leeds sunrise

18 Leeds Attractions and Hidden Gems You Must See [Updated 2022]

If you’re planning to visit West Yorkshire, you have to visit Leeds. So, how do you know Leeds is a great destination for you?

  • You don’t like overcrowded cities like London.
  • You love the combination of old and modern buildings.
  • You’re a shopaholic and can spend hours and hours shopping.
  • You love visiting parks and nature.
  • You’re an art seeker looking for inspiration.

But that’s not all! If you’re a student, this is one of the best cities to be in because there are three universities (Leeds Trinity, University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett University) with so many career options, and there are always events going on (don’t miss the freshers week!), there’s something for everyone!

I’ve been living in Leeds for over 5 years and the first time I arrived, I was amazed by the beautiful big parks around the city. I love the feeling of being surrounded by nature – big trees, beautiful lakes and green grass!

If you want to escape from city life, you can easily do because the parks are close and very accessible from any point in the city.

Keep reading to discover incredible Leeds attractions and hidden gems.

Leeds attractions guide

P.S. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and purchase something, I receive a small commission of the price at no extra cost to you. This helps me to keep the content up to date and make other improvements to the blog.


Best Things To Do In Leeds

Leeds Attractions and Museums

Are you a contemporary art lover? Leeds Art Gallery is your first must-see attraction in Leeds! This gallery has art collections that belong to the British 20th Century.

Also, the gallery is linked to Leeds Central Library with many fantastic books to read.

Get a book and have a cuppa at the cafeteria inside the building. It’s a cosy space to read and meet other people.

Corn Exchange

It’s a beautiful Victorian building located in Leeds city centre close to the Market. It’s not only impressive to see from the outside but also from the inside. 

Inside the building, you can find small boutiques and cafes run by independent designer-makers and specialist retailers. Have a look at the opening times and the different shops.

I love plants so one of my favourite shops is The Plant Point. I was so glad I discovered this place a few months ago.

leeds corn exchange

Leeds City Market

If you love visiting local markets, you’ll love Leeds City Market!

It is one of the biggest markets in Europe. Its outside architecture is impressive, but not only that! You can find around 800 stalls and enjoy the different smells and sounds.

One of the best parts of the market is the food court where you can find delicious dishes from all around the world, and the seating area is very cosy.

If you’re planning to stay longer or move to Leeds, the market is the best place to do your shopping! You’ll get good and fresh quality products and you’ll save those pennies for your trips.

Leeds city market building

Leeds City Museum

Do you like learning the history of the cities you visit? Then Leeds City Museum is for you.

The entry is free and there are 6 different galleries to explore and learn. The Leeds Story gallery is perfect to find out more about the history of Leeds, its inventions, its inspiring people, etc.

My favourite gallery is Life on Earth because you can learn so much about animals, minerals and vegetables! Also, it’s a very interactive gallery.

Millennium Square

This square is located behind the Leeds Art Gallery. It’s a beautiful square where you can do many things like visiting Leeds City Museum to find out everything about the history of Leeds; seeing the Mandela Gardens where you can see the bronze sculpture “Both Arms” dedicated to Nelson Mandela on a visit to Leeds in 2001, or just enjoying being outside having a drink when it’s sunny.

Also, you can find different events like the beautiful German Christmas Market, Light Night event, food festivals in the summer months and much more. 

18 Leeds Attractions and Hidden Gems You Must See [Updated 2022] 18 Leeds Attractions and Hidden Gems You Must See [Updated 2022]

Royal Armouries Museum Leeds

If you love learning about arms and history, Royal Armouries is the best place for you. There are four floors on which you can see arms from different countries and different ages.

Not only you can see all the arms but will you enjoy their daily exhibitions.

I’m not a fan of arms museums but when I was doing my Tourism Masters Degree, I visited Royal Armouries with my classmates and Course Leader and I’ll never forget the exhibition we watched! It was about Mulan’s story and it was presented in a way that made it so inspiring.

Leeds Dock

This is one of my favourite places in Leeds! You can find restaurants, the Royal Armouries Museum and cute coffees, or you can just simply go for a tranquil walk.

The river view is beautiful and you can see little boats on the sides! It’s a peaceful area to be but it can be a busy one as well when there are events such as Light Night and the Waterfront Festival.

