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48 hours in Chester - how to spend a weekend shopping, eating, and drinking

The buzzing heart of Chester is awash with exciting new hotels, enticing restaurants, and an abundance of shopping opportunities. Well known for its famous racecourse and Roman history, its manageable and compact city centre makes it an excellent place to spend a weekend as a couple or with friends.

Whether you are looking for a romantic few nights away, are on the hunt for the perfect hen do location, or fancy a shopping trip with the girls – Chester ticks all the boxes. Conveniently located, with excellent transport links to Liverpool, North Wales, and the rest of Cheshire; make sure Chester is on your list to visit in 2022.

A classy year-round city break, Chester is easy to navigate; featuring a wealth of both historical attractions and shopping opportunities within walking distance. For visitors spending 48 hours in Chester, there are an excellent array of boutique and high-end hotels, luxury serviced apartments, and well-known accommodation chains on offer.

From 5* tradition at the famous Chester Grosvenor, fun and flirty at the Hotel Chester, understated elegance at the newly renovated Edgar House, or cool and quirky at Oddfellows; Chester has plenty of accommodation options to suit all tastes and budgets.

Jenny
December 28, 2021

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Friday Afternoon

Chester certainly offers more than just your average city break. Brimming with a rich history and packed with heritage buildings, a city break in Cheshire’s tourist heart will leave you begging for me.

Start the first afternoon of your 48 hours in Chester, with a walk along its raised Roman Walls. This is a brilliant way to get your bearings, offering a bird’s eye view of many of the city’s famous sites. Take in the River Dee, Chester Castle, the Eastgate Clock, Chester Cathedral, and Chester Racecourse. Roman guided tours and Haunted Chester audio tours are also available to book via the Tourist Information Centre.

For any history buffs, the Grosvenor Museum and Chester Cathedral are both well worth a visit, come rain or shine. For those with an obsession for all things gruesome, the Sick to Death Museum tells the story of medicine through time – not for the faint-hearted!

Once you’ve checked into your hotel and have got your bearings, I suggest a visit to Chester Market for a spot of lunch. With the exciting new market hall scheduled to open in Summer 2022, in the meantime, visitors can still explore the delicious and enticing selection of food stalls in the temporary market space located behind the Town Hall. Close by, The Blue Bell Tapas is a hidden gem with a fantastic reputation for great food in cosy surroundings. On a sunny afternoon, I suggest you take full advantage of eating your lunch outside on the pretty terrace.

Other al fresco dining options in Chester include The Secret Garden at the Townhouse; an Instagrammer’s delight with floral walls and flamingos aplenty. The Secret Garden at Oddfellows Hotel is also a cool, hip space with both covered and open-air dining available in their walled garden. For a vegan dining option, the outside seating area at Shrub, situated on the upper Rows close to The Cross comes well recommended. For river views, Hickory’s Smokehouse, The Moorings, and The Boathouse are popular choices.

Friday Evening

The dining scene in Chester is plentiful, ranging from Michelin Star to rustic street food, and everything in between. If you are spending 48 hours in Chester on a romantic city break, then a fine-dining experience may be just for you.

Recommendations in this category include The Forge Restaurant which truly believes in the field to fork philosophy; serving prime cuts of responsibly sourced game cooked over open flames. This sumptuous restaurant sits adjacent to the Hotel Indigo and makes for a wonderful overnight stay and dining combo. Alternatively, Hypha situated on the city walls, is a Green Michelin Star Awarded vegan restaurant causing quite a stir on the Chester dining scene. Ensure to book ahead for both restaurants.

If informal, chic, and stylish suits and you are hitting the town with the girls, then you have so much choice!

Start your evening at the pink and fabulous Boujee Chester for pre-dinner drinks and photo opportunities. Move onto the adjacent Artezzan Restaurant, Piccolinos or Opera Bar & Grill for sophisticated dining before finishing your evening, drinking cocktails at the pretty Popcorn Bar. For those party animals among us, cross the road to All Bar One and Cruise nightclub, where you can dance the night away.

Saturday Morning

Depending on how your evening escalated, you may be nursing a sore head and in need of copious amounts of caffeine!

Not to worry, Chester is awash with coffee and brunch options. Flower Cup on the upper level of Watergate Street is a must, sit back and relax before tucking into everything from a traditional fry-up to a French Toast special. Close by, Chalk Coffee and Panna Coffee both serve up excellent coffee and pastries. Jaunty Goat is another Chester institution; stop at either their flagship or vegan bakery stores, located on Bridge Street and Northgate Street respectively, for amazing coffee and bakes. If you are travelling with a larger group, then Carluccios, Cote Brasserie, and Slug and Lettuce will happily cater.

