18 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Leeds, West Yorkshire

Written by Bryan Dearsley Updated Dec 26, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

Author Bryan Dearsley visited Northern England in the spring of 2022 and explored Yorkshire, including the city of Leeds .

This pleasant university city on the River Aire in West Yorkshire offers great shopping and sightseeing in its historic downtown area, and has a number of interesting museums and art galleries among its attractions. Leeds also has a long-established tradition of industry, especially textiles, and its primary importance is as West Yorkshire's commercial and financial center.

Corn Exchange in Leeds

The city is also the cultural hub of the area and boasts numerous fun things to do. Highlights include annual events such as the Leeds Festival in Bramham Park; the Leeds International Concert Season , a year-long celebration of music featuring more than 200 concerts; and the Leeds International Film Festival , England's second-largest festival dedicated to cinema.

The city's many attractive parks and gardens are ideal for relaxing walks. Must-visits include the 700-acre Roundhay Park , one of the country's largest city parks, and Golden Acre Park .

The surrounding Yorkshire Dales and moors are also worth exploring and offer some of the country's best hiking and biking trails. Particularly popular is the Meanwood Valley Trail , site of an annual footrace that draws participants from across Britain, along with famous Ilkley Moor.

To learn more about why Leeds is fast becoming one of the most popular places to visit in England, be sure to read through our list of the top tourist attractions in Leeds, West Yorkshire.

See also: Where to Stay in Leeds

1. Civic Quarter & Leeds Civic Hall

2. the headrow & leeds town hall, 3. briggate, 4. the victoria quarter, 5. the royal armouries museum, leeds, 6. st. john the evangelist's church, 7. leeds corn exchange, 8. harewood house, harewood, 9. leeds industrial museum at armley mills, armley, 10. leeds art gallery, 11. temple newsam house, 12. thackray medical museum, 13. leeds grand theatre & opera house, 14. lotherton hall, aberford, 15. abbey house and museum, kirkstall, 16. the cathedral city of wakefield, 17. the national coal mining museum for england, overton, 18. harrogate: britain's floral resort, where to stay in leeds for sightseeing.

Leeds Civic Hall

The hub of Leeds' Civic Quarter is the pedestrian area known as City Square . It is famous for its numerous statues, including figures of the Black Prince and inventor James Watt, and is a popular public space for locals and visitors alike to spend time.

A variety of the city's most important cultural attractions are also located within the Civic Quarter. The top places to visit for a dose of culture include the excellent Leeds Art Gallery, the Henry Moore Institute, and the interesting Craft Centre and Design Gallery that features works by local and national artisans (many of them for sale).

Civic Quarter

Another important city structure is Leeds Civic Hall with its owl-decorated towers, the heraldic emblem of the city. Free tours and exhibits are held frequently.

Finally, be sure to visit Millennium Square, a focal point for theatrical performances and concerts. The square is also the location of Leeds City Museum, with its excellent departments of geology, zoology, ethnology, and archaeology.

Leeds Town Hall in the Headrow

The Headrow is a pedestrian-friendly half-mile-long avenue where many of the city's premier shopping, civic, and cultural attractions are found.

Perhaps the most notable building here is Leeds Town Hall, which served as the template for countless civic buildings across Britain and its empire. It was consecrated in 1858 by Queen Victoria. A lovely Corinthian colonnade adorns its front, dominated by a 200-foot-tall clock tower. Its ornate Victoria Hall is used frequently for concerts. Note that the building is currently undergoing a massive refurbishment and is closed to the public until 2024.

Headrow leads into Westgate, Eastgate, and Quarry Hill, which also host important cultural attractions. These include the West Yorkshire Playhouse , the biggest production theater outside London, and the Grade-II-listed Leeds City Varieties , the oldest music hall in the world.

Another theatrical landmark is the Grand Theatre . This "grand" old opera house serves as home to Opera North.

Address: The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire

Official site:

Building in the Briggate

The pedestrianized Briggate area is famous for its historic shopping arcades , many of them of architectural significance. Those to explore include Grand Arcade, built in 1897 and home to a number of small boutique shops, and Thorntons Arcade , which was completed in 1878 and notable for its clock with four life-size figures.

Shopping arcade in the Briggate

Also worth visiting is Queens Arcade. Opened in 1889, it's home to a variety of high-end designer and novelty shops. A more modern affair, Trinity Leeds is a vast indoor shopping and entertainment complex where it's easy to spend a few hours exploring.

Queen Victoria Street in the Victoria Quarter

The Victoria Quarter is another great destination in Leeds city center for shopping enthusiasts. The jewel in the crown here is undoubtedly Queen Victoria Street . Although only arcaded in 1990, it's the largest expanse of stained glass in Europe and worth visiting if only for a stroll.

The neighboring County Arcade in the Victoria Quarter was completed in 1903 and is also fun to explore. Highlights include its magnificent marble floors, intricate stonework, and elegant iron domes.

Address: Queen Victoria St., Leeds, West Yorkshire

Official site:

The Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds

Located in the city's dock area, the Royal Armouries Museum is home to Britain's national collection of arms and armor. Boasting more than 8,500 objects on display in six impressive galleries, the museum covers some 3,000 years of armor and weaponry from across the globe.

Highlights include the Tournament Gallery, showcasing the splendor (and brutality) of medieval jousting tournaments, and this is also where you'll find the full-body armor worn by Henry VIII. Also worth seeing is the impressive Oriental Gallery with its many fine examples of arms and armor from Africa and Asia.

There's even a collection of weapons and swords used in the hit movie, The Lord of the Rings . Add live demonstrations and stunning re-enactments to the mix, and this museum is a must-see.

A café and shop are located on the premises.

Address: Armouries Drive, Leeds, West Yorkshire

Official site:

St. John the Evangelist's Church

The finest of Leeds' many lovely churches, and also the city's oldest, is St. John's in New Briggate. Built in 1634, its interior is notable for having two naves, as well as an original Renaissance rood screen, pulpit, and stalls.

Other religious sites worth visiting in Leeds include St. Anne's Cathedral, the Roman Catholic cathedral in Cookridge Street (built 1904), and the Georgian Church of Holy Trinity on the riverbank in Boar Lane (1727).

Also check out the Parish Church of Saint Peter-at-Leeds. Perhaps better known as Leeds Minster, this medieval church was rebuilt in 1841 and is the city's oldest parish church.

Address: 23 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire

Official site:

Leeds Corn Exchange

One of only three such structures surviving in the UK, the Grade I listed Leeds Corn Exchange is considered one of England's finest Victorian-era buildings. Designed by Cuthbert Brodrick and completed in 1864, the building is now home to an eclectic variety of independent boutique shops, galleries, and cafés.

The Corn Exchange is also a popular venue for everything from markets and fairs to boxing events and concerts.

Location: Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire

Official site:

Harewood House

Harewood House, seat of the Earl of Harewood, is a magnificent Georgian country house that took 30 years to build and was completed in 1771. Just eight miles north of Leeds, this spectacular home has interiors designed by Robert Adam and includes fine wall and ceiling paintings by Angelika Kauffmann and furniture by renowned English furniture maker Thomas Chippendale .

As well as an outstanding collection of porcelain, it has a large number of valuable works by the likes of Reynolds, Gainsborough, and El Greco. Outside, the grounds include a beautiful landscape designed by Capability Brown, with a 32-acre lake, a bird garden, and the remains of a 12th-century castle.

For a truly memorable stay, book into one of the estate's self-catering cottages, all within easy walking distance of the main house.

Address: Sandy Gate, Harewood, Leeds, West Yorkshire

Official site:

Aerial view of Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills

Just two miles west of Leeds city center on Canal Road is the former Armley Mills. Once the world's largest woolen mills, this huge building is now home to the excellent Leeds Industrial Museum.

The museum presents the fascinating history of wool production in Yorkshire from the 18th century onwards, as well as exhibits concerning the manufacturing of textiles and clothing, printing, engineering, and locomotives.

While there, spend a little time exploring the nearby Leeds and Liverpool Canal, which links these two important industrial cities. Stretching 127 miles and even crossing the Pennines, this remarkable feat of engineering encompasses some 91 locks on its main line. The Thwaite Mill , a carefully restored watermill in nearby Stourton , is also worth visiting.

Address: Canal Road, Armley, Leeds, West Yorkshire

Official site:

Leeds Art Gallery

Set in Victoria Square near the old Town Hall, a visit to Leeds Art Gallery is a must for art lovers. Its superb collection of works by British artists include 750 paintings by J.S. Cotman (1782-1842), as well as works by Constable and Gainsborough.

Other highlights include works by Italian and French masters such as Courbet, Renoir, and Signac. The neighboring Henry Moore Institute features sculpture galleries containing works by the artist and his contemporaries Jacob Epstein and Barbara Hepworth.

Official site:

Temple Newsam House

Temple Newsam House, a magnificent 40-room Tudor-Jacobean mansion, is a must-see when in Leeds. Set in a sprawling 900-acre park on the city's outskirts, it's famous as the birthplace of Lord Darnley, the husband of Mary Queen of Scots.

Interior highlights include a variety of Old Master paintings, as well as furniture by Thomas Chippendale and collections of Leeds creamware and silver. Exterior highlights include the beautifully manicured grounds with their marvelous rose bushes and rhododendrons, as well as one of the largest working rare breeds farms in Europe.

A café serving afternoon tea and other offerings is located on-site.

Address: Temple Newsam Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire

Official site:

Thackray Medical Museum

The interesting and recently renovated Thackray Medical Museum is well worth checking out. Located next to St. James's University Hospital, this fascinating museum has a collection of 20,000 medical artifacts, and displays the development of medicine through the ages.

Displays include an authentic reproduction of a slum area of Leeds during Victorian times, including the sights, sounds, and even smells that would have permeated such neighborhoods. Other exhibits deal with areas of healthcare and surgery, as well as childbirth. A café and shop are located on the premises.

Address: 141 Beckett Street, Harehills, Leeds, West Yorkshire

Official site:

Grand Theatre in Leeds

The most important of three historic venues owned and operated by the city of Leeds, the Grand Theatre was built in 1878 and can host up to 1,500 patrons. Centrally located in the city's Briggate district, this attractive red brick building is a focal point for theatre-goers and music lovers thanks to its eclectic program of shows.

In addition to featuring the latest West End theater productions and musicals, pop groups and musicians make it a stop on their cross-country touring schedules. It's also home to Opera North, one of the country's leading operatic companies, which is renown for featuring world premieres of new operas as well as the classics.

Fun workshops and behind-the-scenes tours are also available.

Address: 46 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire

Official site:

Lotherton Hall

Edwardian era Lotherton Hall was built before WWI for the Gascoigne family, avid collectors of antiquities and art. Particularly good are the Oriental Gallery, which has items dating back to the 19th century, and the Nightingale Gallery displaying the work of local artists.

The house is surrounded by a formal Edwardian garden and a bird garden that's home to over 200 species. There are also a number of superb walking trails on-site, as well as an adventure playground for the kids. A picnic area and café are also available for visitors to use.

Location: Off Collier Lane, Aberford, Leeds, West Yorkshire

Official site:

Abbey House and Museum

Located about four miles west of Leeds in Aire Valley, Abbey House Museum in Kirkstall is in a magnificent Cistercian house built in 1152. The picturesque remains include a roofless church with a narrow choir and a ruined tower, an almost completely preserved chapterhouse, as well as a refectory, kitchen, and various other buildings.

The gatehouse is now part of the Abbey House Museum with its reproduction houses, shops, and workshops illustrating life in Yorkshire through the centuries. If visiting near Christmas, check the attraction's website for details of special events and programs for the kids.

Address: Abbey Walk, Abbey Rd, Kirkstall, Leeds, West Yorkshire

Official site:

Wakefield Cathedral

The cathedral city of Wakefield, an easy 30-minute drive south of Leeds, contains an interesting open-air sculpture gallery and is the birthplace of English author George Gissing (1857-1903). The Wakefield Theatre hosts performing arts events, as well as a city museum.

Other notable attractions include the ruins of Sandal Castle, Wakefield Cathedral, the and Wakefield Art Gallery. Also worth visiting is Nostell Priory , built on the site of a medieval priory in the 18th century. The house contains a collection of Chippendale furniture, paintings, and Chinese wallpapers.

The National Coal Mining Museum for England

Another popular destination that's popular for tourists is the National Coal Mining Museum for England. Located at the former Caphouse Colliery in Overton, just a short drive from Wakefield, this first-rate attraction showcases the often hard life of the miners at one of the country's oldest coal mines, as it dates as far back as the 1770s.

Highlights include guided underground tours and a visitor center with exhibits relating to the colliery's long history. For the kids, be sure to catch the fun ride on one of the "paddy" trains used to haul workers around the vast site.

Address: Caphouse Colliery, New Road, Overton, West Yorshire

Official site:

Harrogate: Britain's Floral Resort

Harrogate is a pretty spa town that owes its fame to the medicinal springs discovered here in the 16th century. Today, it's primarily a holiday resort known for its parks and flowers , earning it the title of Britain's Floral Resort.

One of its most popular attractions is RHS Garden Harlow Carr . In addition to its diverse garden types, there's a museum of gardening, a model village, and guided tours of the 68-acre site. Harrogate also enjoys a reputation for great shopping on account of its elegant boutiques and antique shops.

For culture vultures, the year-round Harrogate International Festivals consist of a series of excellent festivals. Considered to be among the best such events in the UK, they feature everything from opera to drama performances, as well as cabaret, street theater, and literary events.

Address: 32 Cheltenham Parade, Harrogate, North Yorkshire

Official site:

We recommend these centrally located hotels near the top attractions in Leeds:

  • The Chambers Park Place : This 4-star hotel features luxury apartments in a turn-of-the-century building, individually decorated suites, a library, and underground parking.
  • Dakota Leeds : A great choice of mid-range hotel, the Dakota offers stylish décor, subtle lighting, high-quality linens, and rainfall showers in its rooms and suites.
  • Roomzzz Aparthotel Leeds City : Popular for its affordable rates, trendy décor, and mix of studios and apartments with kitchens, this hotel also offers a free grab-and-go breakfast.
  • Premier Inn Leeds City Centre (Leeds Arena) : This budget hotel is set in a convenient location and features modern décor and clean rooms.

Leeds Map - Tourist Attractions

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Leeds Corn Exchange

The 22 best things to do in Leeds right now

Whether you’re spending a day out visiting stately homes or cutting-edge culture, our pick of the best things to do in Leeds has you covered

Photograph: J. Jackson UK /

Daniel Dylan Wray

Leeds is a vibrant city that offers the best of both worlds.  Its proximity to beautiful national parks and the Yorkshire Dales means that a trip to scenic, rolling green hills, dotted with chocolate box villages, is always an option for a day out.

But for those craving an urban adventure, you’ll find a food, culture, and shopping-packed centre that offers up plentiful options –  offering the perfect balance between bustling city living and proximity to the great outdoors. Whether you’re here for the top-notch galleries , the pioneering restaurants and bars , the incredibly vibrant street food scene or to escape into nearby beauty, here are some unmissable things to do in Leeds right now.

RECOMMENDED: 🍔 The best restaurants in Leeds 🍸 The best bars in Leeds 🌳 The best things to do in the UK

At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines .

Been there, done that? Think again, my friend.

Fun things to do in Leeds

1.  go wildlife spotting at rodley nature reserve.

Go wildlife spotting at Rodley Nature Reserve

What is it? The River Aire and the Leeds-Liverpool canal run through the heart of the city and lead towards scenic spots like Rodley Nature Reserve , a thriving wetland wildlife haven. 

Why go?  Created  on a floodplain in Kirkstall Valley to bring wetland wildlife back into the Leeds area, it’s entirely possible to spend hours here. From lagoons and marshes to meadows, woodlands and grasslands there are plenty of places to species spot in tranquil surroundings. 

Don’t miss: Look out for events and activities like birdwatching and pond-dipping. 

2.  Wander around the ruins of Kirkstall Abbey

Wander around the ruins of Kirkstall Abbey

What is it? A short trip out of town, Kirkstall Abbey  and its adjoining Abbey House Museum lets guests wander through the ruins of a Cistercian monastery and learn about how the monks lived. 

Why go?  This 900-year-old abbey is an architectural marvel as well as a haven for wildlife.

Don’t miss: In the summer months you can enjoy alfresco cinema among the ruins. 

3.  Stroll down The Arcades

Stroll down The Arcades

What is it?  A  number of elegant, ornate shopping arcades comprising the Victoria Quarter, Grand, Queens and Thorntons. 

Why go?  The major draw of these neat and pretty rows of covered shopping malls is that there are practically no chains to be found. Walk along the  elegant walkways and admire the  art nouveau shopfronts  full of high-end designer shops, boutiques and cool indie businesses.  For luxury fashion head to the Victoria Quarter , which houses shops like Louis Vuitton, Mulberry, Reiss and a huge Harvey Nichols, swig down a stiff drink at Santiago’s in the Grand Arcade , and find cool independents like magazine shop Village and Weekend Skate Store in Thorntons. 

Don’t miss:   Leeds’s arcades aren’t all vintage. The city’s newest shopping arcade Victoria Gate is a snazzy £165 million development that wouldn’t look out of place in Dubai. It houses the North’s flagship John Lewis store and a Clarins spa. 

4.  Discover birds, period art and ruins at Harewood House

Discover birds, period art and ruins at Harewood House

What is it? A handsome-looking eighteenth-century pile  on the outskirts of Leeds  set in 100 acres of lush Yorkshire countryside. 

Why go?  H ead inside Harewood House to explore the ornate, stately rooms and see one of the finest art collections in Britain. T he mansion is also home to a flock of hopelessly cute Humboldt penguins. Take the whole family along in summer to enjoy the bird garden and farm and to witness the daily feeding sessions.

Don’t miss: Head into the wider grounds of the estate to   take a peek at the otherworldly ruins of Harewood Castle – the oldest building in the grounds, which sits on a steep north-facing slope with spectacular views up and down Wharfedale. Keep an eye out for Red Kites soaring overhead. The birds of prey were released on the Harewood estate in 1999 as part of a UK conservation initiative.

5.  Drink like a Northerner on a Brewtown tour

Drink like a Northerner on a Brewtown tour

What is it? Brewtown tours  offer novices and connoisseurs alike the chance to try an array of beers from three  top-notch local brewers .

Why go? Yorkshire is riding high on the trend for craft beer and real ales, and Leeds is a great starting point to sample the best the county has to offer (it’s chock-full of independent breweries and pubs).

Don’t miss: A chance to sip pints at Northern Monk and North Brewing Co – two of the best craft breweries in Leeds. 

6.  Head on a street art trail

Head on a street art trail

What is it? A sprawling walk all around Leeds taking in some of the visionary street art that lines many of the city’s walls.

Why go? To experience art in a different way, in a different environment – and without paying a penny. The Street Art Trail is also an amazing way to get to know the city and explore parts of it you may be less familiar with, while gaining a newfound appreciation for the sheer volume (and variety) of street art that is featured so heavily across the city. 

Don’t miss: If you’re a football fan then the several Leeds United murals scattered across the city may appeal, such as one by P19 on The Calls. For more of their art, check out the side of Wharf Chambers where you’ll find a colourful but carbon-conscious and waste-aware mural. This was created using Graphenstone Biosphere paint and the mural will absorb the same amount of CO2 as an adult tree in only three years.

7.  Explore Temple Newsam House

Explore Temple Newsam House

What is it? An imposing Tudor-Jacobean mansion with grounds landscaped by Capability Brown.

Why go? Sometimes described as the ’Hampton Court Palace of the North’, Temple Newsam  provides a breathtaking journey into history.  Framed within acres of beautiful parkland and sculpted gardens, the house is filled with centuries-old artefacts. Explore the Grade I-listed building’s many rooms, packed with period pieces such as weaponry, clothing, tableware and furniture.

Don’t miss: A stroll down the vibrant rhododendron walk and a look at the herb arrangements, rose bushes and floral display. There are plenty of great picnicking spots here too. 

8.  Get your green fix at Roundhay Park

Get your green fix at Roundhay Park

What is it? Stretching over 700 acres, Roundhay Park is a go-to for picnickers, dog-walkers, joggers and sun-worshippers. 

Why go? It’s the only park in Leeds that has a family of meerkats as residents. There are also lakes, woodland, gardens and the pièce de résistance, ‘Tropical World’, which is home to all things wild and wonderful. 

Don’t miss: Hop on board the park ‘train’, which does circuits of the park every 15 minutes in the summer setting off from the  Lakeside Café to the main park gates and back again. You’ll also find Leeds’s biggest bonfire and fireworks here on Guy Fawkes Night. 

9.  Shop for indie wares at The Corn Exchange

Shop for indie wares at The Corn Exchange

What is it? Part retail space, part food hub, in a stunning Victorian building.

Why go?  R esembling the cross-hatched and cavernous inner chamber of some great airship, the Grade I-listed building is breathtaking to step inside. And you’ll quickly be distracted by  quirky shops selling handmade jewellery, vintage cameras and more. The Corn Exchange is home to an array of indie shops and boutiques that beckon shoppers away from the chain stores outside.

Don’t miss: The lower ground level has also been transformed into a hub for independent food traders. Plus, look out for regular craft fairs and street food festivals. 

10.  Party into the night at Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen

Party into the night at Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen

What is it?  All the benefits of an outdoor festival under one cosy roof – whether you want street food, local craft ales, live music or just somewhere to lounge around.

Why go?  What was once a large nursery school in the city’s Northern Quarter is now a vibrant, youthful, multi-storey hangout. Belgrave  is also one of the city’s best live music venues thanks to the fact it’s the brainchild of the Beacons Festival organisers. The first floor is dedicated to high-quality, reasonably priced street food and local craft beer and there’s a  gig space upstairs.  But it’s the rooftop terrace, which is the venue’s secret delight, with great views and benches to while away long summer evenings with friends.

