Chester is a compact and pretty city on the River Dee in the northwest of England, about 40 minutes drive from Liverpool and an hour from Manchester. Chester’s western edge shares the border between England and Wales, meaning that the Flintshire Coast is also not far away.
Chester is a great place to visit to learn about England’s Roman heritage. The city was founded in 79 CE – the same year that Pompeii was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius – as a Roman Fort called Deva Victrix. In the millennia since, these impressive defences have been subsequently put to good use by both Anglo-Saxon and Norman rulers.
Despite the canals and railways of the Industrial Revolution bringing expansion to the area in the last few hundred years, Chester has retained virtually all of its historical charm: tourism and the service industry remain central to the local economy, meaning that you and your four-legged friend are bound to be met with a warm welcome.
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Dog Friendly Chester Must Sees
Chester’s Amphitheatre was the biggest in Roman Britain: today, the extensive and impressive ruins are managed by English Heritage. While your dog may not be especially interested in the historical element of the site, they are sure to enjoy having a nose around the area. Situated in a particularly attractive part of the city, the River Dee, the Roman Gardens and Grosvenor Park are all nearby.
Chester Castle and Agricola Tower
Originally built in 1070 and replaced with a fully-stone structure in the 12th Century, Chester Castle played a major part in medieval British life. King Richard II was imprisoned in the Agricola Tower following his deposition as monarch by his cousin Henry Bolingbroke (later King Henry IV) in 1199. He would prove to be just the first of a string of high-profile prisoners at Chester in the Wars of the Roses that followed.
Rebuilt in impressively ornate Ancient Greek-inspired Neoclassical style during the 18th and 19th Centuries to serve as both a prison and a courthouse, today Chester Castle serves as a military museum as well as an historical site. Although dogs are not allowed inside any of the buildings, they are permitted to explore the grounds and it is a good idea to do so: the site stands on both Chester’s riverside and City Wall walks.
Eastgate Clock and The Rows
One of Chester’s most notable modern landmarks is the Eastgate Clock, which stands in the city centre overlooking The Rows, the city’s most celebrated shopping district. When you visit Chester with a dog, it is well-worth taking your furry friend for a nose around the central shopping area: Chester is extremely dog-friendly and you will find an unusually high number of stores allow dogs inside.
Take a Chesterboats Tour
With Chester being so picturesque and historic, a fantastic way to get to know the place a little bit better is by taking a boat trip along the River Dee. Chesterboats, based at Souter Lane in The Groves, operate a variety of cruises – ranging from half an hour to two hours in duration – as well as sightseeing trips and party boats. Best of all, dogs go free.
King Charles Tower and the City Walls
Also known as The Phoenix Tower or Newton Tower, the King Charles Tower was built around the 13th Century. It gets its modern name from the English Civil War, when King Charles I is said to have watched his troops in battle here during the Siege of Chester in 1645.
Sadly, as with the majority of Britain’s historical attractions, dogs are not permitted inside the tower. However, the area is still well worth a visit: the site is set in a large area of parkland where your dog can enjoy running on the grass and sniffing around the trees. It is also a great place to begin your exploration of the City Walls, an ancient Roman fortification that still encircles the centre of Chester, a place where four-legged friends are allowed.
The Best Dog Friendly Walks in Chester
Where better to exercise a dog than at the world’s oldest horse racing venue? It goes without saying that there are some limits to this recommendation: dogs are, obviously enough, not permitted on the racecourse itself or to be allowed off their lead during days where there are race meetings.
However, the central reservation of the horse racing course, located just to the west of the castle on a bend in the River Dee, is a fantastic area of open space for dogs to scuttle and dart about for the remainder of the year.
The Roman Walls
Built in the 1st Century, this remarkable two mile circuit of Roman Walls still demarcates the centre of the city. Naturally, the general upkeep of these ancient walls remains both something of a problem and a priority for Chester city council, so it’s always a good idea to have your dog’s lead handy and to be ready to take an alternative route along the way.
Grosvenor Park and The Groves
Grosvenor Park is the crowning jewel of Chester city centre, a 20 acre Victorian park surrounded by ancient Roman ruins to its north and west and overlooking the River Dee and the city walls to its south.
The park today includes open and wooded areas, plus several fine examples of the red sandstone and black-on-white Tudor-style architecture which is particularly characteristic of the area. There is even a miniature railway, on which dogs are permitted to travel.
