Why we think you should visit... Chester

Date Posted: 16/05/2013

Chester High Street - Things to do in Chester for Groups

Carrie Martindale recently spent a day in Chester, and found a scenic city full of character alongside river cruises, history-fuelled tours and boutique shopping.

I’m no stranger to the north west; visits a plenty were pretty much guaranteed once I married into a scouse family six years ago. And although I have already experienced many of the delights of this colourful region including the Wirral, Chester Zoo, St Helens and Liverpool itself; this month I visited Chester for the first time.

If anyone mentions Chester I immediately think of the television series Hollyoaks, a long-running soap filled with impossibly beautiful people and even more implausible story lines. It wasn’t until I started working for Group Leisure a few years ago, that I realised that there was a lot more to the city than just a teenager’s fantasy.

Chester is as famous for its medieval black and white buildings as its Roman heritage and that’s what really strikes you went you first arrive in the city – it’s truly stunning architecturally.

It’s location on the banks of the river Dee make the city a highly desirable location for the wealthy, something that becomes apparent from the moment you set eyes on the palatial buildings set within the centre and alongside the river, and notwithstanding the high-end designer shops and boutiques that line the streets. I hear tell that it is a favourite with footballers and their wives.

Tour on an open top bus or take a river cruise along the Dee

Almost as soon as we arrived, we spotted an open-topped vintage bus and opted for a tour. The fact that the driver was fully dressed in Victorian garb did add to the nostalgic atmosphere, although I think they may have got their timings off a bit, considering the bus itself only dates from 1924.

Guides in Roman costumes - Group Travel ideas in Chester

The 40-minute guided tour takes in famous sights en-route including the County Hall, Chester Castle, the Military Museum, Grosvenor Museum, Chester Racecourse, The Rows, Chester Cathedral and the Roman Amphitheatre.

I know from working on a previous feature of Chester that walking tours, guided by a ‘Roman Centurion’ are also available for group travel organisers to book.

Thousands of years of heritage – explore by foot

The tours are a great way to see the city’s famous sights, but Chester isn’t huge and you can do a relatively easy circuit of the main areas on foot.

We walked around the centre, visited some shops and then strolled downhill to the river, where we had our lunch watching people getting confused on pedaloes and steering themselves into the undergrowth. Luckily, the sun was shining.

Once you’ve grabbed yourself an ice-cream, and hopped on one of the vessels for a quick boat cruise along the Dee, then the best way to make your way back up to the centre is by walking along the Roman city walls.

From this historic vantage point you can see everything from up high including the ruins of the ancient Amphitheatre. The walk also takes you past the famous Eastgate and Eastgate Clock, which stands on the site of the original entrance to the Roman fortress of Deva Victrix.

Shop till you drop

Did I mention shopping? I loved the collection of quirky stores housed in the Medieval Rows, and managed to bag myself a bargain 1960s vintage jacket in one such establishment.

There really is a good mix of places to part with your cash on Chester high street (WAGS in particular), and just outside the city is Cheshire Oaks, for those of you that want to buy high-end products at low-end prices.

Food-wise you can choose from a plethora of pubs and high-street favourites, or hot roasted meat stalls and smart restaurants.

Visit Chester has a selection of itinerary suggestions for group trips on its website – from gardens to exploring the city’s industrial heritage. There is also information online on what you need to know if you are travelling to the city by coach.

For further group travel information visit www.visitchester.com.

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