Don’t miss: Belgrave is one of the main venues for the city’s Live at Leeds festival where you can catch gigs from emerging local bands and big names. 

11.  Drink some of the best cocktails in the country

Drink some of the best cocktails in the country

What is it? Leeds is home to some of the best cocktail bars in the UK.

Why go? Of the top 50 cocktail bars in the UK, four of them are in Leeds, making it one of the most highly represented cities in the country outside of London. So go and sample literally some of the tastiest and most innovative drinks concotions being made in the country. The four that featured in the top 50 are: Jake’s Bar & Still Room , Roland’s , Below Stairs and Hedonist .

12.  See world-renowned sculpture at The Henry Moore Institute

See world-renowned sculpture at The Henry Moore Institute

What is it? A world-renowned contemporary sculpture gallery, where you can take in towering three-dimensional art, attend lectures on architecture and eyeball art at one-off exhibitions. 

Why go? To survey work inspired by (rather than created by) Henry Moore. Those familiar with the great sculptor should know that his own work can be found at Yorkshire Sculpture Park or his estate at Perry Green. The Henry Moore Institute makes for a great city-centre culture-fix. 

13.  Get a dose of high-brow culture at Leeds Grand Theatre

Get a dose of high-brow culture at Leeds Grand Theatre

What is it?  Opera voices reverberate, ballet dancers pirouette, and panto villains shout ‘oh no he didn’t!’ with theatrical gusto on the Grand’s stage.

Why go? Leeds Grand Theatre  lives up to its name with ornate ceilings, an enormous, glittering chandelier, sweeping staircases and seating levels stretching up high into the clouds. This is a key venue for local troupes Opera North and Northern Ballet, which regularly put on classic, avant-garde or lesser-known productions (and showcase world-class talent). 

Don’t miss : Pub-restaurant The Reliance , just around the corner, has a great pre-theatre menu on weekdays. 

14.  See the country’s national collection of arms and armour at Royal Armouries

See the country’s national collection of arms and armour at Royal Armouries

What is it?  A vast free-entry museum containing more than 8,500 war-related  treasures such as Henry VIII’s tournament armour, elephant armour, and objects from popular culture such as the ‘Aliens’ pulse rifle.

Why go?  You won’t need a strong interest in history to find the Armouries captivating, or to be bowled over by the 70,000 artefacts on display. A globally diverse collection of arms, armour and artillery dates from antiquity to the present day, and includes royal armour for kings and horses with swords and helmets through the centuries, before charting the invention and rapid evolution of guns as we know them today. Bullets, uniforms, knives, chainmail, pistols and cannons are meticulously laid out in immersive exhibitions alongside painted portraits and drawings depicting war or those involved in it.

Don’t miss: Look out for a daily programme of dramatic performances, tours, talks and live combat displays bringing history to life.

15.  Immerse yourself in history at The Thackray Museum of Medicine

Immerse yourself in history at The Thackray Museum of Medicine

What is it?  A wonderfully dark yet incredibly informative museum offering an immersive journey through the hit-and-miss history of healing. 

Why go? Get  hands-on with history, and learn about the past without even  realising  it’s an educational experience. At the Thackray Museum of Medicine you can learn all about the development of  medicine by wandering through the streets of Victorian Leeds, watching gruesome operations in a nineteenth-century operating theatre and visiting a seventies-style sexual health clinic. 

16.  Explore the canals

Explore the canals

What is it? A walk along Leeds’s lovely canals.

Why go? Travelling via canal boat on the Leeds-to-Liverpool route is a popular holiday activity but for those wanting to enjoy similarly serene vibes in the centre, the city itself offers many decent walks. Of course you can do parts of it in smaller sections here and there but if you want to tackle the whole thing then there is a whopping 13-mile option. Starting at Leeds Station, you’ll get to take in Kirkstall Abbey, Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve, Bramley Hall Park, Rodley Nature Reserve, Calverley Woods and Buck Wood. 

Don’t miss: A beer at Saltaire brewery. The walk finishes in Saltaire, a beautiful Unesco World Heritage Site, so put your feet up, enjoy a few and then take the train home – or walk back if you’re feeling superhuman.

17.  Tuck in at Tharavadu

Tuck in at Tharavadu

What is it?  Roughly translated, ‘tharavadu’ means keeping traditions alive, and that’s exactly what happens at this highly rated Keralan restaurant.

Why go? Tharavadu 's menu looks beyond the predictable kormas and tikka masalas to feature a mouthwatering selection of south Indian dishes. Tuck into delicately spiced novelties such as a whole crab cooked in coconut sauce, fluffy fried lentil doughnuts and toffee-filled steamed rice cake. 

18.  See cutting-edge theatre at Leeds Playhouse

See cutting-edge theatre at Leeds Playhouse

What is it?  Formerly known as West Yorkshire Playhouse, this famed theatre at Quarry Hill stages world-class theatre from some of the country’s largest touring plays and ballets.

Why go?  Every famous production imaginable has toured via the Leeds Playhouse , but the theatre isn’t afraid to take risks, with lesser-known or more challenging works. Children are particularly well catered for, with plenty of shows on during school holidays, featuring fairy tales, pantomimes and sing-alongs staged to engage young minds. 

Don’t miss: The on-site restaurant serves good-quality food all day long, and you don’t have to be a ticketholder to dine. 

19.  See an arthouse film at Hyde Park Picture House

See an arthouse film at Hyde Park Picture House

What is it?  With a history spanning more than a century (it opened just after World War I), Hyde Park Picture House is one of the UK’s oldest cinemas and the only surviving gas-lit cinema in the country. 

Why go?  It promises a vastly superior experience to your usual mammoth screen complexes, with pocket-friendly prices, half-time ice-cream vendors and a programme of art-house, indie and foreign films. It’s also a stunning place to sit in. The Grade II-listed building still has its original gas lamps, a beautiful Burmantofts tiled surround, terrazzo flooring, stained-glass windows and vintage signs.

Don’t miss: Thanks to a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the cinema has undergone a much-needed redevelopment that will improve access at the Edwardian venue and upgrade it to modern standards. 

20.  Go code-cracking at Tick Tock Unlock

Go code-cracking at Tick Tock Unlock

What is it?  Leeds’s biggest escape game centre and a veritable noodle-scratcher of an experience. 

Why go? One of the most popular attractions in Leeds is the mysteriously titled Tick Tock Unlock , where visitors are locked in a room with a series of riddles and puzzles and the challenge of escaping within 60 minutes.

21.  Catch a gig at Brudenell Social Club

  • Music venues

Catch a gig at Brudenell Social Club

What is it?   A working men’s club turned music venue that’s  arguably the jewel in Leeds’s music-scene crown.

Why go?  To see the best new bands from both sides of the Atlantic and eat a pie, all under one roof. The Brudenell Social Club might be a bit of a trek away from Leeds city centre, but there’s a reason that it’ s still one of the area’s most treasured venues. In the live rooms, you’ve got a lovingly programmed bill of bands from new faves to established big hitters; in the bar area, you can play darts and chow down on grub from Pieminister. What’s not to love?

Don’t miss: The iconic venue plays host to the annual Live at Leeds and Gold Sounds festivals.

22.  Stay up late on Call Lane

Stay up late on Call Lane

What is it? Often likened to Manchester’s famous Canal Street, Call Lane is a city-centre ‘strip’ that’s has earned a nationwide reputation for wild nights out. 

Why go?  Stuffed with bars and clubs in every building, the entire road is pedestrianised at weekends to play host to thousands of revellers hopping from one bar to the next before finding their groove in one of the many clubs. Roland ’s, Call Lane Social and neon bar Cuckoo are among the most popular venues, while Smokestack , Neon Cactus and Oporto provide alternative experiences without straying from the beating heart of the action.

Don’t miss:  Most of the bars along Call Lane are open until around 3am, but if you really want to stay out to the wee hours head up the street to indie club Wire or around the corner to Space for house music. 

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The Crazy Tourist

Home » Travel Guides » United Kingdom » England » 25 Best Things to Do in Leeds (England)

25 Best Things to Do in Leeds (England)

Leeds is situated within Yorkshire, in England . Considered to be one of the gems of the north, it has an array of Victorian buildings and modern architecture, providing the perfect contrast that most travellers don’t get the chance to see in one place. Attracting millions of tourists and students every year it’s not shocking that many people find themselves wanting to travel to Leeds while they’re in the north of England.

You’ll get the opportunity in this list of the best things to do in Leeds to see just how many fun things there are for you to experience, and just how much of a family friendly city it is. Many of the attractions focus their attentions to also catering to a younger audience, making it perfect for both solo travellers and families alike.

1. Roundhay Park

Roundhay Park, Leeds

Within the cities of England, it’s often hard to find beautiful green locations, although they are plentiful outside of the cities. At just three miles north of Leeds City Centre you can find a whole 700 acres of rolling parkland, two clear lakes and woodland as far as the eye can see. Alongside the natural beauty of nature there are several formal gardens, and two playgrounds to keep your travelling children entertained. So to escape the busy style of the city while you travel, you can easily catch one of the buses that runs regularly from Leeds City Centre and have yourselves a beautiful family outing.

2. Tropical World

Meerkat at Tropical World

Fitting in perfectly with our list is Tropical World, which is actually situated in Roundhay Park. This is fantastic for you, not only is it a popular attraction but it will also offer you some shelter from the weather should it turn bad. There is a small admission fee of £5 for adults, or £2.50 for children, but it’s more than worth it for what you’ll be seeing. Step inside the building to see a butterfly house that houses up to forty different varieties of butterflies from around the world. Go from the rainforest to the Australian outback before venturing across the desert. Not only will you get your money’s worth just based on that, there are also a number of rare birds, reptiles and bats. But the star of the show involves the cheekiest family you’ll meet in Leeds, the meerkats!

3. Murgatroyds

Fish & Chips

No matter where you go in the world chances are you’ll meet people who naturally think of fish and chips when they think of English people. It’s a stereotype that we can happily live up to, and a tradition that you should certainly dive into head first while you travel here. Murgatroyds is quite possibly the best fish and chip restaurant in England, with a reputation that means you could be queueing for a little while if you don’t make a reservation. Although it is a little more expensive than a normal fish and chip shop, with a haddock fillet and chips costing £9.95, it’s more than worth it for the fresh quality of food that you’re provided with. For people who may be travelling you who don’t like fish and chips, they also serve things like chicken breasts, lasagne and cheese and tomato pizza. So there’s something that will satisfy your taste buds.

4. The Royal Armouries

The Royal Armouries, Leeds

Do you like history? If so, The Royal Armouries in Leeds is the place for you. With 8,500 objects across six themed galleries, there is certainly a lot to be seen in the free admission attraction. You can see pieces that are focused on hunting, peace, war, tournaments, self-defence and even oriental pieces. The collection was deliberately created for visitors to view, and its origins lie all the way back in the middle ages. The rest of The Royal Armouries items lay in The Tower of London. Something within the national museum of arms and armour will captivate your attention and your imagination.

5. Trinity Shopping Centre

Trinity Shopping Centre, Leeds

It wouldn’t be an English city without a shopping centre that you should definitely visit while you’re on your trip. For many people who live in Leeds, and many tourists who visit, the Trinity Shopping Centre leaves an impression on them. It houses retail, dining and leisure options, as well as providing entertainment. But if you find yourself in Leeds over the Winter you’ll get to see the beautiful Christmas decorations that seem to appear overnight, with Christmas trees and lights that make it appear to be a wonderland. So treat yourself to something new, or go grab a bite to eat at the Chicago Rib Shack, you’ll enjoy yourselves under the roof of the Trinity Shopping Centre.

6. Leeds Corn Exchange

Leeds Corn Exchange

Unlike most modern day shopping centres, this one is situated in one of the finest Victorian buildings standing in the north of England. Proving itself to be an architectural masterpiece and one of the cultural icons that makes Leeds the city that it is today. If you prefer independent retail enterprises to large chain shops, this is where you belong. With everything from independent music shops to some beautiful hand crafted jewellery shops you’ll get to satisfy your curiosity getting lost in there. Hunt through Twit-Woo Vintage, sit and have a coffee in Vanilla one of sit and eat in Humpit, one of the first hummus and pita bars in Leeds.

7. Jackrabbits Pottery

Painting Pottery

If you’re parents, you’ll surely know just how hard it can be to keep your children entertained when they’re in a café. Luckily Jackrabbits provides the perfect one step solution to that, they’re a pottery café. So you can sit and eat cake and sandwiches while choosing from a wide range of pottery items to paint. Now they do vary in price, ranging from £1 to £30, and there’s a £5 fee per painter, but that fee doesn’t change if you paint more than one item. Let your imagination run wild while painting anything from mugs to animals. The only thing with this is that you should make sure you visit at the start of your trip, as each item takes 7 days to glaze, so you have to leave it in the café for a week!

8. Grand Theatre

Grand Theatre, Leeds

If theatres are more your cup of tea, which is a very typical expression you’ll hear throughout Leeds, then you should pay a visit to the Grand Theatre. It was built with a rather comedic intent, as a backlash to the tradition of lowering the tone of entertainment with the sort of comedy presented in your typical pub-based establishment. It did the job perfectly, and with architecture coming from a variety of influences, from gothic to Romanesque, it’s a sight to behold for many travellers. Have a look at what’s on, usually it can be anything from stand- up comedy to ballet, or even family shows.

9. The Alchemist


Have you ever noticed how fun it is to watch a mixologist create something that looks as though they must be secret alchemists? That’s what The Alchemist is all about, situated on the second floor of Trinity Shopping Centre you can witness stunning views of Leeds City Centre at night, or you could even go drink coffee during the day. The drinks that they describe as molecular madness include names like Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and White Chocolate and Raspberry Martini. But they also have simple handcrafted cocktails, with a rustic appeal to them, such as a Surprise Strawberry Daiquiri and a Strawberry Cup. Their fantastic service will leave you wanting to watch them mix more and more drinks.

10. Thackray Medical Museum

Thackray Medical Museum

Now be warned dear travellers that some exhibits, although suitable for children, may be distressing for exceptionally young children. But in true Yorkshire style the staff are friendly and will help you with any questions you may have about which exhibits to avoid if you are travelling with younger children. Residents and tourists alike travel to the museum on a regular basis, as it provides entertainment and knowledge. You can learn about the grimy streets of Leeds back in the 1800s, or you can learn about how scientific breakthroughs affect our lives. For younger visitors they have the Life Zone, providing a fun and interactive learning environment where they can work their way through the body. Looking at their teeth and learning just how high they can jump will provide them with a wave of entertainment.

11. Kirkstall Abbey

Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds

If you want to experience the type of history that can capture your imagination with just how far back it dates, then Kirkstall Abbey is the perfect place for you. It’s one of the most complete medieval Cistercian abbeys in Britain today. It also offers a picnic area, and play area for children, but don’t panic if you forget to bring something to eat. There’s a café on site too. Most people prefer to venture to the abbey in summer, when the weather is pleasant as it’s situated along the side of the River Aire. You can find plenty of planned walking routes along its banks, or if you check in advance, you may even be able to witness one of the live Shakespeare plays in the ruins during the Summer!

12. City Varieties Music Hall

City Varieties Music Hall

What would you say if you were told you could walk on the same boards as people as brilliant as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harry Houdini? Well, you can. The City Varieties Music Hall has existed across three centuries, surviving virtually unchanged. Considering that most Victorian structures have long since passed into history you won’t get many opportunities to see a hall as beautiful as this. Most famous for its pantomimes, it provides a little, quirky space that most travellers enjoy. But one of the things most people notice is that you have plenty of leg room in the building, don’t fear tall travellers!

13. Abbey House Museum

Abbey House Museum, Leeds

Are you looking for a day out that suits all of the family? As this attraction was once short-listed for the Museum Family Friendly Award you can expect just that from it. It contains crafted sets, made to look like the enchanting streets, shops and houses that you would have seen during the Victorian era. You can interact with all of the actors in traditional Victorian costumes, or even sneak into a recreated model of a Victorian drinking house if you’re in need of a little rest. Children will love the displays that show you some of the toys that were common during the 19th century, although they may start questioning what they did for fun given the toys modern day children have access to!

14. Leeds Kirkgate Market

Leeds Kirkgate Market

Seeing Leeds Kirkgate Market for the first time is quite a unique experience. When people think of markets they often don’t think of them on quite this scale, and it’s the scale of the market that attracts thousands of travellers each month. You can find hundreds of stalls that contain everything from good quality, fresh food to jewellery, electronics to fishmongers. What makes it a nice experience is that each person selling their product actually knows about their product, with many doing it for decades. But the structure of the building will fascinate you, with its Victorian era glass roof really standing out to you. Spend an hour or so there while travelling through the centre of Leeds, you won’t regret it.

15. Middleton Railway

Middleton Railway, Leeds

Do you want a relaxing day where you get to see the city and the countryside? Middleton Railway could be the place for you, after being in operation for over two centuries it is among the oldest working railways in the world. For children, it’s best to visit in the Winter when they run a very special Santa service, allowing the children to meet him while they’re on the train, which many of them seem to love. Experiencing the English countryside during the Winter, when snow usually coats the fields, tends to bring out the happiness of a lot of young children. This attraction is certainly not to be missed.

16. Town Hall Tavern

Town Hall Tavern

Classic pub food is one of the many things that English people love, and if you haven’t had traditional Yorkshire pub food then you just might be missing out. Make a stop off at the Town Hall Tavern, one of the best rated taverns in Yorkshire to experience this for yourself. With a variety of options, all using food sourced from local suppliers you’ll be able to get a real feel for what home cooked Yorkshire food actually consists of. So take yourself in, you don’t need a reservation, and take the time to relax and enjoy a family friendly meal in a cosy pub.

17. Harewood House

Harewood House

Are you looking to view an estate house with both a history and a twist? That’s exactly what Harewood House has to offer to you, while constantly striving to stay relevant it also manages to keep a firm grip on the past, with some of the finest art collections in England. The short trip out of the city centre shouldn’t put you off, buses run directly to and from Leeds City Centre every 15 minutes, and you’ll even get the chance to see penguins, flamingos and parrots. The house is famed for its renowned Bird Garden. Take the time to relax, strolling through the formal gardens, see the beauty of the art, culture and heritage in the building. Or watch your children run around in what must be one of the biggest playgrounds in Yorkshire.

18. Victoria Quarter

Victoria Quarter, Leeds

As a tourist you’ll notice that Leeds seems to have a perfect mixture of the old and the new, with modern day buildings and traditional architecture. If you go through the city centre to the Victoria Quarter you’ll get to see this mixture for what it truly is, from the outside the Victoria Quarter looks quite modern. But as soon as you turn your detective eyes to it you’ll see that it’s far from that, as a Victorian arcade once you’re inside you’ll want a camera for the beautiful medley of steel and marble that decorates the Quarter. A typical Victorian glass ceiling lets light flood in from above. Even if you don’t intend on shopping, you should make sure you look around this beautiful building.

19. My Thai Leeds

Thai Cuisine

Sometimes it can be hard to find eating establishments that you want to try while you’re abroad. You don’t always know what to expect, or whether you can trust an establishment while looking at it. My Thai Leeds is one of the most intimate restaurants you could go to, seating around 25 people. You’ll be given a warm welcome and offered traditional Thai food, but it is best to place a reservation before going. In Leeds it’s hard to find authentic Thai cuisine, but you’ll find exactly that here, in a delicious way that may leave you eating more than you intended to!

20. Leeds City Museum

Leeds City Museum

We all love museums that charge nothing to enter them, don’t we? This one is fantastic for adults with a childlike side and children, focusing on a younger audience. They actually have a Toddler Town within the museum, where children can have fun and perform craft activities, or they can go up to the Life on Earth Gallery and have a go at digging for fossils. Chances are, you’ll want to dig for fossils just as much as they will, so who knows what you might find in Leeds City Museum?

21. Hyde Park Picture House

Hyde Park Picture House

During WWI not very many new buildings came to life. Which is what makes the Hyde Park Picture House such a unique visit for many people, it was built and opened in 1914. While the newspapers focused on the war, a small advert announced it’s opening, calling it “The Cosiest in Leeds”, it still aims to live up to that today. With many of its original features, including an ornate balcony, classic red chairs and the original gas lighting. It also has rare, fully operational 35mm projectors. Go watch a classic film, or something from the award winning cinema scene around the world. If you want to experience it, but are travelling with people younger than the shown films would be suitable for, they show family films every Saturday at 12pm!

22. Teppanyaki


Do you like Japanese food? If the answer is yes, you need to go and experience Teppanyaki. One of the best Japanese restaurants in Leeds, you get to experience an atmosphere similar to one you will have experienced if you have ever eaten in Japan. Watch as your skilled chefs cook your food in front of your own eyes to the best of standards, feel your jaw drop as they juggle and flip your food, throwing a dash of fire into the mixture. It’s advisable to make a reservation, as this highly successful restaurant is sought after by many people. A lot of people try to avoid Japanese restaurants if they’re quite fussy, but Teppanyaki offer to cater for everyone from the fussy to the adventurous. You won’t have a bad experience there.

23. Angelica

View from Angelica

Imagine, you’re sat up at the top of the Trinity Centre in a room surrounded by glass windows at night, with a cocktail in your hand and a beautiful panoramic view of the whole city. That’s what you’ll find in Angelica. Mixing modern day architecture and a pewter bar with a bright and airy design they act as one of the best cocktail destinations in Leeds. With their skilled mixologists working the bar, and their chefs working away behind the scenes you can sit back, relax and enjoy the view of the city lights.

