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The quiet, charming, quaint old English city of Chester, which was founded as a Roman fortress in 79 AD and surrounded by ancient walls, should be top of your to-do list. It’s a city full of historic treasures mixed perfectly with modern adventures.

Whilst staying at YHA Chester Trafford Hall, why not try some of these favourites…

Walk the city walls 

Eastgate clock of Chester, a city in northwest England,  known f

Chester is home to the most complete city wall in the country, dating from the Roman conquest over 2,000 years ago.

Today, you can walk the two miles of the wall and admire the beautiful heritage of the city. They were built to protect Chester from invaders between 70 and 80 AD.

The most famous part of the wall is the Eastgate Clock, built to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee 1897. It’s the second most photographed clock in England (the first being Big Ben).

Be wowed by the Roman amphitheatre

Sticking with the Romans, check out the amphitheatre where spectators once enjoyed festivals and gladiator fights. It’s the largest in Britain and similar in design to the amphitheatre at Pompeii.

In use through much of the Roman occupation of Britain, the amphitheatre fell into disuse around the year 350. It was only rediscovered in 1929, when one of the pit walls was revealed during construction work.

Right next door you can visit the pretty Roman Gardens, bordered by the ancient Roman city walls & featuring fragments of excavated fortresses

See the animals of the world

Lion roaring at Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo is the most visited zoo in the UK, with over 35,000 animals and 125 acres of zoological gardens to explore.

Meet the endangered Orangutans from the rainforests of south east Asia and the ring-tailed Lemurs of Madagascar, or the (r)awesome lions of the Savannah Plains.  

You can also find out about their conservation and education charity which is committed to preventing the extinction of wildlife.

Enjoy afternoon tea at the Cathedral

Chester Cathedral is free to enter and hosts regular musical events and exhibitions. Scale the Cathedral at Heights Tour and go behind the scenes.

Indulge in delicious food at the 13th Century Monks Hall Refectory Café or book an afternoon tea and take in the stunning surroundings.

The cathedral’s construction dates from between 1093 and the early 16th century, having been modified a number of times throughout history. The site may have been used for Christian worship since Roman times.

Shop on medieval streets

Traditional Tudor English style houses in Chester, England

You may not be able to buy your armour and bow and arrows anymore down Chester Rows but it’s a shopping destination with historic architecture not to be missed.

A row of 700-year-old medieval houses are where Shoemakers and Iron Mongers once sold their wares, they now host retailers and galleries and give you a picturesque look at the city’s history.

Go paddle boating on the river

The River Dee is 70 miles long and stretches through Wales and Chester. On the bank of the river, you’ll find the ‘Groves’, a paved promenade complete with bandstand, cafes and pubs where you can watch old steamboats pass by.

If you fancy taking a vessel out on the river yourself then you can hire a motorboat, a rowing boat or a pedalo.

Catch some culture

Storyhouse is Chester’s multi award-winning theatre, library, restaurant and cinema in a restored 1930s Odeon building. They run the award-winning Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre too which takes place every summer.

A corner of Chester’s Victorian park is transformed into a unique theatre in-the-round, with a programme including The Jungle Book and Pride and Prejudice.

Or make your way back to the Dean’s Field at Chester Cathedral for Moonlight Flicks – an open air cinema event where you can sit back on a deck chair and enjoy a film on the giant outdoor screen.

Further afield… forest frolics

Forest in sunset

Delamere forest is eight miles away from the city centre, with its very own train station. The woodland covers an area of 972 hectares and contains a mixture of deciduous and evergreen trees.

There are walking and cycling trails for all abilities, orienteering courses, outdoor adventures at Go Ape or you can hire a Segway. But look out… if you venture into the deep dark wood you may bump into the Gruffalo from Julia Donaldson’s classic story.

Designer shopping

A shopper’s paradise and just six miles out of Chester is the infamous McArthurGlen designer outlet – Cheshire Oaks.

It is the largest outlet centre in the United Kingdom, with over 140 stores and oodles of eating places – anyone for a Krispy Kreme donut?

It’s the ideal place to visit if you want to stock up on discounted North Face jackets, some Calvin Kleins or cosy Ugg boots (more brands available).

Find out what to do around Chester.

Need some inspiration for summer stays? Discover summer breaks with YHA.

Image credits: Alexey Fedorenko / Leonid Andronov / shaw600 / Sam Jeffs / Adobe Stock

Written by Jo Avery

Jo works in YHA's communications team, writing about travel and adventures for all. She loves curling up with a good book and a large mug of tea, ambling through wheat fields in Derbyshire with her family and dog and holidaying beside the seaside.

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