A weekend in Chester is a great idea if you’re looking for somewhere to visit on a city break in the UK.
With so many things to do in Chester, such as walking around the city walls, checking out the Roman Amphitheatre and visiting Chester Zoo, it’s a brilliant spot for a long weekend away.
As someone from the city, I believe it’s one of the most underrated cities in England. It’s a beautiful place and one you won’t want to leave at the end of your weekend getaway.
My Chester itinerary incorporates my local knowledge to tell you the best spots to see and eat, where to stay and a rough guide on how much everything costs.
Keep scrolling to learn how to make the most of your Chester weekend break!
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How To Spend a Weekend in Chester
My Experience in Chester
As I grew up in Chester and spent the majority of my life here, I can’t visit as a tourist. But this does mean that I have a lot of local knowledge I can impart.
This is what will form the basis of this itinerary, which will be based on what I would do if I were visiting Chester as a tourist.
Chester is such a beautiful city, it’s easy to miss when you live here. But it’s one of the nicest places in Northern England and the whole country.
It’s an underrated destination, especially as the bigger cities of Liverpool and Manchester are nearby. People are more likely to head there, rather than historic Chester.
This is a mistake, and I’m not saying this because I’m biased. There are plenty of great sights in the city and many more that people will be unaware of.
One of the key pulls is Chester’s history, which dates back to the Roman period as evidenced by Chester’s City Walls and the amphitheatre.
But the city also played a significant role in the English Civil War, and if you look closely at certain parts of the walls, you can still see bullet holes that date back to the Civil War!
There are a range of great places to eat and drink, you can watch theatre if you want at the Storyhouse, and if you want to head out for half a day or visit somewhere on your way back home, there are plenty of great places to visit in Cheshire that aren’t too far away.
Chester is a brilliant location for a weekend getaway if you want to visit a smaller city with plenty of charm and important English history to discover.
Here are a few things I like about my hometown and a few things that aren’t so great:
- Chester is one of the most beautiful cities in the UK. It’s not very big but the city centre is magnificent with the mock Tudor buildings of the Rows, the impressive cathedral and the stunning Eastgate Clock, which was built to celebrate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee. I think it’s even nicer at night, which makes it an appealing place to visit during winter.
- There aren’t many places with a more intriguing history than Chester. The Roman aspect is prominent with the walls and the Roman Amphitheatre as well as Old Dee Bridge which spans the River Dee. The Civil War also left its mark on the historic city. The Grosvenor Museum is a brilliant place to visit too if you’re a history buff to learn more.
- The weather isn’t the best at times, even during the summer months. I recommend consulting my UK packing list before you visit and ensure you pack a waterproof jacket as you’ll likely need it. The weather can change from one day to the next, so be prepared for a bit of rain whenever you visit.
- Chester is quite small, which means if you were determined, you could see more or less everything in a day. But, this does make the city more charming in my opinion and there are plenty of things to do in the surrounding area, so it’s an overwhelming negative.
I recommend getting to Chester on Friday evening if you can. This does depend on where you’re travelling from and is much easier to do if you’re in the North West of England, than London for instance.
The benefit of this is that it gives you more time to explore the city at the weekend and you can take a wander around on Friday too.
If you visit during the summer months, you could spend some time in Grosvenor Park, relaxing and watching the sunset before heading down to the River Dee and into the centre.
Friday is lively, so you can get acquainted with the city, get something to eat at one of the places I’ve listed below and then head to a bar if you like.
Watergate Street is the place to go for bars in Chester, with lots lining the street. Bar Lounge at the bottom is good, as is Liquor and Co, and Kuckoo is a good spot if you want something a bit livelier!
Chester Itinerary – Day 1
Your first day in Chester is spent in the centre seeing the city walls, the amphitheatre and then Chester Cathedral on Saturday afternoon.
Walk around the walls
One of the best ways to get a feel for Chester, and see some cool sights is to walk around the city walls.
The Chester City Walls encircle the city centre and will take you around 15 to 20 minutes to walk the complete circuit depending on how fast you go.
