Chester is a classic city filled with history, culture and nightlife. Located on the River Dee, the medieval city plays host to some of oldest and most beautiful architecture in the country, particularly the iconic Chester Rows. Under the surface, though, the city has a vibrant and young heart,full of trendy bars, some lively clubs and lots of top restaurants.
The city of Chester is compact, easily navigated on foot - though you might want to hop on a bus or get a taxi for a visit to Chester Zoo. It’s also close to Manchester and Liverpool by train, where there’s even more to see and do.
Explore the City
The Chester Rows
Chester’s most popular attraction is its shopping streets. Four main streets of unique, historical architecture, with timber galleries of shops stacked on top of each other creating a second row. There’s a mix of high-street brands and independent stores, but it’s also where you’ll find a lot of the bars and clubs.
The oldest racecourse in Britain is no more than a twenty minute walk from Chester’s city centre. Thousands of people visit for the latest racing events, with plenty of glamour and excitement to go around. With 65 picturesque acres of racecourse and plenty of drinking and dining options like the stylish Restaurant 1539, it’s perfect for a fun-filled day out.
Chester is surrounded by beautiful countryside, making it the perfect place to discover some new outdoor activities. With loads of options including exhilarating white water rafting and gorge scrambling, there’s loads of options to get you into the countryside and try something properly unique.
In Chester, there’s a venue to suit every mood and occasion = whether you’re looking for a quiet pint or lively late-night party destination. There are a few quirky pubs dotted around like The Brewery Tap or The Architect, but pubs tend to close around 11.30pm, so you’ll want to head to the bars and clubs for a slightly later night.
The neighbourhood late-night party chain on Foregate Street is always a popular stop for any night out in Chester. The stylish, modern interiors offer comfortable seating and plenty of private hire areas for a relaxed but fun night. Vodka is their speciality, with three bars including one dedicated to vodka out back for lovers of the drink to enjoy.
Chester isn’t without clubbing hotspots, but they have a ‘love it or hate it’ kind of feel. Rosies on Northgate Street has three different floors, the first being Popworld, full of cheesy 90’s hits and another with house floor-fillers. Cruise is a superclub at the centre of the city on St John Street. There are six stylish themed areas taking you from Manhattan to Moscow and a state-of-the-art sound system.
This Cuban-inspired cocktail and tapas bar is a vibrant and fun place on Watergate Street to grab a drink. Head inside for bright colours, reclaimed wood interiors and a late-night basement bar with a party feel. Try authentic mojitos and an endless cocktail list or soak up the atmosphere by ordering fajitas or tasty tapas dishes.
Eat Like a Local
Exploring Chester can work up an appetite, so luckily there are a variety of eateries on offer. Whether you’re looking for indulgent breakfasts, gourmet burgers, fine dining or good-old pub grub, there’s something for all styles. You’ll find all your favourite restaurant and fast food franchises like Nandos, Pizza Express and Las Iguanas alongside independent hidden gems like Sticky Walnut.
If you love American-style food, BBQs or just tonnes of meat, then you’ll love this Southern-style restaurant. Located in the Groves, on the banks of the River Dee, it has outdoor and indoor seating. Try their flaming hot Buffalo wings, huge racks of ribs and plenty of maple syrup and popcorn. There’s a great selection of bourbon as well as both US and European beers.
Who doesn’t love a good ‘old fashion burger? Chester clearly does. Burger Shed 41 has a huge variety of beef, chicken and veggie burgers using locally sourced ingredients, with options like the Camembert Burger, which is a beef burger with cranberry sauce and camembert. Steak ‘n’ Shake make their burgers out of steak with unique flavours like the Guacamole. TGI, Frankie and Benny and Revolution all do burgers too!
Hanky Panky Pancakes
Sweet tooth or not, you’ll love this pancake cafe. Choose from breakfast, savory, scotch or thin pancakes with a huge variety of different toppings. It gets better - they even do ‘panc-tails’ which have liqueurs added to them, like the Molly’s Malone which is a Scotch pancake with Belgian chocolate ice cream, whipped cream & Bailey’s.
Places to Stay
If you’re looking for a place to stay after a long day at the races or a fun night out, there are plenty of options for all budgets. You can stay in well-known hotel chains like Travelodge and Holiday Inn, although hotels closer to the racecourse can get a little pricier. There’s also the Hallmark Inn and Hallmark Hotel. Staying in twin or triple rooms where possible can often help lower the price.
