Chester, England, UK

City tour of Chester, England

Chester Picturesque Roman City

With a small population of around 100,000 souls, the north-western English city of Chester might be easy to overlook for those whose tour of Britain is just a few days long. But, for those heading north, the detour is well worth the trip. Chester was founded as a Roman fort in 79 AD, and much of the city's history and significance can be traced back to that time. Expect lots of history and plenty of photo opportunities in a city that is too often overlooked.

A walking tour of Chester, England

The City Walls

Our journey begins near Abbey Green at Chester's famous city walls — the most complete Roman and medieval defensive town wall system still standing in Britain today. The city walls were built around AD 70 when Chester was established as a fortress following the Roman invasion. Protecting the growing city through various sieges and battles over the centuries, these fortifications were extended and modified by the Saxons, Normans, and during the medieval period when towers and gates were added. Today, the remains of the city walls stand as a symbol of the city's history and heritage. They are a protected Grade I listed structure and have undergone various phases of restoration and preservation to maintain their integrity. Visitors can walk the full route of the city walls (approx. two miles), or you can simply explore the area around Abbey Green.

The City Walls, Chester, England
Chester Cathedral, Chester

Chester Cathedral

Follow the City Walls south past Kaleyard Gate until you reach Chester Cathedral. The origins of the Cathedral can be traced back to 1093, when the Benedictine Abbey of St Werburgh was founded on the site. But the structure that tourists and worshippers visit today is mostly Gothic in style, with features dating from across the centuries, from the late 1100s to the early 1500s. During these final transformations, the building was turned from an Abbey into a Cathedral following Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries. Tours of the Cathedral are available, including an optional white-knuckle ascent to the top of the tower. If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, the organ and stained-glass windows alone are breathtaking.

Roman Amphitheatre

Return to the City Walls and continue south. Before reaching the Eastgate Clock, take the exit for Foregate Street, and then take a right onto St John Street, which leads on to the Roman Amphitheatre. Built in the First Century AD, the original structure was a major site for entertainment, military training, and public events in Roman Britain. The amphitheatre had two main phases of construction. The first phase was built around 70-80 AD and could seat around 3,500 spectators. The second, larger phase was constructed in the Second Century AD, expanding its capacity to hold approximately 7,000 to 10,000 people. It was used for gladiatorial combat, animal fights, executions and religious ceremonies, as well as military training.

Roman Amphitheatre, Chester
Grosvenor Park, Chester

Grosvenor Park

Enjoy a leisurely lunch in one of Pepper Street's many fine restaurants. Then, pass under The Newgate and past the Amphitheatre again as you head to Grosvenor Park to walk off your dessert. The park covers an impressive 20 acres along the banks of the River Dee. The ornamental gardens contain countless interwinding pathways, allowing you to tailor your walking distance to the time you wish to spend here. If you feel ready for a rest, find a park bench and watch the world go by.

The Groves

Exit Grosvenor Park via a gate not far from the statue of Richard Grosvenor, Second Marquess of Westminster. A flight of ten steps will bring you to Grosvenor Park Terrace. From here, walk straight down the hill to the River Dee where you will find a riverside pedestrian area called The Groves. On a sunny day (even Britain does have them!), this is the perfect place to get an ice cream and enjoy the weather.

The Groves, Chester, England
The Roman Gardens, Chester, UK

The Roman Gardens

Directly from The Groves, enter The Roman Gardens. Built in 1949 by Charles Greenwood and Graham Webster, The Gardens were designed to showcase many of Chester's impressive Roman artefacts. On display here, you will find remains from the Roman bathhouse and the legionary headquarters. Informative plaques will help bring the displays to life, helping visitors to understand how the various artefacts fit together and tell their story. This again is a secluded and tranquil spot for anyone ready to sit down and take a rest from the walking.

Shopping at The Rows

The most direct route to the Grosvenor Museum would take us along Pepper Street and Grosvenor Street. But it would be a shame to visit Chester and not walk along the famous "Rows" - pedestrianised streets with distinctive two-tier boutique shops on either side. Head back toward the Roman Amphitheatre and then north along St John Street to the Eastgate Clock. From here, take your time as you browse along Eastgate Street and Watergate Street until you reach the main junction with Nicholas Street. On arrival, you will see The Guild (formerly Holy Trinity Church) with its unmissable tower. Follow the pedestrian signs for "Castle and Museums".

Shopping at The Rows, Chester, United Kingdom
The Grosvenor Museum, Chester, UK

The Grosvenor Museum

Established in 1885, The Grosvenor Museum was named after Hugh Lupus Grosvenor, the First Duke of Westminster, who was a major benefactor of the project. The museum aims to collect, preserve and interpret objects related to the natural, cultural, and social history of Chester. As well as items about the Roman settlement, expect to see items from the Civil War, as well as the Georgian and Victorian eras, plus a significant collection of silver and art. The museum is closed on Mondays and offers shortened hours on Sundays. Find more visitor information here...

Walking tour of Chester City Map

Other Chester attractions

If you're looking to go a bit deeper, or a bit further afield, here are some other Chester attractions that may be of interest.

Chester Zoo in Chester, England

Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo spans 126 acres, making it one of the largest in the UK. And, is ranked by TripAdvisor as the 3rd best zoo in the world.

St. John the Baptist's Church in Chester, Britain

St. John the Baptist's Church

St. John the Baptist's Church, located next to The Roman Amphitheatre, is a stunning church with a fascinating history.

Cheshire Military Museum, Chester City

Cheshire Military Museum

Cheshire Military Museum tells the history of the proud Cheshire Regiment, from its creation in the 17th century to the present day.

Chester Racecourse, England, Britain

Chester Racecourse

Founded in 1539, Chester Racecourse holds the distinction of being the oldest operational racecourse in the world.