A Budget Guide to Chester
Chester UK : a Budget Travel Guide
Chester is a sophisticated and historical city in the North West of England, close to the major comopolitan hub of Manchester and packed with exciting attractions. Known for its pretty black and white half-timbered buildings and Roman heritage, it is a wonderful place to visit at any time of the year.
Cheshire is a fantastic place to go for either a weekend break or a longer stay, but if you make the mistake of failing to plan your holiday properly in advance, you could end up spending more than necessary.
Here, we bring you a helpful budget travel guide to help you get more out of your break in Chester, and to help you to maximise your finances while staying in Cheshire.
How To Get There
For many people, taking their own car is the cheapest way to get to Chester. Those who don’t have too far to drive will enjoy the luxury of having the complete freedom to explore at will in the beautiful local area, and the added bonus of being able to save on the cost of public transport during your stay.
Many of the B&Bs, self-catering properties and hotels in the local area boast free parking, so if there are several of you travelling together, driving yourself could well be the easiest and cheapest way to make your journey.
If you don’t have a car or don’t want the hassle of driving in an unfamiliar area, you could always use the train to get to Chester. Arriva, Virgin and Merseyrail trains stop here, but if you are planning on making your journey using this mode of transport making reservations in advance is the best way to ensure a saving.
If you book online 12 weeks before the date you wish to depart you stand the best chance of securing the lowest possible fare. You can save even more if you use one of the many railcards which can be purchased and which give you a significant discount on the cost of a full price fare. There are Senior, Family and Young Person cards available which all help you to save a little more when travelling to Cheshire.
Probably the cheapest mode of transport of all is to use a coach service, and of these, Megabus is the lowest price, offering single fares for under £10 as long as you book in advance.
Getting Around Chester On A Budget
Chester is a fairly small city which is compact enough to travel around on foot. If you have booked accommodation in the city centre and intend to only visit centrally located attractions during your visit, you can save a lot of money on getting around by simply walking from place to place.
However, if you are staying somewhere further afield or are planning on seeing some of the more distantly located attractions in the wider Cheshire area, you could save money on public transport fares by buying a Chester PLUSBUS pas. This unlimited ticket allows you to travel as many times as you like all day long on any of the applicable services in the wider Chester area. The price of a daily ticket is just £2.50 for adults or £1.25 for children, and if you have a valid railcard you can save even more, with a day ticket costing just £1.65.
There is also a weekly pass available at the cost of £10 which gives you 7 days of unlimited travel for one affordable price.
What To Look For In A Cheap Stay In Chester
Finding somewhere cheap to stay in Chester needn’t be too difficult if you do your research in advance. Both Premier Inn and Travelodge, two of the biggest and best known budget hotel chains, have properties each which offer affordably priced rooms suited to families. This no-frills accommodation is centrally located and represents excellent value.
If you would prefer a more traditional B&B, you’ll be spoiled for choice in Chester. The Limes, on the outskirts of the city, offers pleasant rooms from just £40 per night, while the Sycamore House Bed and Breakfast enjoys a central location and offers rooms starting at £41.
Solo travellers or those who aren’t bothered about sharing will appreciate the affordable option offered by one of the city’s hostels or bunkhouses. The Chester Backpackers’ Hostel offers a clean bed for the night from just £22, and guests are free to use the self-catering facilities. There is also a laundry which can be used for just £4 extra.
If you enjoy sleeping under the stars, there are plenty of affordable campsites in the Chester area, such as the Chester Lakes site which is just 4 miles outside the centre. Set in beautiful wooded countryside, this is a gorgeous place to pitch a tent and costs from just £10 per night.
Low Cost Attractions And Culture
Chester is a historical and fascinating city, which is wonderful to simply wander around, enjoying the lovely architecture. However to get the most out of your visit you are bound to want to explore some of the popular local attractions. The good news, if you’re on a budget, is that many of the best places to visit in Chester are cheap or even free to enter.
Entrance to Chester Cathedral is free and you can take a guided tour around the ground floor and tower to explore the historic building more fully.
Caldy Valley Nature Park
Keen walkers are sure to enjoy a visit to the Caldy Valley Nature Park which charges no entry fee and which allows young and old alike to explore the beautiful meadows and wetlands close to the city.
The city itself is home to the Grosvenor Museum which also offers free entry. Here you can view the Roman gallery, get a greater insight into the history of Chester, view world class artworks, see an impressive array of Chester silver and find out more about natural history in the area. There are also visiting temporary displays to enjoy.
Cheshire Military Museum
Although the Cheshire Military Museum is not free of charge, a family tickets costs just £9, making this an affordable day out for everyone. Here, you can learn about soldiers’ life in the city from Roman times until the present.
Free Walking Tour
History buffs are sure to enjoy taking a free walking tour around the city centre which is led by an experienced and knowledgeable local guide. Each 80 minute walk gives visitors the opportunity to discover all of Chester’s best sights and to gain a deeper insight into happenings in the city over the years.
If you are an English Heritage member, you’ll be pleased to learn that there are several attractions near the city which are included in your subscription price. Visit Chester Castle along with the city walls and Agricola Tower which date back to the 12th century and which feature impressive ancient wall paintings, or explore the biggest Roman amphitheatre in Britain.
If you are a member of the National Trust there are a number of properties in Cheshire that you can visit that are included in the price of your membership. Quarry Bank was once a mill and is now a fascinating and informative attraction, while Dunham Massey, a stunning stately home, offers visitors sumptuous interiors, historic stables and glorious parklands to explore as well as fun-filled activities for all the family to enjoy.
Eating and Drinking On A Budget
Food and drink can easily take up a large proportion of your travel budget, so finding a way to save on this element of your trip is very important. Luckily, there are several ways in which you can make a saving on eating and drinking in Chester.
Probably the easiest way to slash your food budget is to book a self-catering property as then you will have access to your own kitchen and cooking facilities so that you can prepare your own meals at a fraction of the cost of eating out. However, if you have booked B&B or hotel accommodation, you can still find affordable places to eat in the area.
Chester has many local pubs which offer cost-effective pub meals including two branches of the popular J D Wetherspoons chain which are well known for offering low priced food for families.
Chester also has its fair share of famous chain restaurants, and you can often secure excellent savings at these venues if you check discount coupon websites like Vouchercloud. This is especially the case if you are travelling midweek, and you can often get up to 50% off the cost of a regular meal.
One other option you could consider is registering with the Chester district Groupon site. You can often find great deals on local independent eateries that are not only great value for money but that also give you the opportunity to try a bit of the local flavour.