Leeds is a city in West Yorkshire, England. It is one of the fastest-growing cities in the UK. A decade and a half of redevelopment has seen the city centre transform from a near-derelict mill town into a vision of 21st-century urban chic, with sky scraping office blocks, glass-and-steel waterfront apartment complexes and renovated Victorian shopping arcades. There’s a lot of great things to do in Leeds, the bars, the museums, the gig spaces, the shops, the theaters, the clubs and the restaurants of the city are pretty much second to none, we haven’t forgotten about the lush local landscapes, so lace up those boots and make for the moors should a yomp be your kind of yarn. The openings of the Leeds Arena entertainment venue and Leeds Trinity shopping centre in 2013 have been followed by a new southern entrance to the train station, a new Hilton Hotel near Leeds Arena, and yet another retail mall, Victoria Gate, to the east of Vicar Lane. Here’s our list of the 25 best things to do in Leeds, the UK.
One of the best things about traveling is tasting the different flavors offered by the city you are visiting. This activity takes guests and their palates on a taste-testing tour of Leeds. They will get the chance to visit six venues, such as top pubs and restaurants in the city, to savor local food and a variety of drinks. Besides filling their tummies, the tour will also fill guests’ minds as the guide provides interesting information and trivia about Leed’s culinary history. Also included in the itinerary is a trip to one of the biggest covered markets on the continent.
Leeds Food Tours: Local Leeds
Duration: 3 to 5 hours
Instead of going pub-hopping just to find the best local beers, why not join a breweries tour with your friends? This tour, which takes approximately five hours, brings guests to three breweries where they will not only get the chance to try out beers but also learn more about the techniques from the brewers. Do make sure to wear closed shoes when you join this tour.
Leeds Breweries Bus Tours
Duration: 5 hours
Who says you can’t make authentic rotis even while on vacation in Leeds? In fact, you can take an hour-long lesson to prepare a light and fluffy version of this Indian staple. The host is also willing to take the lessons a step further and teach her students how to prepare traditional Indian parathas and pooris. After the lesson, everyone will get to enjoy the food they prepared along with some biscuits and drinks. Up to five people can join a lesson at a time.
Learn to make Indian Rotis/ chipatties
Duration: 1 hour
4. Golden Acre Park
It’s almost hard to imagine that Golden Acre Park was initially developed as an amusement park when it opened in 1932, considering how peaceful and serene this attraction is. Today, the park is known for its gorgeous foliage particularly in its demonstration gardens, and the wildfowl that have made the lake their home. The park has its own cafe so guests can enjoy refreshments as they take in the natural beauty of their surroundings. The park is open all year round, but it comes fully alive during spring and autumn.
Golden Acre Park
Address: Otley Rd, Bramhope, Leeds LS16 8BQ, United Kingdom
Website: Golden Acre Park
5. Royal Armouries Museum
If there’s one aspect of English history that people easily remember, then it’s the medieval era that is often associated with images of the Knights of Yore. At Royal Armouries Museum, you will get the chance to see the actual armor and weapons used during this era and from the other periods in the country’s history, including those from the 21st century. Entrance to the museum itself is free but some specific sections can only be accessed by paying certain fees. Some of the exhibits are interactive, which is great for kids and adults alike who love hands-on learning. If you’re lucky, you can witness live demonstrations of performers using the armor and weapons that are displayed in the museum.
Royal Armouries Museum
Address: Armouries Dr, Leeds LS10 1LT, United Kingdom
Website: Royal Armouries Museum
6. Bramham Park
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
Visiting Bramham Park almost feels like you have entered a time machine and found yourself in a gorgeous country estate in the 18th century. Founded in 1698, the architecture of the mansion is unique, echoing the formality of 17th-century architecture with the more relaxed designs of the 18th century. It has since undergone a number of renovations over the years, but these efforts remain true to the original design of the house so guests can have a good understanding of how life was like for the residents of this gorgeous home. Arrangements need to be made beforehand in order to tour the house and its grounds. Walk-in tourists are not accommodated here.
