Chester has been one of north-west England’s most important cities for centuries. Its position, close to the border with Wales and a few miles south of Liverpool and the Mersey, has made it significant in military and industrial terms.

The city figured prominently in Roman and Norman times, and during the English Civil War. Today, it is the thriving heart of Cheshire, and with its beautiful cathedral, historic city walls and famous Rows – covered galleries – it draws visitors from far and wide.

Events, festivals, quirky shops and a great food and drink scene combine with excellent transport links to make this vibrant city the ideal choice for a short break.

Where to stay during a tour to Chester

Choosing the best motorhome sites for your trip will always be an important factor in getting the most from your tour.

Astbury Villa Caravan Park is a CS just north of the city. It has limited facilities, but is perfectly positioned for transport links to Liverpool and the M56. Electric hook-up and small shower block available.

Chester Fairoaks CAMC Campsite is a family- and dog-friendly campsite that is open all year and handily situated not far from Ellesmere Port. Electric hook-up and a shower block are available, as well as disabled facilities, a motorhome service point and a launderette.

Alternatively, you could stay at Thornleigh Park Farm – this CL is based at a working farm a little to the west of Chester, close to the beautiful River Dee. Pitches are grass, with some hardstandings near the site entrance, and shower and WC facilities are available. If you’re touring with a pet, dogs are welcome too.

What to do in Chester – day 1

9am – Walk the walls

Chester is the only city in England that retains the full circuit of its ancient walls. These were originally built by the Romans, then later extended by the Saxons and the Normans. It takes from 45 minutes to an hour to walk around the two-mile route along the raised walkway.

Eastgate Clock
Eastgate Clock – image: Getty

10.30am – Tea and toast

At the northern extremity of the walled city, Marmalade offers breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. Enjoy a late breakfast with a bacon, halloumi and tomato cob.

12.30pm – Enjoy the view

At 125ft tall, the Tower is one of the many highlights of any visit to Chester’s great cathedral, providing far-reaching views. Adult tickets for the Tower tour cost £14.

Chester Cathedral
Chester Cathedral dates back to 1093 – image: Getty

However, there are 216 steps to climb to reach the top, so if you prefer something less arduous, consider the Stained Glass or the Discovery tours (each cost £6). Here you can find out more about the long history of this fascinating building, which dates all the way back to the 11th century and thus encompasses several styles of medieval architecture.

2pm – Visit the Rows

Unique to the city, the two-tiered, half-timbered galleries known as the Rows line Chester’s main streets and are famous, both for their style and the many independent shops and restaurants that occupy them. Free tours explaining their history and significance can be found online at Visit Cheshire, or you can simply browse these evocative buildings at your leisure. Grab a snack and enjoy a spot of shopping – the Rows are particularly good for independent jewellery shops.

4pm – Step into history

Built in the first century AD and used for both entertainment and military training, Chester Roman Amphitheatre was the largest such building in Britain.

Only about 40% of the oval structure is currently visible and there is still a lot of archaeological work to be done to excavate the site further – nevertheless, it offers a remarkable insight into daily life in Roman Britain. Entry is free.

7pm – Meat-free dining

Shrub is a hugely popular restaurant in the Rows, offering a plant-based menu that includes delicious small-plate dishes, such as Padrón peppers and vegetable gyoza. It also does a wonderful oyster mushroom Wellington Sunday roast, and there’s a good selection of drinks (alcohol and non-alcohol), including a range of classic cocktails.

What to do on day 2

9am – Zoo views

Spend a highly entertaining morning in beautiful Chester Zoo – the most visited zoo in the UK. You’ll see everything from Andean bears to golden mantella frogs, and there’s also a chance to explore the glorious botanical gardens. Here, you can see the specialist collections of orchids and cacti, or wander through the specific species gardens, such as the Bee Garden and the Madagascar Grasses. Adult tickets £30.50, including donation.

Image: Getty

12pm – Hunting for bargains

Time to enjoy all the hustle and bustle of Chester Market, on Exchange Square. The 900-year-old market is packed with stalls, where traders offer a variety of food and drink, artisan gifts, and even phone repairs. Put together a lunch of delicious cheeses from Cheezy Bandits and artisan breads by Crustum, or check out Big Lola’s Taqueria, where you can sample some fantastic Mexican street food.

2pm – Take to the water

Visitors can explore some very different views of the city by taking a boat trip on the River Dee with ChesterBoat. The company offers half-hour city cruises between 11am and 4pm (£7.65 online, £8.50 on the quayside), or you could join the two-hour Iron Bridge trip, which heads upstream to see Aldford Iron Bridge (£16.65 online, £18.50 on the quayside).

3pm – Ice time

Take a trip out of town to the family-friendly Ice Cream Farm at Tattenhall. Here, you’ll find outdoor play areas, mini-golf, a racing track and indoor soft play, among other attractions. However, the big draw is the Ice Cream Parlour, with 50 flavours of Cheshire Farm ice cream in what is officially the world’s biggest ice cream shop. Tickets cost £2.50.

5pm – Steak your claim

Treat yourself to a steak at Upstairs at the Grill, which specialises in premium cuts, such as chateaubriand and tomahawk. The early evening menu is served until 6pm, leaving you time to walk it off with a gentle stroll.

If you’re interested in a different type of tour instead, see how Peter Rosenthal got on as he explored the Tissington Trail.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, why not get the latest news, reviews and features delivered direct to your door or inbox every month. Take advantage of our brilliant Practical Motorhome magazine SUBSCRIBERS’ OFFER and SIGN UP TO OUR NEWSLETTER for regular weekly updates on all things motorhome related.