A guide to Chester, the UK's most underrated city

Sitting quietly in the North West of England, within hopping distance of Wales, Chester is a city with many surprises. Here’s our quick guide to the best things to see and do...

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Top things to do in Chester

Chester's Roman Amphitheatre (Chester BID)

Chester's Roman Amphitheatre (Chester BID)

Walk the Chester City Walls

The 2,000 year old Roman walls that encircle the city are the longest, most complete, and oldest, still standing in Britain today. A walk around the walls will take 45 minutes to an hour depending on how fast you walk and how often you stop. You can see the entire city from the walls, including the UK's oldest racecourse and the Eastgate Clock - one of the most photographed clocks in England. There’s a lovely place to stop by the river, where you can watch the boats float by while tucking into an ice cream.

Take centre stage at the Roman Amphitheatre

The Roman amphitheatre was the largest in Britain in its heyday, and even now you won’t see anything like this anywhere else in the UK. Only half of the theatre is visible, though, as the other half sits beneath a former convent and grade II listed building. But even this half-moon of the amphitheatre is impressive. Embrace your inner actor and feel as though you are performing on stage being watched by an audience, as you walk down and stand by the tethering stone, otherwise known as ‘the stone of death’.

Visit St John’s Church, the Original Cathedral

The current Chester cathedral is a stunning building, but this smaller church at St John’s, which was the city's original cathedral, is something else. Founded in AD689 by the king of Mercia, the ancient ruins seem to flow seamlessly into the later 19th century part of the church. The latter is beautiful inside, but it is the ancient ruins that are truly awe-inspiring. High up on one of the historic walls you can see a medieval black wooden coffin bearing the words ‘dust to dust’. Apparently, it was placed there to plug a gap in the masonry, but the affect produces something quite eerie.

Places to eat and drink in Chester

The Forge bar (The Forge)

The Forge bar (The Forge)

Da Noi

Run by a couple from Turin, Valentina and Fabrizio, Da Noi is an intimate Italian restaurant whose tables are always full. The short seasonal menu features authentic north-west Italian food, and each and every item has its own wine pairing. The specifics of these regional dishes are something you won’t find anywhere else, and you can taste how thoughtfully these flavours have been assembled. Fabrizio is a charming host who clearly loves his position at front of house. All of these elements come together to make a trip to Da Noi a memorable experience. 

The Forge

Close to Grosvenor Park and hidden away down a quiet road away from the bustle of the city centre, The Forge entices diners who like to eat out in style. You’ll be encouraged to take a look in the meat fridge, where you can select your meat, but if you want a dish you can rely on, the venison is soft and succulent and falls from the bone. A cocktail trolley will be wheeled over to your table when you are seated, starting off a dining experience that’s opulent and rich.

Palm Cocktail Bar

By day Palm is a fun spot for breakfast or lunch, but by night it becomes a vibrant neon cocktail bar. You can’t miss Palm, as it pulsates with palm trees and flamingos as part of its window display. This is the place to head when you’re ready to discover Chester’s varied and lively nightlife. Wednesdays are Pink Wednesdays where you can either order their speciality pink drinks (think rose lemonade mixed with strawberry liqueur) or stick with the regular cocktail menu, which has more than you can work your way through in one evening.

Places to stay in Chester

There's plenty of places to stay in Chester (Chester BID)

There's plenty of places to stay in Chester (Chester BID)

Hotel Indigo

Next to The Forge, the Hotel Indigo Chester enjoys a quiet spot in the centre of the city. This boutique hotel provides the perfect base for exploring, with comfortable, spacious rooms to return to at the end of your day. Or, you can easily spend an afternoon in their beautiful bar, sipping cocktails and relaxing on the soft leather sofas. The details of this purpose-built hotel reflects the city's famous architecture, giving visitors a plush yet private stay.

Carden Park

Drive 20 minutes out of the city and you’ll arrive at Carden Park. The hotel and grounds are set in the idyllic Cheshire countryside, but it’s the spa that really shines. The indoor area has a swimming pool, sauna, steam room, and jacuzzi, but the garden spa is truly exceptional. With three hot tubs, a Finnish sauna, a thermal pool, and a champagne bar, it's even more pleasant during the colder months.

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