Great accessible UK weekend breaks: Chester
14th June 2023
For people with mobility restrictions, the difference between being able to visit a city and not generally comes down to small details. For example, a step to a restaurant, no ramp, a kerb that hasn’t been flattened, and no mobility aids like a stairlift can make things difficult for people with limited mobility. Chester, however, has previously been named Europe’s most accessible city, which made it the first British city to receive the coveted award.
Talking about the city, a spokesperson for Visit Chester says: “Its bewitching beauty and unique atmosphere make the city one of Britain's most popular places for an unforgettable short break.
“The ancient city is a truly breathtaking experience. Each chapter of Chester's history is etched into the very fabric of the city. Well, you are walking where Roman Legionnaires marched to war, Viking raiders wreaked havoc, and Norman invaders conquered Anglo-Saxons.
“Chester has the most complete city walls, the oldest racecourse and the largest Roman Amphitheatre in Britain, plus a 1000-year-old cathedral with Europe's finest example of medieval carvings - and of course the one and only 700-year-old Rows galleries where shopping is a double delight.
“You'll find stores galore offering the hottest fashion in Chester, all set against a background of unique treasures of antiquity and a vibrant café culture where outdoor dining and people watching go hand in hand.”
Best accessible attractions in Chester that you can visit
There are lots of attractions in Chester that you can visit, and here are some of the most accessible attractions visitors can’t miss during a visit to the city.
Chester Zoo is a must-visit, and it is the most-visited UK attraction outside London and is home to more than 7,000 animals in acres of glorious gardens.
Some of the animals visitors can see include Sumatran tigers, Asiatic lions, jaguars, North African cheetahs, elephants, giraffes, black rhinos, zebras, chimpanzees, orangutans, sun bears, crocodiles, snakes and lizards, to name just a few.
Chester Zoo has wheelchair access and is renowned for its accessibility. Free entry is offered to carers for visitors with mobility problems, free disabled parking, accessible pathways, accessible toilets and wheelchair and electric scooter hire.
You read the full Chester Zoo accessibility statement here.
ALSO READ: Grandparents' guide to Chester Zoo
Blue Planet Aquarium
The Blue Planet Aquarium is the perfect place to visit, especially if you are with children. The aquarium boasts one of the best collections of Sharks, Fish, Frogs, Spiders and Dalmatian Pelicans in the UK.
You can also watch daily feed shows as the aquarium’s dive team feed the fish in front of the sharks at the Aquatheatre window. Attending these feed shows or walking through the 70-metre-long underwater tunnel will give you an up-close view of the fish and the Sand Tiger, nurse, zebra and the Black Tip sharks.
The Blue Planet Aquarium in Chester is accessible to wheelchair users and visitors with mobility problems as there are dedicated accessible parking, lift access to each floor, ramps throughout the attraction, accessible toilets throughout the building, and wheelchair hire (£10 returnable deposit). Find out more about the disabled access to Blue Planet Aquarium in Chester here.
ALSO READ: Accessible weekend breaks across the UK
Chester Cathedral is many things to different people: an ancient abbey, a cultural hub and a unique blend of medieval and modern history. Visitors travel from all over the world to see the cathedral, which was founded as a Benedictine abbey in 1092. The cathedral is home to the most complete set of monastic buildings in the country and a Georgian square.
There is a gift shop to pick up some unique souvenirs, and there is also a falconry and nature gardens where people can meet and greet birds of prey. There is also a display where Chester Cathedral is being recreated, brick-by-brick using LEGO® pieces, and over 271,000 LEGO® bricks are expected to be used! This project is currently in the process of being built and visitors are welcome to come along to see the progress of the model.
Chester Cathedral has disabled access, with level access into the venue. Once inside, visitors with mobility problems will be able to use ramps to navigate up and down the stairs. There are also accessible toilets available to wheelchair users or those who struggle to sit down and stand up on their own.
Chester City Walls
Arguably Chester’s most famous attraction is its city walls. The walls are the most complete Roman, Saxon and medieval walls in the UK, but despite their age, the accessibility for disabled visitors is great.
With ramped or level access, visitors with mobility problems can still access this iconic attraction. In addition, blue Badge holders can park for free for up to four hours, making it even easier for visitors to walk to the walls.
Along the walls, you will be able to get some great views of the city’s most famous sights and historic places, such as the River Dee and the Clwydian Hills, in the distance. As well as the great views, visitors will be able to learn about the rich history of Chester and its famous walls. From the Romans building the walls to defend their fortress of Deva to their extension in the Middle Ages down to the river.
If the weather is nice, visitors will get some stunning views, and it might be worth heading here in the morning to avoid the crowds.
Best restaurants in Chester
Chester is a dream destination for foodies. Here are the best and most accessible eateries in the city that people should feast their eyes on.