Along the way, you’ll walk under the Eastgate Clock, which is the second-most photographed clock in England, the amphitheatre, which is the next item on this itinerary. This is as well as King Charles Tower, the River Dee, Chester Castle and Chester Racecourse, the oldest racecourse still in use in the UK.
I love walking along Chester’s city walls and they are a good way to get a feel for the city, as you can see where most of the attractions are, as well as imagining what it must have felt like to be a Roman soldier patrolling these ancient defensive walls two thousand years ago!
After you’ve walked the walls, the next stop on this weekend in Chester itinerary is to check out the amphitheatre, which you can see from the walls.
The amphitheatre is the largest one that’s been excavated in the UK, even if only half of it is excavated. This is a point of contention on my part, as I’d like the whole thing to be excavated but that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon, as a protected building, Dee House sits on this part.
Still, it’s an amazing place to check out. You can wander down into the amphitheatre and get a feel for what it would have been like for gladiators two thousand years ago as they came out to battle.
Once you’ve had a look around the amphitheatre, you can check out St John’s Church which is close by. This is one of the oldest churches in Chester and also has the ruins of the old church which dates back to the seventh century!
There’s also the Roman Gardens nearby, where you can see columns and part of a bath from that period too.
From the amphitheatre, it’s a short walk down Foregate Street and then St Werburgh’s Way to the cathedral.
It’s a beautiful gothic style cathedral and is free to enter. I regularly went here as a child for school events and no matter how many times I visit I’m still in awe of the place.
Take your time to wander around the inside and out. The interior is stunning and matches any cathedral in England, while the outside has a small garden and a monument to the fallen soldiers of the First and Second World Wars.
You can buy a ticket to go to the cathedral tower, where you’ll get one of the best views, if not the best view in the city.
There’s also a falconry on the site of the cathedral, which is a fascinating place to visit and a good one if you have kids, because they’ll love seeing the falcons!
Chester Itinerary – Day 2
The second day of your weekend in Chester takes you to the Grosvenor Museum to learn about the city’s past as a Roman fortress and more, the rows and out to the zoo!
If you’re interested in history, starting your day with a visit to the Grosvenor Museum is ideal.
The museum contains archaeological items from Roman times such as tombstones, many of which have been excavated from the city.
There are also lots of paintings, natural history exhibits that tell the history of the area and info on the social history of Chester, which is fascinating to read!
The museum is housed in a listed building, which is worth checking out by itself. Another plus is that entry to the museum is free, so you can explore all this great history without paying a penny!
The Chester Rows are a set of covered walkways that you’ll find on the four main streets in the city, Foregate St, Watergate St, Bridge St and Northgate St.
What’s unique about the Rows is that there are shops at street level and shops a level above which are under covered walkways.
This makes Chester a brilliant place to go for some retail therapy, as there are plenty of unique shops on the Rows. Plus the experience of walking under the old wooden covered walkways is fun, especially if you’ve never visited the city before.
If you’re looking for somewhere to do your Christmas shopping, Chester is a great place to go due to the Rows. If not, you can marvel at their architectural beauty and walk around and admire the views of the city they provide.
Chester Zoo is one of the main tourist attractions in the city and is the perfect place to visit for half a day if you’re here with your family.
The zoo is located outside of the centre in Upton, but it’s a five-minute drive at most, and some buses take you there too.
You’ll find a wide variety of wildlife inside including elephants, rhinos, penguins and more. Children will love it, and even if you don’t have kids, it’s still a fun place to visit if you want to get out of the centre for a bit.
The only downside is the price of entry which is quite expensive at £30 and even tickets for children over 2 will cost £21. But, it’s a fun place and if you haven’t seen many of the animals here before such as flamingoes, it’s worth paying.
Chester Travel Tips
In this section, you’ll find practical tips that will help you plan your trip to Chester, such as where to stay, rough estimates of costs and the best time to visit.
Where to Stay in Chester
Chester may not be the biggest city but there are plenty of options for you when it comes to where to stay.
