I like to walk fast, and woe betide the stragglers who dawdle along the footpaths when I’m on a mission. But if you are of the dawdling ilk, you can sluggishly stroll from the train station to Chester Cathedral in 20 minutes. And you’ll reach the racecourse from the Roman Amphitheatre in about 15. My point is: Chester is compact. You won’t need to be hopping on and off public transport to see the main sights. In fact the majority of the buses you’ll see are emblazoned with the bright City Sightseeing colours, or the cute open-top heritage bus that chugs around the sights.
But if you’re staying out on Hoole Road and don’t want to walk, or if you fancy visiting Chester Zoo, then read on to find out how.
You won’t want anything more than tour buses to ship you around the city centre. Not only is it small, it’s also fairly flat.
I have recommended a number of hotels in Hoole Road, which, while not a long walk away, can justify the cost of a bus ticket if you’ve been on your feet sightseeing or shopping all day.
Goodness only knows why the bus station is called a bus exchange but you’ll find it in Princess Street, off Northgate Street. The number 53 service takes you to Hoole Road.
Unearth the archaeology and hear about the city’s history aboard the open-top heritage bus. The tours last 30 minutes and costs £6.50 for adults and £3.50 for kids. You can pay on board. It usually runs between 10am and 3pm every 45 minutes from Vicar’s Lane, but check www.chesterheritagetours.co.uk for seasonal variations.
City Sightseeing (www.city-sightseeing.com) operates a hop-on, hop-off service for £8.50 or £3.50 for kids. If you don’t hop off, the tour will take an hour. It runs every fifteen minutes in peak tourist time (May 24 – Aug 31; every 20 minutes between end March and end October) from a variety of stops. See tour boats below for information about combined tickets.
I can recommend King Kabs in Bridge Street. Telephone 01244 311551 or pop into the office, there’s usually a car waiting to whisk you to your destination.
The zoo is a ten-minute drive from the city if you have a vehicle at your disposal. If not, you can get the bus or let the train take the strain.
Bus: Get the number 1 bus at the Princess Street exchange. It runs every 20 minutes Monday - Saturday during the daytime and hourly on a Sunday.
Train: There are two options here. Get the train to Bache station, though you’ll still need to catch the number 1 bus from Chester city centre. Or, if you’ve got train tickets to/from Chester, or are staying in a nearby hotel, there’s a free tiger bus (you can’t miss the vehicle in animal print). It runs from Chester’s main train station in summer (May-Sept) every thirty minutes from 9.45am.
For me, especially in the summer, life in Chester is about the river. Take a leisurely tour with ChesterBoat (www.chesterboat.co.uk) and see the city from the water. From a half hour jaunt costing £6.50, to a two-hour outing to see the estate of the Duke and Duchess of Westminster (£14), this is a great way to get a new angle on Chester. You can also get a combined ticket with the City Sightseeing bus and save a few quid. Make sure you ask when you buy your ticket onboard the bus or boat.
Getting to the city
For information on getting to Chester from the airports in Manchester and Liverpool, see Chester flights.