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List it here if a tourist might be interested. Pubs and restaurants are not considered attractions! (for the simple reasons that this is not a commercial site and if you decide to advertise your business on here you could endanger the future of the site).

This page is a general introduction to Chester for the tourist. There are many reasons to visit the city: some may come to see specific things. Others might just want to see "some history". How much can be seen depends on the time available, but hopefully this page presents some useful pointers both as to what to see and where things can be found. There are many links in the text to more detailed information elsewhere on this site. This is not an "official guide" to Chester, and does not contain any recommendations for shops, restaurants or hotels.


If you are on a "flying visit" to Chester there is a lot to choose between and a little pre-reading might help to ensure that as little as possible of personal interest is missed. There is "A Short History" of Chester elsewhere on this wiki, but here are the very basics:

  • Chester was a Roman Legionary fortress and port and parts of the city walls follow the line of the old walls of Roman Chester. The most obvious Roman remains are the Amphitheatre.
  • After the Romans departed people continued to live here. It may have been an early ecclesiastical center, and was refortified by the Anglo-Saxons, who repaired and extended the Roman Walls.
  • After the Norman Conquest it was the center of power of the Earls of Chester. Edward I used it as a base for his invasions of Wales. Richard II also based himself here.
  • The Industrial Revolution largely passed it by, although it was served by a canal and later became something of a "railway town".
  • Chester developed an almost unique architectural style, often called the "Chester Look".
  • Chester Zoo can take most of a day to see. It is a short distance outside of the city center.

Chester has been a "tourist" city for centuries, and has been the subject of many handbooks designed for the visitor and resident alike. Many of the early guidebooks are interesting reading and "e-book" versions are often available for free. There is a list on the "Books" page. Not everything is open all of the time and sometimes parts of the walls are closed (they sometimes collapse or need repair for other reasons). The same is true of some buildings: the Medical Museum, Chester Castle, Stanley Palace and the Town Hall have very variable opening times. If you particularly want to see something it is as well to plan ahead and check in advance.



The High Cross is the starting point for A Chester Lightning Tour.

The Tourist Information office is located on the ground floor of the Town Hall. Various tours of the city can be booked here and maps, books and other souvenirs are available. A Chester Lightning Tour, on this site, is an attempt to see the main sights of the city if you have a single day, but can be spread over several.


One of Chester’s most distinguishing features is The Rows. These are galleried walkways that run the along the four streets that meet at the High Cross. These four streets, each of which leads to one of the principal City Gates of Chester, are:

The Rows provide for a dense commercial environment, and convenient shelter from inclement weather. Because The Rows effectively double the number of shops, it may mean that you have to walk the length of a street three times (once in the street and once in each row) to see everything.


This site contains a guide to the City Walls starting at the Eastgate and going around anti-clockwise.

Roman Stuff

There is a guide to Roman Chester on this site and the Roman Festival Trail provides a walking tour of the Roman sights. The one thing not to miss is the Amphitheatre and the Roman collection in the Grosvenor Museum is also work a look.


The Architectural Glossary page of this site features a short "perambulation" as an introduction to the distinctive architecture. In the second half of the 19th century, Chester was transformed by the "half-timber" or vernacular revival. Led by talented local architects including Thomas Mainwaring Penson, Thomas Meakin Lockwood and John Douglas, many ancient buildings were "restored" or completely rebuilt in the black and white "Tudor" style. In most cases, the Rows were respected and improved. An exception being Shoemakers' Row on Northgate Street where the elevated Row walkway was replaced by a street level arcade. While the rows were kept, few of the "black-and-white" buildings today visible on the Rows have actually mediaeval facades.


On a short trip it is worth a visit to the Grosvenor Museum, and possibly even the Military Museum. Unfortunately, Chester Castle can only be seen from the outside at present, but the Town Hall may be open and the Cathedral now offers the spectacular view of Chester from above.


The four principal streets of the city along the Rows are packed with shops, usually on both the street and the row level. There are two shopping arcades, the Grosvenor Shopping Center and the Forum shopping center. Shops are also found in Foregate Street and Frodsham Street. Brook Street has a selection of ethnic supermarkets selling Asian and Eastern European items.

The Zoo