25 Best Things to Do in Leeds (England):

  • Roundhay Park
  • Tropical World
  • Murgatroyds
  • The Royal Armouries
  • Trinity Shopping Centre
  • Leeds Corn Exchange
  • Jackrabbits Pottery
  • Grand Theatre
  • The Alchemist
  • Thackray Medical Museum
  • Kirkstall Abbey
  • City Varieties Music Hall
  • Abbey House Museum
  • Leeds Kirkgate Market
  • Middleton Railway
  • Town Hall Tavern
  • Harewood House
  • Victoria Quarter
  • My Thai Leeds
  • Leeds City Museum
  • Hyde Park Picture House

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VisitBritain/Thomas Heaton

The Victorian formal gardens with statues and low hedges in front of Harewood House

Why we love Leeds

A hotbed for shopping and the arts, you’ll find lots to do in Leeds. From exploring the grounds of impressive historical houses to hunting for bargains in Europe’s biggest indoor market, the Grade I listed Kirkgate Market. Rich in heritage, this energetic former mill town boasts a thriving independent food scene, international beer festivals and a dazzling array of street art, including Britain’s tallest mural, Athena Rising. 

Whether it’s tasting tours or Europe’s biggest music festivals, Leeds rocks it all. While its compact size makes it discoverable, its diversity means there’s always something to do, whether that’s burlesque to hip-hop, culture to clubbing. Sports fans are well catered for too, with cricket and rugby league at Headingley, and Leeds United Football club playing at Elland Road. And if you want to escape to nature — relax in one of Europe’s largest city parks, Roundhay Park. Or it’s just a short jaunt to the glorious Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Min Young Lim

A child looking at an art exhibit in Leeds Art Gallery

Leeds Art Gallery and Henry Moore Institute

Get your art on at Leeds Art Gallery and the Henry Moore Institute , two wonderful spaces in Leeds. Leeds Art Gallery shows a wide range of art work, including Antony Gormley sculptures and Victorian artwork. Then head to the Henry Moore Institute alongside, with its extensive galleries about the famous sculptor.

Leeds City Council

Kirkstall Abbey - Leeds - credit Leeds City Council

Kirkstall Abbey

Founded more than 800 years ago, Kirkstall Abbey is one of the best preserved Cistercian monasteries in Britain. These breathtaking and, legend has it, haunted ruins sit among award-winning parkland shouldering the the River Aire. Much of it Kirkstall Abbey remains in tact, giving you a feel for the monks who lived her for nearly 400 years. It hosts regular events and across the road you’ll find a lively, interactive museum.

Joanne Crawford

Children and parents sitting on the fields around Temple Newsam in Leeds

Green spaces at Roundhay Park

Take time out at the fabulous Roundhay Park in Leeds – with 700 stunning acres of parkland to explore. This huge and popular city park has extensive green spaces, woodland, lakes and gardens, golf course, tennis courts and a mini-train. It’s also home to Tropical World zoo, where you can see monkeys, crocodiles, butterflies, snakes, lizards and spiders.

Headingley Stadium tours

Headingley Stadium tours

A tour behind Headingley’s famous stadium offers a behind-the-scenes look at one of Britain’s most famous cricket clubs. Take in panoramic views of the cricket ground from the media centre, see where players change, eat and gather, stroll around the Carnegie Pavilion and ponder over cricket memorabilia.

Things to do in Leeds

Royal armouries museum.

This is the home of Britain’s biggest collection of weapons and armour – including Henry VIII’s battle outfit.


A set of elephant armor on display at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds

Victoria Gate

More than just retail heaven, this shopping district is a vision of beautiful Victorian-inspired architecture. Great style, in every direction.


Victoria Gate

Harewood House

This spectacular home starred as Princess Mary’s residence in the Downton Abbey film – and now hosts private tours and festivals.

The Victorian formal gardens with statues and low hedges in front of Harewood House

Leeds Indie Food

From the juiciest burgers to the best local beers, Leeds Indie Food is your one-stop guide to the finest food in this northern city.

Amy Heycock

portrait OWT Leeds Corn Exchange - Amy Heycock for Visit Leeds (18) copy

Leeds Grand Theatre

Built in the 1800s, this intimate theatre has a truly decadent interior, and attracts stellar shows and acts to its stage.

Ant Robling

Leeds Grand Theatre credit Ant Robling

Leeds United

See a match or take a tour of Leeds United home ground Elland Road, the footballing heart of the city.

Park Dale / Alamy Stock Photo

Lake District

Billy Bremner Sculpture outside the East Stand at Elland Road, home of Leeds United Football Club

Wetherby Racecourse

Head to Wetherby Racecourse for a great day out, just outside of Leeds.

A horse and rider leaping over a fence at Wetherby Racecourse

Headingley Cricket Ground Tour

Go behind the scenes at Headingley Cricket Ground, the home of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, with a tour of this prestigious ground.

Shutterstock / Brian A Jackson


Get your art on at Leeds Art Gallery and the Henry Moore Institute next door, two wonderful spaces in Leeds.

A child looking at an art exhibit in Leeds Art Gallery

The Tetley Art Gallery

The Tetley art gallery, once found at the former Tetley Brewery company building, in Leeds, is on a hunt for a new this space.

Jo Ritchie/Tetley Art Gallery

Children explore Emily Hesse The Witches' Institution at The Tetley in Leeds

Leeds Playhouse

See a show at the dynamic Leeds Playhouse, a theatre by and for the people of the city.

Exterior of Leeds Playhouse, Leeds, Yorkshire, previously West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Opera North

Hear some arias at a performance by Opera North, the proud opera company based in Leeds.

Theatres in Leeds

Prashad restaurant

Treat yourself to some of Leeds’ best Indian food at Prashad, a Bib Gourmand restaurant in Drighlington.

Prashad Restaurant

Various dishes served on a table at Prashad Restaurant in Leeds

Gin Journey

Take a gin tour of Leeds, discovering all about the art of gin, as well as the city’s gin-ful past.

Madeline Penfold

A tour group being shown around a gin distillery in Leeds

Leeds Food Tours

Discover all about Leeds’ fabulous food heritage on a guided Leeds Food Tour, full of food and facts.

Wirestock, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo

Closeup shot of vegan burgers on a table in a restaurant

Fourth Floor Bar

Head to Harvey Nichols’ Fourth Floor Bar, for the most glamorous pit-stop whilst shopping.

Fourth Floor Bar, Harvey Nichols Leeds

Plates of food being served on a table at Fourth Floor Bar in Harvey Nichols Leeds

The Emmerdale Village Tour

Go behind the scenes of Emmerdale in the Yorkshire Dales, as you visit the set of this much-loved soap.

Tom Arber Photo / Continuum Entertainment

Two people posing outside the Emmerdale sign on a tour

Wander around the ruins of Kirkstall Abbey and learn about what life would have been like as a monk in this historic Cistercian monastery.

Courtesy of Leeds Museums & Galleries

A parent and child exploring Kirkstall Abbey

Leeds City Museum

From Ancient Rome to the natural world, Leeds City Museum is a must-visit for anyone in the city.

Dawn Kilner

A girl posing in front of a tiger exhibit at Leeds City Museum

Thackray Museum of Medicine

Walk through the history of medicine in the fascinating Thackray Museum of Medicine in Leeds.

Children looking at an exhibit in Thackray Museum of Medicine, Leeds

Leeds Industrial Museum

Discover Leeds’ industrial past at Armley Mills, which has everything from steam engines to a 1920s cinema.

A grandparent and child looking at an industrial exhibit in Leeds Industrial Museum

The Freedom Quarter

Head down to Leeds’ Freedom Quarter and discover a hub of LGBTQIA+ venues, from pubs and clubs to cafes.

Alamy Stock Photo

Young Woman Blowing Whistle On Gay Pride Parade

Thought Bubble

Join in with the celebration at the UK’s biggest comic art festival, Thought Bubble, in Yorkshire.

Clare Jackson / Alamy Stock Photo

A female cosplayer dressed as a Japanese Anime character with colourful wig and make up at a comic con event

Leeds Festival

Rock on for three days of live music at Leeds Festival, in Bramham Park, one of the biggest dates on the festival calendar.

Ellen Offredy

Leeds Festival

Roundhay Park

Take time out at the fabulous Roundhay Park in Leeds – with 700 stunning acres of parkland to explore.

Children and parents sitting on the fields around Temple Newsam in Leeds

Otley Chevin Forest Park

Indulge in some forest-bathing at Otley Chevin Forest Park, a 700-acre nature reserve near Otley, West Yorkshire.

The colours of early autumn fill Chevin Forest Park on a damp October day with a single orange sapling dwarfed by the surrounding trees.

Yoga Retreats

Take a day out of the rat race on a one-day yoga retreat with Nichi Green, near Otley, Leeds.

Shutterstock / fizkes

A group of people in a yoga class

Victoria Quarter

Visit the beautiful Victoria Quarter, one half of Victoria Leeds upmarket shopping district.

Victoria Quarter shopping arcade in Leeds, UK

Kirkstall Abbey Markets

Make a date for Kirkstall Abbey Markets, a weekend market in the stunning setting of the ruins of Kirkstall Abbey.

Groups of people eating and shopping outside Kirkstall Abbey

Leeds Corn Exchange

For shopping with a difference, head to Leeds Corn Exchange and its array of independent retailers.

Amy Heycock for Visit Leeds

People looking around the interior of Leeds Corn Exchange

Soon to be known as Bramley Wholefoods, aim for a zero-waste lifestyle by refilling and restocking at EcoTopia’s eco-friendly stores in Leeds.

Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images

Man filling container from dispenser for body and beauty products

Get together at Green Room, a bar and terrace which is all about local talent, food and drink.

Green Room / Thirty-Six Leeds Ltd

Groups of people sitting outside and drinking

Featured things to do

Two people walking in front of building

Tour the city

From heritage routes to breweries and ghost hunts, Leeds is packed with guided tours which reveal more about its people and places.

Leeds Festival

Dance the night away

Rock on for three days of live music at Leeds Festival, in Bramham Park, one of the biggest dates on the festival calendar. As one half of the famous Reading and Leeds Festivals, the two music events take place at the same time over the August bank holiday.

Carl Milner Photography

Abbey House Museum - credit Carl Milner Photography

Hunt for ghosts at Halloween

Check out the haunted Abbey House Museum (an original gatehouse for a 12th century Cistercian monastery) for ghost-hunts and supernatural activities.

Nighttime view of row of trees lit up by coloured lights

Take in some festive fun

From glistening Christmas trees to spectacular shows and festive markets, Leeds comes alive during the winter.

Places to stay in Leeds

Roundhay Park offers is to go to place for music and food festivals, and provides acres of green space, lakes, gardens and a tropical bird and butterfly house. Find lots of delis and restaurants, and all just a small walk into the centre

Headingley has been the student centre, but with it comes a thriving centre of shops, vintage wear, book shops, cafes and and lots of pubs and bars. It’s a short journey to the city centre.

If you want the best of both words - Otley offers the beauty of the Wharfe Valley and the Chevin Forest Park where hiking and biking are a must, and is also a scenic and lively market town too.

Explore nearby

Small and mighty York is the medieval walled city that really packs a punch.

VisitBritain/Sam Barker

Woman wearing trench coat and pink hat walking

World-class football and a music scene that brought Oasis to centre stage – there’s lots to love about Manchester.

VisitBritain/Manchester Craft Beer Festival

DJ playing to groups of people at Manchester Craft Beer Festival, in Depot Mayfield, Manchester

North York Moors

Rugged yet beautiful, wild yet welcoming – the North York Moors National Park is full of surprises.

Chef wearing apron on pier holding lobster trap with lobster

Yorkshire Dales

Proof that perfection can’t be rushed, the Yorkshire Dales was millions of years in-the-making.


Cyclist riding on road through green dales. Panoramic views

Sitting on the edge of the Peak District National Park, Sheffield is a place for outdoor lovers and creatives. Find the best things to do in our guide.

Salt St for The Outdoor City

People riding bikes on the inner city mountain bike trails at Parkwood Springs, Sheffield

Getting to Leeds

As the largest city in West Yorkshire, the nearest main airport to Leeds is in Manchester Airport , which serves around 225 destinations globally. Direct trains from Manchester Airport to Leeds take around 90 minutes, with driving taking a little longer.

Leeds Bradford Airport is around eight miles to the northwest of Leeds city centre (a 30 minute drive). It also has connections to more than 75 European destinations, while National Express coaches provide routes into Leeds from both airports.

Train routes from London to Leeds take just two-and-a-half-hours with London North Eastern Railway (LNER).

Getting around

An extensive public transport network makes Leeds simple to explore and provides fantastic connections to the rest of Britain. For guidance, pop into the Visit Leeds and Art Gallery Shop, which doubles as the city’s tourist information centre.

Much of central Leeds, including the shopping areas at Trinity Leeds and Victoria Gate, is pedestrianised, making it east to explore on foot .

The Metro network services towns and villages in the surrounding area, providing reliable links to areas across West Yorkshire.

An extensive bus network connects the main places to visit in Leeds. First Bus operates more than 60 routes in the city, while Arriva and Stagecoach also provide regular services.

A daily water taxi service meanders between Granary Wharf and Leeds Dock, providing an excellent way to see the historic waterfront area.

Want to know more?

Check out Visit Leeds for insider tips and travel inspiration.

places to visit on leeds

Places to visit in Leeds

Visit Leeds to find a city bursting with energy. With a thriving arts scene, rich sporting heritage, and pulsating nightlife, you’ll find a city packed with variety and excitement. Alive with the spirit of urban redevelopment and grandiose Victorian architecture, Leeds mixes the classic and contemporary like no other city, making it the perfect destination for a cultural fix, shopping spree, romantic getaway, or just a raging night out. During the sixteenth and seventeenth-century Leeds was at the forefront of the wool industry, an involvement that catalysed the city’s growth. From opera and art to festivals, cuisine, and things to keep the kids busy, this proud northern city has plenty to offer.

places to visit on leeds

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places to visit on leeds

Rainy Day Activities: Discover military history at The Royal Armouries

Britain’s national museum of arms and armour is home to a fascinating and unique collection, including the only existing suit of armour built for an elephant.

Location: Leeds, West Yorkshire

places to visit on leeds

Splash your cash in Victoria Leeds

A haven for designer brands, Victoria Leeds is the destination for luxury shopping.

places to visit on leeds

Embrace the pop-up dining trend at Trinity Kitchen

Take your pick from a mix of vibrant restaurants and street food vans all under one roof.

places to visit on leeds

Explore the magnificent ruins of Kirkstall Abbey

This atmospheric 12th-century abbey is one of the most complete Cistercian monasteries in Britain, surrounded by tranquil tree-filled parkland.

Location: Leeds, Yorkshire

places to visit on leeds

Unleash your inner explorer at Tropical World

Set off on a journey through the jungle, the desert and below the surface of the water to discover all of the creatures who call them home.

places to visit on leeds

Taste the decadent afternoon tea at Oulton Hall

There’s nothing so quintessentially English as settling down in the drawing room for sandwiches, scones and a pot of Yorkshire tea.

Location: Oulton, Yorkshire

places to visit on leeds

Meet feathered friends at Lotherton Hall Estate

Get up close and personal with rare birds, tropical mammals and wild-roaming deer at Lotherton Hall in Aberford, near Leeds.

places to visit on leeds

Get Active in Chevin Forest Park

Get outdoors and blow those cobwebs away in some beautiful Yorkshire countryside.

places to visit on leeds

Food, fashion and fantastic ales in Leeds

Explore Leeds city centre stopping off along the way to sample the finest local and independent breweries offerings.

places to visit on leeds

Eat like a local at Kirkgate Market

This traditional covered market is one of the biggest in Europe with fresh food stalls that will get your taste buds tingling.

places to visit on leeds

Shop in style in the beautiful Victoria Quarter

Marvel at this collection of beautifully restored Victorian shopping arcades in Leeds and browse the luxury shops within them.

places to visit on leeds

Mosh to the biggest acts at Reading and Leeds Festivals

Head to Richfield Avenue in Leeds or Little John’s Farm in Reading for three days of unbeatable live music.

Location: Reading and Leeds

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More cities to visit.

places to visit on leeds

Grand listed buildings, riverside panoramas – and a city bursting with both pop and culture. Trips to this Merseyside city start at Liverpool Pier to snap the trio of iconic buildings.


places to visit on leeds

Criss-cross illuminated footbridges between rejuvenated quaysides, get acquainted with Tyneside history at local museums and galleries and cheer on the much-loved Magpies football team.

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The ultimate guide to Leeds

Things to do in Leeds the ultimate guide

Brexit may have ruined Leeds’ chances of being officially dubbed European Capital of Culture in 2023, but there are plenty of reasons why Yorkshire’s largest city deserves that title and, of course, a visit. The city attracts bands and DJs from around the world, and has enough music venues for every night of the month, whatever your calling. It hosts food festivals, a thriving craft beer scene, and has vintage shops to rival Shoreditch. Amidst grand Victorian architecture and gritty post-industrial streets, this often-overlooked Northern town has found its feet, emerging as a hub of creativity.


Leeds has a rich musical history fostering goth, punk and indie scenes in the now defunct venues of The Cockpit, Brunswick Terrace, Queens Hall and low-budget The Duchess of York, where Nirvana played early on in their career. As evidence of the massive regeneration of the city, that last one is now a Hugo Boss store, but there are still plenty of places that nurture talent, old and new.

TUNE IN     Opened in 1913 as a working mens club for the community the Brudenell Social Club was saved from bankruptcy...

Opened in 1913 as a working men’s club for the community, the Brudenell Social Club was saved from bankruptcy in the 1990s and transformed into one of Leeds’ most-loved venues. It retains its working men’s club interiors – carpeted floors and leather stools – but now hosts big-name acts (Kaiser Chiefs, Franz Ferdinand and Kate Nash have all played here) alongside the more obscure. The clientele is a delightful mix of locals who have been visiting for more than 50 years perched beside the students who dominate the Hyde Park area of the city, plus anyone else who fancies a cheap pint. Nearby, the three-year-old Hyde Park Book Club is more Gen Z with craft beer and weekend brunches served up in a space that was once a popular fancy-dress shop, on busy Headingley Lane. It puts on live music and DJ sets most nights, and hosts spoken-word poetry and discussion groups centred around philosophy and politics.

In the Northern Quarter, Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen (pictured above) is the epitome of hipster cool. But its eclectic furnishings, rooftop with beach huts and deckchairs, pop-up food stalls and craft ale-focused bar are all sideshows to the 300-capacity events space that hosts everyone from New York hip hop legends to local jazz , pop, synth and rock acts. For something a little lower key, Outlaws Yacht Club has all kinds of DJs playing on a vintage 1970s sound system.

Brudenell Social Club 33 Queen's Road, Leeds LS6 1NY Hyde Park Book Club 27-29 Headingley Lane, Leeds LS6 1BL Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen 1 Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds LS2 8JP Outlaws Yacht Club 38 New York Street, Leeds LS2 7DY

A trip to Leeds isn’t complete without hitting the town. Warehouse parties at Canal Mills and Mint Warehouse bring in party-scene big names, while more intimate gigs are played at Wire . Or check out beats by collectives such as the Cosmic Slop soundsystem, who raise funds with their monthly events in the Grade II-listed gallery space of Hope House in aid of MAP (Music & Arts Production) Charity.

Beaver Works 36 Whitehouse Street, Leeds LS10 1AD Canal Mills Brandon Street, Leeds LS12 2EB Mint Warehouse Aquatite House, Water Lane, Leeds LS11 9UD Wire 2-8 Call Lane, Leeds LS1 6DN Cosmic Slop Hope House, Hope Road, Leeds LS9 7DU

THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN LEEDS    FOR ARTY TYPES  One of the latest additions to the Leeds art scene is The Tetley  a...



One of the latest additions to the Leeds art scene is The Tetley (pictured above) , a contemporary art gallery housed in an Art Deco former brewery . More established spaces include the Henry Moore Institute , founded by the artist and his family in 1977 to showcase one of Europe’s largest collections of sculpture, and The Leeds Art Gallery (pictured below) next door. Stop by for 20th-century British art and cake in the gallery’s Tiled Hall, an amazing former reading room that has impressive vaulted ceilings covered in mosaics and turquoise-tiled walls.

Artists have also painted impressive murals on buildings around the city. Athena Rising stands at more than 150 feet and...

Artists have also painted impressive murals on buildings around the city. Athena Rising stands at more than 150 feet and is the UK’s tallest, while Graeme Willson’s Cornucopia depicts a classical Roman goddess and Leeds history on the side of a fish and chip shop near the Corn Exchange. Hidden in basements and former industrial buildings are plenty of lesser-known galleries too. If you’re after something a little more DIY, check out Left Bank Leeds, Basement Arts Project and Sunny Bank Mills , or experience a live art event at CLAY .

The Tetley Hunslet Road, Leeds LS10 1JQ The Henry Moore Institute The Headrow, Leeds LS1 3AH Leeds Art Gallery The Headrow, Leeds LS1 3AA Left Bank Leeds Cardigan Road, Leeds LS6 1LJ Basement Arts Project 28 Back Burton Terrace, Leeds LS11 5JH Sunnybank Mills Town Street, Farsley, Pudsey LS28 5UJ Centre for Live Art Yorkshire Regent Street, Leeds LS2 7QA


Buy a tiny paper ticket from the red and white booth at the Hyde Park Picturehouse , the only gaslit cinema still operating in the UK . It’s terrazzo foyer floor and faux-classical columns will take you back to another era. It shows everything from arthouse and independent movies to big new releases and reruns of classic films around the holidays and since 1987 the cinema has hosted the Leeds International Film Festival.

Address: 73 Brudenell Road, Leeds, LS6 1JD Telephone: +44 113 275 2045 Website:

FOR CULTURED CREATURES      For 50 years the aptly named Northern Ballet  has been committed to bringing dance to...


