things to do in leeds

Last Updated on: 18th June 2024, 07:37 am

Welcome to the ultimate guide to exploring the vibrant city of Leeds, England, UK. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned local, there’s always something new to discover in this bustling city. With a plethora of activities, attractions, and places to visit, Leeds offers an unforgettable experience for all visitors. In this guide, I’ll take you on a journey through the city’s top must-see tourist spots, historical landmarks, exciting leisure activities, and vibrant nightlife. So, let’s dive into the best things to do in Leeds, England, UK.

Things to do in Leeds

1. Discover Leeds’ Vibrant City Centre

Leeds’ town centre is an adventurer’s paradise with a range of activities to suit all tastes. Whether you’re looking for extreme retail therapy or some gentle sightseeing, the city centre has got you covered. As we explore Leeds’ vibrant city centre, we will cover the must-visit landmarks and hidden gems in this bustling hub.

Take a stroll in Millennium Square

Located in the heart of Leeds’ city centre, Millennium Square is a vibrant public space that hosts regular events throughout the year. From live music concerts to outdoor cinemas, there’s always something going on in this bustling square. In the winter months, the square transforms into a festive wonderland with an ice-skating rink and twinkling lights. It’s the perfect spot to soak up the city’s buzzing atmosphere.

Get your retail fix in Trinity Leeds

If shopping is your thing, Trinity Leeds shopping centre is a must-visit destination. Its stunning architecture houses over 100 shops and restaurants, making it the perfect place to indulge in some retail therapy or grab a bite to eat. With a mix of high-street brands and independent boutiques, there’s something for everyone here.

Discover Leeds Art Gallery

Leeds Art Gallery is a popular attraction for art enthusiasts looking to discover new artists. Opened in 1888, the gallery has an extensive collection of 20th-century British art, showcasing over 9,000 works across a variety of genres. Admission to the gallery is free, making it the perfect activity for those on a budget.

“Leeds’ city centre is a vibrant hub with a variety of attractions, shops, and restaurants.” – Me

As we’ve seen, Leeds’ town centre is packed with exciting things to do, from exploring picturesque squares to indulging in retail heaven. In the next section, we’ll delve deeper into Leeds’ historical attractions, perfect for those wanting to learn more about the city’s rich past.

2. Explore Leeds’ Historical Attractions

One of the most charming things about Leeds is its rich history. The city is home to many attractions that showcase its past. From the imposing Leeds Town Hall, with its magnificent Victorian architecture, to the fascinating Thackray Medical Museum, which tells the story of medicine from the 19th century to the present day, visitors are spoilt for choice

Kirkstall Abbey is one of the most iconic places to visit in Leeds. The ruined Cistercian monastery dates back to the 12th century and is a fascinating example of Gothic architecture.

If you’re interested in the lives of Leeds’ industrial workers in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Leeds Industrial Museum is a must. Housed in a former textile mill, the museum showcases Leeds’ industrial heritage, from wool spinning to locomotives.

Leeds historical attraction

Top Historical Attractions in Leeds

Name Description
Kirkstall Abbey A picturesque ruined Cistercian monastery from the 12th century with beautiful Gothic architecture
Leeds Industrial Museum A museum housed in a former textile mill, showcasing Leeds’ industrial heritage
Leeds Town Hall A magnificent Victorian building with an impressive clock tower, housing the offices of the Lord Mayor of Leeds and city council
Thackray Medical Museum A fascinating museum telling the history of medicine from the 19th century to the present day

These are just some of the top historical attractions in Leeds. Take your time to explore the city’s rich past and discover hidden gems along the way.

3. Immerse Yourself in Leeds’ Cultural Scene

Leeds has a thriving cultural scene, offering a range of art galleries, museums, and theaters. As a cultural enthusiast, I have explored the best cultural attractions in Leeds, where you can immerse yourself in the city’s creative spirit. The attractions in Leeds are not limited to a specific area, but scattered across the city. Here are my top picks:

Name Description
Leeds Art Gallery A must-visit for art lovers, this gallery features an impressive collection of 19th and 20th-century British art. Its wide range of temporary exhibitions means there is always something new to discover.
Royal Armouries Museum This museum showcases the history of arms and armaments, including exhibitions of ancient and modern weaponry from around the world.
The Carriageworks Theatre This theatre offers a diverse range of performances, from plays to dance and music shows. It’s a great place to catch a unique show and experience the local talent firsthand.