Beautiful Roman, Medieval and Tudor Landmarks
Chester at a glance:
- A city full of historical monuments, including Britain’s largest Roman Amphitheatre and Chester Cathedral, which was founded as a Benedictine monastery over 900 years ago
- Walk the historic ruins of the city walls or mess about on the river
- Easy to get around on foot as the city is compact in size and relatively flat
- One of the most unique shopping experiences in the world, with shops filling Chester’s famous Rows – timber framed galleries dating back as far as the 13th century
- Bars, clubs and pubs occupy nooks and crannies dotted around the historic streets
- Head to Chester Races for a day of thrills, spills and decadent entertainment
The Rows – a unique shopping experience Chester’s famous Rows consist of a unique two-tiered shopping complex right in the heart of city centre. Some of the original 13th century buildings still stand, but most are Victorian copies and still stunning in their own right.
The Canal Quarter – country pubs next to scenic waterways An up-and-coming area of the city, the Canal Quarter has seen many new country-style restaurants and bars popping up along the waterfront. Follow the towpath in any direction and you’ll soon find a healthy dollop of warmth and Chester hospitality.
Chester Racecourse – excitement, glamorous and history all rolled into one The oldest racecourse in Britain is still serving up plenty of excitement, today known as one of the country’s most glamorous sporting venues. High fashion is as important as the high stakes action to many of the visitors on race day so expect to spot plenty of beautiful people, while the luxurious restaurants and bars make it the perfect destination for enjoying yourself in real style.
Best bars and pubs in Chester:
Glynne Arms, Glynne Way -www.theglynnearms.co.uk/A little gem further out from the city, the Glynne Arms has a great village pub atmosphere and would be the perfect way to end a trip over a roast dinner and a few pints.
Off the Wall, John Street -https://www.offthewallbars.co.uk/chesterLocated next door to the Roman Amphitheatre, Off the Wall was made for those who’ve had their fill of history and culture and are ready to settle down with a nice pint. Popular with students in the evenings.
The Boathouse, The Groves -www.theboathousechester.co.uk/This great pub located right on the River Dee and has stunning views. If you’re lucky enough to visit on a gorgeous summer’s day, take your pint out to the dock and watch the world go by.
Bear & Billet, Lower Bridge Street - bearandbillet.com/ This is a great old-fashioned pub right on the banks of the River Dee. It’s a little way out from the city centre but is totally worth it if you fancy a great selection of real ales in an authentic atmosphere.
Mill Bar at the Mill Hotel -https://www.millhotel.com/dining/restaurant-1Located on an historic Roman site, the ground floor pub of this hotel is open to the public. Enjoy selecting your brew from 16 different hand pumps, including 10 regularly changing cask ales.
The Brewery Tap, Lower Bridge Street -www.the-tap.co.uk/The Brewery Tap offers up one of the city’s best selection of cask ales, including Spitting Feathers, brewed in Chester’s very own brewery.
Best cocktail bars:
The Suburbs, Charles Street -www.the-suburbs.co.uk/This aptly named cocktail bar is located in the suburb of Hoole. It boasts award-winning cocktails and great bar snacks, as well as bringing the stylish metropolitan vibe of the city centre to a slightly quieter part of town.
Kuckoo, Watergate Street -http://kuckoorocks.com/Kuckoo has a modern, stylish vibe with decadent seating and red lighting for a touch of exotic ambience. The cocktails are delicious and during summer they host a pop-up champagne bar to add that extra touch of luxury. Book in advance to enjoy table service.
The Garden at Oddfellows Hotel, Lower Bridge Street -www.oddfellowschester.com/An upmarket venue, so dressing smart is well advised. The Garden at luxury hotel Oddfellows is a popular spot for sun seekers wishing to enjoy premium cocktails in beautiful surroundings. It gets busy in the summer, so book ahead to ensure seating, especially if you’re in a large group.
Barlounge, Watergate Street -www.barlounge.co.uk/A city centre bar offering an array of cocktails in relaxed surroundings. Enjoy a drink on one of the sofas by the bar, or head up to the roof terrace, complete with patio heaters for those cooler evenings.