TIP: Take the boat taxi! I didn’t know about this until a few months ago but it’s a great activity on a sunny day. You’ll get to the other side of the dock where you can stop for some food or explore the Dark Arches.

The Best Parks in Leeds

Roundhay Park

It’s one of the biggest parks in Leeds and Europe. If you love walking and exploring, you’ll love seeing the beautiful Waterloo lake, the Mansion House and the Roundhay castle.

All of these great places are surrounded by garden areas with many flowers blooming in spring or leaves falling in autumn.

This is my top park in Leeds, perfect for a picnic on a sunny day. However, be aware that it can get very busy (as you may know, Leeds isn’t the sunniest place on earth!) 

HOW DO YOU GET TO ROUNDHAY PARK?

You can get there by car and you can park for free in one of its 5 parking spaces. However, if you’re using public transport, take the number 2 bus from New Briggate in the city centre which takes 21 minutes.

Roundhay park in leeds

Kirkstall Abbey

The park includes a beautiful ruined monastery founded in 1152. It’s amazing to walk inside the abbey, sit and relax, do a picnic or just contemplate the abbey and the river Aire. 

There are different events throughout the year but if you’re a foodie, you can’t miss the deli and street food market, on the last weekend of every month from March to November, where you can grab some local cheese and much more food. 

Kirkstall Abbey is one of the best tourist attractions in Leeds!

Kirkstall abbey building

📌 TIP: Looking for a different spot to take pictures? Walk around the river Aire for some beautiful pictures. 

HOW DO YOU GET TO KIRKSTALL ABBEY?

If you’re using public transport, take the number 33 bus at Leeds bus station.

Harewood House

Harewood House is worth visiting and immersing yourself in it! It’s one of the Treasure Houses of England surrounded by over 100 acres of ground and flowers from different parts of the world and the farm.

In this beautiful house, you can find Renaissance masterpieces and fine collections from China among other pieces of art and architecture.

HOW DO YOU GET TO HAREWOOD HOUSE?

You can get there by car but if you’re using public transport, it’s only 30 min if you take the 36 bus to Harewood from Leeds bus station which runs every 15 minutes from Mondays to Saturdays and every 30 minutes on Sundays.

Harewood House Garden View

Leeds City Shopping Centres

Trinity Leeds

In the heart of Leeds, Trinity Leeds is the most popular shopping centre. You’ll find plenty of shops, restaurants and a great cinema!

As a foodie, my favourite spot is Trinity Kitchen! It’s the best street food in Leeds where you can find all sorts of food from Indian to Mexican. The coolest thing is that apart from having some permanent stalls, they also have some rotating ones so you can enjoy new flavours.

This shopping has something for everyone and it holds many events throughout the year. 

Victoria Leeds

It includes two different parts: Victoria Quarter and Victoria Gate. Victoria Gate is your place if you love luxury high-street shops like Michael Kors, Harvey Nichols, etc. 

The shopping centre also has cafes, restaurants (on the top floor) and a casino.

Whether you like luxury shopping or you want to have some food, it’s a lovely place to visit. Do you fancy a cocktail on a terrace, why don’t you head to East 59th? They have great cocktails and American-style dishes.

Leeds Victoria Shopping Centre

📌 Related post: 10 Unique Boutique Hotels in Yorkshire

Sports Spots in Leeds

Leeds United Football Club

 Any football fan has to visit Elland Road, Leeds football stadium. The fans are fiery and live the match so intensively!

If you aren’t around when there’s a home match, you can book a stadium tour to know about the history of the football club or buy a souvenir at their shop.

Next to the stadium is the pavilion where many different events are celebrated. If you aren’t interested in football, still keep an eye on the events because they aren’t all about football.

From weddings to boxing and food events!

Leeds Rhinos

Rugby is a big thing in Yorkshire and Leeds has the most successful team in Super League. If you’re into rugby, you can’t miss the opportunity to attend a match! 

4 Hidden Gems in Leeds 

The Flatiron Building

Who said the Flatiron Building is in NYC only? This building is very popular with similar characteristics as the one in New York City. It’s located on Hunslet Road.

