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, 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 4 years and the first time I arrived, I was amazed by the beautiful and 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.
This post is for you if you want to explore the main attractions of the city as well as its hidden gems.
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Leeds Main Attractions and Museums
Leeds Art Gallery
Are you a contemporary art lover? Leeds Art Gallery is your first must-see! 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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 story and it was presented in a way that made it so inspiring.
This is one of my favourite places in Leeds! You can find restaurants, the Royal Armouries Museum and cute coffees.
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 free 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
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 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.
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 to 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.
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 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, 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 36 bus to Harewood from Leeds bus station which runs every 15 minutes Mondays to Saturdays and every 30 minutes on Sundays.
Leeds City Shopping Centres
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.
It includes two different parts: Victoria Quarter and Victoria Gate. Victoria Gate is a very recent shopping centre as it was opened only three years ago.
This is your place if you love luxury high-street shops like Michael Kors, Harvey Nichols, etc.
Whether you like luxury shopping or you want to have some food, it’s a lovely place to visit. Do you fancy a cocktail in a terrace, why don’t you head to East 59th?
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 wedding to boxing and food events!
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!
Hidden Gems in Leeds
The Flatiron Building
Who said the Flatiron Building is in NYC only? This building is very popular for similar characteristics as the one in NYC. It’s located on Hunslet Road.
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.
This park is a hidden treasure 2 minutes walk from Leeds Town Hall. The park is very calm and well maintained so if you want a little break, it’s a good place to be.
You can see the Minster from Leeds Bus Station and it could be considered as the main attraction, however, it isn’t as popular. It’s beautiful to see it inside and walk around the park opposite it.
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.
Enjoy your time in Leeds!
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