Let’s be serious, the majority of you have probably been to Chester at some point in your degree. And if not, then you may be solely familiar with the train station and its passing point of connecting to the Holyhead line. But this is a city that beckons for more. Shakespeare’s phrase “and though she be but little, she is fierce ” perhaps best epitomises Chester; small in scale, yet containing immense depth in its layered history. `
Great news! Although Chester is over the border into England, it’s incredibly cheap to get there for the day! With a 16-25 Railcard, one can go from Bangor to Chester (and back with an open return) for £15 at most! Perhaps this sounds a lot to student ears, but when broken down into an outward and inbound journey, this equates to £7.50 per way!
Moreover, Chester is only an hour away, so it’s an easy trip to take. From the train station, you can either get a shuttle bus into the centre (£1 per journey) or take the scenic route of a 10-minute walk through
Where to Visit:
Admittedly, there’s more in Chester than can simply be reduced down to a single day-trip, but hopefully this list provides a few ideas to get you started and spur on future adventures. One of the foremost striking features of Chester is the city walls. Dating back 2000 years (and still going strong!), Chester was originally a Roman fortress city, at the time called Deva. Chester is arguably one of if not the best preserved Roman city in Britain, with plenty of its archeology remaining. Roman City Walls, like in many other cities such as York and Canterbury, existed to block outsiders from entering the city, and to provide a lookout point to spot any oncoming intruders. Thankfully, these walls are free to visit, and also provide an excellent way of navigating the city, as well as some marvellous views over the main streets and the River Dee. Likewise, the Roman Amphitheatre just a few minutes walk from the centre of the city is the perfect way to fully immerse yourself into Roman history. Take a walk down and become absorbed in the magic of the classical theatre that would have once echoed within these very walls.
Just nearby on the opposite side of Grosvenor Park is the River Dee, which is the perfect place to spend an afternoon regardless of the season. The river intersects through Chester and travels west into Flint, but the riverwalk that can be accessed just outside the city walls is by far its best point. Quiet, airy, yet bustling with the rush of a small city, between the river cruises and simply watching life pass by, it’s incredibly easy to let an afternoon slip by on the side of the River Dee, and once again, all for free!
Finally, for the art lovers, Chester’s equivalent to Pontio – Storyhouse – must definitely be on your itinerary for the day. Recently named one of the best arts centres in the North West of England, Storyhouse provides a potluck array of new amateur and professional theatre, cinema, exhibitions and musical performances, all within a colourfully constructed building dedicated to the power of words in their many forms. If you fancy an alternative exploration of what Chester has to offer, then Storyhouse is certainly worth paying a visit to, and offers a loving showcase to the city’s talents.
Where to Eat:
Rather like Bangor, Chester has an array of eateries tucked into a very small space. Offering all sorts of cuisines, you really are spoilt for choice, but for the non-veggies out there, can anyone really say no to good old fish and chips? If this very British dish stirs hunger in your stomach, then best take a look at Blackstocks. Just opposite Chester’s 1000-year-old Cathedral, Blackstocks is home to some of the best fish and chips all for a thrifty price! Freshly caught the same day they’re served, and award-winning in their field, how can you refuse something so delicious?
Alternatively for the vegetarians, vegans, and plant-based amongst us, Bean & Cole is only a couple of minutes stroll down the road and is a warm embrace to any foodie. Bean & Cole focuses its menu around the idea of simply made, cosy food, all within a rustic coffee house. Soups, sandwiches, and homemade cakes, this is comfort food at its finest, and once again at actually affordable prices! This little cafe personifies the Danish trend of hygge and perhaps could be deemed the perfect place to chat with friends or lose yourself in a good book.