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UK City Guide: Things to do in Leeds

September 14, 2017
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Leeds is one of West Yorkshire’s biggest cities with a history that can be traced back to the 5th century. Leeds was one of the leading centres of industry in Victorian England and is famous for its City Museum where visitors can brush up on the local history. No trip to Leeds is complete without visiting the Royal Armouries as well as the lovely parks, and lively restaurant scene.

TOP SPOTS TO BE A TOURIST

  1. Temple Newsam

Temple Newsam is an impressive Tudor-Jacobean mansion. Birth place of Lord Darnley, the notorious husband of Mary Queen of Scots, the home holds important collections of decorative arts. Explore the treasures of silver, ceramics, fine art, Chippendale furniture, and wallpaper all housed within the mansion. Discover the stories of the people who lived at Temple Newsam and look out for holiday activities as well as constantly changing exhibition programmes.

  1. Roundhay Park

Visit the stunning park that has been around since the 20th century. Roundhay Park is one of the biggest city parks in Europe with more than 700 acres of parkland, lakes, woodland and gardens for you to explore. As one of the most popular attractions in Leeds there are plenty of activities to keep you busy all day. For some relaxation take a seat in the newly refurbished Garden Room, or if you’re feeling competitive have a swing in the tennis court. The park is also great for picnics or taking pictures as you are surrounded by beautiful flowers and greenery.

  1. Kirkstall Abbey

Kirkstall Abbey is a ruined Cistercian monastery in Kirkstall located in the north-west of Leeds city centre. Founded in 1152 it was disestablished during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII. The picturesque ruins have been drawn and painted by artists such as J.M.W. Turner, Thomas Girtin and John Sell Cotman and is the perfect location to learn of Leeds history as well as enjoying the spectacular infrastructure.

  1. Thackray Medical Museum

For a unique day out, take a trip to the Thackray Medical Museum. This award-winning museum has nine interactive galleries as well as fascinating exhibitions and collections all regarding health. Hear and smell what it was like to walk along the filthy streets of Victorian Leeds, and what it was like to undergo an operation without anaesthetic. Discover how medicine has changed from the past and explore your body in the incredible ‘Life Zone gallery.’

  1. Harewood House

Filled with art, culture, and heritage, Harewood house is a place to feed your imagination. With remarkable views from the award-winning terraces, you will be blown away by the rare Chippendale furniture and incredible staircases. After exploring be sure to visit the massive adventure playground where kids are free to roam around and see animals such as flamingos and parrots.

ALES OR BEERS, VINO OR COCKTAILS

Huge windows, fairy lights, and a spacious roof terrace for drinks with a view? It can only be The Alchemist. As one of the best bars in Leeds, The Alchemist serves cocktails that are second to none. With exciting concoctions and masterclasses so you can create magical drinks too, this is one bar you don’t want to miss out on.

If beers are more your thing then we recommend trying North Bar. , so you will be spoilt for choice.

Looking for a great night out? Then it’s time to visit Distrikt bar. This underground bar has a wide menu of tapas-style bites, great cocktails and drinks, as well as a live DJ so you can spend the night partying in an exciting atmosphere.

This small bar serves over 50 types of whisky, 10 gins, 30 rums and lots of rare to find beers

AIN’T NO THERAPY LIKE RETAIL THERAPY

Leeds is the perfect place for shopping. With a compact city centre that is easily walkable, this city is every shoppers dream. Trinity Leeds shopping centre is located in the heart of the city between Briggate and Albion Street. Covering 3 floors and open 7 days a week, Trinity is home to over 120 shops, bars and restaurants. After shopping till late, why not go and treat yourself to some dinner and drinks as there are over 20 wonderful bars and restaurants.

No shopping trip is complete until you visit Leeds’ historic Kirkgate Market. Dating back to 1875, this market is one of the largest in Europe and is open 6 days a week. With a variety of over 400 stalls inside and a further 200 outside, be prepared to spend the day shopping!

CHEAP EAT TREATS

If you’re looking to fill your stomach for less, then we’ve got just the thing for you. Stampede is a new BBQ restaurant that provides great quality food at even better prices. Enjoy six chicken wings, a half rack of ribs or a double patty burger for just £7. Good stuff!

