If quirky and historical settings are your thing, then you should plan a day out in Chester. The Northern English city is located about 1.5 hours from Manchester by train, and is the perfect place to plan a day trip. We have come up with a 1 day in Chester itinerary to help you plan the best things to see and do when you visit.
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- A day out in Chester factsheet
- How to get to Chester
- Longer than a day trip to Chester?
- Things to do in Chester in a day
- Eating and drinking during your day out in Chester
- Sample 1 day Chester itinerary
- Is a day out in Chester enough?
- How to get around during a day out in Chester
- How much money do I need for a day out in Chester
- When to plan a day trip to Chester
- Tips for planning a day trip to Chester
- So should I plan a day out in Chester?
- Chester in a day- a recap
A day out in Chester factsheet
Before we look at planning a Chester itinerary, here is a little bit of background.
Language(s) spoken: English
Currency: British Pound/ £
Population: Approximately 77,000
Located in the northwest of England, Chester is a popular student and tourist city. It has strong Roman roots, and was founded as a Roman fortress in 1 AD. The city still retains a good majority of its ancient Roman walls. It also has some distinct Tudor Style Buildings in Chester Town Centre, making it a fantastic place to visit for history lovers.
How to get to Chester
Before you start planning your day out in Chester, you probably want to know how to get there. The closest airports to Chester are Manchester and Liverpool. Manchester is better for international flights, and Liverpool only really does European flights with the more budget airlines.
From both airports you can easily get to Chester by train. In fact most people do arrive in Chester via the train. And the good news is, is that the main train station is close to all of the sights making it easy to find your way around this city. Once you are in the city it is pretty easy to walk to most attractions.
On a side note, Chester is also close to Wales, so can be included in an itinerary if you are planning on heading that way.
Longer than a day trip to Chester?
If you are planning on staying in Chester just that little bit longer, you will need to look at accommodation.
Chester is a popular tourist destination so you will find hotels covering all price ranges. There are a few hotels located right near the train station which is lucky when carrying those heavy bags. If you are looking at booking your best bet is to go with a hotel booking sight like hotels.com where you can compare different prices.
Chester is not a large place but our top tip is to try and get something central because you want to be close to the sights and the nightlife. There are also a lot of spa hotels in the city which if you are there for a romantic break is always a nice touch.
Things to do in Chester in a day
Here are our recommendations of things to do when spending one day in Chester.
Do a Hop on hop off sightseeing tour
If you only have a day in Chester our top tip is to do a sightseeing Hop On, Hop Off tour. We did this and hopped on the tour right opposite the train station. It cost us £12 each and it helped us orientate ourselves with the city.
We were also lucky enough to have a knowledgeable guide on the bus as opposed to a recording. It was a great opportunity to ask questions and learn all about the city before going out and exploring on our own. If you do the tour you can buy tickets for the boat tour as well at a discount so keep that in mind. But if you forget, you can still get £1 off boat tickets if you show your bus ticket.
Stroll through Grosvenor Park
Grosvenor Park is a great place to visit when doing a day trip to Chester. After doing the full circuit on the bus we hopped off here.
It’s perfect if you want to stroll around and admire the gardens or just chill out generally. We started at the ruins of St John’s church and then made our way into the gardens. The gardens really are beautiful and so green.
The park is on 20 acres of land, and there are various points that overlook the River Dee, which is the river that runs through Chester. The cool thing is that Grosvenor Park is actually considering one of the best and most complete examples of Victorian Parks, in England.
Take in the atmosphere around the River Dee
The River Dee is a 70 mile river that runs through Chester and Wales. Close to Grosvenor Park is a paved section with promenades, park benches, restaurants, and stands selling ice cream. It is a great place to stroll around with an ice cream cone in hand.
If you cross the bridge to the other side you can go for a walk along the river. It is also the perfect place to have a picnic and lie in the grass. The atmosphere along the river is incredible especially on a sunny day. You get to listen to the murmur of the tourists and locals alike as they soak in the views as well as the songs from buskers set up along the river.
This is also a good place to eat. Hickory’s, is a good choice and is a southern USA style restaurant. The cocktail selection is fab too! If you can try get a seat overlooking the river. It is fantastic on a warm day as well because there is a lot of outdoor seating. There is nothing like great food, great drinks and fresh air!