Address: Bramham Ln, Wetherby LS23 6ND, United Kingdom
Website: Bramham Park
7. Leeds Kirkgate Market
Leeds has always been known as a market town, so it’s not surprising that it hosts one of the biggest covered indoor markets across Europe. Think of an item, and you might find it at Leeds Kirkgate Market. This destination offers just about anything and everything, including food, drinks, flowers, knick-knacks, and even fashion and jewelry. Did you know that the world-famous Marks & Spencer brand has its roots here? In fact, there is a heritage trail that’s dedicated to the brand here. Cooking lessons are occasionally taught at the market as well, so those who love to try out new recipes should check out the schedules of these events.
Leeds Kirkgate Market
Address: Vicar Lane, Leeds LS2 7HY England
Website: Leeds Kirkgate Market
8. RSPB St Aidan's
Once a coal mining area, St Aidan’s was converted into a nature park in 2013 and is managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). Bordered by River Aire, this nature park is a great option for those who want to take a break and enjoy being surrounded by greenery. Among the activities that visitors can try out here include jogging, cycling, horse riding, and wildlife watching. There are also trails that guests are more than welcome to explore. The park, which is located just outside Leeds, is open all year round except for Christmas.
RSPB St Aidan's
Address: Astley Lane, Leeds LS26 8AL England
Website: RSPB St Aidan’s
9. Leeds Grand Theatre
A visit to Leeds Grand Theatre is a must even if you’re not planning to watch a performance being staged there. Large enough to seat over 1,500 people, the humongous building features fantastic architecture that blends Victorian Gothic and Romanesque styles. Musical, dance, and theatrical performances are regularly staged in this venue, including critically acclaimed West End productions. Northern Ballet Theatre and Opera North consider Grand Theatre their home. World-renowned English performers such as Julie Andrews, Laurence Olivier, and Sting have performed on its stage.
Leeds Grand Theatre
Address: 46 New Briggate, Leeds LS1 6NU, United Kingdom
Website: Leeds Grand Theatre
10. York Gate Garden
Once the private property of the Spencer family, York Gate Garden opened its doors to the public and is considered a fantastic example of 20th-century garden design. It is also recognized as a national heritage site. Its name is actually a misnomer as the 1-ac (0.4 ha) property features multiple gardens, each of which follows a specific theme and separated from each other by yew and beech hedges. Among the mini-gardens that you can find here are the white garden, the kitchen garden, and the herb garden. This attraction also comes with its own gift shop and tea rooms.
York Gate Garden
Address: Back Church Ln, Adel, Leeds LS16 8DW, United Kingdom
Website: York Gate Garden
Opening hours: Wed - Sun: 11am - 4:30pm (closed on Mon & Tue)
11. County Arcade
County Arcade together with Victoria Quarter and Victoria Gate shopping center make up Victoria Leeds. Interestingly, the area where the shopping district is now located once housed slaughterhouses and butcher shops, a sharp contrast to its luxurious and high-end vibe now. This place is worth a visit even if you’re not planning on going shopping because of the beauty of the stained glass images in the arcades. If you want to test your luck in Leeds, visit the casino which is also located in the complex.
Address: Victoria Quarter, 10 Queen Victoria St, Leeds LS1 6BE, United Kingdom
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 10am - 7pm; Sat: 9am - 7pm; Sun: 11am - 5pm
12. None Go Bye Farm
Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account
Looking for a family-friendly activity in Leeds? Consider visiting None Go Bye Farm, the curiously named family-run farm that offers tours and fishing opportunities to visitors. Visitors can explore the farm and feed some of the animals there for free, while fishing in their ponds will require purchasing tickets per person. Bait can be purchased in the farm’s shop too. A variety of meats are offered by the farm for those who want to buy some and take home with them after they’re done exploring the property.
None Go Bye Farm
Address: Otley Old Road, Horsforth, Leeds LS18 5HZ, United Kingdom
Website: None Go Bye Farm
Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 9am - 5pm; Sun: 10am - 4pm (closed on Mon)
13. Bar Fibre
Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account
Bar Fibre is one of the longest-running bars in Leeds. The establishment has four levels, each of which offers a different kind of vibe to fit the kind of nightlife its customers want. This includes a quiet and comfortable place to rest and relax, an area for dancing and enjoying live music, and a date area with mood lighting to set up a romantic atmosphere. Although it’s a gay bar, it welcomes just about anyone who’s looking to have an enjoyable out in town. Do make sure to dress appropriately if you’re planning on heading here as this bar follows a smart casual dress code.