After a refuel, it is time to shop till you drop. Chester boasts many popular high street chain stores including Zara, Primark, and The White Company along with plenty of smaller independents. The distinctive Chester Rows, half-timbered double-decker walkways, are unique to the city and provide cover from the rain. Make sure to walk along them where you will find a multitude of delightful clothing, gift, jewellery, and homeware boutiques. A visit to Suzie Ks Secret Garden is a real treat; filled with alternative trinkets and treasures, there is also a hidden courtyard cafe offering a space to sit and take five.

For more information on shopping along the Chester Rows, click the link below to read my latest blog for Visit Chester & Cheshire.

A 15-20 minute drive outside of Chester, adjacent to the M56/M53 junction at Ellesmere Port, Cheshire Oaks McArthur Glen Designer Village is a shopper’s paradise. Featuring over 140 designer outlets, restaurants, and cafes, Cheshire Oaks is the place to head for a high-end bargain. Be sure to time your visit with lunch at Mowgli, a stunning fairy-lit Indian fusion restaurant that will leave you begging for more.

Saturday Afternoon

Afternoon Tea should be top of the list when spending 48 hours in Chester. Whether you are seeking a high-end dining experience or a more traditional affair, Chester is brimming with choice. Here are my recommendations for Afternoon Tea in and around Chester and Cheshire:

– Chester Grosvenor
– Grosvenor Pulford (approx 10-15 mins drive outside of Chester)
– Palm
– Oddfellows Hotel
– The Oakfield at Chester Zoo (approx 15-20 mins drive outside of Chester)
– The Townhouse Hotel, Secret Garden
– Zugers of Chester
– Carden Park Hotel (approx 30 mins drive outside of Chester)
– Peckforton Castle (approx. 20-30 mins drive outside Chester)

There is the chance to combine Afternoon Tea with spa treatments at several of Chester’s beautiful hotels including the Chester Grosvenor, Carden Park, and the Grosvenor Pulford. While Afternoon Tea at Chester Zoo allows the unique opportunity to spend the day discovering its 500 species and beautifully landscaped grounds, located just a short 10-minute drive outside the centre.

Top tip – if you haven’t got time for a full afternoon tea, then I recommend you make a stop at the Doughnut Whisperer on Rufus Court, for a Vegan doughnut of dreams!

Another fantastic way to explore the city, in unique fashion, is by taking a foodie, cycling or double-decker bus tour. Alternatively, the Roman walking and Haunted Chester tours both give you a real insight into the city’s spooky and historical past – these can be booked at the Tourist Information Centre situated next to the Town Hall, and opposite the imposing Cathedral.

Saturday Evening

After a busy day shopping and discovering Chester, start your evening slow and steady with pre-dinner drinks at Bar Lounge, Vin Santo, Watergate Bar, or Liquor & Co, all situated on Watergate Street.

For a relaxed dining experience; Carbonara 49, Ruan Orchid, La Fattoria, The Botanist, The Green House, and Duttons all serve excellent food in beautiful surroundings.

For larger groups seeking more theatre; Hickory’s on the river, the Olive Tree Brasserie, and Miller & Carter all offer more space and a warm welcome. After dinner, move to Commonhall Social, featuring chilled indoor and outdoor areas to enjoy drinks long into the evening.

Sunday Morning

Your final morning spent in Chester deserves delicious pancakes at Hanky Panky before time spent ticking off a few more of the city’s famous sites.

View the Roman Amphitheatre and Roman Gardens before heading into Grosvenor Park, the ideal place to finish your 48 hours in Chester. With stunning elevated views across to the River Dee and Chester Meadows, walk down to the riverfront and across the suspension bridge to Handbridge. If time allows, jump on a River Cruise or consider hiring a rowing boat, pedalo, or motorboat to explore the water at your own pace.

If the weather is not on your side, The Storyhouse is a peaceful spot to enjoy time spent reading, visiting the cinema, or drinking coffee. This cool and airy space has been created by converting an old cinema hall and now features quirky artwork, a library, a cafe, together with a boutique cinema and theatre space. If you are a fan of the Arts, be sure to check out the listings for performances at both The Storyhouse and the open-air theatre that takes place through the summer months in Grosvenor Park.

Sunday Afternoon

A Sunday roast is the best way to finish your 48 hours in Chester and great options within the city include the White Horse and The Architect pubs, both overlooking Chester Racecourse.

Famous as the oldest horse racing course in the world, Chester’s racing season runs from May to September with Ladies Day events being a popular hen do attraction. Make sure to check the race calendar as this can affect the price of hotels and how busy Chester is as a whole. My advice would be to avoid the city centre during race days unless you are happy to join the crowds and immerse yourself in the party atmosphere!

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Jenny
December 28, 2021
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