For 50 years, the aptly named Northern Ballet (it’s the only company in the North of England) has been committed to bringing dance to communities that would otherwise not have access to it, offering cheap tickets to inventive ballets that have gained international acclaim. See outstanding choreography and technical prowess in performances at the Leeds Grand Theatre.

Address: Leeds Grand Theatre, 46 New Briggate, Leeds LS1 6NZ Telephone: +44 113 220 8000 Website:

FOR SPIRITUAL KINDS     Some have transformed into nightclubs others have fallen into disrepair but all over Leeds...


Some have transformed into nightclubs, others have fallen into disrepair but all over Leeds spires pop up above the former industrial town’s back-to-back houses. Walk past the impressive 200-year-old St George's Church and the Leeds Cathedral , or take a wander through Kirkstall Abbey , a ruined Cistercian monastery north-west of the city centre set in beautiful parkland on the banks of the River Aire.

Address: Kirkstall Abbey, Abbey Rd, Leeds LS5 3EH Telephone: +44 113 378 4079 Website:

SHOPPING IN LEEDS      Victorian architect Cuthbert Brodricks influences are all around the city. Hes best known for the...


Victorian architect Cuthbert Brodrick’s influences are all around the city. He’s best known for the Leeds Town Hall, and the landmark domed Corn Exchange (pictured above) . The latter is now home to independent shops and food stalls that include the Plant Point , for a millenial-thrilling selection of botanicals, or if you’re inspired by earlier eras, visit West Yorkshire Cameras, Released Records , and All Blues Co .

Theres plenty more for vintage lovers around the city centre too with Blue Rinse Pop Boutique  and Retro Boutique...

There’s plenty more for vintage lovers around the city centre too, with Blue Rinse, Pop Boutique (pictured above) and Retro Boutique selling reasonably priced, carefully curated clothing and antiques.

For upmarket chains wander through the Gothic arches of Thornton's Arcade the first of Leeds' eight commercial arcades....

For upmarket chains, wander through the Gothic arches of Thornton's Arcade *(pictured above)*, the first of Leeds' eight commercial arcades. Make sure to look up at the church-like windows and dragons at the base of the blue and red iron trusses, which support a glass roof that looks like a row of ornate horseshoes.

The Corn Exchange Call Lane, Leeds, LS1 7BR Blue Rinse 9 - 11 Call Lane, Leeds,, LS1 7DH Pop Boutique 12-16 Central Road, Leeds LS1 6DE Retro Boutique 8-10 Headingley Lane, Leeds LS6 2AS Thornton’s Arcade 30 Lands Lane, Leeds LS1 6LB


THE BEST FOOD MARKET     Gone are the days when Michael Marks a Polish refugee who opened a market stall in the city...


Gone are the days when Michael Marks, a Polish refugee who opened a market stall in the city, would recount his slogan 'Don't ask the price, it's a penny.’ His store, Marks & Spencer, is now a staple name in homes across England, while Kirkgate Market (pictured above) lives on as one of the largest covered markets in Europe . Today though, Leeds is fostering a new kind of food scene with festivals , new restaurant openings and bars , proving the Northern town has more to offer when it comes to food and drink .

Address: Leeds Kirkgate Market, Vicar Lane, Leeds City Centre LS2 7HY Telephone: +44 113 378 1950 Website:

THE BEST COFFEE SHOPS IN LEEDS      The evergrowing community of independent coffee shops and artisan roasters here...


The ever-growing community of independent coffee shops and artisan roasters here include Laynes Espresso (pictured above) near the train station, North Star Coffee by the docks, House of Koko in Chapel Allerton, plus La Bottega Milanese and Mrs Atha’s , both on quiet backstreets off the main shopping drag. With exposed brick, wooden floors, and an eclectic mix of furniture and crockery, as well as a mouth-watering selection of cakes and snacks, Mrs Atha’s is the perfect spot for breakfast and a sugar fix too.

Laynes Espresso 16 New Station Street, Leeds, LS1 5DL North Star Coffee Roasters 33, Leeds Dock, The Blvd, Leeds LS10 1PZ House of Koko 62 Harrogate Rd, Leeds LS7 4LA La Bottega Milanese 2 Bond Court LS1 2JZ and The Headrow, LS1 8TL Mrs Atha’s Central Rd, Leeds LS1 6DE

THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN LEEDS     The Ox Club  is the new kid on the block and has elevated Leeds food scene by...


The Ox Club (pictured above) is the new kid on the block and has elevated Leeds’ food scene by producing award-winning contemporary British fare that uses seasonal Yorkshire produce. Neighbourhood classics include Salvo’s (pictured below) , a buzzing trattoria run by the Dammone family, who have served Italian and Sicilian favourites to queues of Leeds locals since 1976. There’s also The Reliance , which cooks up masterful yet hearty creations in a rustic setting. The Arts Café makes great tasting food from seasonal ingredients and local produce in a room where the walls are adorned with work by up-and-coming artists (the space also puts on six weekly exhibitions ).

On the corner of a cobbled street behind the Corn Exchange Caravanserai looks like a traditional Persian caravan down to...

On the corner of a cobbled street behind the Corn Exchange, Caravanserai looks like a traditional Persian caravan down to its wooden wheels and serves up homemade breads, mezze and smoky barbecue meats. Find perfect wood-fired pizza at Pizza Fella and the best sandwich you’ll ever try at Café 164 .

Theres the lowkey Friends of Ham for hearty Spanish tapas too while more glossy Angelicas  dishes out modern food on the...

There’s the low-key Friends of Ham for hearty Spanish tapas too, while more glossy Angelica’s (pictured above) dishes out modern food on the sixth floor of Leeds’ Trinity shopping centre in a space that has incredible views over the city.

Ox Club Headrow House, 19a The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 6PU Salvo’s 115 Otley Road, Leeds LS6 3PX The Reliance 76-78 North Street, Leeds LS2 7PN Arts Cafe 42 Call Lane, Leeds LS1 6DT Caravanserai 1 Crown Street, LS2 7DA Pizza Fella 114-116 Vicar Lane, Leeds LS2 7NL Cafe 164 Munro House, Duke Street, Leeds LS9 8AG Friends of Ham 4-8 New Station Street, Leeds LS1 5DL Angelica’s Level 6, Trinity, 70 Boar Lane, Leeds LS1 6HW

THE BEST FOOD STALLS AND FESTIVALS      Leeds Indie Food organises supper clubs workshops eatalong film screenings and...


Leeds Indie Food *(pictured above)*organises supper clubs, workshops, eat-along film screenings and plenty more one-off events around the city. Plus, a three-day mini festival called School Diner at Chapel Allerton Primary School, including the likes of British Street Food Award winners Doh’hut, among others.

The Falafel Guys make their bestselling hummus falafel and tahini wraps fresh every day from a food truck in the town...

The Falafel Guys make their bestselling hummus, falafel and tahini wraps fresh every day from a food truck in the town centre. Dough Boys (pictured above) continue to satisfy cravings (drunken and not) at the Belgrave Music Hall, while Trinity Kitchen has a rotating roster of vendors trading alongside permanent stalls.

Leeds Indie Food Various locations The Falafel Guys Briggate, Leeds LS1 6HF Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen Cross Belgrave St, Leeds LS2 8JP Trinity Kitchen Trinity Leeds, Albion Street, Leeds, LS1 5AT

THE BEST BARS IN LEEDS     Leeds craft beer scene is thriving and best experienced at local favourite North Bar or...


Leeds’ craft beer scene is thriving and best experienced at local favourite North Bar or Bundobust (pictured above) , where you can pair your beer with a selection of modern Indian street food. For something more traditional, there’s Whitelock's Ale House , a former marketman's pub that’s perfect for an ale on a cold day — it’s the oldest in the city, founded in 1715, and still retains an impressive old wooden bar and stained glass windows. Trendier hangouts include The Brunswick and Headrow House , or wander down Call Lane at the weekend for a real taste of Leeds fun.

North Bar 24 New Briggate, Leeds LS1 6NU Bundobust 6 Mill Hill, Leeds LS1 5DQ Whitelock's Ale House Turk's Head Yard, Leeds LS1 6HB The Brunswick 82 North St, Leeds LS2 7PN Headrow House 19a The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 6PU

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Scroll down to see more photographs of things to do in Leeds...

Pop Boutique

Pop Boutique


Corn Exchange


Leeds Indie Food festival

Leeds Indie Food festival

Northern Ballet

Ox Club

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Awesome Things To Do In Leeds (+ Authentic 1,2 & 3 Day Itinerary)

Best Things to do in Leeds

Leeds never seems to make it onto lists of must-see cities for visitors to the UK. London , Bath, Oxford, Y ork, and Edinburgh always get a mention, but travellers and list-makers often overlook Leeds, the city known to the Victorians as “The City of A Thousand Trades”. But I love this city, and I think you will too if you have the right information and an itinerary packed with the best things to do in Leeds.

I’ve lived and worked in and around Leeds for years and hope you find this guide packed with cool things to do in Leeds. Read on to discover how to spend a perfect 1, 2, or 3 days  in Leeds – West Yorkshire’s cultural, commercial, and financial heart.

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Your Ultimate Guide to The Best Things to Do in Leeds

I’ve used a star system to “rank” the most interesting things to do in Leeds. I hope this makes it easy for you to choose what to do:

*** You really should see this! ** You’ll probably love this! * Nice to see, if you have time!

  • The Civic Quarter
  • The Corn Exchange
  • The Victoria Quarter
  • The Royal Armouries Museum
  • Armley Mills
  • Temple Newsam
  • Kirkstall Abbey
  • Waterfront and Canals
  • Parks, Gardens and Dales

Leeds Civic Quarter ***

Start from the pedestrianised  City Square , directly opposite the central train station and the Queen’s hotel. The square features notable Victorian statues including  Edward, the Black Prince  astride a massive horse, plus local luminaries of the day – inventor  James Watt , chemist, and theologian  Joseph Priestley , and leading cloth merchant  John Harrison . 

Leeds City Square

The most controversial statues in Leeds are those of sculptor  Alfred Drury . The eight near-naked bronze lamp-bearers or “ Drury Dames ” scandalised the city when they were first unveiled in 1899. 

A short walk up Park Row takes you to  Victoria Square  and the spectacular  Town Hall , which was consecrated in 1858 by Queen Victoria. The Town Hall features a beautiful Corinthian colonnade frontage and a soaring 200-foot-tall clock tower, typical of Victorian architecture. 

Leeds Town Hall - The Most instagrammable places in Leeds

Inside the Town Hall, the ornate  Victoria Hall  is a busy venue for concerts.

Just around the corner is  Leeds Civic Hall , topped with towers decorated by golden owls, the heraldic emblem of the city. See if you can find all three of them!

Next, immerse yourself in the splendour of  Leeds Art Gallery  and enjoy paintings by British artists including Cotman, Constable, and Gainsborough, then take in works from Italian and French masters Courbet, Renoir, and Signac. Don’t forget  The Henry Moore Sculpture Galleries , which contain his works, plus sculptures by Jacob Epstein and Barbara Hepworth. 

Pro Tip:  Stop for refreshments in the awe-inspiring  Tiled Hall Café . Not only are the cakes homemade and the coffee delicious, but the barrel-vaulted tiled ceiling is utterly gorgeous (a real Instagram favourite spot in Leeds). 

Leeds Corn Exchange ***

Grade I listed, the Corn Exchange  is one of England’s most elegant Victorian-era buildings. Constructed between 1861 and 1863, following the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846,  Leeds Corn Exchange  was an important civic building. Once a grain trading centre of national importance, with more than 160 corn merchants trading from the building, Leeds Corn Exchange thrived until the late 1950s, when trade declined dramatically. 

This Leeds itinerary blog shows you how to spend a perfect 1, 2 or 3 days in Leeds, West Yorkshire’s beating heart

Today, the building is a thriving retail hub filled with independent designer-makers, specialist retailers, and foodie outlets under the breath-taking domed roof.

Stop awhile to browse for original, modern finds, local crafts, vintage inspiration, and delicious food and drink. Special mention to  HumPit  for the best vegan food in Leeds !

Inside the Leeds Corn Exchange, with circular pit and elaborate staircase

Address:  Call Lane, LS1 7BR

The Victoria Quarter ***

The Victoria Quarter is Leeds’ upmarket shopping haven.  Victoria Gate  was named the world’s best shopping centre at the MIPIM Awards in 2017 . With its  flagship John Lewis store , it’s a must-see place in Leeds, and not just for the high-quality shops and boutiques! Don’t forget to look up to check out the stunning geometric ceiling.

The beautiful tiled interior of Victoria Gate shopping centre, Leeds, with geometric patterned ceiling

County Arcades and Cross Arcades 

These two Victorian streets are the largest, most elaborate shopping arcades in Leeds. Begun in 1900, this sumptuous warren of shops replaced old medieval yards, Georgian shambles, and slaughterhouses. 

In the 1990s, a glass roof supported by cast-iron arches was added. Today,  County Arcade is one of the most beautiful parts of the city , with intricate marble tiled floors, intricate stonework, immaculate shops, and the most jaw-dropping ceilings. 

Victorian shopping arcade in Leeds, Yorkshire - County Arcades

Leeds City Markets, Briggate and The Headrow *** 

The Headrow is the place to go to find many of Leeds’ top attractions.  The pedestrianised Briggate area ( Leeds original medieval market street ) is also famous for its Victorian shopping arcades, many of them of architectural significance. 

Explore the  Grand Arcade  (constructed in 1897) which houses many boutique shops, and take time to see Thorntons Arcade too, with its clock with four life-size figures. Queens Arcade opened in 1889 and is home to high-end designer and novelty shops. 

Royal Armouries Museum ***

The  Royal Armouries Museum  is an absolute must-see, with arms and armour from across the world and through time. The extensive collection is spread over five floors of stunning displays.

Look out for the stunning six-storey Hall of Steel , the medieval armour , Far Eastern collection , and the display of modern armour too.

Armed soldier in battle dress on warhorse at Leeds Royal Armouries

Address:  Armouries Drive, LS10 1LT  

Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills ***

Leeds Industrial Museum, located just two miles west of Leeds city centre has transformed the former Armley Mills building (once the world’s largest woollen mills). Learn how wool was produced in Yorkshire from the 18th century onwards, and about the desperate conditions for the mill-workers. Discover more about Armley Mills here .

Address : Canal Road, LS12 2QF

Temple Newsam ***

Temple Newsam  is a glorious 40-room Tudor-Jacobean mansion, set in a sprawling 900-acre park on the North-Eastern outskirts of Leeds. You’ll find Old Master paintings, furniture by Thomas Chippendale, and collections of Leeds creamware and silver at Temple Newsam. 

Gardens at Temple Newsam Leeds, with manicured box hedges under blue sky with fluffy white clouds

The meticulously manicured grounds are a real treat, with masses of rose bushes and rhododendrons. Look out too for the working rare breeds farm – it’s one of the largest in Europe. 

Address:  Temple Newsam Road, LS15 0AE

Kirkstall Abbey, Abbey House and Museum ***

Three miles northwest of central Leeds, you’ll find  Abbey House Museum  in the gatehouse of the ruined 12th-century Cistercian monastery, Kirkstall Abbey. Abbey House Museum includes reproduction houses, shops, and workshops showcasing life in Yorkshire through the centuries.

Kirkstall Abbey Interior Leeds UK

The picturesque remains of Kirkstall Abbey, which inspired the works of JMW Turner (Britain’s most celebrated artist) include a sizeable roofless church and a ruined tower. You’ll also see the part-preserved chapterhouse, refectory, kitchen, and other buildings. While it’s free to visit both the Abbey and its extensive grounds, there’s a modest admission charge for the museum. 

Fun Fact:  In the 18th and 19th centuries, before the construction of the A65 road to Ilkley, the road connecting Leeds and Ilkley ran straight through the nave of Kirkstall Abbey! That’s why so much of the interior stonework is blackened.

Address : Abbey Walk, Kirkstall, LS5 3EH

Leeds Waterfront and Canals**

Leeds was once the thriving nerve-centre for coal transport from the mines of West Yorkshire. Store yards and warehouses lined the Leeds Dock on the Aire and Calder Navigation . At the same time, canal barges travelled across the Pennines along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal to Liverpool and the North Sea, until the demise of coal mining in the UK.

After falling into a state of dereliction, Leeds Waterfront has been generated into a thriving, vibrant place to live, work and visit. It’s a pleasant place to stroll, visit waterside cafés and bars, Leeds Art Gallery , The Tetley , Granary Wharf , and Brewery Wharf . The Waterfront is also home to the Royal Armouries Museum .

Parks, Gardens and Dales ***

For a city spawned in the Industrial Revolution, Leeds is surprisingly green. The best parks north of the city are the 700-acre  Roundhay Park  (one of Europe’s largest city parks) and  Golden Acre Park . Both parks offer beautiful lakeside and woodland walks. 

The Victorian bandstand at Roundhay Park, Leeds, overlooking Waterloo Lake.

In the south and west of the city, discover the 630-acres of  Middleton Park , the most extensive ancient woodland left in West Yorkshire, or  Gotts Park  with its Grade II listed water fountains.  Woodhouse Moor Park , the second most popular urban park in Leeds, is just one mile from the city centre. 

If you’re feeling energetic, the  Leeds Country Way  is a 62-mile circular footpath around Leeds. It’s never farther than seven miles from the city centre, is mostly rural, and has fabulous views of the city. All of the start/finish points are accessible by public transport. 

Further afield, the beautiful  Yorkshire Dales  beg you to lace up your hiking boots, try out some of the UK’s best biking trails, or treat yourself to a cosy pub lunch.

The beautiful scenery of the Yorkshire Dales, just outside Leeds, with drystone walls and rolling green hills

Best Places to Eat In Leeds

The city has a vast supply of top-notch restaurants to choose from – here are just a few favourites: 

The Ivy ***

The ultimate “posh-nosh” destination in Leeds. If fine dining, coupled with stunning decor and oodles of class is what you’re after, The Ivy is the place to see and be seen. Book well in advance, as it’s a highly sought-after eaterie. PS The loos are incredible!!

Address:  Vicar Ln, LS1 6BB 

Fazenda ***

If you’re hungry and you’re a meat-eater, make a beeline for Fazenda to get unlimited Brazilian barbecued meats carved straight onto your plate! Eat as much as you like from the six cuts of steaks, try the incredible pork collar and load up from the far-from-ordinary salad bar. 

Fazenda is fabulous and very reasonably priced, but it’s not for vegetarians or vegans! The location at Granary Wharf is pretty unique too.

Address : Waterman’s Place, 3 Wharf Approach, Granary Wharf, LS1 4GL

Bundobust ***

One of the most popular eateries in Leeds, with excellent vegan options. Imagine a craft beer bar that serves fabulous Indian street food! Expect small snacks, entrees, appetisers, soups, and a casual atmosphere. Bundobust is always buzzing, and the food is outstanding.

Address : 6 Mill Hill, LS1 5DQ 

Pizza Fella ***

This is probably the most authentic Italian eating experience in Leeds. The pizzaiolos craft simple Neapolitan-style pizzas from the most delicious dough, made from just four ingredients – Caputo flour, salt, yeast, and water. Once you’ve ordered, watch the chef prove, hand-stretch, and cook your pizza right in front of you. Pizza Fella treats you to pizza how it should be! It’s also delicious, and it’s ridiculously cheap!

Address : 114-116 Vicar Lane, LS2 7NL. 

Best Things to Do in Leeds at Night

Leeds has some of the best pubs and bars in the UK! In the city, try the Head of Steam , the Lamb and Flag, or The Palace , chill out at Browns or go for something more sophisticated at the Harvey Nichols 4th Floor Bar. For the best cocktails, try the Alchemist, the Botanist, or the very stylish Maven . If you love live music, the Belgrave Music Hall and Bar is slightly bonkers but fabulous.

Leeds is packed with characterful pubs to explore, like the attractive red brick Duke & Drake pub

As Yorkshire’s capital of culture, Leeds has plenty of cultural attractions to tempt you. The most well-known are:

  • The West Yorkshire Playhouse – the UK’s biggest production theatre outside London
  • The Grade-II-listed Leeds City Varieties – the oldest music hall in the world
  • Leeds Grand Theatre – an opera house that serves as home to Opera North.
  • Hyde Park Picture House – a Grade II listed independent cinema with unique gaslights and Edwardian plasterwork.

Rainbow of Hope mural at Leeds City Markets - sustainably made from recycled paint

Best Time to Visit Leeds

Whatever the season, always expect rain, as Leeds “enjoys” typical Northern English weather. It’s usually warmest from May to September, when temperatures typically range from 10-21 centigrade. It can get warmer, but don’t bank on it!

Springtime   is beautiful in Leeds  and the surrounding West Yorkshire country. It’s the best time to visit beautiful bluebell woods, parks bursting with spring flowers, and fields full of fluffy lambs.

Yorkshire  summers (June to August) are warm and fresh , rather than hot and summertime is an enjoyable time to explore Leeds.  Yorkshire winters, however, can be brutal , so you’ll need to wrap up well. 

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: What to pack for your trip to Yorkshire . 

Sheep in a snow-covered field high on the Yorkshire Dales outside Leeds

Festivals and Events in Leeds

Here’s a quick roundup of the main festivals in and around Leeds to help you decide when to visit.

