Table of Contents
- 1 Getting To Chester from Manchester
- 2 Here Are 14 Things To Do In Chester As A Solo Traveller
- 2.1 Take photos by the iconic Eastgate Clock
- 2.2 Visit the Chester Cathedral
- 2.3 Stop by the Chester Town Hall.
- 2.4 See a movie or relax at Storyhouse
- 2.5 Climb the Chester City Walls
- 2.6 Watch a show at Grosvenor Park Open Theatre
- 2.7 Take a walk down the Queens Park Bridge
- 2.8 Take a Boat Ride via the Chester Boat
- 2.9 Stop by the Parish Cathedral Church of St. John the Baptist
- 2.10 Explore the Roman Amphitheatre
- 2.11 Talk a walk around the Roman Gardens
- 2.12 Shop or Grab at Bite at the Grosvenor Shopping Centre
- 2.13 Visit the Sick To Death
- 2.14 Pick a few things at Chester Market
- 2.15 Share this:
This post will be sharing 14 things to do in Chester on a day trip.
To officially kick off my 2021 Summer bucket list, I took a day trip to Chester about a week ago. For those that are new here, I live in England and we still have really tight travel restrictions. So for now, we can’t really take international trips because we have a very limited list of countries we can go to without quarantine. After been on lockdown for over a year and almost losing my mind, I decided that I was gonna take trips around England pending the time we are able to travel again.
So, after spending my birthday in York about two weeks ago, I drew up a list of cities I can take day trips to. To begin with, the North of England. While I’ve been to Leeds, Blackpool, Stoke-on-Trent, Birmingham and Manchester where I reside, there are still a few places I want to cover before the end of the Summer.
Getting To Chester from Manchester
The beauty about visiting neighbouring cities in the North of England is that they’re usually about an hour away. In fact, that’s my major motivation for still staying around the North. Anything more than two hours on a train exhausts me. That’s why I hardly go to London except it’s absolutely necessary.
As I typically do with my day trips, I went over to National Express and Trainline to compare prices and pick the cheapest option and shortest distance. For less than £15, I got a return train ticket to Chester via Manchester Victoria.
The journey took about an hour and before noon, I arrived at Chester Train Station ready to explore.
Here Are 14 Things To Do In Chester As A Solo Traveller
Similar to York, the city of Chester was also founded by the Romans as a fort as far back as AD 79. According to Wikipedia, It was initially used as a battleground between warring Welsh and Saxon kingdoms throughout the post-Roman years. The city also grew as a trading port until the Port of Liverpool overtook it. Over time, it has become a place of escape from busy and industries cities like Manchester and Liverpool. Read more about the history of Chester.
Like most cities in the UK, Chester is also one of those cities that has a lot of history. So it’s useful to trace it to better understand the city during exploration. So, if you’re looking to check out Chester for a day trip, here is a walking tour of mostly free things you can do.
Take photos by the iconic Eastgate Clock
Once I arrived at Chester Train Station, I took a nice walk down to the city centre while marvelling at the architecture and taking landscape photos. Check out my Unsplash account for more images. Even without checking my itinerary, the first attraction I got to was the Eastgate Clock. It was right there in the middle of the city centre completely unmissable. Of course, I had to climb in and take photos. Unfortunately, this was where I found out that I forgot my phone mount at home. Imagine bringing a tripod without a phone mount. I was so sad. Plus I couldn’t for the life of me find anyone to take photos of me so I just kept it moving.
Fun Fact: The Eastgate Clock was built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee of 1897.
Now, if you want to walk through the Chester City Walls you can completely start from this point. In fact, it is advisable to take the City Walls Trail and get it over and done with. After missing out on York’s City Walls, there’s no way I would miss Chesters’ for anything.
Visit the Chester Cathedral
If you decide to postpone the City Wall Trail a little longer and go through the Northgate like I did, then you might as well tick some attractions off your itinerary. The Chester Cathedral was built as far back as the year 907. During this time, it has been rebuilt about three times. The current structure and design have been maintained since 1250. I think there was a service going on when I got there. Otherwise, it is completely free to enter.
Stop by the Chester Town Hall.
There’s nothing I love more than iconic town halls with impressive architecture. While this was closed due to COVID, it’s nice to appreciate the grey and red sandstone, Gothic-style Town Hall with its tower and spire rising to a height of 160 feet. Don’t forget to grab a couple of souvenirs from the Chester Visitor Information Centre. For some reason, there was a scarcity of roadside souvenir shops in Chester.
See a movie or relax at Storyhouse
Ideally, this should be your last stop before your train back, this way, you can just relax with a movie, a meal or visit the library after a long day walking around the city, But because this post is a walking tour and Storyhouse is along the way, there’s no way to skip it without messing it up. So remember that you can always go back or stop right there; whatever works for you.
Climb the Chester City Walls
This was easily one of the highlights of my trip to Chester. Seeing as I unknowingly forgot to climb the York City Walls, I had to make up for it somehow. While the experience was exhilarating, it was slightly scary because I’m not that great with heights. Every single time, I thought I would fall off, I had to remind myself of how old those stone city walls were. Yeah, they might look crooked and disjointed in some areas but that doesn’t take away how resilient the walls are.
