Considering Chester is only a few hours down the road from us in Cumbria it’s surprising we hadn’t visited this quaint, historic city before. We decided on this little gem as we were looking for somewhere that wasn’t too far away for just a couple of night’s getaway. We fell in love with the city pretty quickly, having so much to offer we couldn’t fit it all in, so we soon returned to explore the city some more.
The first time we visited Chester we used booking.com to book our accommodation and went for one of the cheaper options which was about a 20-minute walk from the main shopping area. On arrival, we were greeted by the women who ran the guest house who was lovely (on the second night she greeted us with a bottle of prosecco), but that’s about the only good thing we can say about this place. The room was very basic, which we wouldn’t have minded if it hadn’t been for the fact there was mould in every corner, the tiles in the bathroom were disgustingly dirty and we were kept up during the night by the sound of rats scuttling around in the attic above (not surprisingly this place has since been closed down).
On our second visit we used Airbnb.com and booked a lovely little flat in an area called Hoole. I would highly recommend staying in this area as there are many pubs and bars lining the streets, a co-op for the essentials and its not too far of a walk into town. The flat was just what we needed for a short stay as it had all the amenities and was clean and tidy.
Things to do:
There is so much history and beauty in Chester that will keep you busy for days. Whilst there, we spent some time exploring the city ourselves and found some lovely local cafes, shops and restaurants. We took a walk down to the river Dee which stretches 70 miles through Wales and Chester. Along the river front there is a lovely promenade, lined with little Victorian ice cream kiosks, cafes and restaurants. There is many a place to sit and watch the world go by, or you can book yourself one of the many boat trips that go along the river. Just up from the river there were some lovely roman gardens which we took a little stroll around.
The old town square of Chester is now populated with a variety of shops set in historic middle age buildings that line the upper and lower levels of the cobbled streets. There are many small local independent shops, one of our favourites being Bollands fine tea and coffee merchants which we have visited on both trips (if you are a tea/coffee lover then you will be in heaven here). There are also the more popular brands available and a large department store too, we really enjoyed getting lost down the little side streets and we are sure you will too. Don’t forget to visit the local town crier though who stands in the old town square at 12pm every day!
Chester cathedral is also a must if you are into culture and architecture. The Cathedral itself is free, so you can wander on in and have a look at the Romanesque architecture and take in the wonderful history of the place. You can book a tour to take you up to the central tower where looking out you get a magnificent view over the city. Just outside the Cathedral are some nature gardens and a falconry where you can visit many birds of prey (for a small cost), unfortunately we missed this opportunity as they closed at 4pm but we will definitely have this on our list for next time.
On our first trip here, we wanted to know more about the history of this magnificent city, so we popped into the local tourist information and booked one of the walking tours. If I recall it was around £5 per person. The following morning outside the tourist information we met our tour guide and off we set in a group of approx. 10-12 people. Our guide took us to the Eastgate clock (the second most pictured clock in the UK), along the city walls, past the oldest and smallest race course in the country, to a church and castle which is off limits to the public. We then wandered back past the river Dee, to the roman amphitheatre (which is the largest roman stone built amphitheatre in the country), where we parted ways. Along the whole trip (which may have lasted between 2-3 hours) our guide showered us with local history and was extremely knowledgeable, regaling stories of old. If you are visiting Chester one of these tours is a must if you have the time.
There are many bars and restaurants nestled away down small lanes in Chester and on the main streets. If you’re looking for live music or DJ, traditional pubs or modern bars/ clubs they have it all. We sampled a few of them but unfortunately as we visited a few their names have now escaped me, but we had some excellent nights out listening to live music in the old quaint pubs.
One evening we went to the old town hall, a magnificently large building in the centre of the town, for a comedy night. Set in a large room with walls cladded in decorative dark wood it was not the setting of your usual comedy night but the local comedians did not disappoint and provided us with many a laugh.
We also visited Alexanders on our return for another comedy night. This was set in a small cosy bar which made it an intimate experience. Once again the local comedians did not disappoint and we enjoyed an evening full of laughter.
As per usual one of my favourite things to write about, being proper foodies we love to try new places to eat.
One evening we sampled some Mexican food at Fiesta Havana with a couple of friends. We had found it hard to book a restaurant this night, with it being near Christmas everywhere seemed to be full but lucky for us we finally managed to get in to this little gem. We ordered starters, mains and a few drinks, we couldn’t fault the restaurant, the food was lovely, the service was excellent and reasonably priced. There was also a nightclub attached so you could have a bit of a dance after your food has settled.
Another evening we stopped for a quick burger at the slug and lettuce, this was my first time in the slug and lettuce and it was alright, not the best burger I have ever had but none the less it filled a gap and did the job.
If you haven’t used groupon before we can highly recommend it we have had some excellent deals on it and we managed to pick one up for a restaurant whilst in Chester. It included a starter each and a main with 2 drinks. We got a large portion of nachos to share then I had a Philly cheese steak sandwich which was delicious, by using Groupon we managed to save quite a bit and ate somewhere that we probably wouldn’t have come across as it was hidden down a small alley way.
Chester is most certainly a city worth visiting, it has something for everyone. With its old cobbled streets and quaint Tudor buildings, it is full of culture and history. This is somewhere we will visit for many years to come and still discover new things to do.