  • April:  Harrogate Spring Flower Show 
  • May:  Leeds Half Marathon 
  • June  and  July:   The Otley Walking Festival, Opera in the Park, The Great Yorkshire Show and the Crime Writing Festival
  • August:  Leeds Festival at Bramham Park 
  • September : Leeds International Beer Festival  ( Craft beer and street food)
  • October:  The Leeds International Film Festival and Leeds Shakespeare Schools Festival 
  • November:  the nights become turns multi-coloured as the city puts on Light Nights and tens of thousands gather at Roundhay Park for traditional “Bonfire Night” fireworks. 
  • December:  German Christmas Market in Millennium Square and Christmas at Harewood House 

As a cultural hub, Leeds also hosts the year-long International Concert Season  

Other Quirky and Interesting Things to Do in Leeds

  • Thackray Medical Museum
  • The Dark Arches
  • Central Library
  • Cathedral, Minster and Ancient Churches
  • The Time Ball Buildings

Thackray Medical Museum ***

The Thackray Medical Museum  has a fascinating collection of around 20,000 medical artefacts showcasing the development of medicine through the ages. As soon as you enter the museum, be prepared for the sights, sounds, and smells of Leeds in the 1800s!! “Blood, Pus and Pain” is where you’ll see lots of surgical instruments and the history of anaesthetics, antiseptics, and penicillin, as well as operating tables and iron lungs. 

Don’t miss the displays of wartime medicine, dentistry, and childbirth through the ages. 

Address : 141 Beckett St, LS9 7LN

Buses 16, 42, 49, 50, and 50A all stop outside the museum. 

The Dark Arches **

No, this isn’t something from a Lord of the Rings movie or a Harry Potter tale! The Dark Arches is a series of subterranean tunnels running beneath Leeds Central train station, where the River Aire flows. Illuminated in bright neon lights, the Dark Arches is also the route from the station to the hip, Granary Wharf area of the city.

Visit after sunset to capture the lights at their best, then stop to watch and listen to the roiling, churning river thundering through the dark tunnels before emerging into the light beyond the station. 

Address : Dark Neville Street, LS1 4BR  

Leeds Central Library ***

A splendid Grade II listed building, dating to 1884 worthy of a visit to see the fabulous staircase, decorated with tiles, ironwork, and carved animals. It’s an Instagram favourite and is truly lovely. While this is a good library, the real reason to visit is to see the impressive building itself. Make sure to do pop next door to the Tiled Hall, for cakes and a pot of tea!

Fun fact : The building has a portcullis!

Address:  Calverley Street, LS1 3AB

Cathedral, Minster and Ancient Churches **

St. John’s Church in New Briggate (built 1632-1634), is the finest of Leeds’ lovely churches. Visit to see the two naves, the original Renaissance rood screen, pulpit, and stalls. 

There are some interesting hermaphrodite figures in the roof trusses! See if you can find them!

Address:   23 New Briggate, LS2 8JA

Take a moment to visit St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Cathedral (built 1904); the riverside Church of Holy Trinity in Boar Lane (1727); and the large Parish Church of Saint Peter-at-Leeds, known as t he Minster . 

The Minster was originally a medieval church, rebuilt in 1841, making it Leeds’s oldest parish church. Visit to listen to the splendid choir and fine set of bells – the world’s first ring of 13 bells 

The Bell Tower of Leeds Minster

Address : 2-6 Kirkgate, LS2 7DJ

The Leeds Owl Trail *

As the Leeds coat of arms includes owls, the owl has become the talisman of the city. The Leeds Owl Trail features 25 decorative owls spread across the city, ready to b discovered. Remember to look up!

The Leeds Owl Trail is a unique concept that’s brilliant for Leeds. It enables both visitors and residents from all backgrounds to explore and experience our beautiful city Tom Riordan. Chief Executive Leeds City Council

Download the free Owl Trail map here

The Time-Ball Buildings *

Find the early 19th century Grade II listed “Time-Ball Buildings” at the bottom end of Briggate. Look out for the elaborate clock from 1865 featuring Old Father Time and the gilded time ball mechanism which was once linked to Greenwich and dropped at exactly 1 pm each day. 

Time Ball Buildings, Leeds, featuring "Old Father Time"

Address:  24, 25, and 26 Briggate

Things to Do in Leeds – Itineraries for 1, 2, or 3 Days

This itinerary draws from my experiences living and working in and around Leeds, of downtime enjoying the city and of time spent introducing family and friends to this great city. 

One Day Itinerary (The Essential Things to Do in Leeds in 24 hours)

If you’ve just one day to spare to explore Leeds, the absolute must-see attractions are the Civic Quarter, the Corn Exchange, the Victoria Quarter, and the Royal Armouries Museum. You should be able to manage all of these by early afternoon.

There are lots of places to stop for a bite of lunch along the way – I recommend the food court in the City Markets or trying one of the independent eateries in the Corn Exchange. After lunch, consider visiting Temple Newsam, Kirkstall Abbey, or Armley Mills, or take a leisurely walk around the Waterfront area, before dinner.

Two Day Itinerary (More Things to Do In Leeds – Quirky Bits and Tours)

If you have two days in Leeds, keep to the city centre for the second day, and focus on the less well-known and more quirky sights. There are also some excellent tours I highly recommend looking at – one of which is free! 

Leeds has a rapidly growing reputation as a real food-lovers destination. The city is a melting pot of different global cuisines, packed to the ginnels with the freshest ingredients. 

Leeds Foodies Tour *** 

Meet outside the train station at 11:30 am for a  4 to 5-hour Leeds Foodies tour  that takes you on a food adventure. You’ll eat and drink at six independent eateries, including a pub that’s more than 300 years old. 

While learning about the venues visited, the dishes they create, and where they source their ingredients, you’ll  discover   the history of food and drink in Leeds and Yorkshire . I highly recommend this Leeds Foodies Tour : it’s a seriously tasty, entertaining way to spend an afternoon. Great if you’re travelling solo! 

Leeds Brewery Tour and Beer Tasting ***

Leeds has a well-deserved reputation for producing quality craft beer. For fun touring and tasting with fellow beer lovers,  the  Yorkshire Brewery and Beer Tasting Tour  is hard to beat . Meet other craft beer lovers and get to know some of the big names and rising stars of the county’s craft brewing scene.

Lasts around half a day, and is all-inclusive, you won’t have to worry about a thing on your tour (just make sure you have a hearty brunch before joining!!)

Leeds Kirkgate Market Heritage Tour *** 

Kirkgate Market has a long history – this free tour shares the history of the market from its ancient beginning to the modern-day. You’ll  visit a hundred-year-old barber’s shop , tucked away beneath the modern market, plus you get to  visit the site of the first-ever Marks & Spencer store in the world !

Visiting the first-floor balcony to photograph the market from above is the highlight of the tour. (This area is no access to the general public, so the tour is the only way to get this view) I loved this tour and can’t recommend it highly enough! Book in advance on  (search for Leeds Heritage Tours).

Emmerdale Tours **

Fans of British TV soap “Emmerdale” (set in West Yorkshire and made in Leeds), can choose from two tours: 

The Emmerdale Studio Experience **  

Step into the drama and discover behind-the-scenes secrets at  The Emmerdale Studio Experience . See working and replica sets, discover industry secrets and get an insider look into how the cast and crew create the storylines in Yorkshire’s favourite soap. Then, head over to ITV Television Centre, to see more Emmerdale working sets!

Yorkshire Dales Emmerdale Locations Bus Tour * 

Explore the famous filming locations of Emmerdale in the Yorkshire Dales, including the pretty market town of Esholt and the village of Otley. 

Three Day Itinerary (Things to Do in Leeds – Beyond the City)

After two full days of exploring, you’ll probably want to escape the city for a while. On day 3, it’s time to get out of the city centre and explore the magnificent Yorkshire Dales. 

Harewood House ***

Harewood House  is a magnificent English country house that took 30 years to build (completed in 1771). Halfway between Leeds and Harrogate , Harewood House has Robert Adam interiors, beautiful Angelika Kauffmann wall and ceiling paintings, and furniture by renowned English furniture maker Thomas Chippendale. More recently, you might recognise Harewood from the “Downton Abbey” movie! 

Harewood House is one of the most Instagrammable places in Leeds. West Yorkshire

Outside, the Capability Brown-designed grounds include a 32-acre lake, a bird garden, and the remains of a 12th-century castle. 

Address:  Sandy Gate, Harewood, LS17 9LE

Related Post: A Complete Guide to Visiting Harewood House

The National Coal Mining Museum ***

The location for the impressive  National Coal Mining Museum  is the former Caphouse Colliery . Learn how dangerous life was for miners at one of the country’s oldest coal mines (dating to the 1770s). The visitor centre has fascinating exhibits relating to the colliery’s long history. There’s also extensive information about how miners and their families lived. 

The highlight of any visit is the 80 minutes guided underground tour. You’ll descend 140 metres down a pit shaft in a lift, to experience pit conditions first-hand. As the granddaughter of a coal miner, I found this trip both fascinating and sobering.  In fact, it’s one of my favourite things to do in Leeds.

Address:  Caphouse Colliery, New Road, near Overton, Wakefield WF4 4RH. 

Harrogate: Britain’s Premier Northern Spa ***

Harrogate is an elegant spa town in North Yorkshire. The town became popular with British and European Royalty, thanks to the “medicinal” springs discovered in the 16th century. Many of the late Georgian and Victorian buildings remain today, making Harrogate an attractive town to visit. 

Montpellier Quarter Harrogate with elegant shops and beautiful flowers

Popular attractions include the RHS Gardens at Harlow Carr, Valley Gardens, the Royal Pump Room, and the extensive Turkish Baths . There’s also a chance for great shopping in the elegant boutiques and antique shops. Last, but not least, no trip to Harrogate is complete without a trip to the spectacular “Betty’s Tea Rooms” for afternoon tea for a “fat rascal”.

YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY: The Best Things to do in Harrogate

Where to stay in Leeds

Compared to average UK prices, hotels in Leeds offer outstanding value. Most visitors stay near the city centre. Here are my recommendations for  where to stay in Leeds if you’re a first-time visitor.

Budget Places to Stay in Leeds

For budget travellers , there are plenty of 4-star hotels with rooms for less than £50 per night. I recommend  Cosmopolitan  if you enjoy a traditional feel and want to be central. Alternatively,  Roomzzz ApartHotel  offers excellent studio apartments and is only a 15-minute walk from the city centre. 

Cosmopolitan Hotel: 2 Lower Briggate, LS1 4AE

Roomzzz ApartHotel: 2 Burley Rd, LS3 1JB

Mid-Budget Hotels in Leeds

The Art-Deco  Queens Hotel  offers mid-range value, and a superb location overlooking City Square. You can access the train station direct from the hotel, and the hotel is within easy walking distance of many top bars and restaurants. 

Luxury Leeds Hotels

The Dakota is THE Premier hotel in Leeds and the best place for a luxury boutique hotel experience at a very reasonable price.

Address: 8 Russell St, LS1 5RN

If you prefer the convenience and privacy of luxury apartments, look at Quebec Luxury Apartments or The Chambers Serviced Apartments . Both are within easy walking distance of the top city centre attractions and entertainment hotspots.

Quebec Luxury Apartments : The Old Post Office, 3 Infirmary St, LS1 2HT

Chambers Serviced Apartments : 30 Park Place, LS1 2SP

Where to Stay Near Leeds

If you prefer to stay in the glorious Yorkshire Dales instead of the city, choose the beautiful Victorian spa town of Harrogate or the old coaching town of Wetherby .

The splendid Turkish Baths in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK

Both have an incredible food scene and plenty of trendy, friendly bars. Factor in about 40 minutes of travel time, but it’s well worth it!

How to Get to Leeds

The magnificent Victorian Arthington Viaduct, carrying trains from Leeds to Harrogate and York

Getting to the city from Leeds Bradford Airport is straightforward. The easiest method is to  pre-book a car to Leeds city centre. At approx. £49 per car, it’s reasonably priced and so much nicer than waiting in a long queue for a taxi or bus. 

You can also get taxis from the queue at the arrivals hall or catch the regular “Flying Tiger” bus service (number 747) to Leeds central bus station. The journey takes between 41 minutes and an hour, depending on traffic.

How to travel around Leeds

Leeds is a safe, walkable city, with most of the top attractions located within a small, central area.

The city enjoys cheap, reliable buses, and excellent train connections to the rest of the UK. Alternatively, pick up a taxi from the train/bus station, and there are plenty of Uber drivers in the area. Forget the car and rely on public transport!

You May Also Like: Taxi Safety Tips for Solo Female Travellers

Where to Next in Yorkshire?

I hope you’ve enjoyed this extensive post introducing you to the best things to do in Leeds. If you’ve got four or more days to spend in the city, why not consider a day trip to explore more of Yorkshire? Here are some ideas to inspire you:

  • If you’re looking for the most Instagrammable places in Leeds, this detailed guide will provide inspiration and locations that might surprise you. 
  • This guide to  a weekend in York has everything you need to know for a trip to York, including what to do, where to go, and where to eat and stay.
  • Knowing what to do in a new city after dark is an essential part of travel planning. See this guide to what to do in York after dark  for lots of tips. 
  • We’ve also got you covered for advice on day trips from York. See our  guide to visiting Harewood House , one of the UK’s most elegant stately homes, and the location for the “Downton Abbey” movie. 
  • We love to mix travel with literature. See our guide to  visiting Haworth, the home of the Bronte sisters , to understand why you should visit this beautiful, historic Yorkshire village as soon as you can.

In Conclusion

As always, if you have any questions or comments about this post, or you’d like more tips about visiting Yorkshire in general, pop them in the comments below, and we’ll get back to you!

Pin for Later – The Best Things to Do in Leeds

Things to do in Leeds

Have you been to Leeds? What did you think was the best thing to do or see? Did you stay in the city or venture into the countryside too? Have I missed anything from this guide that you would like to see? As always, I love to get your feedback and comments x

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Coralie Thornton, the owner and author of Grey Globetrotters, has been a traveller for more than four decades. Her passion for adventure has led her through over 40 countries, seeking cultural experiences, delicious foods, and hidden gems. Today, she helps others experience the UK, Europe, Egypt and China, with meticulously crafted travel itineraries and affordable luxury travel guides.

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Home » Europe » United Kingdom » 21 Things to Do in Leeds | Activities, Extras + More in 2024

21 Things to Do in Leeds | Activities, Extras + More in 2024

If you’re planning a trip to England, you can’t miss the vibrant city of Leeds! Known for its historical monuments and being the gateway to the stunning Yorkshire Dales, it’s the perfect city for a short break.

The city is brimming with gothic cathedrals, medieval buildings, boutique shops, world-class restaurants, and a buzzing nightlife scene. Needless to say, you’ll never be short of things to do in Leeds.

If the city becomes too chaotic, no problem, there are many great nature reserves and walking trails that are waiting to be explored. There are also some grand stately homes dating as far back as the Tudor period as well as an ancient cistern that make the perfect muse for photographers.

In fact, narrowing down the choices of what to do in Leeds can be the hardest part, so to help you out, I’ve listed all the best attractions in Leeds and unmissable sites, so you can make planning your trip a little easier.

places to visit on leeds

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The Top Things to Do in Leeds

Backpacking the UK and don’t have much time? Don’t worry, these are my favourite things to do in Leeds you cannot miss!

Walk Around the City with a Local

Walk Around the City with a Local

Start in the city centre and make your way around to all the main attractions in Leeds on foot with a helpful local guide, who can tell you about the city’s history and cultural traditions.

Explore the local pubs

Explore the local pubs

Experience a true English pub by sampling local beers on tap and soaking up the lively pub atmosphere.

Head to Yorkshire Dales

Head to Yorkshire Dales

Escape the city for a day and explore the stunning rural landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales.

Enjoy a Night at Belgrave Music Hall

Enjoy a Night at Belgrave Music Hall

Share an evening with your loved one with some live music at the stunning Belgrave Music Hall.

Visit the Rodley Nature Reserve

Visit the Rodley Nature Reserve

See a wide variety of birds and wildlife in their natural habitat as well as enjoy the serenity of being in nature.

1. Walk the City on Foot with a Local

Walk Around the City with a Local

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Leeds is a great city to explore on foot and many of the main sights are so close together making it the perfect place to walk around.

If you want to see as much of the city as possible, I recommend walking with a local guide who can explain to you about the history and culture, as well as help you get your bearings.

You’ll also get to see some of the most popular sights, such as the Royal Armouries Museum and Leeds Cathedral. Usually, you can see the city in about two hours and still have time to explore some of the other attractions on your own.

  • Entrance: $12
  • Hours: 2 Hours
  • Address: City Square, Leeds LS1 2HT, United Kingdom

2. Hike Around the Rodley Nature Reserve

Visit the Rodley Nature Reserve

The Rodley Nature Reserve is one of the best places to go for a hike in Leeds. It’s a great way to get some fresh air and escape the city for a bit.

The reserve is also home to a variety of wildlife, so you might even spot some deer or birds while you’re walking around. You can check the Rodley Nature Reserve website to see their latest animal spotting and where to be on the lookout for them.

My favourite part about the reserve is that it’s completely free to enter, so it’s a great activity if you’re on a budget. Make sure to stop in the visitor centre to learn more about the reserve and pick up a map before you start exploring. They also sometimes have free cake… YUM!

  • Entrance: Free
  • Hours: Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday 9am-5pm
  • Address: Moss Bridge Rd, Rodley, Leeds LS13 1HP, United Kingdom

3. Join a pub crawl and drink your way through the city

Explore the local pubs

Leeds is known for its nightlife and honestly day life (if that’s a thing) and there are plenty of bars and pubs to choose from.

The best way to experience them all is by joining a pub crawl. This is a great way to explore different parts of Leeds and try out some new brews. Plus, you’ll get to meet new people and maybe even make some new friends.

Most pub crawls last around three hours and includes five or six different stops. You’ll get to drink some of Leeds’ best beer and cider, as well as enjoy some delicious pub food. Can you smell the fish and chips already?

  • Entrance: $40
  • Hours: 4 Hours
  • Address: Hunslet Rd, Leeds LS10 1JQ, United Kingdom

4. Get a One-of-a-Kind Souvenier at Leeds Corn Exchange

Leeds Corn Exchange

The Leeds Corn Exchange is a Grade I listed building and one of the most iconic landmarks in Leeds. The building was originally built as a corn exchange in 1864 but now houses a variety of independent shops.

The building does its best to not lease storefronts to name brands but rather to small businesses guaranteeing a unique purchase.

I love coming to the Leeds Corn Exchange even if I am not looking to spend money. It is just so beautiful inside with all of the stained glass windows.

I highly recommend checking out this historic building even if you don’t plan on doing any shopping in Leeds. You can also find plenty of places to eat and drink.

  • Hours: 10am – 5pm
  • Address: Call Lane, Leeds LS1 7BR, United Kingdom

5. Visit the Yorkshire Dales for Hiking and Fresh Air

Head to Yorkshire Dales

The Yorkshire Dales is a beautiful area located just outside of Leeds. It’s the perfect place to go for a day trip if you want to escape the city and get some fresh air with the family.

There are plenty of hiking trails to choose from, as well as several picturesque villages to explore. You can even take a ride on the oldest working railway in the world, the Kirklees Light Railway.

If you’re looking for a more leisurely day, there are also several tea rooms and pubs where you can relax and enjoy some of the local food and drink. It is only located about an hour away from Leeds, so it’s the perfect day trip destination.

  • Address: Meeting point is at the Black Prince Statue in City Square

6. Explore Leeds Cathedral

Leeds Cathedral

Leeds Cathedral is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city and is a must-visit. It’s located in the centre of Leeds, so you can easily walk there from most places in the city.

The inside of the cathedral is absolutely breathtaking and you will want to make sure you have enough time to explore all the in and outs.

The Cathedral was built in the 19th century and took over 30 years to complete. It’s one of the largest cathedrals in England and can hold up to 3,000 people.

  • Hours: 7:30am – 6pm
  • Address: Ripon Rd, Leeds LS2 8BX, United Kingdom

places to visit on leeds

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7. Spend the Evening at Belgrave Music Hall

Enjoy a Night at Belgrave Music Hall

Belgrave Music Hall is the perfect place to spend an evening in Leeds. It’s a great spot for live music, as well as some delicious food.

The hall also has a canteen, which features a variety of international dishes on the menu, so there’s something for everyone. Plus, the atmosphere is really relaxed and it’s a great place to unwind after a long day of exploring.

The music hall is located in the city centre, so it’s easy to get to. It’s also right next to Leeds Train Station, so you can easily head there if you’re coming from out of town. I really enjoy having a nice laid-back date night here, it is one of my favourite places in Leeds and not too loud to where you can’t chat with your partner.

  • Hours: 11am – 11pm
  • Address: 1-1A Cross Belgrave St, Leeds LS2 8JP, United Kingdom

8. Visit the Abbey House Museum

Abbey House Museum

The Abbey House Museum is a great place to learn about the history of Leeds. Leeds used to be a small town, but it grew rapidly in the 19th century and became one of the largest cities in England. The museum tells the story of how Leeds became the city it is today.

The museum is located in a restored 12th-century monastery, so it’s a really cool place to visit even if you’re not interested in the history. It is one of the oldest buildings in Leeds, so you can really get a feel for what the city was like centuries ago.

The museum features a variety of interactive exhibits, so you can get involved in the experience. My favourite part is the Abbey Garden, which is a beautiful oasis in the middle of the city. If you’re visiting Leeds with kids, they will also love the museum as there are several child-friendly activities.

  • Entrance: $8.50
  • Address: Abbey Walk, Kirkstall, Leeds LS

9. Shop ‘Til you Drop at Leeds Kirkgate Market

Leeds Kirkgate Market

Leeds Kirkgate Market is one of the largest indoor markets in Europe and it’s a great place to find some unique souvenirs or even fresh produce for the week. There are over 200 stalls making it easy to spend a whole afternoon wandering around the market.

You’ll find everything from clothes to cosmetics to food, it is a shopaholic paradise to be honest! This is a great place to come if you’re looking for some affordable gifts or just want to do some window shopping in Leeds.