Do a boat trip
Another fun thing to do for your day out in Chester is to hop on a boat and explore the River Dee. We went with Chester Boat and it cost £7.50 for a half hour trip. There is a bar on board which we made full use of, particularly as the weather was lovely. The tour was very tranquil and gave us the opportunity to see some amazing riverside properties all laced with so much history. You can book tickets online in advance or purchase them on the day.
Alternatively you can rent your own motorboat or paddle boat and explore the River Dee yourself. Either way a boat trip is definitely a must for a day trip to Chester.
Explore the Roman Gardens and visit the Amphitheatre
History buffs will love Chester as there is so much to see. The Roman Gardens are one of our favourite parts of the city, as they contain fragments from old Roman Buildings. It is a beautiful place to sit or lay in the grass and relax. Nearby is the Amphitheatre which is apparently one of the largest stone built Roman Amphitheatres in the UK.
Walk the City Walls
The City Walls in Chester are the best preserved walls in the UK. In fact you can actually make your way around the city walls in about 1 hour. You get some really beautiful views of the city, so it is well worth doing.
Also a fun fact – Chester is also the only city in Britain that has retained the full wall. Built originally to defend the city it is believed that the walls were completed by the mid 12th century.
Explore the Rows
Unique to Chester, the Rows are a set of half timber galleries that you walk up a set of stairs to reach. They form a second row of shops above ground level and they are a great place to explore. You will find quirky shops, and cafes up here and it really is worth exploring.
Visit Chester Cathedral
One of the highlights during a day out in Chester is to visit Chester Cathedral. For starters entry is free so even if you are on a budget you can still visit. Although I should add that donations are welcomed.
The Cathedral, was actually a Benedictine Abbey in 1093. In 1250 the Cathedral was rebuilt in a Gothic style. You can see elements of both designs when you visit which is very cool.
When you visit you can tell when you enter it is the real home of the community. In fact when we visited we were so lucky to witness a full choir and orchestra performing . The gardens are also incredible and there is a really tranquil space with a water fountain and several benches to sit on.
Discover Chester town centre
Chester town centre is a great place to shop and an even better place to admire the old buildings. The centre particularly around Eastgate is a bustling hive of activity with buskers, shoppers and tourists making the most of the historical setting. Just don’t forget to look up!
See the Eastgate Clock
One must do in Chester town Centre is see the Eastgate clock. It is a really beautiful decorative piece and is one of the most photographed clocks in the UK, after Big Ben of course. It can be seen as you make your way across the city’s walls.
Eating and drinking during your day out in Chester
I know we have mentioned a few places already for eating and drinking when visiting Chester in a day. Here are some other suggestions though to help you plan your trip.
Eating in Chester town centre
Here are some of the best places to eat in Chester town centre and beyond.
Porta is one of our favourite tapas bar in Chester town centre. It’s perfect for all those Spanish inspired small plates, and they also have an incredible wine selection.
They also have an outdoor terrace so if you are visiting in the warmer months, it’s such a relaxing place to go. Tables are available on a first come first serve basis. They are closed on Mondays, but do serve food from 12pm to about 10pm most other days.
This is another favourite in Chester town centre. The Yard does some great Italian food including a cracking good prawn tagliatelle. This is one of those places you do need to book in advance, and you can do that via their website.
The Ship Inn
This isn’t quite Chester town centre, but it’s not miles away either. Located in Handbridge which is a short walk across the River Dee.
The Ship Inn does a lot of classic pub food, with a really cosy and welcoming atmosphere. They are open every day usually around 10am – 10pm.
Commonhall Street Social
For something a little more laid back head to Commonhall Street Social. It’s located down a side street in Chester town centre. They do craft beers, and some great food like burgers and nachos.
Drinking in Chester town centre
Here are some of the best places for drinks in Chester town centre and beyond.
Vin Santo is a must for wine lovers. It’s also an excellent place to go if you want to try some food and wine pairings or even cheese and wine.