In the southern portion of the park you will find The Groves, a particularly beautiful area of riverside paths and boardwalks which is served by a number of cafes, bars and pubs.
Countess of Chester Country Park
A glorious and varied modern country park, The Countess of Chester Country Park was built on a 47 acre site previously used for landfill and opened by the Queen Consort in her then-role as Duchess of Cornwall in 2014. It is situated about a mile and a half north of the city centre.
You and your dog will find areas of open grassland and a wetland reserve, as well as a series of canalside paths and a forested area where bereaved people are invited to plant a tree in memory of their loved ones.
Set on 29 acres of land originally given to the people of Chester almost 1000 years ago, Chester Meadows is a large area of grassland and wetland situated on a bend in the River Dee just to the south of the walled city. It is the largest area of open green space and parkland in central Chester and home to the city’s Sailing and Canoeing Club.
Happy Tails Dog Park, Ledsham
Located in Ledsham, about 6 miles to the northwest of Chester, your dog will be very glad you made the effort to take the trip to Happy Tails. A dedicated dog park, Happy Tails is completely fenced off meaning that your four-legged friend can play to their heart’s content without you needing to worry about them. Happy Tails also hosts countless doggy days out, such as dog agility courses, breed-specific meet-ups and socialisation days.
Dog-friendly Cafés and Restaurants in Chester
Cafe at the Walls
13 Bridge Place, CH1 1SA
If location, location, location really is everything, Chester’s Cafe at the Walls is particularly blessed: situated overlooking a bridge on the river, it is more or less equidistant from Chester Castle and Grosvenor Park. Still, it hasn’t neglected its other duties, remaining one of the city’s top rated places for a cooked breakfast, tasty lunch or tea and cake.
The Flower Cup
61 Watergate Street, CH1 2LE
An independent coffee shop located in the city centre, not far east of Chester Racecourse, The Flower Cup specialise in hot drinks and their all-day brunch, served up in friendly – and decidedly floral – surroundings. If you are lucky, they may even have a pop-up florists or plant sale.
Hanky Panky Pancakes
20 Commonhall Place, CH1 2BJ
Situated at the heart of the city centre, Hanky Panky unsurprisingly specialises in pancakes. However, what they have to offer is a little more colourful and varied than that: in addition to numerous vegan and gluten-free alternatives, there are also ice cream sundaes, hot drinks and cocktails on the menu.
The Jaunty Goat
57 Bridge Street, CH1 1NG
128 Northgate Street, CH1 2HT
A specialist coffee house and roasters, The Jaunty Goat also offers a variety of fresh baked goods and brunch favourites. Their original location at the heart of the city centre has just been joined by a second – entirely vegan – cafe, near to King Charles’ Tower by the City Walls.
Zugers of Chester
2 St. John Street, CH1 1DA
Situated a stone’s throw from the Roman Amphitheatre, Zugers is a Swiss-run family coffee shop which specialises in all-day breakfast, brunch and lunch, in addition to freshly baked cakes, afternoon tea and cocktails.
11 City Walls, CH1 1LD
A cafe bar situated near Chester Cathedral, Huxley’s specialise in artisanal food and drink. Specialities include a local beer made by Britain’s only chemical-free brewery as well as a variety of sweet treats. Your dog needn’t feel left out: Huxley’s has doggy ice cream on the menu.
The Steam Mill, Steam Mill Street, CH3 5AN
A bistro and bar set in an old mill, not far from Chester railway station. Artichoke are particularly known for their craft beer and menu of Mediterranean food, with both small plates and fresh pizza particular specialities. They also do a roast on Sundays.
32 Bridge Street, CH1 1NQ
An Italian-style pizzeria and meeting place which is, appropriately enough, near the Roman Amphitheatre. A rustic and friendly restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating, Urbano has a menu packed with Italian favourites as well as beers and cocktails.
Dog Friendly Pubs in Chester
Commonhall Street Social
10 Commonhall Street, CH1 2BJ
A social hub at the centre of the city, near the Deva Roman Discovery Centre. Commonhall Social offers a variety of sandwiches and sharing platters in addition to their drink menu, which can even be enjoyed on a sun terrace.
54 St. Nicholas Street, CH1 2NX
A classic British pub set inside an old Georgian building right next to Chester Racecourse. Expect an impressive menu of real ales and craft beers, in addition to hearty pub grub classics.
