Are you heading to the UK and planning to venture up north? 170 miles north of London and just south of the stunning Yorkshire Dales, is pulsating city of Leeds.
In this blog post, I’m going to share with you all of the best things to do in Leeds, the city located in the northern English county of Yorkshire.
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Leeds is one of the best cities to visit in the UK. After uncovering a weekend in the Lake District, I then went on last week to take a micro gap adventure with Visit England to discover the best things to do in Leeds, in Yorkshire. You can check out my guide for planning your weekend in Leeds here.
Leeds is home to five universities, it has the UK’s fourth-largest student population and the country’s fourth-largest urban economy. You can imagine the thriving nightlife scene on offer. There are secret cocktail bars and rooftop venues galore, worth a stop by even if just for the evening!
In this post, I’ve rounded up a bucket list of things to do in Leeds for when you next find yourselves in the city.
Other blog posts and travel guides that you may enjoy:
- 30 of the best places to visit in the UK
- The 15 UK National Parks on a map: Which should you visit?
- The best things to do in Bristol, England
- The best places to go camping in the UK
- The ultimate guide to planning a UK road trip
- A UK road trip checklist: Things to remember
- Europe: The Ultimate Travel Guide
- 22 top tips for travelling in Europe
35 best things to do in Leeds…
1. Wander through Kirkgate Market.
Home to the first ever Marks and Spencers, this Grade I listed building dates back to 1857. It’s also one of the largest indoor markets in Europe, with over 800 stalls to explore. Wandering is free, so it’s a great place to visit in Leeds if you’re on a budget. If you’re looking to buy bits for your stay or souvenirs, the market is perfect for fresh food and groceries, as well as everything from fashion to jewellery, flowers, hardware and haberdashery.
2. Indulge in afternoon tea at The Tetley.
A cup of tea and a scone with clotted cream and jam are waiting for you in the heart of Leeds’ Southbank. You can’t get more English than that, can you? Mmmm-mmmm.
3. Dance the night away on Call Lane.
Leeds is very famous for being an excellent night out. Take the opportunity to put on your dancing shoes and hit one of the cities best party areas!
If you prefer cocktails to clubbing, try one of the many rooftop bars, or cocktail bars such as The Alchemist or Harvey Nichols.
4. Wander through the Arcades, shopping in the independent boutiques.
5. Stroll along the Leeds-Liverpool canal bank.
6. Enjoy some good food and live music at Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen.
Find out more on their website here.
7. Make your own gin!
One of the best things to do in Leeds has to be making your own gin at Liquor Studio. Learn about the botanicals, blend your own gin and then take your bottle home! Find out more here.
8. Head to an independent cinema for the ultimate movie experience.
Hyde Park Picture House and Cottage Road cinema are two independent cinemas in Leeds where you can bring back the old-school, less commercial movie night.
9. Take a barista class at 200 degrees.
Find out everything there is to know about coffee: how to use an espresso machine, how to steam milk into the smoothest of consistencies, how to make THAT heart with the froth on the top of the coffee, how to make the best coffee at home, as well as learning about the different beans, notes and roasting. Book your class here.
10. Take a class at Yoga Hero.
So much cheaper than the London prices you may be used to, but without a drop in quality, and with another fab coffee shop next door (North Star Coffee)! Add some self-care to your trip and take some time to really relax. Book your class and see the timetable here.
See more self-care tips on my blog here.
11. Try local craft beer on a Brewtown tour.
Book your Brewtown tour spot here.
12. Go shopping!
Trinity Mall, Victoria Quarter, White Rose Centre… this compact city is a shopaholic’s dream!
13. Have a drink in The Bingley Arms, Britain’s oldest pub.
It dates back over 1,000 years! Address: Church Ln, LS17 9DR.
14. Treat yourself to beers and dinner at the Northern Monk Refectory.
With great food in general and particularly great vegan dishes and craft beer, this isn’t one you want to miss. Book your table here.
