inside expecting an Altar and a Font, but finding modern art pieces dotted around its hallways.
As recently as 2018, the Cathedral held free modern art exhibits including Damien Hirst pieces.
Relax in the Roman Gardens
The Roman Gardens is probably the best spot in the city for guided tours. There are Roman baths as well as battlegrounds in this little park area overlooking the Dee river.
The Storyhouse often hold outdoor cinema screenings in the Roman Gardens too, so look out for listings on their website if you’d like to book tickets. The Breach is the highlight.
Places to Eat in Chester
The best ribs spot in the city, Hickory’s is a favourite amongst the locals. Dive into some of the best-smoked meats in the whole of England. Trust us, the rubs here are to die for.
Moules a Go-Go
Who doesn’t like mussels? And with many different combinations, you can’t kid yourself that you don’t want to dive in. Moules Mariniere and Moules Frites are the favourites, but why not go for something else from their eclectic menu?
Simon Radley at the Grosvenor
This Michelin Star restaurant has the best fine dining experience in the city, plus it’s in one of the best landmarks in the city too.
On the main high street alongside Eastgate Tower, the Grosvenor is a world-renowned hotel with the best Tasting menu in the northwest.
If you’re looking for a high-quality vegan option in Chester, look no further than Hypha. Produce-focussed and completely sustainable, it’s unlike any restaurant you’ve ever been to before.
The menu is seasonal with the option for tasting or a la carte, so the best thing to go for is most likely whichever vegetables are in season.
Things to do in Chester at Night
Rosie’s: Rosies is a famous multiroom nightclub in the historic city of Chester. Set over three floors, the club offers a state-of-the-art sound and visual experience, with an open-top roof terrace, several VIP booths, an exclusive Champagne lounge, and a pizza kitchen.
It’s one of the only clubs in Chester open seven nights a week, hosting a variety of events throughout the week.
Live Rooms: If you’re looking for some live music, then the Live Rooms is the place to go. Just round the corner from the train station, the Live Rooms holds many themed nights and live acts.
They often have a mixture of famous stand-up comedians, bands, and live acts performing almost every night.
Some big names have performed at this small venue since it’s the only spot in the city except the racecourse for live acts to perform.
BarLounge: This infamous spot in Chester is always seen brimming with people ordering food and drinking cocktails.
Expect the night of your life if you get into this place because it is very in demand with the locals. Enjoy for the food, or just the drinks if you aren’t hungry.
Where to Stay in Chester
The Grosvenor Hotel
The history of Chester and its most famous hotel have been inextricably linked for many decades. Although the existing building dates back to 1865, there has been an inn on this site since the late sixteenth century. Throughout the twentieth century, the hotel has earned an enviable reputation for understated elegance, sublime comfort, and a relaxed ambiance.
The Chester Grosvenor is home to two of Chester’s most celebrated restaurants, Michelin starred ‘Simon Radley at The Chester Grosvenor’ offers gourmet dining in an atmosphere of supreme elegance, while the glamorous two AA Rosette La Brasserie offers all-day casual dining and a beautiful Champagne Bar. There is not a hotel in the north of England quite like the Grosvenor.
The story of Oddfellows starts with the gorgeous Georgian Oddfellows Hall in Chester. It was once a society for the misfits of the city, the creative professionals, and all those who didn’t quite fit in a box (hence the name odd fellows). The society is no longer, but the hotel keeps the spirit of the artsy odd fellows in its delightful rooms and suites.
Free things to do in Chester
Chester is a city brimming with history and culture.
It’s also one of the most interesting cities technologically, as it’s a hotspot for Pokemon Go players and IT students.
This is the shining beacon for Roman history in the north of England, so visit soon so you can march like a Centurion!
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