I always like to pop in here when I’m in Leeds, even if I don’t need anything, because it’s just so much fun to browse.

  • Hours: 8am – 5:30pm
  • Address: Vicar Ln, Leeds LS2 7JF, United Kingdom

10. Head to Roundhay Park for a Day in Nature

Roundhay Park

Roundhay Park is one of my favourite places in Leeds. It is a beautiful park with over 700 acres and features a variety of different landscapes, from gardens to woodlands.

There are also two lakes where you can go boating or fishing. It is one of those places you can spend the whole day and not even realise it.

I like to bring my book and picnic blanket and spend a few hours reading and relaxing here. It’s the ideal spot to get away from it all and just relax.

However, for those of you looking for some exercise, there are various walking and biking routes available in the park. The park also has several activities throughout the year, so there’s always something new happening.

  • Hours: 24 hours
  • Address: Roundhay Park, Leeds LS8 1JQ, United Kingdom

11. Check Out the Royal Armouries Museum

Royal Armouries Museum

The Royal Armouries Museum is a must-see for history buffs. The museum features a collection of over 75,000 artefacts, making it one of the largest museums in Leeds, as well as the United Kingdom.

The collection covers a wide range of topics, from medieval armour to World War II weapons.

I really enjoy visiting the museum because it gives me a chance to learn about different aspects of history that I’m not familiar with. I am not always the biggest museum gal but this one is actually really interactive which makes learning about history more enjoyable.

  • Entrance: $15
  • Address: Armouries Dr, Leeds LS10 1LT, United Kingdom

12. Wander around Kirkstall Abbey

Kirkstall Abbey

Kirkstall Abbey is a beautiful ruin located in Kirkstall, a suburb of Leeds. The abbey was founded in 1152 and was once one of the most powerful abbeys in England. It is now an enjoyable place to explore and take some photos.

The best part about Kirkstall Abbey is that it’s free to enter! I highly recommend taking a walk around the grounds and exploring the different buildings. You can learn about the history of the abbey by reading the informative signs located throughout the site.

  • Address: Abbey Rd, Leeds LS5 3EH, United Kingdom

13. Visit the Thackray Medical Museum

If you’re interested in learning about the history of medicine, then you should definitely visit the Thackray Medical Museum. The museum is located in a former hospital and features a collection of over 30,000 artefacts.

The museum covers a wide range of topics, from the history of surgery to the development of medical treatments.

I find the Thackray Medical Museum to be both educational and fascinating. Keep in mind that it isn’t too graphic but there are some medical specimens on display that may not be suitable for young children.

  • Address: Beckett Street Leeds, LS9 7LN

14. Stay in a Historical Victorian School House

Stay in a Historical Victorian School House

Leeds is full of history, and what better way to explore that than to stay in it? This private room in an 1800s Victorian Boarding School is a unique stay in the city.

The building may be historical, but the room has been renovated into a Japandi-themed room with minimalist and modern touches. You’ll also have stunning views of the city skyline from the window.

What’s great about this place is that it’s in a quiet cul de sac but still only 10 minutes from the centre. There’s also free parking which is a rarity in Leeds.

  • Entrance: $56
  • Hours: Check-in 5.00pm, Check-out 11.00am
  • Address: A Quiet Neighborhood outside Leeds City Centre, United Kingdom

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15. Discover Harewood Housex

Harewood Housex

Harewood House is a historic estate located in Harewood, West Yorkshire. The house was built in the 18th century and features grandiose Georgian architecture. Visitors can explore the house and gardens, as well as take part in various activities and events.

There is so much to see and do at Harewood House. I highly recommend taking a guided tour of the house so that you can learn about its history.

The gardens are also beautiful and definitely worth a visit. Be sure to check the website for upcoming events as they regularly have special exhibitions and performances.

  • Entrance: $20
  • Address: Harewood, Leeds LS17 9LG, United Kingdom

16. Explore the Landscapes of Temple Newsam House

Temple Newsam House

Temple Newsam House is a historic country house located in Leeds. The house was built in the 16th century and features grandiose Elizabethan architecture. Nowadays, the house is open to the public and visitors can explore the grounds.

You can see a lot of the house by yourself, but I highly recommend taking a guided tour as the staff there can tell you a lot about the history of the house. You can also explore the gardens, which are insanely beautiful. In fact, there are many exciting festivals in Leeds throughout the year that happen at Temple Newsam, including Live at Leeds in the Park and Slam Dunk Festival.

  • Address: Temple Newsam Rd, Leeds LS15 0AE, United Kingdom

17. Catch a Show at Leeds Grand Theatre

A night out in Leeds wouldn’t be complete without catching a show at the Leeds Grand Theatre . The theatre hosts a variety of performances, including musicals, operas, and ballets. You can check the website for a list of upcoming shows.

The theatre was built in 1878 and features Victorian architecture with incredible acoustics. I love coming here to see a show and I think you will too.

Keep in mind that tickets can be quite expensive but there are usually discounts available if you book in advance.

  • Entrance: Dependent on show
  • Hours: Dependent on show
  • Address: 46 New Briggate, Leeds LS1 6NU, United Kingdom

18. Enjoy a Walk Around the Canals

Leeds is known for its canals and there are plenty of places to enjoy a walk or even a boat ride. The canals are lined with restaurants, cafes, and shops, making them the perfect place to spend an afternoon.

My favourite thing to do is to pack a picnic and find a spot by the water. You will see a lot of people doing the same thing and it is a great way to relax. Just be sure to clean up after yourself and not litter.

  • Address: Leeds, United Kingdom

19. Watch a Film at Hyde Park Picture House

The cinema was built in 1914 and is one of the oldest operating cinemas in the UK. The Hyde Park Picture House is a must-visit for any film lover. Films range from classic to independent and you can check the website to see what is playing.

I love coming here because it is such a unique experience. The cinema is small and intimate, which I think makes for a better viewing experience. It will feel as though you are transported back in time when you step inside especially if you are seeing a classic film.

  • Entrance: $10
  • Hours: Dependent on movie
  • Address: 73 Brudenell Rd, Leeds LS6 1JD, United Kingdom

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20. Take a Look Inside the Leeds City Museum

Leeds City Museum

The Leeds City Museum is a great place to learn about the history of Leeds. Founded in 1819 and reopened in 2008 after a lengthy renovation, the museum houses a variety of exhibits.

Some of the exhibits include the city’s industry, culture, and architecture. Leeds is known for its textile industry and there is an entire exhibit dedicated to this.

The Museum is free to enter and is open every day except for Mondays. I highly recommend spending an afternoon here, especially if you are interested in learning about the history of Leeds or on a bit of a budget. You can easily spend a couple of hours exploring the museum.

  • Address: Millennium Square, Leeds LS2 3AD, United Kingdom

21. Stroll Through the Tropical World

Tropical World is located in Roundhay Park and is a great place to escape the city for a bit. The park is huge and features a lake, gardens, and plenty of walking trails, but Tropical World is probably my favourite part.

Tropical World is a conservatory that is home to a variety of plant and animal species. Some of the animals you will see include snakes, frogs, lizards, and turtles.

The conservatory is also home to a rainforest, which is my favourite part. It is so peaceful and you can even see some birds flying around.

  • Entrance: $5
  • Hours: 10am – 4pm
  • Address: Roundhay Park, Leeds LS8 1EU, United Kingdom

Where to Stay in Leeds

Leeds is a popular city to visit by travelers from all over the world, so you can be sure to find plenty of accommodation options in the city.

Whether you’re looking for a luxurious hotel with a private hot tub , a cosy bed and breakfast, or a budget hostel, you’ll be sure to find it.

Here are my favourite options for where to stay in Leeds .

Best Hostel in Leeds – Russell Scott Backpackers Hostel

Russell Scott Backpackers Hostel

When it comes to hostels in Leeds , there aren’t many options but thankfully the hostel they have has been done right. The staff are incredibly friendly and helpful, the beds are comfortable, and the location is great. It’s a relatively social hostel making it perfect for solo travellers looking to make friends.

Best Airbnb in Leeds – Cosy City Centre Apartment

Cosy City Centre Apartment

This apartment has incredible views of Leeds city centre and is located right in the heart of the action. The apartment is the perfect place to retreat after a long day of exploring. You can enjoy a glass of wine on the balcony overlooking the river. With a location like this, you really can’t go wrong.

Best Hotel in Leeds – The Queens Hotel

The Queens Hotel

This is by far my favourite and most luxurious hotel in Leeds. The Queens Hotel is located in the heart of the city centre, making it the perfect place to explore all that Leeds has to offer. From the moment you step inside, you will be blown away by the opulent decor and incredible service. If you’re looking to treat yourself, this is the place to stay. Of course, it comes with a bit of a higher price tag, but it is definitely worth it.

Some Additional Tips for Visiting Leeds

Now you have an idea of the best attractions in Leeds, you’re ready to start planning your trip. But before you do, I have just a few words to the wise…

  • Be sure to bring walking shoes as there is a lot of exploring to be done on foot.
  • Looking for nightclubs? If you’re looking for some nightlife, Headrow House and The Alchemist are two of the best places in town.
  • Drink responsibly. People in Leeds can drink, so do not try to outdrink a local on a night out in the Pub… you will regret it, and yes, I can speak from experience!
  • Pack for rain. The weather can often be miserable, so come prepared with a raincoat and umbrella.
  • Carry some quids. Keep cash on you as some businesses, especially in the market, do not take cards.

Don’t forget your travel insurance for Leeds

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing .

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

places to visit on leeds

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Leeds

Leeds is a huge and bustling city with plenty to see and do. From fascinating museums and gothic cathedrals to sprawling parks and wild nightlife, there is something for everyone.

You can enjoy a relaxed weekend away, or a packed full schedule for a week, and still find there are more attractions in Leeds to fill your time with.

I hope this guide to the best things to do in Leeds helped you plan your itinerary and map out what you want to do. Whatever you do, you’re bound to have an epic time in this enigmatic UK city.

Made it this far? You get 15% OFF to book a place to stay ! Offer valid exclusively for Broke Backpackers 😉

places to visit on leeds

Sophie Steinebach

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The 15 Best Things to do in Leeds, UK

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Best Things to do in Leed, UK

Leeds has a rough sort of beauty to it. Located on the banks of the River Aire in northern England , red brick warehouses and crumbling Victorian factories still dot the Yorkshire city’s skyline. Leeds is a fascinating destination with an independent streak that runs to its core. At the Corn Exchange, you can shop for vintage clothes and hand-roasted coffee, while the Leeds Grand Theatre, Tropical World, and Roundhay Park are timeless sights to visit. 

The city’s industrial heritage is starkly juxtaposed against the surrounding nature, making Leeds the perfect base for outdoor activities. You can cruise along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, tackle the Yorkshire Three Peaks in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, or sit back in comfort and enjoy blissful scenes as you ride the scenic Settle & Carlisle train over the Ribblehead Viaduct. 

With so many things to see and do, you might not know where to begin. That’s why we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best things to do in Leeds for you. Try these fun and unique Leeds bucket list recommendations, and there’s no doubt you’ll have an incredible time exploring this gorgeous English city! 

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase or booking through one of our links we may earn a small commission (don’t worry, it’s at no extra cost to you).

15 Fun and Unique Things to do in Leeds, England

1. see medieval jousting at the royal armouries museum.

Best Things to do in Leeds: Royal Armouries Museum

One of the best places to visit in Leeds is the Royal Armouries Museum . This fascinating museum overlooks Leeds Docks and is part of the wider Royal Armouries institution that can claim to be the oldest museum in the United Kingdom.

Indeed, before the Royal Armouries turned their hand to preserving history, they were concerned with keeping the armies of the Kings of England equipped with the best weaponry. The institution evolved in the medieval era and was originally headquartered in the Tower of London, where the first weapons were put on display in a type of early museum in the 15th century. 

Cool Things to do in Leeds: Royal Armouries Museum

The Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds is more modern than this, having only opened in 1996. Step through the doors, though, and you’ll be transported through the ages as you delve across millennia of history. From the earliest hunter-gatherers to modern military equipment, you’ll learn all about the long history of human warfare, weapons, and armor. 

There are some 4,500 exhibits spread across multiple floors, some of which have some seriously impressive claims to fame. You’ll find the largest animal armor in the world, built for an Indian war elephant in the 16th century, alongside Henry VIII’s elaborate personal armor and even the sci-fi weapons used in the “Alien” movies. 

Best of all, the Royal Armouries has its own jousting arena alongside the dock, where they regularly host exciting Medieval reenactments!

2. Hang Out in Millennium Square 

Unique Things to do in Leeds: Millennium Square

Millennium Square is the most popular urban space in Leeds, and it’s a conveniently central place to start any sightseeing tour of the city. Found between Calverley Street and Great George Street, Millennium Square is home to architectural delights like the Leeds Civic Hall, a grand, neoclassical building built almost a century ago. 

The square itself was massively upgraded in the year 2000 to mark the millennium, and the space now regularly hosts public events, including markets, fairs, and televised sporting events (including important tennis, football, and rugby matches). 

Fun Things to do in Leeds: Millennium Square

There are bars and pubs on one side of Millennium Square, Mandela Gardens on another, and the Leeds City Museum (dating back to 1819 and home to everything from taxidermied tigers to Anglo-Saxon gold) on yet another side. From Millennium Square, you’re perfectly placed to easily stroll through the rest of Leeds city center!

3. See the Leeds Tiger at the Leeds City Museum 

Leeds Bucket List: Leeds City Museum

First-time visitors to Leeds are generally struck by the mass of Victorian red brick buildings, warehouses, and old factories that speak of the city’s industrial past. Indeed, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Leeds’ history only extends to the 19th century, when it grew into the expansive urban area you see today during the boom days of the Industrial Revolution.

Visit the Leeds City Museum in Millennium Square, though, and you’ll soon discover that the local history stretches back far further than you’d imagine. You’ll start in the natural history gallery, where the Life on Earth exhibition transports you to a time when animals roamed the Yorkshire Dales. 

Must do things in Leeds: Leeds City Museum

You’ll see the taxidermied remains of local animals, as well as the curious remains of more exotic animals, including the Leeds Tiger, which was captured in India and brought back to England by a Victorian collector. The Collectors Cabinet holds more of these unusual Victorian collections from around the world, offering a unique insight into the eccentricity of 19th-century Leeds.

The Leeds Story exhibition explores the history of the city, from its ancient roots through to the modern era, while the World View gallery explores Asian history and culture, a continent away from Yorkshire. Finally, the Ancient Worlds gallery is home to a 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummy named Nesyamun, whose voice box scientists famously recreated in an effort to hear the mummy speak!

4. Visit the Crumbling Ruins of Kirkstall Abbey

What to do in Leeds: Kirkstall Abbey

A 15-minute drive or a leisurely one-hour walk from the city center brings you to Kirkstall Abbey , one of the best sights in Leeds. 

Overlooking the banks of the River Aire, this once grand abbey was built by Cistercian monks in the 12th century. One of the wealthiest religious orders of their day, the Cistercians constructed one of the finest abbeys in England. 

Best Things to do in Leeds: Kirkstall Abbey

But Kirkstall Abbey met its demise some three centuries later when a certain King Henry VIII needed a divorce. The infamous king took the drastic measure of separating England from the religious laws of Rome, and in the process of adopting Protestantism, dissolved the Catholic monasteries. 

The Cistercian monks were kicked out, and the abbey was left to fall to ruin as its wealth and land were redistributed to Henry VIII’s pals in Yorkshire. Over the next centuries, Kirkstall Abbey became a wild place, overgrown and crumbling but romantic in its own way, and by the 19th century, it had found a new lease of life as painters like J.M.W. Turner were drawn in by its unusual beauty. 

Today, you can explore Kirkstall Abbey yourself. There’s a small visitor’s center at the entrance, where you can learn about monastic life and the dissolution of the monasteries before walking through the ruins and the surrounding gardens. 

5. Shop at the Corn Exchange 

Cool Things to do in Leeds: Corn Exchange

Leeds has a fantastic independent spirit, and nowhere epitomizes this more than the Corn Exchange . 

Completed in 1863, step through into the grand interior of the Corn Exchange, and you’ll love the sweeping view of the shops below from the balcony. The building was completed at the height of Britain’s agricultural revolution, and the grandest columns, materials, and designs were utilized by the best Leeds architects of the day.

Best Things to do in Leeds: Corn Exchange

Originally, the Corn Exchange was just that, a marketplace where corn, and other agricultural produce, could be sold and deals brokered en masse by farmers and landowners. Today, the Corn Exchange has been taken over by family-run businesses and independent shops, where you can shop for vintage clothes, peruse small art galleries, get tattooed, and fuel up on great coffee. 

6. See a Show at the Leeds Grand Theatre 

Fun Things to do in Leeds: Leeds Grand Theatre

A night at the theater is one of the top things to do in Leeds. The city’s most iconic venue is the Leeds Grand Theatre , which has been entertaining the crowds since it first opened to grand applause in 1878. 

The Grade II-listed building was designed in the red brick style of the Victorian era, while the Gothic interior has changed little over the years. There’s only seating for 1,500 people, but you can often get last-minute deals on weekdays or matinee tickets if you haven’t booked in advance. 

The Leeds Grand Theatre is one of the most popular venues for touring comedians, while the big West End shows often visit from London, as do the Broadway shows on occasion. 

7. Escape the City at Roundhay Park

Leeds Bucket List: Roundhay Park

Covering an impressive expanse of land numbering some 700 acres, Roundhay Park is not just the largest green space in Leeds but one of the largest city parks in Europe.

Located on the northeastern edge of the city, if you need a breath of fresh air, there’s no better place to be. The land was originally gifted by William the Conqueror in the 11th century to the de Lacy family for their part in the invasion of England, and it was used as a private hunting ground and estate for hundreds of years. 

Must do things in Leeds: Roundhay Park

In the late 19th century, the area was finally acquired by the city, which made the park public after a massive landscaping project. Today, you can explore Roundhay Park at your leisure, including the flower gardens, the lakes, Hill 60 (named for a hill in France that was a battlefield during the First World War), the Mansion House, and the old Folly (a replica medieval castle built in the 1800s).

8. Venture into the Rainforests of Tropical World

What to do in Leeds: Tropical World

Roundhay Park is also home to Tropical World , which is easily one of our favorite things to do in Leeds. Tropical World is home to one of the largest collections of tropical plants in the United Kingdom. The only place with more is Kew Gardens in London, from which Tropical World has taken much inspiration.

Now a sprawling complex of gardens and greenhouses, Tropical World started life back in 1911 as just a solitary glass conservatory. The small collection of exotic plants steadily increased, and in the late 20th century, a huge expansion project transformed the greenhouses into Tropical World, which has since become one of the most popular Leeds sightseeing attractions.

Leeds Things to do: Tropical World

You’ll start your journey into the tropics in the butterfly house, where colorful species of butterflies fill the greenhouse. Reptiles, including small crocodiles and terrapins, fill the waterways as you move from greenhouse to greenhouse, exploring the different tropical zones that have been created here. 

Move into the carefully controlled rainforest zone, and you’ll have been transported across continents, as parrots and parquets fill the treetop canopies above you. The level of detail is impressive, and as you admire tumbling waterfalls and watch out for ants and other insects, you’ll soon forget about the post-industrial landscapes of Leeds waiting outside. 

9. Explore the Thackray Museum of Medicine

Housed in a magnificent red brick building that was originally built as a poorhouse by the Victorians, the Thackray Museum of Medicine is the sort of hard-hitting attraction that will make you thankful for living in the 21st century! 

The museum itself is named for Charles Thackray, a Leeds chemist who started collecting medical items of historic importance in the early 20th century. The red brick building was turned into a hospital during the First World War, and many years later, Thackray’s son expanded on his father’s collection, and the Thackray Museum of Medicine was born in 1997 after the hospital was closed down.

The museum’s humble private origins are hard to imagine now, given there are some 47,000 medical exhibits held within the collection. This includes everything from Roman scalpels to modern first aid kits, alongside curious finds like Adolf Hitler’s blood transfusion equipment. 

True to the building’s poorhouse origins, the museum focuses heavily on telling the often-horrifying story of Leeds’ slums in the Victorian era. The city grew rapidly, during the Industrial Revolution leaving many tens of thousands of unfortunate families living in squalor. 

You’ll walk through a recreation of the slums themselves, learning how a lack of medical care and sanitation led to regular outbreaks of diseases like cholera. As we said, you’ll be thankful for the advances that medicine has made, even within the last century! 

10. Visit a Grand Country Estate at Harewood House 

Cool Things to do in Leeds: Harewood House

On the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, but only a 20-minute drive north of the city center, you can visit one of the grandest country estates in Leeds.

Harewood House was built for the rich Lascelles family in the 18th century. One of the largest stately homes of the era, the house was designed by architects John Carr and Robert Adam in the Palladian style of the day. The exquisite gardens, which are still immaculately kept today, were landscaped by Capability Brown, who was the most sought-after gardener of his time. 

Best Things to do in Leeds: Harewood House

Start your visit in those same gardens as you stroll past carefully placed lakes and water features into the unique Bird Garden (the surprising home of penguins and flamingos) and past old follies and vegetable farms.

You can walk through Harewood House itself, admiring the stately rooms and lavish furnishings found across the maze of floors and corridors. Take a tour, and you’ll also learn about the history of the house itself, including the darker past of the Lascelles family. They built the house on the profits of the slave trade, using wealth made on West Indian plantations to cement their place in the aristocracy of England. 

11. Rock Out at the Leeds Festival

Fun Things to do in Leeds: Leeds Festival

Every year since 1999 (with a brief break during COVID-19), the Leeds Festival has been held over the August bank holiday weekend. 