Beer Heroes is one of our favourite spots for drinks in Chester. Located in Chester town centre, they stock over 350 craft beers. They also do tasting sessions although you do need to book these in advance.
Bear & Billet
For pub style food and drinks the Bear and Billet is a good choice. The pub is located inside Chester’s city walls, inside in traditional half timbered building which dates back to 1664. It’s a friendly place, and good if you want a drink with some amazing views over the city walls.
For lovers of cocktails and indie music head to Kuckoo. The bar is located on Watergate Street in the centre of Chester. It’s got a really fun vibe, and perfect if you are looking for something a little different during your day trip to Chester.
Sample 1 day Chester itinerary
Here is a sample Chester itinerary to give you a bit of inspiration for your own trip to Chester.
After arriving in Chester in the morning nip across the road from the train station and do the hop on hop off bus tour, in order to familiarise yourself with Chester. Once you have done the full circuit hop off at Grosvenor Park. Take a wander through the park, whilst eventually making your way towards the River Dee. Head out on a 30 minute boat tour to see the beautiful houses and surroundings.
Have lunch at Hickory’s by the river. When you have finished make your way to the city walls to walk off the lunch. You will eventually reach the town centre, and once here visit the Chester Cathedral. Make sure you also checkout the Eastgate clock before having some afternoon tea at Hatters.
Before making your way back to the train station make sure you stop by the Amphitheatre and explore the Roman Gardens.
Is a day out in Chester enough?
You might be wondering if a day trip to Chester is enough time to see the city. Personally we think it is enough time. Chester is a small place, and the main tourist attractions like the River Dee, Chester Cathedral, City walls, and Chester town centre, are all within walking distance of each other.
If you do decide to stay longer then you probably only really need 2 days at the most. This will at least give you some time to explore some of the quirky and fun bars in the city and experience the nightlife.
How to get around during a day out in Chester
Chester really is a walkable city, so you won’t need to worry about navigating public transport on your day trip to Chester. A hop on hop off bus tour is a great way to get around the city if you don’t fancy walking.
How much money do I need for a day out in Chester
Money is an important factor when visiting a new city, and so you might be wondering how much money you need for your Chester itinerary.
Chester is mid range when it comes to expense. It certainly isn’t as expensive as London, but maybe not quite as cheap as some of the smaller towns in England. A lot of the attractions in the city are free, like the City Walls, Roman Gardens, and Chester Cathedral.
You can also get some good deals on accommodation if you do decide to spend the night. A 4 star hotel in the city centre will set you back somewhere between £80-£120 per night.
When it comes to food a burger and chips plus a drink will usually cost you £20 or just under. It obviously depends on where you go, and the fancier the restaurant the more expensive it will be. A cocktail will cost on average around £10 and a pint is usually just over £5 but this depends again on where you go.
When to plan a day trip to Chester
The best time of year to plan a day trip to Chester is during the warmer months. Summer is a good time to go with temperatures sitting around 25°C. Although keep in mind summer can be incredibly busy especially on weekends or during the school holidays.
Spring is one of our favourite times to go because the flowers in the city are in full bloom. And with so many beautiful parks it gives you the opportunity to see the daffodils, and other floral delights. Spring temperatures usually range between 3°C and 17°C.
If you are planning to visit Chester in winter, December is the best month to go. The city puts on a festive Christmas market just outside of town hall.
Tips for planning a day trip to Chester
Here are some final tips for planning a day out in Chester.
- Wear comfortable shoes, as you will probably do a lot of walking.
- Be prepared for all weather – especially rain.
- Book accommodation well in advance during busy seasons.
- Book any restaurants for dinner or lunch on weekends especially.
So should I plan a day out in Chester?
If you are wondering if you should plan a day out in Chester, let this be your sign to go out and book it. Chester is a really magical and unique city. There is so much history that you just won’t get in other parts of England. It’s also a relaxed place that you can explore at your own pace. So for a real taste of English culture make sure you organise a day trip to Chester.
Chester in a day- a recap
We hope this guide to planning a day out in Chester, has been useful. There is a lot to see and do in Chester, but if you plan your day carefully you really can make the most of exploring Chester in a day.
And if you are planning to visit any other historical UK cities we highly recommend York.
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