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Leeds, located in the county of West Yorkshire in Northern England, is a lively city you must visit when travelling to the UK. It’s well-known for being home to impressive shopping arcades, lush green spaces and great university life. However, there are plenty of things to do in Leeds for everyone – from eating out and doing some shopping to going ape or visiting the art gallery.
Leeds is a big city with many neighborhoods to explore, however, its city center is quite condensed which makes you feel like everything is within a walking distance. But if you’re planning to visit any area outside the city center, the city is well-connected by bus and train, so travelling around Leeds is very simple! At the same time, when visiting Leeds, you can easily travel to other amazing cities like Manchester, York and Liverpool, or smaller charming towns like Knaresborough or Skipton. There are plenty of buses and trains to get to these places if you don’t want to drive a car.
Having lived in Leeds for five years, I call Leeds my second home and I am going to tell you some of the must-see attractions and things to do in Leeds during your stay.
Top Things To Do In Leeds, England
1. Read A Book At The Central Library
Every book lover looks for libraries and bookshops wherever they go. Leeds Central Library has three floors with books and other interesting rooms. However, my favorite thing to do is borrow a book and read it in the Tiled Hall Cafe while having a brew or a light bite. The cafe is one of the best in Leeds, not only for its architecture and design but hot drinks and sandwiches.
Also, the library is connected to an art gallery and creative area for kids, and if you’re looking for any souvenir shops, you can find Leeds tourist information center below the main floor. They have cute souvenirs like cups, Leeds maps and pictures, and owl-themed craft as the owl is the symbol of Leeds.
2. Visit Leeds City Museum
Leeds City Museum is only a five-minute walk from Leeds Central Library. It’s located in Millennium Square, a beautiful square where you can find the Civic Hall, some restaurants and the Mandela garden. The Museum has three floors with many collections in which you’ll learn about the history of Leeds and its people, the Ancient World, Voices of Asia (a collection that explains the links between Asia and Leeds) and Life on Earth.
Life on Earth is one of my favorite collections, but The Leeds Life is interesting too as you get to know more about the city. The entry to the museum is free and you can also visit their cafe to have a cup of tea or lunch!
3. Go On The Water Taxi
This is something I discovered when walking through the Leeds Liverpool Canal a couple of years ago. No one had told me about this, so I’m glad I saw the boat and asked some people. You can take the water taxi from Leeds Dock or near the Doubletree Hilton for only 1 pound per person! It’s a beautiful canal ride where you’ll see Leeds from a completely different perspective and you’ll be taken to the other side of the city in no time. If you’re travelling from the Doubletree Hilton to Leeds Dock, it’s worth walking around Leeds Dock. It’s one of my favorite areas because it’s relaxing, you get beautiful canal views and you can visit the Royal Armouries.
4. Visit Royal Armouries
As you can guess by the name of this museum, it’s dedicated to national collections of arms and armour in the world. The museum has five impressive floors on galleries about armouries from around the world – from Asia to Europe, the weapons from prehistory to the 20th-century and much more. In addition to this, there are live performances and combat demonstrations, included in your free ticket, which I highly recommend watching because the actors make you feel like you’re back in time. The museum has a cafe, a shop with very interesting items to purchase and stunning views to Leeds Dock. Visiting the Royal Armouries is one of the most interesting things to do in Leeds
5. Explore Roundhay Park
Located on the north side of the city, Roundhay Park is one of the biggest parks in the city as well as in Europe. The park has over 700 acres of woodland, gardens and green spaces, but apart from this, you can also find a beautiful lake home to many swans and ducks and a mansion house. It’s the perfect place to walk, cycle, enjoy a picnic with friends or have a cuppa in the cafe for stunning views to the lake.
6. Go To Leeds City Market
At the heart of Leeds, Leeds City Market is one of the largest indoor markets in Europe. There are over 600 food, drink, fashion and jewelery stalls that attract thousands of tourists. The Edwardian architecture you can appreciate from the structure of the building is stunning. However, you’ll be also impressed by how lively and vibrant it is with many merchants trying to sell their products. It’s the perfect place to get some vintage clothes, antiques and local food.
7. Go Shopping
Shopaholics love Leeds, and you’ll understand this as soon as you get to Leeds city center. These are the main shopping centers and arcades sorted by popularity.
Leeds Trinity. It’s your top choice if you’re looking for affordable and well-known shops like Primark, New Look, Pandora, etc., but this shopping center also has an amazing cinema where you can order some food and drinks as you watch a film, and plenty of popular restaurants like Wagamama, Carluccio’s and Comptoir Lebanese.
Victoria Leeds. A very sophisticated and beautiful shopping center where you can find high street shops, incredible restaurants to satisfy your taste buds and a casino. The shopping center has impressive modern architecture and design which makes it great for pictures too.
Victoria Quarter. Even if shopping isn’t your thing, I highly recommend going inside Victoria Arcade. The architecture inside is stunning – rich marbles and beautiful mosaics make this place special. Inside you can find famous brands like Ted Baker and Thomas Sabo, as well as mouth-watering restaurants like The Ivy.
8. Have Some Food At Leeds Trinity Kitchen
If you’re on a budget or you’re quite indecisive with food, Leeds Trinity kitchen, located on the top floor of Leeds Trinity shopping center, is definitely your place. There are small food stalls where you can grab international (Chinese, Indian, Mexican, etc.) or local food for a great value. The atmosphere is quite relaxing and if you’re visiting trinity kitchen with a friend who doesn’t want to eat the same as you, you can order from different stalls and sit in the communal area.
9. Go to the Corn Exchange
Next to Call Lane, you’ll find an impressive rounded building called Corn Exchange. The Corn Exchange is home to independent and family-owned businesses that sell anything from vintage clothes to home accessories. This place is for you if you prefer unique gifts that you won’t find in the high streets.
One of my favorite shops in the Corn Exchange is The Plant Point where you can find a good variety of plants to decorate your house. In addition to this, you can also find food from Humpit known for the best hummus meals in Leeds, and 42nd East Bakehouse known for its delicious brownies and cookies topped with chocolate, Oreos, Biscoff, etc.
If you are looking for a more organised guided walking tour around Leeds that takes you to the Corn Exchange, Victorian Arcades, historic buildings and more, we highly recommend you to book this tour.
10. Have A Night Out In Call Lane
Nightlife in Leeds is crazy in a good way. Your options are endless since there are many pubs, bars and clubs. However, the best area to go out is Call Lane where you’ll find the most popular and liked clubs in Leeds. Despite not being a party person, I highly recommend going to Revolución de Cuba. They have two floors with Latino and R&B music to dance, nice decoration and fancy cocktails.