There are a lot of hotels in the city centre, which are perfect for a weekend break. This way you’ll be right in the heart of the city and most of them have parking too.
However, other options exist if you’re on a budget or fancy something different.
You’ll find a lot of Bed and Breakfasts on Hoole Road, which can be cheaper than the hotels if you want something different. There are also a few Premier Inns on the outskirts of the city, such as the one in Great Boughton.
You won’t find much cheaper accommodation, there aren’t many hostels, while renting an apartment, will be around about the same price as staying in a hotel.
I’ve listed some places below I recommend staying at during your time in Chester:
|The Grosvenor Chester
|If you have a big budget, spending the weekend in the Chester Grosvenor, the fanciest hotel in the city is a must!
|A nice boutique hotel that’s right next to the centre by Grosvenor Park.
|A sleek hotel in the middle of the city by the Grosvenor Shopping Centre.
Cost of Travel in Chester
The good thing about visiting Chester is that it’s not one of the most expensive cities in the UK. You can visit for a weekend and not have to worry about breaking the bank.
Another good thing is that a lot of the attractions are free or don’t cost that much with the exception of the zoo.
You can spend a day in the centre and visit places that are free, and only spend money on food, shopping and a few travel gifts.
Food and drink don’t cost too much and with everything within walking distance, there’s no need to use public transport either.
Chester is the ideal place for a long weekend away that’s fun and good for your bank balance!
Below is a general guide to prices for accommodation, eating out and transport in Chester.
Prices for other expenses such as nights out at a bar/pub, club entry fees, souvenirs/clothing purchases, tours. etc. are not included.
You’ll need to budget extra for these purchases as they are ‘non-essential!’
Upmarket Hotels: £80-200
Rental Apartment: £80-130
Food and Drink
Takeaway meal: £5-10+
Pint of beer: £4.50
Bus single ticket: £2
All-Day ticket: £4.60
Bike rental: £12 for the day
Where to Eat in Chester
One of the best things about Chester is that there are plenty of great places you can eat.
As a local, I’ve tried many of these places and can vouch for each of them. Chester’s food scene has improved greatly in recent years and there’s no more choice than ever.
This can be a little overwhelming if you’re new to the city, as you might be confused about where to go. But whether you want something quick or a nice sit-down meal, there are plenty of options.
Here are a few of my favourite places to eat in Chester, I recommend you try during your trip:
- Death By Tacos – This is one of my favourite spots in Chester on Watergate Street. They serve fantastic tacos and a variety of other Mexican food. I took my friend from the Netherlands once and she will not shut up about how good these tacos are! Be warned, they do play metal music in here, but the food is that good it won’t matter!
- New Chester Market – The new market opened in 2022 and is home to a wide variety of food stalls. You can get pasta, Mexican food, Thai food, seafood and pizza, as well as a few other places. There’s a small coffee stall, an ice cream stall and a bar too. This is a great place to go if you want something quick and delicious.
- Chef’s Table – This is one of the best restaurants in Chester and a perfect place to go for lunch or dinner. It’s located on Pepper Street near the Grosvenor Shopping Centre. There are a few different menus so I’d recommend checking out the website before you go. It’s also a good idea to reserve a table, especially if you’re in a group as it’s a popular spot.
- Hickory’s Smokehouse – Hickory’s Smokehouse is in a nice spot on The Groves down by the river and serves American smokehouse food. so think ribs, BBQ food and you get the idea. As a pescetarian, they have great options for non-meat eaters too. It’s a popular place so you might want to reserve a table if you want to eat here.
Best Time to Visit Chester
As you’d expect from somewhere in the north of England, the weather in Chester can be volatile. As someone who’s lived with this most of my life, I can offer a good insight into when’s best to visit.
The best months are during the summer, towards the end of spring and the start of Autumn. Outside of these months, the weather can be wet, cold and miserable.
However, Chester is a beautiful city under the lights and I recommend visiting during winter to see it and check out the Christmas markets. There’s something about the city at night that’s magical!