For three days in a row, some of the best and biggest acts in the world descend on a field outside Leeds for a long weekend of loud music and debauchery. Past headliners have included everyone from Foo Fighters to Rage Against the Machine, and it’s always a sell-out event. You’ll camp out in a field, probably enduring the rain, as you party in a muddy field in Yorkshire – what more could you want?

The Leeds Festival is one of the UK’s biggest festivals, and it’s the partner of the Reading Festival, which takes place on the same bank holiday weekend in the south of England. The same bands play both festivals, just on alternating days, with northerners, of course, arguing that the sets at the Leeds Festival are always better than the Reading Festival!

12. Watch Leeds United at Elland Road

Must do things in Leeds: Elland Road

If you’re big into sports, then you’re in luck because Leeds is home to one of England’s most historic football (soccer) clubs, even if they aren’t winning much right now!

For sports lovers, watching a game at Elland Road , the home ground of Leeds United, is one of the most fun things to do in Leeds. The club traces its lineage back to 1904, when it was founded as Leeds City, and since then, they’ve had periods of ups and downs. 

Leeds Bucket List: Elland Road

The highs include winning multiple League Championships, the FA Cup, and League Cup, while throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Leeds United were a staple of the Premier League, England’s top division.

But the fall from grace was hard, and Leeds United have since found themselves bouncing between the Premier League and the Championship, as they suffer relegation and win promotion. This is real English football, and the fans who turn up every weekend to watch their team play are some of the most passionate in the world! 

13. Explore the Leeds and Liverpool Canal 

Cool Things to do in Leeds: Liverpool Canal

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal stretches for 127 miles across the mountainous terrain of the Pennines. Connecting Leeds and Liverpool, the canal was an epic work of engineering that took 46 years to complete, with work starting in 1770 and only finishing in 1816. 

The canal is a serious piece of history, being the longest canal in the country to connect two individual cities. Although its commercial use has long since been negated by modern forms of transport, the canal remains in perfect working order, with as many as 91 different locks to traverse along the route.

Best Things to do in Leeds: Liverpool Canal

Given the hilly terrain, some of the locks – like the Bingley Five Rise Locks – are absolutely spectacular. In Leeds, you can hire a canal boat and cruise along the waterways – you could even make it all the way to Liverpool – or if you don’t fancy captaining a boat yourself, you can join two-hour guided cruises along the canal.

Alternatively, you can take a stroll down the towpaths alongside the canal, with some excellent walking routes leading from the Leeds Docks. 

14. Hike in Yorkshire Dales National Park

Unique Things to do in Leeds: Yorkshire Dales National Park

Leeds is perfectly situated within easy reach of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, a spectacular area of wild beauty to the north of the city. The Yorkshire Dales is an area of seriously upland scenery that is part of the Pennines, a long ridge of rock, hills, and mountains that stretches across northern England.

That means it’s perfect for hillwalking, fell running, hiking, mountain biking, and all other manner of outdoor pursuits you love. Great long-distance walks include the Dales Way and the Trans Pennine Way, while the Pennine Bridleway offers excellent terrain for off-road biking. The ultimate challenge is the Yorkshire Three Peaks, where you tackle the three highest peaks in the national park in as short a time as possible. 

Fun Things to do in Leeds: Yorkshire Dales National Park

The Yorkshire Dales is packed with quaint villages, natural sights, and tourist attractions, including Malham, Pateley Bridge, the Wensleydale Creamery, and countless waterfalls. You can reach many destinations by hiring a car or by joining a day tour from Leeds. 

15. Ride the Settle & Carlisle Line

Leeds Bucket List: Settle & Carlisle Line

If it’s a rainy day on the Yorkshire Dales, you might prefer a scenic railway ride to a day of hiking, in which case you’ll love the Settle & Carlisle Line . Boldly claiming to be the most scenic railway in England, sit back and enjoy the views as the Yorkshire Dales whiz past on your way from Leeds north to Carlisle. 

From Leeds, the train line takes you north through classic Yorkshire towns like Shipley, Skipton, and Keighley before joining the Settle & Carlisle Line at Settle Junction, a charming station that’s straight out of the Railway Children.

The journey continues to Ribblehead Station, where you can see the extraordinary engineering work of the Ribblehead Viaduct, before arriving at Dent Station in the Yorkshire Dales, the highest railway station in England. The line ends in Carlisle, a scenic three hours after you start in Leeds. 

There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Leeds. What’s your favorite thing to do in Leeds?

Planning a trip to England? Check out our favorite books and travel guides!

places to visit on leeds


Best Things to do in Leed, UK

Richard is an award-winning travel writer based in Southwest England who’s addicted to traveling off the beaten track. He’s traveled to 75 countries and counting in search of intriguing stories, unusual destinations, and cultural curiosities. Richard loves traveling the long way round over land and sea, and you’ll find him visiting quirky micronations and breakaway territories as often as he’s found lounging on a beach (which is a lot). When he’s not writing for BBC Travel, National Geographic, or Lonely Planet, you can find Richard writing for the Wandering Wheatleys or updating his off-beat travel blog, Travel Tramp.

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20 Best Free Things To Do In Leeds You Can’t Miss

Are you looking for the best free things to do in leeds i’ve got you covered.

Leeds is a great city to visit for a short city break. Not only does it have plenty of activities to do in two days, but it is a budget-friendly city too.

This West Yorkshire city is well-known for its impressive shopping centres and an amazing variety of food and drink options.

However, if you’re travelling to Leeds on a budget, you’ll be surprised about the free and cheap things to do in Leeds – from visiting outstanding parks to learning about the city’s history.

In this guide, you’ll find over 15 free things to do in Leeds and its surroundings, which I’ve personally done.

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Best Free Things To do In Leeds

1. contemplate the ruins at kirkstall abbey.

Kirkstall abbey building

An amazing free Leeds tourist attraction is the beautiful Kirkstall Abbey , located 15 minutes drive from the city centre. 

Kirkstall Abbey is a ruined Cistercian monastery that dates back to 1152. Nowadays, it’s considered a Grade I listed building which not only can you see from the outside but inside too. The abbey is surrounded by a tranquil public park and part of the River Aire, which makes the place very special.

If you’re planning to visit Kirkstall Abbey, it’s worth checking their event calendar as they sometimes organise a free market set in the surroundings of the abbey. The market has many stalls where you can buy Yorkshire ingredients, handmade crafts and much more.

2. Discover a collection of arms at Royal Armouries Museum

Cristina contemplating the canal and city view from royal armouries museum in leeds

Do you love visiting unique museums? Then you must visit the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds Dock.

The entrance to the museum is free, and you’ll be impressed by the architecture of the building as well as all the impressive arm collections from all over the world.

The museum has five floors with over 4,500 objects from the 15th century to the modern day, so be prepared to explore the museum a few hours.

One of the best things about visiting the Royal Armouries is how interactive it is. There are many objects you can touch and learn about, but one of my favourite things is the performance.

The performances are very interesting and fun to watch. It’s definitely the best way to learn about the stories behind these arms.

3. Enjoy a sunny day at Roundhay Park

Main lake at Roundhay park in leeds

Roundhay Park is the most beautiful park in the city and, surprisingly, is one of the largest city parks in Europe. 

It’s the perfect place to go for a long walk with friends or family on a sunny day. During the summer, it’s a very lively place where locals have a picnic, and concerts and sports events are organised. However, it’s also worth visiting Roundhay Park at other times of the year.

The park has many features, such as a lake where kids can enjoy feeding swans and ducks, a beautiful cafe with views of the lake, and an estate house and ruins from what seemed to be a castle. 

Roundhay Park is one of my favourite parks in Leeds, and I love visiting in autumn when all the leaves turn brown.

4. Escape to nature on the Meanwood Valley Trail

One of the best things to do outdoors in Leeds is to go on trails, and Meanwood Valley Trail is practically located just outside the city centre which makes it very accessible. If you don’t drive, you can take the 51 bus from Vicar Lane.

It’s a 7-mile linear walk that takes you from Woodhouse Moor to Golden Acre Park. This trail makes you feel like you’re immersed in nature.

5. Explore the city’s historic arcades

Victoria shopping arcade in leeds

Leeds is home to many historic arcades that you can easily explore while you visit the city centre.

Some of the city’s historic arcades you cannot miss are Queen’s Arcade, Thornton’s Arcade and Victoria Quarter .

Not only do these arcades have beautiful architecture to admire, but they also have many independent shops where you can find unique gifts. On top of this, some of these arcades also have delicious food places – one of my favourite cafes in the arcades is Olive & Rye .

Also, if you’re visiting Leeds during the Christmas season, you’ll love walking through the arcades because they’re beautifully decorated with Christmas lights. 

6. Explore Temple Newsam

staircase inside Temple Newsam, Leeds

Another estate house located on the outskirts of Leeds is Temple Newsam . Although you must book and pay to enter the house, you can explore the extensive surroundings for free. 

Temple Newsam also has a small farm with plenty of animals, such as guinea pigs, piglets and sheep, beautiful gardens and a lakeside which is perfect for picnics in the summer months.

7. Get great views of the planes taking off at Yeadon Tarn

9 miles north-west Leeds City centre, you’ll find Yeadon tarn and park. As you walk around the tarn, you can see some locals fishing in the lake, kids feeding the ducks and swans or playing in the small playground. 

Yeadon Tarn is also a good place to visit if you like watching the planes taking off and landing since it’s located next to Leeds Bradford Airport. 

8. Go inside Leeds Minster

Leeds Minster isn’t a popular attraction in Leeds, but it’s definitely worth seeing it. 

From the outside, you can appreciate the 7th-century Gothic architecture of the building and check out the back garden, which it’s lovely to see during the cherry blossom season. 

You can contemplate the colourful stained glass and beautiful detailed arches and ceiling from the inside. The Minster was awarded a Grade I listed building by English Heritage. 

You can visit it from 11 am to 2 pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

9. Go to the Golden Acre Park

Golden acre park in autumn

Another must-see park in Leeds is Golden Acre Park, which you’ll find in the north of Leeds. 

The park is home to many flower and tree species, a cosy cafe with indoor and outdoor seating and; a beautiful lake.

Interestingly, the Golden Acre Park used to be a theme park in 1932 which included a miniature railway, a swimming pool and a boating lake. Nowadays, you can find traces of the miniature railway. 

10. Learn about Leeds at Leeds City Museum

Another place to visit in Leeds for free is Leeds City Museum located next to the famous Millennium Square. 

The museum has six extensive galleries where you can learn anything from the Ancient world and animals to the history of Leeds and its Asian influences. 

Leeds City Museum also hosts two changing exhibitions per year, and it’s worth checking any events going on. I absolutely loved visiting the handicrafts exhibition a few years ago.

11. Read a book at Leeds Central Library

Leeds Central Library is a cosy place to spend a few hours reading a book on a rainy day. The library has two floors with plenty of books and a research library to explore. However, one of the best things to do is visit the Tiled Hall Cafe, which connects the library with Leeds Art Gallery.

The Tiled Hall Café was originally the main library reading room, and now it’s a beautiful cafe that serves delicious sandwiches and hot drinks. 

12. Play chess outside Leeds Central Library

Do you love playing chess? Then you need to check out the huge chessboard and pieces outside Leeds Library. The library porters put out the pieces every morning, so you can turn up there and start a game with your friend.

This is a great free summer activity to do in Leeds.

13. See sculptures at Henry Moore Institute

Next to Leeds Art Gallery, you’ll find the Henry Moore Institute , a must-see attraction for any art lover.

This gallery, entirely dedicated to sculptures, has been considered one of the largest sculpture galleries in Europe. 

Not only can you explore the amazing temporary exhibitions but the research library to learn more about the artwork. 

14. Take a stroll along Eccup Reservoir Circular Walk

visiting  Eccup Reservoir, one of the free things to do in leeds

A relaxing walk is the Eccup Reservoir Circular Walk, located north of Leeds. 

The walk is about 4.5 miles long, and the route takes you from Eccup quaint village to the reservoir. Interestingly, this is one of the few free reservoir walks produced by Yorkshire Water. 

Be ready for a lovely short walk with picturesque views!

15. Visit Leeds Docks

A view of leeds dock area

Leeds Dock is a tranquil residential area surrounded by the River Aire, coffee shops, restaurants and the Royal Armouries Museum.

You can walk around or sit on the stairs located in the canal area to enjoy a picturesque view of the river, boats and buildings.

During the summer, Leeds Dock becomes a lively area where locals lay in the grass to sunbathe or have a picnic with friends. 

Leeds Dock also hosts a food festival followed by water sports competitions. 

16. Walk through Kirkgate Market

If you love visiting markets when you travel, you can’t miss the opportunity to visit Kirkgate Market in Vicar Lane.

It’s the largest covered market in Europe, and it has approximately 800 stalls with food from all over the world, small independent cafes, bars, clothes and much more.

Walking through the market is an experience – the smells, sights, and sounds will make you feel like you’re in a unique place. 

17. Wander around the Leeds Liverpool Canal

leeds liverpool canal view

You’ll find Leeds Liverpool Canal, a beautiful trail combining nature and buildings without leaving the city and very close to the city centre. 

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal is 127 miles long and still connects the cities of Leeds and Liverpool. It’s a tranquil place to enjoy a walk and spot some birds and boats.

A fun way to discover a small part of the canal is by taking the water taxi that goes from Granary Wharf to Leeds Dock. Although the boat ride isn’t free, it’s just a pound!

18. Window shop at Leeds Corn Exchange

leeds corn exchange

If you love supporting small businesses, you must visit the Corn Exchange which is home to unique and quirky shops run by local independent businesses.

Here you can find anything from fashion and music to plants and jewellery. The differences between the shops at the Corn Exchange and high street shops are the uniqueness of products (some of these are even homemade) and the friendly welcome you receive from independently-minded vendors.

One of my favourite shops at the Corn Exchange is The Plant Point . This little shop has beautiful plants to decorate your house. Also, if you’re looking for a Leeds souvenir, go to The Great Yorkshire Shop .

Even if you aren’t interested in shopping, pop in to contemplate the beautiful dome design inspired by the Bourse de Commerce of Paris and bright, colourful doors, and enjoy the atmosphere.

19. Borrow a book from Leeds Little Free Library

One of my recent discoveries was the Leeds Little Free Library which consists of beautifully painted library boxes that you can find across Leeds. The idea behind this free library is to exchange books with others: you can either borrow or leave books.

One of the nearest Leeds Little Free Libraries is in Leeds Dock, next to North Star Coffee Shop.

20. Go to Leeds Discovery Centre

Leeds Discovery Centre is a great place to visit to see and learn about interesting items which are somehow related to the history of Leeds. The museum is home to more than 1 million objects, so you can easily spend a few hours exploring it.

Although entry is free, you need to book in advance to visit it.

Frequently asked questions about visiting Leeds

Is leeds worth visiting.

Yes, Leeds is worth visiting! Although Leeds isn’t a small city, the city centre doesn’t have many attractions like London or Edinburgh. Leeds is the perfect city break for you if you enjoy shopping, are a foodie and love green spaces. 

How do I spend a day in Leeds?

Leeds is a great city to visit in a day because its centre is compact, which makes it very easy to visit the city’s main attractions. Some of the things you can do in Leeds in a day are: – Go to Leeds City Museum. – Explore the city’s historic arcades and main shopping centres (Leeds Trinity and Victoria Leeds.) – Have brunch at IF Call Lane. – Walk through Leeds City Market. – Window shop at Corn Exchange. – Visit Leeds Docks and the Royal Armouries Museum. 

What is Leeds famous for?

Leeds is famous for its numerous shopping centres, its historical monuments and sports such as football and rugby. 

Conclusion on the best free things to do in Leeds

Overall, you can visit Leeds without spending much money as there are many free attractions in the city. 

If you’re visiting Leeds in November and December, you can also enjoy seeing the Christmas decorations and displays across the city.

However, regardless of the season, check the Leeds event calendar, as most of the events are free! 

If you’re staying longer than a weekend in Leeds, I’d recommend going on day trips to other nearby cities such as York , which also has plenty of free activities to do.

Alternatively, if you prefer to visit small towns and villages, have a look at Saltaire , Halifax , Skipton and Knaresborough . They won’t disappoint you!

If you have any questions about visiting Leeds, drop me an email, and I’ll be very happy to help you. 

Safe adventures! 

P.S. Do you know anyone who’s travelling to Leeds? Share the post with them. 

Pin these best free things to do in Leeds for later

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Top things to check before visiting Leeds

  • Read this guide to choose the best accommodation in Leeds for you.
  • Check out these best cafes and brunch places in Leeds .
  • Are you planning to go on day trips from Leeds? Have a look at these 9 Best Places To Visit In Yorkshire .
  • Book travel insurance for your trip; this is a must for any trip!

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Travel Writer

Hola, I’m Cristina, the founder and writer of My Little World of Travelling. I was born and raised in Malaga (Costa del Sol), and I’m passionate about showing you my hometown and other beautiful Andalusian destinations. I help other travellers plan their trips to Spain by providing local advice and unique insights.


Leeds looks like a really interesting city and it was great to learn more about it. I love that there are so many free things to do here and I’d love to explore the historic arcades.

I am happy to hear you’d love to learn more about Leeds. I also agree it’s amazing to find so many free activities.

I might be heading to Leeds in the New Year for a couple of days so I loved reading this guide! I always like free things.

Thanks! I hope you make it to Leeds soon 🙂

I lived in the UK for a while (near London) and spent some time in Yorkshire, but I’ve never been to Leeds! One of my BFFs went to uni there at the Polytechnic, so I’ve been told for decades that I need to visit. I love history, so Kirkstall Abbey and the Royal Armouries Museum are right up my alley. Next UK trip I’m making Leeds a priority!

It’s happened to me too. When I used to live in my hometown, I didn’t explore many of the great cities or towns around it. But I am on a mission to visit them now 🙂 It’s great to hear Leeds is on your priority list now.

There’s something about historic arcades that I just find so beautiful and these in Leeds look like they will not disappoint!

I find them unique too! I love the arcades in Leeds.

The historic arcades and canal sound fantastic! They would make a perfect date night.

Absolutely 🙂

I’ve always felt like Leeds is one of those underrated cities in the UK. I really like the arcades. I feel like you could take some great photos there!

I had never heard of this place but now I want to visit so bad!! Thanks for sharing 🙂

I have been to Leeds several times on business trips but never realised how lovely the city was. I need to return there as a tourist and explore!

Comments are closed.

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The 15 most beautiful places in Yorkshire everyone should visit at least once

There are so many beautiful parts of God's Own Country it's hard to know where to start

  • 11:57, 15 JUL 2024
  • Updated 12:12, 15 JUL 2024

places to visit on leeds

The best of Yorkshire locations and destinations

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Beauty is subjective, isn't it?

Take pugs for instance. Some find these flat-faced dogs adorable, while others might consider them rather unattractive.

However, when it comes to landscapes, there seems to be a general consensus.

It's rare to find someone who would describe a purely natural scene as ugly. It could be bleak, intimidating or even monotonous, but even the most ordinary landforms have their charm.

READ MORE: The abandoned yet beautiful estate just off the M62

This is because we humans are inherently inclined to find most of nature barring the frightening and dangerous aspects beautiful.

Not to show any favouritism, but, Yorkshire boasts some of the finest scenery in Britain, offering a diverse range due to its vastness.

So, where can one find the most stunning spots in God's Own County?

That's subjective, of course, but here are a few of our personal favourites. From the breathtaking to the tranquil, here's a feast for your eyes with a sprinkle of manmade beauty for good measure.

Our pick is Robin Hood's Bay, with its huddle of old cottages clinging to the steep hillside, golden sands, rugged sea cliffs and lush clifftops.

places to visit on leeds

For beaches, we choose Marske-by-the-Sea, with its long, golden sands, minimal development and expansive views you can see the towering Hunt Cliff in one direction and as far as the Northumberland coast in the other.

places to visit on leeds

Though small, Ripon is a genuinely charming city with well-kept market streets and floral displays.

4. Clifftop.

Flamborough Head

The towering, near-vertical cliffs of Flamborough Head are a sight to behold and one of the UK's prime locations for birdwatching, with the occasional marine mammal sighting.

places to visit on leeds

Harewood House boasts geometric formal gardens designed by none other than Capability Brown, offering a truly awe-inspiring experience. The nearby Himalayan and Lakeside gardens are equally impressive.

6. Garden #2.

Studley Royal Water Garden, near Ripon

Prepare to be amazed by the stunning water gardens at Studley Royal, located adjacent to Fountains Abbey. The crescent-shaped ornamental lakes, cascading waterfalls, and whimsical follies create an enchantingly dreamy atmosphere.

7. Moorland.

places to visit on leeds

Widdop Reservoir, situated between Hebden Bridge and Haworth, offers a beautifully stark landscape, with sharp rock faces to the east that transition from dark grey to reddish hues during a clear evening.

Rievaulx Abbey

Our top pick for ruins is Rievaulx Abbey, near Helmsley, with views from the ruins extending down the wooded Rye valley.

On the easternmost corner of Yorkshire is a flat, near featureless landscape which is reputed to have some of the best sunsets in the world.

The easternmost tip of Yorkshire boasts some of the most stunning sunsets in Britain. The flat, near-featureless landscape of Spurn and its surrounding area provides unobstructed views of the sky, North Sea and Humber estuary, transitioning from hues of blue, purple and red to peach and yellow.

10. Urban beauty spot

Just a mile away from Halifax's centre lies the Shibden Valley, an urban beauty spot that seems out of place in a large town. This steep-sided valley is a green oasis intersected by a babbling stream.

Hardcastle Crags

Our top pick has to be the view from the east and west ridges of the Hebden Beck valley. As it flows from the wuthering moors of Bronte Country into the ancient woods of Hardcastle Crags, the sight is truly breathtaking.