Address: 168 Lower Briggate, Leeds LS1 6LY, United Kingdom
Website: Bar Fibre
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 2pm - 10pm; Sat - Sun: 12pm - 10pm
14. Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills
Leeds Industrial Museum was once the largest woolen mill not just in England but also in the world until it closed down in 1969. Exhibits in the museum include the equipment and machinery used when it was still a commercial mill. It also includes some artifacts from other industries such as locomotives, printing, and engineering. This destination is a must-visit for those who want to get a better understanding of what the Industrial Revolution looked like.
Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills
Address: Canal Rd, Armley, Leeds LS12 2QF, United Kingdom
15. Swithens Farm
Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account
Swithens Farm is more than your usual working farm. It offers family-friendly activities and attractions, including farm tours, a petting zoo, and a play area for kids to romp around in. The farm also features a campsite should guests want to have a rustic camping experience in the middle of a farm. There’s also a cafe on site, in case guests want to grab a bite after touring the farm. The owners occasionally host kid-friendly events throughout the year. Arrangements can be made in case anyone wants to rent this venue for special events.
Address: Swithen’s Ln, Rothwell, Leeds LS26 0BT, United Kingdom
Website: Swithens Farm
16. Temple Newsam
Temple Newsam House is a magnificent and one of the great country houses of England. Inside, 30 interior rooms display great paintings, renowned furniture (including masterpieces by Chippendale), sumptuous textiles, silver, porcelain and Leeds pottery. Several interiors have been newly redecorated to their appropriate historic appearance and displays include many new acquisitions. There is a regular program of exhibitions and new displays.
The grounds also boast the largest working rare breeds farm in Europe and National Collections of plants and flowers. The botany collection includes 1000s of mounted plant specimens and seeds, as well as dried fungus, mosses and lichen and the new Museum to Meadow project makes it all more accessible to the public than ever before. Temple Newsam hosts many events each year from music festivals to fun fairs and there are regular family activities, demonstrations, guided walks or tours taking place throughout the year.
Address: Temple Newsam Road, Off Selby Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS15 0AE, England
Website: Temple Newsam
17. Chevin Forest Park
The Chevin Forest Park is located in the Wharfe Valley and is a wooden escarpment overlooking market town of Otley. A fairly steep walk brings you out onto an open area at the top of the ridge for magnificent views of the Wharfe Valley. The whole park was designated as a Local Nature Reserve in 1989 in recognition of its wealth of wildlife, including the Green Hairstreak Butterfly and the Woodcock. There are plenty of attractions for you like the amazing views from Surprise View car park, cafe at White House, Woodland, Heathland, meadowland, Rocky outcrops and orienteering routes.
Chevin Forest Park
Address: The Whitehouse Visitor Centre/Johnny La, Otley LS21 3JL, UK
Website: Chevin Forest Park
18. Leeds Art Gallery
Leeds Art Gallery offers you the chance to see work by some of the most important national and international artists all for free. It is a museum whose collection of 20th-century British Art is recognised by the British government as a collection “of national importance”. It also houses Artspace, a relaxed creative space with art materials and activities that explore themes inspired by current exhibitions; come along and draw, build, reflect and play. Explore the galleries and temporary exhibitions, then take time out in the stunning Victorian Tiled Hall Cafe, and visit the shop and cafe on the lower ground floor. Since January 2016 the gallery has been closed for renovation, and is planning to re-open in October 2017. So plan your visit accordingly.
Leeds Art Gallery
Address: The Headrow, Leeds LS1 3AA, UK
Website: Leeds Art Gallery
19. Armley Mills
Armley Mills is a museum which explores Leeds’s rich industrial past, from textiles to printing, clothing to manufacturing, engineering and locomotives, which the city was famous for. Did you know that the first ever moving image in the world was filmed in Leeds?! Leeds Industrial Museum has a working 1920s cinema where a range of short films are shown. Continuing this theme, there is also a media gallery containing a range of cameras and projectors, as well as printing presses. Come and discover the trades and manufacturing that built this great city at Leeds Industrial Museum. Those with a keen interest in engineering and steam power will love the exhibition of machine tools, large and small engines, and road vehicles galleries. Best of all, is a super collection of locomotives, including the working engine ‘Jack’.