Stuffed courgette flower, pine nuts, lovage, sheep’s yoghurt. Making the most of the seasons produce.— The Chester Grosvenor (@TheGrosvenor) August 11, 2022
To make a reservation book online here https://t.co/26hm9Rve81#arkle #arklechester #chester #chesterdining #tastingmenu #veggie pic.twitter.com/bmffEC055r
Chester is home to some fantastic restaurants, and the Arkle Restaurant at the Chester Grosvenor is one of the best. The award-winning eatery currently holds 3AA Rosette status, and visitors to this restaurant can enjoy wines from around the world. The menus at Arkle are continually changing, with new dishes showcasing the best fresh produce of the season.
The restaurant is accessible with level access on offer to diners and sufficient wheelchair access to tables. The hotel will also allow visitors to hire mobility aids, but this will need to be arranged in advance.
Porta Tapas Bar
The Porta Tapas Bar is nestled against the famous city walls on Northgate Street and is the perfect location for visitors who are in the city centre.
Open every day except Mondays; it is a great place to visit for lunch or dinner. From Grilled wild Atlantic prawns with ajillo dressing to Roasted chicken wings, there are so many different types of foods you can try.
Being so close to the city centre means visitors with mobility problems can go and see the city walls or go shopping and then head here for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
The Yard Restaurant
This family-owned Italian restaurant is also ideally located in the centre of Chester. With a chef who worked for Gordon Ramsey, you can be safe knowing you will enjoy some amazing food.
The Yard Restaurant serves fine Italian cuisine with a tasty modern slant. Diners can enjoy Gnocchi Alla Arrabiata, Tagliatelle Alla Bolognese, Agnello Arrosto and steak of the week, or the popular Yard burger.
The eatery offers free off-street parking and is wheelchair accessible, meaning older people and others who struggle with their mobility can easily visit the restaurant without worrying about getting around.
Best accessible tours
Getting around the ancient city of Chester to see all the sights as part of a tour is easier than many people think, as there are lots of accessible tours available. Here are some of the best.
People looking for a slightly different tour can cruise along the River Dee with Chester Boat, which offers sightseeing tours and themed cruises.
Cruising along the River Dee is seen as one of the most relaxing activities you can do in Chester, and passengers can go on half-hour city cruises, afternoon tea cruises or go on private charters too. The tranquil half-hour cruises will take passengers upstream, under the suspension bridge, past Grosvenor Park and the Earl’s Eye to the rolling meadows.
Passengers with mobility problems can access the ships via wheelchair-accessible ramps, and staff can help guests down or up any steps on the ship. Most steps do have handrails for passengers who can walk but need support when walking, and the landings have been designed so there will be the smallest possible step to and from the vessel. The only ship that is not wheelchair accessible is ‘The Jackie’, although passengers can use a ramp to board.
Roman Tours in Chester
There are Roman Tours available, and these are city-wide and take in some of Chester’s top attractions. In addition, the tours provide educational outreach and insights into historical events that took place in and around the city.
The tours around Chester last approximately 90 minutes, and you will be taken on a journey through the remains of Roman Chester - Deva. Armed with the latest archaeological evidence, the expert guides will provide you with a unique insight into life as it was in Roman Britain, showing you some astounding sights ranging from the amphitheatre itself to remains hidden away in the basements of the high street shops.
These tours around Chester have been going since 1997, and the guides who take you on these walking tours are passionate about creating a unique experience to be noticed.
The tour can be adapted for visitors in a wheelchair or those who struggle to walk for a period of time.
Other activities in Chester
Go to the races
Even visitors who are not that interested in horse racing will appreciate watching a race at the famous Chester Racecourse. Here people can sample the thrill of watching top-class racing and, at the same time, enjoy great food and beverages at the different enclosures.
People with limited mobility shouldn’t be concerned about visiting as the venue is accessible. There is level access from the car park to the side of the racecourse, and there are lots of wheelchair bays for visitors heading here via car.
The different stands offer lifts to racegoers with mobility issues, and there are lots of accessible toilets available. So, cheer your favourite horse onto victory at the Chester Racecourse.
Watch a show at an open-air theatre
The Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre is one of the UK’s most-loved theatres, and the theatre usually opens at the start of July and closes towards the end of August.
Lots of top-quality shows are held here, and because it is located in Grosvenor Park in the heart of Chester, it means the theatre is just a short walk away.
Previous shows include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Alice in Wonderland, Romeo and Juliet and the Wind in the Willows.
There are accessible toilets and disabled parking on offer at nearby car parks for theatregoers, making the theatre accessible for people with mobility problems.
ALSO READ: The most accessible cities in the UK
If you need help staying independent at home, a stairlift might help. You can book a home visit today.
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This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.