I’ve lived in Leeds for the last five years, and I absolutely love it here. I first arrived when I was a fresh-faced 18-year-old ready to start university, and (besides a couple of detours) I’ve been here ever since!
Leeds is such a varied, friendly and vibrant city that anyone would be lucky to visit. So I’ve put together this post to help you navigate your way around should you decide to come.
Once you’ve finished reading, you’ll be an expert on Leeds! You’ll know the top things to do in Leeds, the best places to eat, where to stay in Leeds, and even how to get from A to B.
The reason for your visit doesn’t matter, nor the amount of money you have available to spend during your trip, because regardless, there’s plenty of options here waiting for you!
A Practical Guide For A Short Trip to Leeds
Things To Do in Leeds
There’s so much to do in Leeds – more activities than I could possibly fit into a single blog post – so I’ve picked my top choices that are perfect for a short trip to Leeds:
1. Trinity Leeds – Shopping & Leisure Centre
You’ve got all your standard high street chains in the Trinity Centre, and also some great places to stop for food, so it’s somewhere you should definitely check out whilst you’re in Leeds. A lot of people come to Leeds to go shopping, so if you’re one of those people, this should be your first point of call.
2. Kirkstall Abbey
I live fairly close to Kirkstall Abbey, so I go there quite a lot and never get bored of it.
Kirkstall Abbey are the ruins of a Cistercian monastery in Kirkstall, north-west of Leeds city centre. It’s such a scenic place and it feels as though you’re out in the country, not a mere 10 minutes from the city centre.
The ruins of the old abbey are stunning, and there’s so much space to walk, have a picnic, or just relax on the grass. It certainly makes for a great day trip.
3. Kirkgate Market
If you want to see true, traditional Leeds, you need to visit Kirkgate Market.
Having first opened in 1822, Kirkgate Market is now an iconic attraction of the city. There’s hundreds of stalls inside selling all manner of things, and there’s a really cool historic feel when you’re in there. The building architecture is beautiful too, so you’ll be able to get some good shots for Instagram!
4. Cardigan Fields
Cardigan Fields is a complex just outside of the city centre that is guaranteed to keep you entertained. There’s a bowling alley, a trampoline park and Laser Quest to name a few of the attractions there. Plus, there’s plenty of eateries too, so you really do have everything you need in one place. It’s perfect for a rainy day in Leeds!
Where to Eat & Drink in Leeds
There’s so many great places to eat and drink throughout Leeds, so you’ll easily find somewhere that suits your needs.
If you’re after somewhere to eat during the day, there’s a really great coffee shop called North Star which is based in Leeds Dock. It’s got a great range of drinks and snacks, and there’s even a little general store inside, so if anything that you eat or drink takes your fancy, you can stock up there and then! Leeds Dock is a gorgeous area as it’s right next to the canal, so you can have a lovely stroll around afterwards to walk off your food baby.
There’s also some great country-style pubs if you go out of the city a little, such as The Roundhay Fox – the food there is to die for! It’s really good value for money, and it’s located right next to Roundhay Park, which in my opinion is a must-see in Leeds. With acres of land, and a gorgeous lake in the middle, it’s perfect for a summer afternoon.
Depending on what you plan your evening in Leeds to be, there are a few different options for food and drink:
1. Going Wild: Trinity Kitchen & Call Lane
Leeds is a city renowned for its nightlife, and I can assure you it won’t disappoint!
If you’re coming here for a bit of a wild one, the best thing to do is kick off your night in Trinity Kitchen. There’s plenty of cuisines to choose from, all the food there is delicious in my opinion, and there’s just a generally great street-market-style atmosphere.
Call Lane is the go-to place for a night out in Leeds. It’s a street full of bars, from your chain-bars such as Revolutions, to independent ones like Jake’s Bar (my personal favorite!). There’s such a lively, fun vibe on Call Lane and you’ll easily be out until the early hours!
2. Keeping It Classy: Tattu & The Alchemist
If you’ve come to Leeds for a classier night, then brace your wallet, and visit these two gems. The food in Tattu is INCREDIBLE. It’s a Chinese restaurant with a fantastic contemporary twist. The décor is beautiful; the purple, low lighting really sets the mood, and the little touches are just fantastic. It’s pricy, but I’d say it’s definitely worth it for the experience.
Post-meal, a really nice place to get some drinks is The Alchemist. There’s two in Leeds, but I’d recommend you go to the one inside of the Trinity Centre as it’s up on the second floor and has a large outside area that looks out over the city. Plus, the cocktails there are amazing – bubblegum mojitos all the way!
3. Chilled & Casual: MEATliquor & Roxy’s
MEATliquor is a really cool, quirky place in Leeds that I really like. It’s below street level, and the décor and music give it a really cozy feel. There’s loads to choose from on the menu, and the food is reasonably priced and very tasty. It’s not a particularly large place, though, and it does get busy so I’d suggest booking a table.
Roxy Ball Room is one of my favorite bars in Leeds simply because it’s such a unique and fun place to go. It’s not your standard bar by any means – there’s beer pong, table tennis and even a mini golf course upstairs. It’s definitely worth a visit if you want a casual, fun night out.
Finding Accommodation in Leeds
The one thing you won’t struggle with in Leeds is accommodation. There’s plenty of hotels around so you’ll be able to take your pick!
If you’re staying in Leeds, you’re definitely better off finding somewhere in the city centre. It’s so much easier that way because you’ll be in walking distance of everything you need. The majority of hotels are located towards the bottom end of town, near the train station, and there’s a range of options depending on your price range:
High End Hotels in Leeds
If it’s a super special occasion and you want the full works, the Queens Hotel is perfect. It’s famous throughout Leeds and a great luxury option. They have a doorman, and a red carpet on the stairs leading up to the doors, so you’ll truly feel like a movie star when you make your entrance!
Mid-Range Hotels in Leeds
I’ve stayed at the Clayton Hotel quite a few times and I really like it there. It’s clean, comfortable and you can get good room rates so in my opinion it’s great value. The hotel is further away from the centre so it’s nice and quiet. But it’s also less than a 10-minute walk from the train station, so you’re still really close to the heart of the city.
Cheap Hotels in Leeds
There’s a lot of cheap hotels in Leeds, but some of them are cheap for a reason! A good place to stay is the IBIS Budget hotel because it offers a bit of a win-win situation; it’s a hotel chain that you know you can trust, however, the rooms are also really cheap – even more so if you book in advance!
Getting Around in Leeds
One of the best things about Leeds is that virtually everything you could want or need is within walking distance.
Unlike cities such as Manchester or London, where you have to catch trams and tubes to get from one end of the city to another, Leeds is brilliantly compact. If you want to go further out, buses are very frequent (I’m talking less than 10 minutes here) and reliable. First Buses is the main provider, and they cover a lot of ground so nothing is out of reach.
Leeds is renowned for being an awful place to drive around (I avoid it whenever possible because it’s so confusing!), so if you are visiting, it’s probably better to get the train and then walk/bus it around the city. Plus, that way you won’t need to worry about parking as that can be very hard to come by.
So, there you have it – my top tips for a top stay in Leeds! It really is a fantastic city, so whatever you decide to do when you visit Leeds, I’m positive that you’ll have the best time. Enjoy!
Map: Where to Stay and What to Do in Leeds
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