Pitcher & Piano, St Johns Street -www.pitcherandpiano.com/A chain bar that picks up the personality of whichever city it’s in. Chester’s Pitcher & Piano uses the building’s original brickwork. It’s large enough to accommodate big groups and bar staff can whip up some stunning cocktails for reasonable prices.
Fiesta Havana, Watergate Street -www.havanachester.co.uk/This quirky space has great cocktails and a fun fiesta vibe. It can get a little busy at the weekends once the DJ starts up, so grab your table early, enjoy your drinks as the place fills up then hit the dancefloor.
Prohibition Bar No 66, Watergate Street -http://restaurantwebx.com/Prohibition/Tucked away in a converted townhouse, Prohibition Bar No 66 is a welcome change from some of the other bars on offer in Chester. It’s an intimate space perfect for quiet cocktails. It’s warm and welcoming with a great drinks list to boot.
Townhouse 1776, Watergate Street -www.townhouse1776.com/Another hidden gem, this time in the Rows. Townhouse 1776 is ultra stylish (check out its pics on Instagram) and the perfect place for a post-shopping cocktail. Arrive in the evening to enjoy the best of Chester’s independent music scene.
Missoula, Music Hall Passage -www.missoulabars.co.uk/missoulachester/A cool, relaxed spot for a delicious cocktail and bar snack. Chill out on the comfortable seating, or book a larger area and pre-order a tailored drinks list to really kick-start the party.
Best clubs in Chester:
The Church Bar & Restaurant, Newgate Street -www.churchchester.com/A restaurant that effortlessly transforms into a trendy nightspot isn’t a new concept, but The Church Bar & Restaurant is still one of Chester’s more distinctive venues. Housed in a renovated church, The Church Bar oozes style without pretentiousness. Keep an eye out for the amazing original features as you drink and dance the night away.
Cruise Nightclub, St John Street -www.cruisechester.com/Six themed rooms and a central location mean that everyone will find something to suit them at Cruise Nightclub. Book one of Cruise’s special VIP packages to jump the queue and receive discounts on drinks.
Revolution, Foregate Street -www.revolution-bars.co.uk/bar/chester/Revolution bars frequent cities across the UK, but each has their own individual style. A venue this size is well suited to big groups and their excellent selection of shots and cocktail deals help get the party started. With live music and DJs until the early hours, you’re sure to have a good night.
Rosie’s, Northgate Street -www.rosieschester.co.uk/Rosie’s is something of a cult venue in Chester, attracting local students and young professionals. Open seven nights a week, it regularly hosts a themed nights with the emphasis very much on creating a good, old fashioned party atmosphere.
Food: eat like a local:
Meat lovers will salivate over the authentic American style BBQ dishes at the Hickory Smoke House (www.hickorys.co.uk/) on Souters Lane). With two distinct cooking methods (the ‘Southern’ smoker uses a slow, wood fired grill whereas the ‘Yankee’ method involves sizzling hot coals) you’ll get delicious meat and fish cooked exactly how you want it.
Diners looking for that unique venue should stop off at The Weighing Room (www.commonhall.co.uk/) a converted mill on Commonhall Street. With a huge and varied menu it’s ideal when you’re travelling with large groups who can’t agree on what they fancy.
The Sticky Walnut (https://www.stickywalnut.net/) on Charles Street, is a hidden gem in a Chester backstreet, perfect for a special, intimate dining experience. Enjoy locally farmed and seasonal food, and friendly service.
The best hangover breakfasts in Chester:
Quirky pancake house Hanky Panky Pancakes (https://www.facebook.com/Hankypankypancakes) on Commonhall Street serves up the best sweet breakfast treats in Chester. Opt for pancakes covered in white chocolate, rocky road and Nutella for a really indulgent hangover cure.
If you missed breakfast, then brunch at The Chef’s Table (www.chefstablechester.co.uk/) is a home away from home. Modern décor with rustic touches complement the friendly staff and mouthwatering food.
Chester is such a compact city that most of it can be negotiated on foot and, depending on where you are staying, you may not need to bother hopping on and off public transport. Walk around the main shops and sites in the day, stroll from bar to club in the night, and treat yourselves to a taxi when you’ve had enough of walking at 3am. If you’re making a trip outside of the city public buses run fairly regularly and stop at most of the major locations. And if you’re planning on a day at the races then a picturesque stroll from the city centre will take about 20-30 minutes.