A full meal at Caracas Grill is a must. Not only do majority of their dishes come under £10, but the portions are extremely generous that will no doubt fill you up. This Venezuelan restaurant gives you two choice, get a ‘pepito sandwich’ that is packed with meat, or a chicken parilla, which is a plate loaded with all types of meat. Perfect for a group of people looking to share.

Delicious Thai food at cheap prices? Yes please! And what better place to find it than My Thai. As the ultimate budget eatery, you are guaranteed great taste, portions, and price. With a large variety of flavoursome dishes to choose from, and majority of them £10 or under, prepare yourself for a flavour explosion.

Covering 3 floors and open 7 days a week, Trinity is home to over 120 shops, bars and restaurants.

FINE DINING AND POSH NIBBLES

For a night of elegance eat over at the Crafthouse. This sleek, industrial-style modern restaurant serves a truly British menu including chargrilled dishes and fine wines. Sink your teeth into some steak frites or treat yourself to some fresh lobster. Just remember to dress the part!

If you’re looking for top quality food, then there is no other place to try than Gaucho’s. With designer furnishings and cowhide fabrics to create a lavish backdrop, this Argentinian restaurant sets the perfect mood for an evening of fine dining. Try the incredible braised beef back ribs covered in a hoisin glaze, or some soft shell crab causita. Whatever you choose, you are sure to love it.

For a romantic setting with the finest food around, visit Divino Italian Restaurant. This award-winning Italian place will have you dining by the candle light in a relaxed, contemporary setting. With the choice to eat in the conservatory or terrace and delicious traditional Italian dishes to choose from, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

FREE THINGS TO DO IN LEEDS

Being a tourist or just exploring the city can be expensive, but there are an abundance of free things to do in Leeds so you can still make the most of the city.

There are many free galleries for you to visit including The Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery. Not only can you enjoy the mesmerising art, there are also arty workshops where both adults and children can practice their drawing skills, as well as the chance to have a go at some pottery. Other galleries include; The Gallery at Munro House and The Craft Centre and Design Gallery.

Let’s say you want to watch a movie but don’t want to spend over the odds. Not to fear, Crowd of Favours Cinema Club will give you a great cinema experience with comfy sofas in a chilled atmosphere… for free!

EXCURSIONS FOR CULTURE VULTURES

Leeds is one of the only UK cities outside of London to have both its own Opera House and Ballet Company. Opera North is England’s national opera company and Europe’s leading arts organisations. Working with a variety of media including film and visual art, the organisation puts on astounding shows, plays and orchestra’s for everyone to enjoy.

Northern Ballet is a Leeds based touring ballet company who have performed all over the country. Not like your average ballet, they put on some of the most exciting performances such as The Little Mermaid, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, and The Ugly Duckling, so people of all ages can enjoy their evening.

Leeds is one of the only UK cities outside of London to have both its own Opera House and Ballet Company

THE VENUE MENU

  • National Coal Mining Museum for England – Tours
  • Leeds Minster – Church
  • Woodhouse Moor – Park and woodland
  • Royal Armouries Museum
  • Elland Road – live sports, events, weddings
  • Nostell Priory– Gardens and playground
  • Spofforth Castle
  • Tick Tock Unlock – Live Escape Game

BEST PLACE FOR SLEEPOVERS

VALUE FOR MONEY

  • Mercure Leeds Parkway Hotel – Restaurant, bar, fitness centre, spa
  • Jurys Inn Leeds – Stylish rooms, free Wi-Fi, trendy restaurant and bar
  • Radisson Blu Hotel Leeds – Arty rooms and suites, dining rooms, afternoon tea
  • Park Plaza Leeds – Airy rooms, free Wi-Fi, meeting rooms, Asian cuisine

LUXURY STAY

  • The Chambers Serviced Apartments – chic rooms, upscale apartments, fitness rooms
  • Quebecs Luxury Apartments – modern apartments with kitchens, free Wi-Fi, gym
  • Malmaison Leeds – Lavish rooms, Victorian building, cocktail bar
  • Leeds Marriott Hotel – Refined rooms, steak and Indian restaurants, pool, hot tub

Jack O'RiordanView all posts

Jack is the editor of The Leisure Lounge. Expert in the art of writing things and putting them online. Loves travelling, especially anywhere in southeast Asia. Hates mushrooms.