Leeds is one of the most exciting cities in the north of England and is really popular for weekend breaks. It’s easy to see why as a university city it has a high population of students, meaning the nightlife is great, but there is also great shopping, entertainment, and history. The abundance of Georgian and Victorian architecture makes wandering around the city a pleasure and there are many interesting museums and galleries. Leeds was an important port town in Roman times, a big market town in the Middle Ages, and a huge manufacturer and trader of wool and textiles during the Industrial Revolution in Victorian times, so it has always been successful. Annual events include the epic Leeds Festival on the August Bank Holiday where top-notch artists perform over three days and nights and festival-goers camp out and generally have a good chilled-out time. Events in the actual city include the Food Festival in May and Leeds Waterfront Festival in June.
Things to do and see
The Town Hall – This iconic building of Leeds is well worth a look from the outside and the inside when you pass it on a stroll around the centre of the city.
Leeds Art Gallery and the Henry Moore Institute – This small art gallery is manageable enough to enjoy the whole selection of modern and classical art in under an hour. Entry: Free
The Royal Armouries Museum – This museum features an interesting collection of weapons from all around the world and from various different eras. Entry: Free
Thackery Medical Museum – The chance to put yourself in the shoes of a child working in the mills in Victorian times and see what horrors they were in store for if they got ill or something went wrong. Entry: around US$12
Kirkstall Abbey – This stunning, huge restored abbey is well worth the three mile walk out of town and the Abbey House Museum opposite is interesting too. Entry: Free
Middleton Railway – Take a ride on the oldest railway in the world which used to be used for ferrying coal. Entry: about US$8
Tropical World – Great for kids on a rainy day, this inside zoo has differently-themed areas from around the world with a variety of plants, animals, and insects. Entry: approx. US$8
Millennium Square – The centre point of Leeds usually has something interesting going on or if not just enjoy the atmosphere as this place is always buzzing.
The Canals – Take a memorable trip along the canals with Yorkshire Hire Cruisers and enjoy afternoon tea on board the narrow boat for around US$25.
Backpackers – Russell Scott Backpackers, located in a residential area, with quiet clean rooms has dorm beds starting from around US$22 a night.
Bed & Breakfast – Stay at Park House Bed & Breakfast for sparse but cheap rooms and a full English breakfast in the morning. Rooms start from about US$60.
Luxury – Those looking for a little extra comfort need look no further than 42 The Calls Hotel. The hotel used to be a riverside corn mill back in its day and has now been beautifully restored. Rooms start at around US$200 a night.
The Leeds-Bradford airport is located just ten miles away from the city, so it’s very accessible. There are also regular trains from London, Manchester, Newcastle and many others. There are various bus and coach services to get into Leeds as well. There are many different companies and the prices vary exponentially as to whether you book online or wait until you arrive, and also whether you are travelling at peak or off-peak times. Once you get into the city, there are many options:
Buses – Again there are different companies servicing the city centre including Metro, First, and Leeds City Bus. For around US$8 you can buy a MetroDay pass which will allow you to travel all over Leeds and West Yorkshire. First has many numbered services for different routes around the city and the fare will set you back either US$2, US$3.20 or US$4.50 depending on if you need to get to stops in zones one, two, or three. Leeds City Bus is a cheap service that only covers the immediate centre of the city. It’s less than US$1 a ride but considering the distance it covers, it’s probably just easier to walk instead.
Taxis – Hail a black and white cab on the street or call for a private service which usually works out a lot cheaper. Amber Taxis and Apollo both come recommended for fast pickups and reasonable prices.
Chinese – Head to The Red Chilli for the poshest Chinese in town with excellent service and great food. Price guide: Expensive
Italian – La Rosa Restaurant & Bar offers its guests intimate and rustic Italian meals that taste utterly delicious. Price guide: Mid-range
Indian – The menu at Akbars won’t disappoint and the portion sizes are large. Price guide: Expensive
Café – The Tiled Hall Café is beautiful, serves up a great cup of tea, and has a range of snacks available too. It’s located next to the Town Hall, between the library and Leeds Art Gallery, so it’s easy to find and convenient for sightseeing. Price guide: Budget
Pub – Have a pint at Whitelocks which is a beautiful place and one of the oldest in Leeds.
Champagne – The Epernay Bar is great to stop by and order a glass of the bubbly stuff while posing a little bit to have a well-deserved break from exploring.
Live Music – Listen to jazz at The Wardrobe which also has other types of music depending on the night.
Club – All the cool people hang out at Mission which is extremely fashionable and hosts nights such as Glasshouse, Electro and Gay nights.
Shopping and Markets
Designer – Head to the Victoria Quarter for designer offerings from designers like Louis Vuitton and Vivienne Westwood.
Boutique – Opposite the Victoria Quarter are Thornton’s Arcade and Queen’s Arcade which have some beautiful and unique boutique stores.
Market – The Market in Leeds is the biggest covered market in Europe and also spreads outdoors as well. Housed in an impressive Victorian structure, there is a chance to try and bargain for pretty much everything.