Famous for its historic legacy, monuments, and iconic Rows, Chester – the county town of Cheshire – is a wonderful choice for a day out for those visiting the area. With so many things to do, including enjoying a relaxing Chester spa break, visitors will be truly spoilt for choice, no matter your taste or interests. In this guide, we are going to highlight some of the fantastic things to see and do, including exploring historic sites, renowned zoos, and fascinating walking tours. So, without further ado, after you’ve enjoyed your pampering spa session, here are some exciting options for what to do during a day out in Chester.
Chester is a truly historic city and was actually founded as a Roman fortress in AD 79. As a result, one of Chester’s foremost attractions is its extensive Roman walls, which are made of local red sandstone. A walk along Chester Walls is a near two-mile circuit, which leads you past the Northgate, Eastgate, Bridgegate, and Watergate. Molly, from the travel blog Piccavey, is a big fan of Chester herself and certainly recommends the Chester Walls: “A walk along the ancient city walls is a must when in Chester. You can see the different areas of the city from this vantage point as you walk along the walls.”
Aside from the walls themselves – the best preserved of their kind in Britain – there are numerous things to see and enjoy along the way, including an 1897 clock that was erected to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. At Northgate, you can even see actual traces of the Roman foundations – a real treat for history buffs! Further still, a piece of English Civil War history can be seen as well, with King Charles’ Tower being the site of Charles I defeat at Rowton Moor. The tower itself is now home to a civil war museum.
A perfect way to get the best of your day out in Chester and see some of the city’s incredible sights and attractions is by enjoying an organised walking tour. There is so much to see in Chester that having a guide show you what’s what is certainly a good idea. The aptly named The Chester Tour would be a great option, with their guides being all professionally trained to national standards and bringing a great passion for the city of Chester. Speaking to us about what to expect from their tours, Liz Roberts from The Chester Tour said:
“The Chester Tour runs every single day of the year at 10.30 am, even on Christmas Day (probably our USP!). During the summer months, from Easter to the end of October, we also run an additional tour at 2 pm. Our aim is for anyone visiting the city to start with our tour which is a great introduction to everything and signposts visitors on to other things they might wish to do or see during their time here.
“Our tours are suitable for everyone as the guide tailors the route and content according to the group on the day - so any disabilities, wheelchairs, special interests etc can be accommodated. There is no need to book in advance (unless it is for a large group), and visitors just buy their tickets direct from the guide on the day at the Town Hall Visitor Information Centre on Northgate Street - their ticket even gets them 10% off in the Visitor Information Centre shop! Prices are £8 for adults, £7 concessions, and £20 for families.
“The tour itself takes in 2,000 years of history in 90 minutes! We tell the story of the city and its ups and downs over the centuries, and we have exclusive access to buildings visitors might otherwise miss seeing. We always try to include the ‘big five’: The Walls, the Rows, the Cathedral (exterior), the Eastgate Clock and the river.
“We can also accommodate group bookings for walking tours on any topic or theme, plus we can hop-on to a group's coach and give them a guided tour of Chester or further afield into North Wales, Wirral, Liverpool and Cheshire. See the group page of our website chestertours.org for details or email firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Yet another way to enjoy your time in Chester is by visiting the fantastic Chester Zoo, an attraction that is highly renowned both near and far. Chester Zoo is one of the UK’s largest and most popular zoological parks and is home to an impressive 11,000 animals from across 400 different species. And with 125-acres to enjoy, featuring lovely landscaped gardens and even its own monorail system, it’s no surprise that so many choose to visit Chester Zoo on repeat occasions. Some of the animal attractions that visitors can look forward to seeing include the Realm of the Red Ape, Penguin Island, and even a riverboat tour. On top of this, there are play areas galore for the children to enjoy and plenty of great spots to grab a bite to eat.