Address: Canal Rd, Leeds LS12 2QF, UK
Website: Armley Mills
20. Harewood House and Gardens
Harewood House is a place filled with culture and heritage, which continues to develop and thrive today. It captures your imagination and feeds your curiosity. Go inside and you’ll be blown away by rare Chippendale furniture and jaw-dropping interior designs on the State Rooms. Make sure you leave time to explore the well-trodden corridors of Below Stairs, a place where young kitchen hands can dress up and discover life as a servant, or you can explore the changing program of contemporary art exhibitions in the Terrace Gallery. And outside you’ll find gardens landscaped by Capability Brown which includes formal gardens, a Bhutanese Stupa, waterfall and Himalayan garden. The bird garden houses over 100 species of rare and exotic birds in sympathetic environments. For kids there is an adventure playground and woodland walks where they can run to their hearts content.
Address: Harewood Estate Office, Sandy Gate, Harewood, Leeds LS17 9LG, UK
Website: Harewood House
21. Abbey House Museum
Abbey House Museum is Leeds’s primary social history museum. On the ground floor visit Stephen Harding Gate, the 19th-century equivalent of a modern high street for some old fashioned retail therapy. In the back streets, see the home of the window washer woman or pop into the Sunday-School. On the first floor, see the Childhood and Community Galleries along with the changing program of exhibitions. It is recognized as Leeds’s most family friendly museum. As well as the recreated Victorian streets, inside the museum there is information on the construction and history of Kirkstall Abbey. It is a great day out for all the family. Come along to one of their many family sessions as advertised on the website or pop in with friends for a trip down memory lane.
Abbey House Museum
Address: Abbey Walk, Leeds LS5 3EH, UK
Website: Abbey House Museum
22. Victoria Gate
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Victoria Gate is one half of Victoria Leeds; a beautiful shopping district recognized as the premium shopping area in the north of England. It has been named as the best in the world at a prestigious international awards ceremony in France. Head to Sidney Street from 9am on Thursday 20th October and you’ll find a large marquee just outside the Victoria Gate entrance. Inside there will be pop-up retailers showcasing their offerings and local artists who will be putting on performances in celebration of Victoria Gate opening. Design of this impressive building is based on the Victorian arcades for which Leeds is renowned.
Address: George St, Leeds LS2 7AU, UK
Website: Victoria Gate
23. Trinity Leeds
Trinity Leeds is the winner of the ‘Best of the Best’ designed shopping centre in the world award 2015. There are 3 floors which include 120 shops including 60 new brands, 25% of the space is dedicated to food and leisure facilities and a four screen art-house cinema.
Address: 27 Albion St, Leeds LS1 5ER, UK
Website: Trinity Leeds
24. The Hepworth Wakefield
The Hepworth Wakefield is the country’s largest purpose-built gallery in nearly 50 years and is named after Wakefield-born sculptor Barbara Hepworth. At the heart of this core collection sit a large number of pieces by Barbara Hepworth herself, who grew up in the city, the daughter of an engineer. The Hepworth makes a gallery trip fun for children and grown-ups alike, with a family gallery trail to help you explore the galleries, a riverside play park and picnic area, and there’s fun on weekends and school holidays, with free and paid for activities: help make giant sculptures, become an art detective with explorer packs or discover how to carve like Barbara Hepworth in one of the workshops.
The Hepworth Wakefield
Address: Gallery Walk, Wakefield WF1 5AW, UK
Website: The Hepworth Wakefield
25. Roundhay Park
Roundhay Park in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, is one of the biggest city parks in Europe. Within the park you will find some wonderful floral displays in the specialist gardens which include the Monet and Alhambra gardens, plus 4 gardens that have been previously exhibited at the Chelsea Flower Show. The park has a scented for the blind National Plant Collections, Canal Gardens, the Monet and Alhambra Gardens, plus Tropical World (also known as Butterfly Gardens and Butterfly World) which attract visitors all year round.
Address: Roundhay Road, Leeds LS8 4AR, England
Website: Roundhay Park
Looking for a weekend away? Visit Leeds, a city packed with variety and excitement. From exploring the city’s parks to hitting the galleries, from opera and art to festivals, cuisine, and things to keep the kids busy, this proud northern city has plenty to offer. Shop like you have never shopped before with over 1,000 shops in the city centre, from luxury and designer stores, high street brands, independent and speciality shops and market stalls. And with a fantastic summer of festivals lined up, there’s even more reasons to visit!
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