The Ship Inn
18 Handbridge, CH4 7JE
Just the other side of the bridge from the walled city, The Ship offers drinks and a menu of gourmet burgers served in their attractive, light and airy riverside location.
21 The Groves, CH1 1SD
Scenically located in The Groves, sandwiched in between Grosvenor Park and the River Dee, The Boathouse is a traditional, family-orientated pub and restaurant in one of the city’s most desirable areas.
The Cross Keys Inn
2 Duke Street, CH1 1RP
An attractive, traditional, wood-panelled pub with stained glass windows not far west of Grosvenor Park, The Cross Keys offer real ale and classic pub grub.
The Bear and Billet
94 Lower Bridge Street, CH1 1RU
A classic half-timbered red brick building not far from Grosvenor Park, The Bear and Billet is one of the oldest pubs in the city. They offer real ale and home-cooked food.
26 Watergate Street, CH1 2LA
Situated near to the Eastgate Clock, not far from Chester Cathedral, Beer Heroes is a modern tap room and bottle shop that seeks to celebrate beer in all its forms. As well as tasting evenings and food pairings, there are also opportunities to buy bottles of your favourite brew to take home with you.
Dog Friendly Shops in Chester
5-7 Watergate Street, CH1 2LE
A Turkish shop and restaurant right next to the Eastgate Clock in the city centre. The food comes particularly highly recommended, with plenty of vegan and gluten-free options available on the menu.
Watergate Street Gallery
60-62 Watergate Street, CH1 2LA
The home of modern and contemporary art in Chester, Watergate’s philosophy is to try and make art accessible and affordable for as many people as possible. Whether or not this extends to dogs is unclear, but our four-legged friends are welcome to come along and browse.
Weasel and the Bug
19 Watergate Street, CH1 2LB
Located not far from the Eastgate Clock, Weasel and the Bug are an independent and environmentally-minded toy store, specialising in traditional toys made using ethical and sustainable methods.
Mollie’s Traditional Sweet Shop
33 Northgate Street, CH1 2HQ
Situated next to Chester Cathedral, Mollie’s combines the best in nostalgia-inducing traditional British sweets with chocolates and imported American candy.
Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet
Kinsey Road, Ellesmere Port, CH65 9JJ
Britain’s largest indoor outlet centre can be found near Ellesmere Port, a town about 6 miles to the north of Chester. Cheshire Oaks is decidedly dog-friendly with the majority of its stores allowing our furry friends to come inside.
Dog-friendly Chester: Where to Stay
If you’re looking to stay in a dog friendly hotel in Chester, here’s our recommendations:
The Queen at Chester
52 City Road, CH1 3AH
Located right next to the central railway station, The Queen at Chester allows dogs to stay at their grand four-star hotel for free. Your four-legged friend will also receive a welcome pack upon your arrival.
Chester Station Hotel
63 City Road, CH1 3AF
A three-star hotel near Chester Station, dogs stay for free at the Chester Station Hotel. The hotel is operated by the same company as the Queen at Chester Hotel and all guests – human or canine – are welcome to dine at their restaurant.
Rowton Hall Hotel & Spa
Rowton Lane, CH3 6AD
Located about 4 miles to the east of Chester city centre, Rowton Hall is a four-star hotel and spa is set in immaculately groomed Cheshire countryside. Dogs stay for free and receive a welcome pack on arrival.
The Hotel, Chester
19 Newgate Street, CH1 1DE
An apartment hotel based in the city centre, The Hotel offers 16 individually themed and spotlessly-maintained apartments. Dogs – or virtually any other family pets for that matter – are welcome to stay as well, for a fee of £30 per night.
The White Horse Inn
Main Street, Great Barrow, CH3 7HX
A three-star pub and inn in the village of Great Barrow, located about 6 miles to the east of the city centre. The White Horse allows up to two doggy guests to stay for a fee of £6 per dog per night.
Canal Side, CH3 5BS
A four-star hotel in a contemporary style on the banks of the Shropshire Union Canal, a few minutes walk from the city centre. Moxy allows up to two dogs to stay with guests.
Private lets and cottages
Normally we recommend you check the listings for private lets and holiday cottages, with the caveat that it will probably entail staying a little way outside of the city. Chester bucks this trend, with many apartments and houses available to rent within the city walls. This is no doubt due to the double influence of tourism and horse racing, but it is good for everyone!