The team at Chester Zoo spoke to us about what they believe sets them apart and makes their attraction so special: “Chester Zoo is the most visited zoo in the UK, is regularly named as one of the top zoos in the world and is a conservation and education charity committed to preventing extinction. It is a highly respected centre for global conservation and research, and passionately campaigns for wildlife.
“Right now, conservation is critical. Species are under threat and so is the rich biodiversity of our planet. We currently care for hundreds of endangered species here at the zoo, with the highest standards of welfare for all of our animals. Our work also extends well beyond the zoo’s perimeter. At home and abroad, we support and conduct some 80 field projects for conservation and education in 30 countries worldwide, from frogs in Madagascar to elephants in India.”
Image credit: Chester Zoo
Laura, from the travel blog Wander with Laura, has great memories of visiting Chester Zoo. She spoke to us about what it is that makes this attraction such a must-visit when in Chester, as well as highlighting her favourite things to see: “Chester Zoo is one of my favourite places for a day out in Chester: no matter how many times I visit, I never get bored as there's always something new to see! My favourite areas of the zoo are the elephants, monkeys and the 'Islands' area - last time I visited, we were lucky enough to spot the two elusive tigers being fed and a baby sun bear!”
Karen, from the family travel blog Mini Travellers, has also really enjoyed visiting Chester Zoo and told us that no matter the weather, it is an attraction that should not be passed up: “Chester Zoo is a fab day out for all the family and when I say day out, I mean a full day out. You can be there from when it opens to when it closes and still not see everything on offer. Don't be put off if it's a rainy day as there is still plenty to entertain you inside. Some of my favourite things to see at Chester Zoo are the orangutans, the giraffes (especially now as there has just been a new baby) and I actually love the butterflies.”
There’s no question that a trip to Chester Zoo will be well worth it and a true highlight of your time in the city.
Many of England’s most visited destinations have cathedrals to discover, but Chester Cathedral is truly something special and an absolute must when enjoying a day in town. The cathedral has been the seat of the Bishop of Chester since 1541 and was actually built on the site of a much older church from AD 958. Chester Cathedral is a true architectural feat and exploring this beautiful old building is certainly a joy. The three-aisle pillared nave of the Gothic basilica is definitely one of the star attractions but when looking around you will see that there is no end to the things to see and do. This includes the Refectory Café, gift shop, and the wonderful falconry centre and gardens, home to some incredible aerial displays. Here you can get up close to spectacular birds of prey, enjoy the children’s nature trail, and soak up the surrounding wildlife.
Molly from Piccavey is also a fan of Chester Cathedral, having enjoyed visiting this important building during her time in the city. Speaking to us about what she thinks makes it such a great attraction to visit, Molly said: “Built in 1541, the cathedral at Chester is quite beautiful and right at the heart of the city. Its cloisters are some of the best examples in the UK and date from the 12th-13th centuries. The stained-glass windows are also notable and are distributed throughout the building.”
As mentioned, Chester has a huge and important Roman heritage and one of the best places in the country to visit if you have an interest in this fascinating period of history. One of the most impressive relics from this time that we have in the UK is located in the city – the Chester Roman Amphitheatre. This amphitheatre was the largest in Britain and was once used for both entertainment (such as Gladiatorial combat) and military training. Managed by English Heritage, the site is a Grade I listed building and dates back to the 1st-century AD. Entry is free to the site and there are also numerous shops and food outlets nearby. Standing in a spot that held such an important place in Roman culture 2,000 years ago is quite the feeling and not an experience that should be missed when visiting Chester.
How to spend a memorable day out in Chester
- Chester City Walls
- Explore with a Walking Tour
- Chester Zoo
- Chester Cathedral
- Chester Roman Amphitheatre
As you can see, however you want to spend your time in Chester, there is something amazing to see and do in the city. From zoos to historic sites, it’s all here and just waiting for you to explore.
Don’t forget to take a look at the tranquil Cheshire spa deals we have available so you can relax after your busy day out.