15. Dine at Ox Club.
The best Yorkshire has to offer. Not only because the food is Michelin-listed, but because there is even a rooftop area for when the weather is warmer! Book your table here.
16. Try out the Owl Trail.
Find all 25 owls hidden in the city, while also visiting all the famous monuments… I’ve heard it’s a hoot! Find out more here.
17. Paint your own pottery at Jackrabbits.
One of the most fun and creative things to do in Leeds! Find out more here.
18. Lose yourself in art, history and culture.
A few galleries, museums and monuments to check out include…
- Temple Newsam. A country estate on the outskirts of Leeds. Find out more here.
- Thackray Medical Museum. Find out more here.
- Royal Armouries Museum. Find out more here.
- Henry Moore Institute. Sculpture exhibitions. Find out more here.
- Kirkstall Abbey. Find out more here.
- Harewood House. A country estate on the outskirts of Leeds. Find out more here.
- Leeds City Museum. Find out more here.
19. Visit the meerkats and take in the fresh air at Roundhay Park.
Other green spaces to visit in Leeds include:
- Bramham Park
- Rodley Nature reserve
- St Aidan’s nature park
- Meanwood Valley
- Yeadon Tarn
- Ilkley Moor
20. Take on Leeds Country Way.
Challenge yourself and take a few days to complete this 62-mile circular route round the city. Check out the route here.
21. Take an alpaca for a walk.
This is something I did in the South Downs and loved! There are several companies that offer this in and around Leeds, including Harewood House, Treeside Alpacas and Posey Pacas. If you prefer llamas, the alpaca’s cousin, check out Nidderdales Llamas in Harrogate.
22. Check what’s on at the Grand Theatre or Leeds Playhouse.
23. Visit The Donkey Sanctuary and support a good cause.
24. Check out Leeds Corn Exchange.
An impressive Victorian structure filled with independent retailers and eateries.
25. Grab a bite to eat from Trinity Kitchen.
More vegan yumminess in the form of street food! Find out more here.
26. Christmas markets!
Leeds is magical at Christmas, with one of the best Christmas markets in the UK. If you visit in December, don’t miss it!
Check out my Christmas market road trip through Europe here.
27. Have a laugh at the free Comedy Cellar Tuesday nights at Verve.
28. Get active and try bouldering at Caley Crags.
Located about 20 minutes outside Leeds city centre, on Leeds Road.
29. Leeds Festival.
One of the biggest festivals in the UK, you’re sure to have fun here. Get tickets and check the line up here.
30. The Otley Run.
The iron man for drinkers, this challenge is not for the faint-hearted! Now one of the oldest established pub crawls in the UK, drink your way through 11-19 establishments (depending on the route you take) on your way from Headingley to Leeds city centre.
Don’t feel pressured into drinking too much. Drinking water is allowed, in fact, encouraged. Know your limit and please drink responsibly.
31. Escape the city and go to the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Wrap up warm and take advantage of the fresh air and rolling hills of Yorkshire: close enough to the city to get to, far away enough to fully switch off…
Check out my guide to the Yorkshire Dales National Park here.
32. Explore the Yorkshire countryside in a tuk tuk.
Who needs Thailand when you have Andrew in Yorkshire?!
33. Take on the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge.
Check out the full blog post here, or the videos below…
34. Enjoy more tea and coffee at Betty’s Tearooms.
Hop on a short 30-minute train to the nearby spa town of Harrogate. Then head to Betty’s the famous cafe for a hot drink and a slice of cake when England’s weather isn’t being so kind. By the way, the cake tastes great in the sunshine too. Book afternoon tea here.
35. Visit Harrogate’s Victorian Turkish baths.
One of the 7 remaining Turkish Baths that date back to the 19th century, this one has been fully restored and is honestly stunning inside: the perfect place to relax in a tranquil environment. Book your Turkish bath experience here.