In addition to these attractions in Leeds, there are numerous festivals and events that celebrate the city’s cultural diversity. From Leeds International Film Festival to Leeds West Indian Carnival, there is always something exciting happening in the city.

That being said, if you are looking for a more low-key cultural experience, Leeds also offers many smaller galleries and independent theaters that are definitely worth visiting.

Overall, the cultural scene in Leeds is vibrant and diverse, offering something for everyone. Whether you are interested in art, history, or live performance, there is no shortage of attractions in Leeds to explore and discover.

4. Unwind in Leeds’ Parks and Green Spaces

After a hectic day of exploring the city, taking a break in one of Leeds’ idyllic parks or green spaces is the perfect way to unwind. With a diverse range of parks and gardens located throughout the city, there’s no shortage of nature to enjoy.

One of the most popular green spaces in Leeds is Roundhay Park, a vast expanse of greenery featuring lakes, woodlands, and gardens. The park also offers various activities, including boating, tennis, and golf.

If you’re looking for a quieter option, visit Golden Acre Park, a peaceful haven located just outside the city centre. The park features a lake, gardens, and scenic walking trails.

For those who enjoy a bit of history with their nature, visit Kirkstall Abbey, a ruined Cistercian monastery set amidst tranquil parkland. Located a short distance from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, Kirkstall Abbey is an excellent spot for a peaceful picnic.

Pro Tip: If you’re lucky, you may spot some of the resident peacocks roaming freely in the parks!

Leeds Parks and Green Spaces

The Best Parks and Green Spaces in Leeds:

Park Name Location Main Features
Roundhay Park Northeast Leeds Lakes, Woodlands, Gardens, Boating, Tennis, and Golf
Golden Acre Park Northwest Leeds Lake, gardens, walking trails
Kirkstall Abbey West Leeds Historic ruins, parkland, picnic spots
Harewood House North Leeds Stately home, gardens, bird garden, adventure playgrounds
Tropical World North Leeds Exotic plants, animals, and birds, butterfly house

Leeds’ parks and green spaces offer the perfect retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. Relax and recharge in nature, surrounded by stunning landscapes and abundant wildlife.

5. Shop ’til You Drop in Leeds’ Retail Paradise

Leeds is the ultimate shopping destination that offers the perfect retail therapy experience. From high-end designer stores to independent boutiques, retail in Leeds is a paradise for shopaholics.

If you’re looking for a retail experience like no other, Leeds won’t disappoint with its collection of shiny shopping centres and high streets. Start your shopping spree at the stunning Victoria Quarter, a Grade II listed arcade filled with luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Harvey Nichols and Vivienne Westwood. Discover something unique in the vintage shops of Call Lane, browse through the hipster stores in Merrion Market or experience shopping with amazing views at the Trinity Leeds Shopping Centre.

If you’re looking for more budget-friendly options, the city has a fantastic outdoor market scene, including the world’s largest covered market, Kirkgate Market. Here, you’ll find hundreds of stalls selling everything from fresh produce to designer clothing, jewellery, and cosmetics.

Retail locations Description
Victoria Quarter A beautiful Victorian arcade featuring high-end luxury brands.
Trinity Leeds Shopping Centre The city’s largest shopping centre with a wide variety of shops.
Merrion Market Funky independent shops and eateries.
Kirkgate Market A bustling indoor market offering a wide variety of goods.

Leeds’ retail paradise offers something for everyone, from designer boutiques to affordable markets. Don’t miss out on this unique shopping experience while you’re in the city.

6. Indulge in Leeds’ Food and Drink Scene

If you’re a foodie or simply enjoy trying new cuisines, you’re in for a treat in Leeds.

The city is home to an eclectic mix of restaurants, cafes, and bars that cater to all tastes and budgets. From trendy rooftop bars to cosy family-run bistros, Leeds’ culinary scene has something for everyone.

To get you started on your food adventure in Leeds, here are some must-visit establishments:

The Man Behind The Curtain

This stylish Michelin-starred restaurant, situated within an unassuming shopping centre, offers a unique dining experience. Chef Michael O’Hare’s innovative dishes are a feast for the senses, combining unusual ingredients and flavours to create dishes that look as good as they taste.