Remember the city of Chester was founded as a fort, so you get to see the Norman defences, Roman fortifications/walls, Chester Castle and the city gates. These include the Pemberton’s Parlour, The Water Tower, Bonewaldesthorne’s Tower, North-West Angle Tower and King Charles Tower. The best thing about this trail is the breathtaking city views. I had a lot of fun taking pictures.
If you can’t make it to Chester, check out this virtual stroll around the city walls.
Watch a show at Grosvenor Park Open Theatre
One of the great things about Summer in England is the events and festivals across the country. If you want to catch an event at Grosvenor Park Open Theatre, make sure you plan your trip to fall on any of those dates. Check their website for more details on Summer events,
Take a walk down the Queens Park Bridge
If you feel like you need a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, you’ll enjoy this peaceful walk down the Queens Park Bridge with scenic views. This picturesque bridge suspended across the River Dee was built in 1852. It’s the perfect spot to relax and just enjoy the weather, especially during the Summer. I honestly cannot wait to go back and take more pictures.
Take a Boat Ride via the Chester Boat
If you feel like simply walking through the Queens Park Bridge is not enough, you can hire a boat just by the shore. Remember, the bridge is suspended above a river so the best way to thoroughly enjoy the scenic views is to hire a boat. For less than £10, you can sail across the River Dee for thirty minutes. Yeah, I’m definitely going back to Chester specifically for this boat ride. Make sure you book your tickets online as they’re usually cheaper.
Stop by the Parish Cathedral Church of St. John the Baptist
If you have noticed so far, I haven’t listed any museum. This is because they were all closed as at the time I visited. But for some reason, the cathedrals were open. Unlike the York Minister, you don’t have to pre-book or anything before going in. You can just walk in and join a service if you want.
This is a sandstone Anglican church that dates back to the 11th century.
Explore the Roman Amphitheatre
Just opposite the Parish cathedral Church of St. John the Baptist is the iconic ruins of Britain’s largest Roman amphitheatre. Built-in the late first century AD, it was used both for entertainments and for practising troop manoeuvres and weapon training. Read more about the history of the Roman Amphitheatre.
As a result of being mostly ruins, as far as I know, it was open and free to the public. You could clearly see a few people stop by and just marvel at the history right in front of their eyes. While a couple of people sat on the grass, you could see a bunch of kids listening to a tour guide dressed in Roman attire most likely narrating the history of the amphitheatre.
Talk a walk around the Roman Gardens
A stone throw from the Roman amphitheatre is the iconic Roman Gardens. This is also another surprisingly free to enter park and garden. It was constructed in 1949 by Graham Webster, then curator of the Grosvenor Museum, and Charles Greenwood to display the building fragments from the Roman legionary fortress of Deva, including pieces from some of the most important military buildings, the main baths and the legionary headquarters and general artefacts found throughout the city. Think of it as a garden-style outdoor museum. Read more about the history of the Roman Gardens.
Again, I’m suprised that it is free to the public. You can just walk in, take a nice walk, have a snack if you like and enjoy the scenery. I managed to get a few pictures taken by a stranger but they were not my favourite.
Shop or Grab at Bite at the Grosvenor Shopping Centre
During a day trip, it is important to factor in your meal breaks. It’s so easy to walk all day and forget to have a lunch break. Sometimes I do until I really get hungry and I’m forced to stop and take a break. If you’re a foodie, you can try out any of the restaurants that appeal to you. Otherwise, fast food always works. Don’t worry, you’ll probably burn off the calories from walking around the city.
The shops in this shopping centre are mostly clothing, accessories and electronic stores with a few coffee shops.
Visit the Sick To Death
If you’re curious about the gory history of medicine and how we have been able to survive various pandemics and plagues throughout history, you’ll find Sick to Death fascinating. Unlike the rest of the attractions, you’ll have to book your slot for a self-guided tour for £6.
Pick a few things at Chester Market
By the time I got to Chester Market at the end of the day, the stalls have all closed. So I couldn’t really grab anything. If shopping is one of your goals on day trips, you have to priortize them first. Otherwise, by the time you’re done exploring the city and back, they would have closed. This is England. These markets close at 5pm. Funny enough, this is exactly the same thing that happened to me at the Shambles Market in York.
As a travel blogger, shopping isn’t really my priority so I’m not so bothered if I get anything or not. My goal is to be able to visit and document as many attractions as possible.
Yes, I’m sure you noticed that I didn’t bother going to the Chester Zoo. That’s a trip for another day. There’s no way I could have squeezed that in one day.
As you can see, Chester packs quite a punch. I love how lowkey it is. This way, most attraction stay free to the public. Obviously, the more popular a city is with tourists, the less free the attractions are.
I hope you have found this list of things in the do in Chester very useful as much as I did.
A note of warning: there are quite a lot senior citizens in Chester. You’ll find them everywhere particularly taking a nice walk along the Chester City Walls. There’s nothing like aging gracefully in a calm scene city.