The only problem with visiting at this time of the year is that it will rain at some point and it’s likely to be cold. Although, given the weather in this part of the world, rain is likely at any time of the year!
You also have Chester Races, with dates from May through to October. This is a fun event to attend, especially as the racecourse is in the centre of the city. So these months are good times to visit if you want to check out a race weekend.
Below is a rough guide on what to expect weatherwise when you visit Chester:
Chester in Spring
Spring is when the weather starts to warm up, especially towards the end of April and throughout May. However, there tends to be a bit of rain during this time too, so don’t forget to pack your jacket!
Average temperatures from low to high: 3°C – 16.7°C / 37.4°F – 62.1°F
Chester in Summer
Summer is the best time to visit Chester if you want to more or less ensure good weather. I say more or less because, in summer, the weather can be volatile. Still, you should get some sunny weather if you visit and it will be much warmer than at any other point of the year.
Average temperatures from low to high: 10.3°C – 21.1°C / 50.5°F – 70°F
Chester in Autumn
Autumn can be a mixed month to visit Chester. The weather in September isn’t too bad and you can often get many sunny days. But after September, the weather usually takes a downward turn in turn of temperature and rain.
Average temperatures from low to high: 4.3°C – 18.4°C / 39.7°F – 65.1°F
Chester in Winter
If you want warm weather, winter isn’t the time to visit Chester. This will be the coldest and wettest time of the year, with short daylight hours too. The upside of this is that Chester is beautiful at night, and you’ll get to experience the Christmas markets if you visit during December.
Average temperatures from low to high: 1.8°C – 8.8°C / 35.2°F – 47.8°F
How to Get Around Chester
The great thing about Chester is that it’s easy to get around. A lot of the centre is pedestrianised, so walking is trouble and free and means you can get around with ease.
Chester’s not the biggest city either, so you can walk between all of the places listed above with the exception of the zoo, which you can visit via bus or a car.
Getting to Chester isn’t too difficult either, although it does depend on what part of the country you’re travelling from.
It won’t take much more than an hour or two from the North West by car, while further away will take longer depending on where you are.
If you’re driving, most hotels offer free parking, but there are also lots of overnight parking spots in the city. Frodsham Street Car Park, Little Roodee Car Park and the Grosvenor Shopping Centre.
One good place to park your car for free is down by the River Dee. There are plenty of spots available at night down there, and your car is safe as the area is rarely visited at night. Follow directions to The Boathouse pub to get there.
I’ve included a quick guide below to the distance and time it takes to get to Chester from three major cities in England:
- From Liverpool – Distance: 28 miles (45 km); Time by car: 46 minutes; Time by train: 45 minutes
- From Manchester – Distance: 42 miles (68 km); Time by car: 1 hour; Time by train: 1 hour 15 minutes
- From London – Distance: 203 miles (326 km); Time by car: 4 hours; Time by direct train: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Chester a Good Weekend Away?
Chester is a good weekend away as the city has lots of attractions despite its small size. You can walk around the city walls, check out the various shops on the rows and head to the zoo to see the wildlife or Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet to do some shopping.
Plus, there are lots of great bars, cafes and restaurants to eat and drink at too!
Is It Worth Going to Chester?
Yes, it is worth going to Chester. It’s a Roman city that has a lot of interesting history exemplified by the fully intact walls that circle the city centre and the amphitheatre.
There are also a lot of other things to do, such as walking by the River Dee, checking out the Eastgate Clock and visiting some of the brilliant independent coffee shops.
Looking For More Travel Guides
Places to Visit in Wales – Chester is right on the border with Wales, so there are plenty of great places in the north of the country, such as Snowdonia, that are only a short drive away.
3 Days in Edinburgh – Another charming city to visit in the UK for a lovely weekend getaway is the Scottish capital, Edinburgh!
Tom is a travel addict who first left England to spend a year Down Under. Not satisfied with this, he then went to New Zealand, about as far away from home as he could get. He is now planning his next adventures in Europe and Canada while maintaining this blog. Check out the about me page to learn more!