Bundobust

If you’re in the mood for Indian street food and craft beer, look no further than Bundobust. This vibrant eatery has a mouth-watering menu of vegetarian dishes, including their signature “Okra fries” and “Vada Pav” burger.

The Tetley

If you prefer a more laid-back atmosphere, The Tetley is a great choice. This contemporary art gallery and bar serves up pub classics with a modern twist, alongside a variety of local beers and craft brews.

But that’s not all – Leeds’ food and drink scene has plenty more to offer. Don’t miss out on the Leeds Kirkgate Market, one of the largest covered markets in Europe, which sells everything from fresh produce to artisanal cheeses and international foods. Or head to rooftop bar The Alchemist for a unique cocktail experience, complete with smoke and fire.

leeds food and drink

Whatever your tastes, Leeds’ food and drink scene promises to be a highlight of your trip to the city. Be sure to explore and indulge!

7. Experience Leeds’ Exciting Nightlife

Leeds is known for its lively nightlife, offering visitors a range of activities to enjoy after dark. Whether you prefer a glamorous cocktail bar or a pulsing nightclub, Leeds has plenty of options to choose from. Here are some top picks for things to do in Leeds city at night:

Visit the Legendary Call Lane

Call Lane is a hotbed of bars and clubs, playing different music styles to suit everyone’s taste. Explore the dazzling neon lights, buzzing crowds, and enticing drinks. Get lost in the party atmosphere and dance the night away to your favorite tunes.

Enjoy Live Music at Oporto

If you are a music lover, then Oporto is the perfect spot to spend your evening. This legendary music venue has hosted some of the UK’s best music acts. Admire the performances of upcoming artists and enjoy delicious drinks and snacks at the bar.

Get Your Groove on at Hi-Fi Club

Experience the true essence of Leeds’ nightlife by stopping by at Hi-Fi Club. With its soul, jazz, funk, and hip hop tunes, you will be tapping your feet to the beats in no time. The club offers DJs, live music, and delicious drinks that will keep you entertained all night long.

Sip Cocktails at The Alchemist

The Alchemist is a glamorous cocktail bar on Greek Street, offering a wide selection of expertly crafted cocktails. With its sleek d├ęcor and chic vibes, The Alchemist will make you feel like you are in a luxury hotel lounge.

Indulge in Late-night Grub at Viva Cuba

If you’re looking for delicious food options at night, then head over to Viva Cuba in central Leeds. This vibrant restaurant offers authentic Cuban cuisine, refreshing drinks, and an electrifying ambiance that will set the perfect end to your night out.

8. Attend Spectacular Events in Leeds

Leeds is known for its dynamic calendar of events throughout the year. From music festivals to cultural celebrations, there’s always something worth attending. Make sure to check the schedule of events when planning your visit to Leeds, so you don’t miss out on any of the city’s vibrant happenings.

Must-Attend Events in Leeds

  • Leeds Festival – This world-renowned music festival takes place annually over the August Bank Holiday weekend. With top musicians from around the globe, Leeds Festival is a must-attend event for music lovers.
  • Leeds International Film Festival – A celebration of cinema, the Leeds International Film Festival takes place over two weeks every November, showcasing the best in contemporary and classic film from around the world.
  • Leeds West Indian Carnival – With over 50 years of history, the Leeds West Indian Carnival is a colorful celebration of Caribbean culture. The vibrant parade and live music make it a must-attend event.

These are just a few examples of the many events that take place in Leeds throughout the year. Keep an eye on the Leeds City Guide or Leeds Sightseeing websites for updates on upcoming events.

Leeds Festival

Attending a festival or cultural event is a great way to immerse yourself in the local community and experience the unique energy of Leeds.

9. Discover Hidden Gems in Leeds

If you’re someone who loves exploring off-the-beaten-path places, then Leeds has a lot to offer you. In this section, I will take you through some of the most unique and lesser-known attractions and spots in Leeds that are sure to make your trip unforgettable.

The Tetley

The Tetley is a charming art and culture space in Leeds. It was once a brewery and has now been converted into a contemporary art gallery and a restaurant that serves delicious food. Take a guided tour of the modern galleries, enjoy a cup of coffee or lunch, and admire the views at the rooftop terrace.

Leeds Corn Exchange

The Leeds Corn Exchange is a stunning Victorian building that currently houses independent fashion and gift shops. It’s worth visiting just for the architecture and stained glass roof, but you’ll also find hidden gems such as artisanal candles, jewelry, and clothing.