Flatiron building in Leeds

Brewery Wharf

Restaurants, bars and a good view of the river Aire. Brewery Wharf is one of my favourite places to walk on a summer day. However, bars can get very busy so if I were you, I would book or arrive early to get a good seat.

Park Square

This park is a hidden treasure two minutes walk from Leeds Town Hall. The park is very calm and well maintained so if you want a little break from work or a picnic with friends, it’s a good place to be.

Leeds Minster

You can see the Minster from Leeds Bus Station and it could be considered the main attraction, however, it isn’t as popular. It’s beautiful to see it inside and walk around the park opposite it.

Leeds minster view

📌 Are you looking for accommodation in Leeds? Check out this guide.

One of the most amazing things is that most of the things to do in Leeds are free so it’s a very affordable city if you’re travelling on a budget.

Leeds feels like my second home and I have plenty of memories here. It’s a great place to visit because you don’t need to travel far to go from one side of the city to another.

BUT, my biggest advice if you’re travelling from outside the UK, be aware of the weather!

The first time I came, it was August 2015 so as a Spaniard you think it’s summer and the weather was going to be alright.

When I went out to meet some Au pair friends, it was warm and sunny. However, a couple of hours later, I had to take the bus to go home and it started raining so much. When I took the bus, I was soaked!

Also, there are amazing cities and towns to visit around Leeds and Yorkshire, so it’s worth checking day trips from Leeds like York, Manchester and lesser-known destinations like Saltaire and Skipton.

If you have any questions about Leeds or you want advice on visiting any of these Leeds attractions, reach me at cristina[at]mylittleworldoftravelling.com or on Instagram. I’m always happy to help.

Enjoy your time in Leeds!

Cristina xx

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18 Comments

  1. Hi 👋 I absolutely loved reading this!was so informative about what there is and how to get there! Thanks lots 💕
    It would’ve been even more amazing
    if you could’ve taken go pro walks and load it on youtube
    of these places 😍😱In leeds

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Hi, Dani! Thank you so much for your comment. I’m glad you enjoyed reading this guide 🙂
      It means a lot and I’ll consider recording short videos in the future.

  2. I’m from Leeds originally and have lived there most of my life. Recently I’ve spent more time living in Santander in the north of Spain and when I come back there’s a lot I don’t know. I think is underrated in some ways and there’s some great recommendations here. You definitely know a lot about your adopted city. I had no idea there was a flatiron building in Leeds!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thank you so much for your comment, Stuart. I agree with you, and some things are completely underrated. Also, Leeds has changed so much in the last couple of years. The first time I visited Leeds, back in 2014, Victoria Leeds wasn’t built, and there weren’t some of the restaurants and stores you can see now. I’m glad you’ve enjoy reading the blog 🙂

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Yes, it is so pretty! 🙂

  3. Leeds looks like such a charming place with so much to see and do! This was such an informative post and I would definitely love to see it for myself one day.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thank you so much, Kirsten! I hope you visit it one day too 🙂

  4. Thanks for introducing me to beautiful Leeds! I am definitely adding this gem to my English bucket list 🙂

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      I’m happy to hear that! 🙂

  5. I have been to Leeds so many times but I’m ashamed to say I’ve never done half of these things. I’m from Carlisle so Leeds was always our big city, day trip shopping destination. It’s been a few years now so I’d like to go back

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      I have experienced the same with my hometown. I guess we sometimes don’t explore our surroundings so much, but it’s never too late to explore them! 🙂

  6. Oh my gosh, Kirkstall Abbey looks amazing!! I would love to visit Leeds someday. I hope you can get home to Spain soon though!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      It would be amazing to show you Leeds 🙂 Also, I love Kirkstall Abbey too!

  7. Krystianna says:

    Great post! I’d love to go back to the UK and explore Leeds. Looks lovely!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thank you, Krystianna! I hope you visit it soon 🙂

  8. I have lived in UK for a decade now, and feel a little ashamed to say I never visited Leeds. This post is an eye opener for me, to explore more of my backyard rather than going far flung places. Pinning it for my future reference.

  9. Petsitter Barbi says:

    I want to walk around Kirkstall Abbey and imagine what it was like to actually abbey there. It reminds me of the Sound of Music! Leeds looks like an eclectic mix of the historical and the modern – truly unique!

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