Kirkstall Abbey

Kirkstall Abbey is a beautiful, ruined Cistercian monastery to the west of Leeds. The site is free to enter and offers an immersive experience of the medieval period. Take a guided tour, explore the beautiful gardens, and enjoy a picnic.

Tropical World

Tropical World is an indoor attraction at Roundhay Park, a public park to the north of Leeds city centre. Experience a variety of tropical habitats, including rainforest, aquarium, and desert, and get up close with exotic butterflies, crocodiles, meerkats, and more. It’s perfect for families and nature enthusiasts.

“Leeds is full of surprises. What seems ordinary and unremarkable at first glance often holds true treasures if you take the time to explore.”

So, if you’re looking for something different and exciting to do in Leeds, make sure you add these hidden gems to your list. You might just discover something extraordinary.

10. Get Active in Leeds’ Outdoor Recreation Areas

If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush or simply want to enjoy the great outdoors, Leeds has plenty to offer. From scenic hiking trails to thrilling water sports, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Hiking and Cycling

Leeds boasts a variety of scenic hiking and cycling trails, perfect for those who love to explore the great outdoors. The Leeds and Liverpool Canal is a popular destination for both hiking and cycling, with over 100 miles of scenic routes to discover. The Yorkshire Dales National Park is also within easy reach of Leeds and offers breathtaking views and challenging terrain for those looking for an adventure.

Water Sports

If water sports are more your style, Leeds has plenty to offer. The Yeadon Tarn is a popular destination for kayaking and sailing, while the Adel Dam Nature Reserve is a great spot for fishing. The Xscape complex in Castleford is also a must-visit, offering an array of exciting water sports, including wakeboarding and surfing.

Activity Location
Kayaking Yeadon Tarn
Sailing Yeadon Tarn
Fishing Adel Dam Nature Reserve
Wakeboarding Xscape, Castleford
Surfing Xscape, Castleford

No matter what your preferred outdoor activity, Leeds is the perfect destination for an adventure-packed day out.

Conclusion

Well, there you have it, folks. My guide to the best things to do in Leeds, England, UK. I hope this article has given you some inspiration for your next adventure in this vibrant city. Regardless of your interests, Leeds offers a variety of attractions and activities that will ensure you have a memorable trip.

From exploring the historical landmarks to indulging in the local food and drink scene, Leeds has something to offer for everyone. Don’t forget to check out some of the city’s hidden gems and attend one of the many spectacular events held throughout the year.

So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Leeds today and get ready to experience one of the most exciting and dynamic cities in the United Kingdom.

FAQ

What are the top things to do in Leeds town centre?

Some of the top things to do in Leeds town centre include visiting the Royal Armouries Museum, exploring Leeds Kirkgate Market, and taking a stroll along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.

What are the must-visit historical attractions in Leeds?

Leeds is home to several must-visit historical attractions, such as Kirkstall Abbey, Temple Newsam House, and Leeds Cathedral.

Which cultural attractions should I visit in Leeds?

Leeds offers a range of cultural attractions, including the Leeds Art Gallery, the Thackray Medical Museum, and the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Where can I relax in nature in Leeds?

Some of the best parks and green spaces in Leeds where you can unwind include Roundhay Park, Golden Acre Park, and Harewood House Gardens.

Where should I go shopping in Leeds?

Leeds’ retail scene is known for its variety. For a great shopping experience, head to Trinity Leeds, Victoria Leeds, or Leeds Corn Exchange.

What are the best restaurants and bars in Leeds?

Leeds is home to numerous fantastic dining and drinking establishments. Some popular restaurants and bars include The Man Behind The Curtain, Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen, and Bundobust Leeds.

What is the nightlife like in Leeds?

Leeds has a vibrant nightlife scene. Don’t miss out on bars like The Maven, Call Lane Social, and clubs such as Mint Club and Beaver Works for a memorable night out.

Are there any notable events in Leeds?

Leeds hosts various exciting events throughout the year. Some notable ones include Leeds Festival, Leeds Pride, and the Leeds International Film Festival.

What are some hidden gems in Leeds?

Some hidden gems in Leeds include The Leeds Library, the Hyde Park Picture House, and the Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills.

What outdoor activities can I do in Leeds?

Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy activities such as hiking at Otley Chevin Forest Park, cycling along the Leeds Country Way, or kayaking the River Aire.