12. Valley #2

places to visit on leeds

We couldn't leave out Rivelin, a wooded pocket of beauty nestled between the Peak District and Sheffield.

13. Village

Burnsall - a quintessentially quiet Yorkshire Dales village

For village views, you're spoilt for choice, but the broad meanders of the River Wharfe shimmering under the summer sun at Burnsall, in the Dales, are hard to beat. The scene is framed by a lush green valley dotted with woods, drystone walls and Yorkshire stone farmhouses.

14. Wetland

places to visit on leeds

Potteric Carr, near Doncaster, is one of England's last few natural wetlands. It's not just the mix of lakes, tangled streams and abundant vegetation poking out from the water that will captivate you.

The site is also home to rare birds that are hard to find elsewhere.

15. All-round spectacular

places to visit on leeds

What about the vista from atop Sutton Bank?

On a day with good visibility, one can gaze down the Vale of York and across to the Yorkshire Dales.

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places to visit on leeds

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10 Top Automotive Museums You Need To Visit

C ars have only been around for a bit over a century, and yet their history is incredibly rich and storied. For many of us gearheads, the pursuit of vehicular knowledge extends beyond the here and now and into what's come before us. Learning about the journey helps us understand the destination, and finding out about the route the automotive industry has taken so far is useful in predicting where it will go in the future, especially as we sit at a watershed moment for the industry.

Car museums are a fantastic way of delving into the history of the automotive world, and they're also completely beautiful. At almost any automotive museum, you're likely to find a significant number of your dream cars from the likes of Ferrari, Ford , and other manufacturers you may never have heard of, but there are so many of them to visit. Sure, we'd love to take a trip to every single one, but there are tricky things along the way like work, responsibilities, and geography. Instead, what we've done is compiled a list of ten of the top museums in America that you really ought to visit.

The Brumos Collection - Jacksonville, Florida

If Porsche is your thing, there is almost no better place in the world than the Brumos Collection, apart from maybe Porsche's very own museum in Stuttgart , Germany, but that's all the way over in Europe. The museum is named after the famous Brumos automotive dealership and racing team which has a rich and storied history with Porsche in motorsport. Jacksonville's Porsche paradise has some of the finest and most historically important cars that Porsche has ever manufactured, including competitors in races like the 24 Hours of Daytona.

The Brumos Collection is also interactive, allowing visitors not only a visual feast, but a chance to get involved in a tactile way as well, and their ever-changing exhibits allow for repeat visits. A must-visit for Porsche fans, this is a one-mark collection that is hard to beat.

  • Collection Number - N/A
  • Coolest Vehicles in Collection - Porsche 917K, Porsche 962, Porsche 917/10

Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing - Ocala, Florida

Drag racing is such a vital part of American motorsport history, and the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida, is one of the best showcases of the sport's rich and illustrious history . Founded by Don Garlits himself — also known as Big Daddy in the world of drag racing — the museum exhibits an extensive collection of drag racing cars, artifacts, and memorabilia coming together to tell the tale of the sport.

Some of the most iconic cars in the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing include the Swamp Rat series that Garlits himself drove during his career and there are also a number of educational and interactive displays teaching visitors more about drag racing. Perhaps the best bit of the museum, though, is its Hall Of Fame which honors individuals who have made a contribution to the sport.

  • Coolest Vehicles in Collection - Swamp Rat series

RELATED: This Hidden Collection Of GM Muscle Cars Is A Must-See for Camaro And Firebird Fans

Lane Motor Museum - Nashville, Tennessee

If you are one of those gearheads who has seen it all, a visit to Lane Motor Museum will almost definitely prove that not to be the case. Featuring an extensive and eclectic collection of some of the world's lesser-known cars and manufacturers, Nashville's Lane Motor Museum is an entertaining look into the more experimental side of the automotive industry. From microcars of the post-war era made by manufacturers like Messerschmitt , Isetta, and Heinkel, to vehicles from countries like Germany, Czechoslovakia, and the United Kingdom which wouldn't usually be seen in the United States, the Lane Motor Museum has vehicles that are bound to impress and amaze.

With a number of interactive displays, educational programs, and rotating exhibits, the wide-ranging Lane Motor Museum is Nashville's premier automotive destination, and one you should visit.

  • Collection Number - 500+
  • Coolest Vehicles in Collection - Messerschmitt KR200, Biscuter, Goggomobil Transporter

Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum - Leeds, Alabama

One for motorcycle lovers now, though there are some cool race cars there too, the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Leeds, Alabama is a complete motorcyclist's Mecca. Founded in 1995 by George Barber, a businessman and motorcycle enthusiast , the museum has become a world-renowned spot for lovers of classic, collectible two-wheelers . The Leeds location is packed full of some of the most impressive and important motorcycles of all time, boasting one of the largest collections of all time at over 1,600 pieces.

Interactive, educational, and with a vast range of things to see and do, including an annual festival for vintage motorcycles, the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum is undoubtedly a must-visit if you like bikes.

  • Collection Number - 1,600+
  • Coolest Vehicles in Collection - Norton Manx, Honda RC181, Triumph Bonneville

RELATED: This Abandoned Museum Holds More Than 200 Incredible Classic Car Barn Finds

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum - Speedway, Indiana

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is one of the best-known racetracks in the entire world and is worth a visit all by itself, but the Hall of Fame Museum is renowned for its extensive display of the rich tapestry of the speedway. Operating since 1909 , the IMS is one of the oldest racetracks in the U.S., and the museum is located right in the middle of the oval, allowing visitors a look at the hallowed grounds while they explore the history of the circuit.

With a great array of racing cars spanning the history of the circuit, alongside memorabilia and other artifacts, the museum should be on the list of places to visit for any motorsport enthusiast or those dedicated to the famous Indianapolis 500 .

  • Collection Number - 300+
  • Coolest Vehicles in Collection - Marmon "Wasp", Penske Racing "Yellow Submarine", 1939 Buick Century Convertible

National Automobile Museum - Reno, Nevada

When you think about museums, you think old, right? The National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada, fulfills that expectation with its fascinating and diverse range of vintage and classic cars. Also known as the Harrah Collection, named after the museum's Founder William F. Harrah , the attraction's range of automobiles from the late 19th and early 20th century make it a must-visit for those deeply into the history of cars and how the industry came to be.

With themed exhibits, period-correct displays, and a special Hollywood section dedicated entirely to cars that have featured in film and TV , the National Automobile Museum is one of the most interesting and educational destinations on our list.

  • Collection Number - 200+
  • Coolest Vehicles in Collection - 1907 Thomas Flyer, 1939 Bugatti Type 57C Aravis Drophead Coupe, 1907 Pope-Hartford Model S

The Henry Ford Museum - Dearborn, Michigan

As you may have guessed from its name, the Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan is a one-mark collection dedicated to one of the most iconic and influential manufacturers in the automotive industry, America's own Ford. Named, of course, after the founder of the famous company, the Henry Ford takes visitors on a tour through its history and tells the tale of one of the industry's foremost pioneers.

Featuring a wide and extensive collection of important and iconic Ford vehicles and artifacts, and serving as a showcase for some of the industrial technology behind the company, the Henry Ford is a perfect day trip for those keen to learn more about the Blue Oval brand.

  • Collection Number - 100+
  • Coolest Vehicles in Collection - Rosa Parks Bus, 1967 Ford GT40 Mark IV, Wright Brothers' Bicycle Shop

RELATED: 10 Rare And Historic Cars Preserved In Museums Around The World

Petersen Automotive Museum - Los Angeles, California

Featuring something for every type of gearhead and a visual masterpiece in and of itself, the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California is truly worth adding to your bucket list if you have any interest in cars. Boasting a truly comprehensive collection of vehicles, the Petersen Automotive Museum is able to display artifacts such as the original Batmobile , vintage exotics, and one-of-a-kind concepts all under one roof, and what a roof it is.

Designed by the architectural firm Kohn Pedersen Fox, the museum's building is supposed to evoke a sense of speed and motion, and the cars within its confines certainly give off that same energy. Whether you're looking for pure automotive education, or the thrill of seeing some of your favorite vehicles of all time in the metal, this is a fantastic place to visit.

  • Coolest Vehicles in Collection - Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic, 1967 Toyota 2000GT, Porsche 917K

Mullin Museum - Oxnard, California

We're staying in California for our next stop on this tour of automotive museums, but the Mullin Museum is far more pinpointed in its offering, specializing in all things French, especially from the Art Deco era. Perhaps it is one of the more niche choices on our list, but the cars on display at the Mullin Museum are some of the most beautiful ever cast to metal. Focusing on the Art Deco era , the museum has dedicated its displays to the sweeping beauty of 1920s and 1930s French motor cars, from the likes of Bugatti, Delage, and more.

For some gearheads, the main joy of a vehicle is the way it looks, and this element of the automobile is highlighted at the fascinating Mullin museum. If you're looking to bask in the beauty of some of the finest-looking specimens that the automotive world has ever managed to produce, this is the museum for you.

  • Collection Number - 140+
  • Coolest Vehicles in Collection - Delage D8-120S "Aéro Coupe", Bugatti Type 35B Grand Prix Racer, Voisin C27 Aérosport

LeMay America's Car Museum - Tacoma, Washington

One of the largest collections on our list, and perhaps the most comprehensive of the lot, America's Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington has an impressive array of cars from right throughout the history of the automotive industry. The collection, which is numbered over 300 items, spans more than a century of automotive history, and the plethora of exhibits on offer is sure to please any visiting gearhead.

Named after Harold and Nancy LeMay, passionate collectors of automobiles whose collection forms the basis of what the museum has become today, the LeMay America's Car Museum is a true year-round spectacle, with regular events and ever-changing exhibits.

  • Coolest Vehicles in Collection - McLaren F1, Duesenberg Model J, Ford Model T

10 Top Automotive Museums You Need To Visit

The Shops of Grand River

Photo of The Shops of Grand River - Leeds, AL, US.

Review Highlights

the-shops-of-grand-river-leeds-2 photo 0ZjN3PF9RUt-ReqQazG1Lg

“ I love that the food court is located indoors so you have a place to sit down that is not exposed to the elements. ” in 21 reviews

Simon M.

“ They have brands such as H&M, old navy, banana republic, Nike , brooks brothers and many many more. ” in 7 reviews

Kristen S.

“ This is by far my all time favorite mall in Birmingham , let alone Alabama. ” in 4 reviews

Location & Hours

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6200 Grand River Blvd E

Leeds, AL 35094

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Established in 1873. Visit the Leeds Levi's Store, located at 6200 Grand River Blvd East and we can personally help you find the perfect pair of jeans. You wear jeans. You live in Levi's. …

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Photo of Rosmond P.

This was a good place to shop and find what you need from the various stores. Everything is outside. No one was here during the weekdays so that means the weekends are packed.

Photo of Linda D.

Pit stop only but looks decent lots of retail and movie theater. Parking was easy. More relaxing open air type setting. Staff were friendly and helpful. Will make it an on purpose stop next time through

places to visit on leeds

I grew up in a household where we would go to Florida every winter for Christmas and New Years. That being said, we would typically make our stops at the outlets to buy clothing and other items we might need for the upcoming year. I have always been very fond of outlet shopping. Well that and shopping in general. Outlet malls are typically malls with the big name brand stores. They will sell items that did not do well in previous seasons on a much bigger spectrum. Normally you can get these items with a really good deal. When making the transition and moving to Alabama, shopping has not been that impressive. Yes there are different shopping malls and centers around, but living in Florida I was spoiled. The Shoppes of Grand River, are just okay in my opinion. It is not so much of an outlet mall that I am used to, but instead it is much rather a mall with some outlets and a whole lot of boutique shops. I was kind of shocked to see the amount of small boutique shops in this mall that claims to be an outlet mall. The food court is small too. Just a few places to eat. There is both indoor and outdoor seating too. Don't get me wrong it is a decent mall, just not what I am used to when I hear the word outlet mall.

Photo of Russell G.

The shops were busy this day. They have ample parking all around from front to side. They needed it today. People were lined up to get into the stores. We stopped at several stores and I bought a pair of Chuck Taylor's at Famous footwear This is an outdoor access multi shop venue. Worth visiting for the experience. There is a variety of shops including a drive-in theater and mini golf course. Only issue I notice is you can't get a good internet reception there. I have tried to check into several stores like today but was unable to do so. Great place to shop though and Buccee's is close by.

Photo of Val W.

I'm so surprised I have not reviewed this place with the number of times I have visited. This is a great place, especially with the pandemic, because it's an open air retail spot. There is a really good variety of stores here. I love that the food court is located indoors so you have a place to sit down that is not exposed to the elements. There is a lot to do it here. You can shop. You can eat. There's a great selfie museum called The Pixel Room that is fun for all ages. The drive-in movie theater is also out in this area. The drive-in has live performers sometimes and they have their own food area as well. This is a nice place to come out to with your family and friends. It's even nicer when the weather is great!

places to visit on leeds

See all photos from Val W. for The Shops of Grand River

Photo of Gabe P.

The Shoppes of Grand River is a great addition to the Leeds area! There's many shopping options for everyone and a food court as well. In wake of Covid 19, safety measures are in place , so you can feel safe while shopping. Also , retailers are limiting the number of patrons allowed at a time in the stores. My family and I visited several stores and found some nice deals. I do feel like some items are not reasonably priced at outlet shops sometimes. The customer service we experienced was all positive and friendly. This was fun , family time without any issues. If you enjoy people watching (I don't) , you'll love coming here. Huge parking lot available.

Photo of Shameka C.

Not sure why it has taken me so long to come here but I finally made it!!! There are plenty of parking spaces and the area is well patrolled. The outlet has several stores to purchase from or to simply enjoy browsing. Also, there is a food court plus a Saw's BBQ that offers indoor and outdoor seating. Shop, eat, and shop some more!!! Even though I didn't purchase anything on this trip, I will definitely go back.

Photo of Dane W.

shoppes of Grand River is nice and clean . There are a few shoppes I will only go thereto shop. The Coach Outlet My wife loves their selection and color lineup for a purse and Billfold. It is good quality Leather and it lasts. They usually come up something every year to change the line up. It also comes with warranty.the staff is friendly, helpful and knowledgeable.

Photo of John M.

An outlet store outside of Birmingham, Alabama. The grounds are tastefully done, stone accents accent the walkways with benches spaced appropriately here and there to capture a respite from the shop til you drop grind. A good selection of stores include the usual suspects in the outlets (Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, etc.). Stop on by and seek those bargains.

places to visit on leeds

I love to shop and being outside and shopping is my favorite. Great shopping options for babies, kids, and adults. Pet friendly and always decorated for the holidays.

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Global IT outage: More than 5,000 flights cancelled; how security 'arms race' led to crash | As it happened

A software update has resulted in worldwide IT chaos, causing cancelled flights, healthcare disruption and potential payroll problems. The firm responsible has apologised, but an industry expert warns it could take weeks to fix "blue screens of death" and endless loops.

Friday 19 July 2024 23:00, UK

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  • News roundup as worldwide IT outage hits airports, business, NHS and TV
  • CrowdStrike update triggered Microsoft system errors - prompting apology
  • More than 5,000 flights cancelled worldwide
  • Expert explains how security 'arms race' led to crash
  • Could take 'weeks' for systems to recover, expert warns
  • Most GPs in England disrupted |' Critical incident' at hospital trust
  • In-depth analysis: The firm behind the world's worst IT outage | The costly cautionary tale of how CrowdStrike came to dominate
  • Data & Forensics: Search data reveals scale of global IT disruption
  • Watch tonight: A Sky News special on the crisis at 8pm

That's it for our live coverage of the global IT outage today.

Services from airlines to healthcare, shipping and finance have been coming back online after computer systems were disrupted for hours.

Even with the glitch fixed, companies were dealing with backlogs of delayed and cancelled flights and medical appointments, missed orders and other issues that could take days to resolve. 

Businesses also face questions about how to avoid future blackouts triggered by technology meant to safeguard their systems. 

An earlier software update by global cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, one of the largest operators in the industry, had triggered systems problems that grounded flights, forced broadcasters off air and left customers without access to services such as healthcare or banking.

It was not a security incident or cyber attack, according to the firm and the UK's National Cyber Security Centre.

The outage shone a spotlight on CrowdStrike, an $83bn company that is not a household name but has more than 20,000 subscribers around the world including Amazon and Microsoft.

The UK government responded with its COBRA emergency team.

Here's a look at some of the services affected...

  • As of 8pm, more than 5,000 were cancelled across the globe - out 110,000 scheduled;
  • There were long queues at multiple UK airports, but Heathrow and Edinburgh say operations are now returning to normal;
  • Ryanair told customers whose flights have been cancelled to leave airports;
  • Some airlines issued handwritten tickets, while some airports - like Belfast International - are relied on whiteboards to update passengers;
  • Many US carriers grounded their planes, while airports worldwide were impacted in Spain, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Germany and elsewhere;
  • Train services were also affected - including operators such as Avanti West Coast, Great Western Railway, Southern and Thameslink.

Hospitals and emergency services

  • Some people were experiencing difficulties booking appointments at GP surgeries, with practices across England affected, according to the NHS;
  • Pharmacies warned disruption could continue over the weekend;
  • The Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust declared a critical incident as IT issues are affecting its services;
  • A few hospitals warned of delays and disruption, but others said services were running normally;
  • The London Ambulance Service said it experienced "huge increases" in the number of calls to its 999 and 111 services following;
  • NHS Blood and Transplant urged people to keep their blood donor appointments, as there remains an "urgent need for O negative blood".
  • Major UK supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda, Morrisons and Waitrose reported issues with online services;
  • One Waitrose in Hampshire was accepting cash only, in an example of what was thought to be a wider issue;
  • Many businesses were left with issues with their payroll software, which could potentially pose problems for companies that pay weekly.

The CEO of CrowdStrike has warned "adversaries and bad actors" will try to exploit the crash.

George Kurtz encouraged "everyone to remain vigilant" and ensure they are engaging with official CrowdStrike representatives.

He promised "full transparency" on how the crash occurred.

The company was working on a technical update and root cause analysis that will be shared with everyone.

The outage was caused by a defect found in a Falcon content update for Windows hosts, he said, meaning Mac and Linux hosts were not impacted.

"All of CrowdStrike understands the gravity and impact of the situation," he said.

"As we resolve this incident, you have my commitment to provide full transparency on how this occurred and steps we’re taking to prevent anything like this from happening again."

By Ed Conway , economics and data editor

This wasn’t supposed to happen. 

We were told that as the internet matured, that this kind of thing - a single error causing a domino effect taking out millions of machines - was supposed to become less and less likely. There would be more and more servers and cables distributed in more and more places, making a single point of failure increasingly unlikely. 

Instead, what today’s episode - in which an update from a company called CrowdStrike to customers using its services around the world essentially broke the Windows operating system on their computers - has underlined is that often the more complex a system becomes, the more vulnerable it is to collapse. 

The great irony, of course, is that CrowdStrike’s raison d’être is to prevent moments like this from happening. The company’s Falcon Sensor is a product used to prevent cyber attacks - a complex program best thought of as a kind of super anti-virus package, which, in order to do its job, gets privileged access to more parts of your machine than regular software. 

But it so happens the latest update to Falcon Sensor, uploaded overnight to computers around the world, had a dodgy bit of code in it, which caused Windows machines to crash. 

Right now, it looks as if the only way it can be resolved is by technicians rebooting each machine and manually deleting a particular file (C-00000291*.sys - since you asked). 

In other words, spare a thought for your company’s technicians, because they’re about to have a long weekend. 

The more complex we get, the more vulnerable we are

But perhaps the most striking lesson from the episode is a more ancient one, laid out by historian Joseph Tainter in his 1988 book The Collapse Of Complex Societies. 

The more complex societies and systems become, the more vulnerable they are to collapse. Tainter was referring to examples like the fall of Rome or the collapse of ancient Mesopotamian civilisation, but one could just as easily apply the logic to modern examples. 

Lurking beneath Tainter’s thesis was the point that often in a complex society of organisation actors might make decisions which seem sensible but, due to the complexity of the system and their inability to understand it, could actually make it more vulnerable. 

Consider the subprime crisis which triggered the financial crisis of 2008. Mortgages were packaged and repackaged into assets sold, eventually, to banks - which had little understanding of their actual value and their risks. The more complex the system became, the less able people were to comprehend how exposed they were to a catastrophic failure, and the more vulnerable the entire edifice was to collapse. 

How all roads led to CrowdStrike

Now let’s ponder the current IT malaise. Let’s ask ourselves: how did it come to be that so many companies around the world had the very same bit of software installed on their systems, making them vulnerable to the very same lines of duff code? 

After all, the vast majority of people working at the companies affected will never have heard of CrowdStrike. Like the bankers presiding over the financial crisis, they had no idea of the potential vulnerabilities lying within their systems. 

But in recent years, as businesses have become more and more concerned about the risk of cyber attacks, they have begun to implement cyber security checks and regulations. 

These often took the form of a checklist some poor operative had to fill out: how many computers have you got? What operating system? Are they all online? 

What forms of cyberprotection do they have? And so on. 

Now, this might sound like frustrating red tape to many of you, but the reality is that these days some companies stipulate that anyone doing business with them must have fulfilled all the items on the checklist. 

So all of a sudden, salespeople trying to do a deal would discover that they couldn’t do it without complying with the checklist. The company’s financial survival depended on being able to tick the boxes! 

And invariably one of the boxes in those checklists was: do you have an endpoint detection and response (EDR) solution? And if you didn’t have an EDR solution (or, more likely, didn’t know what one was) then invariably you googled EDR and looked for the world’s biggest provider, which just so happened to be… CrowdStrike. 

Perhaps you spoke to your IT provider and insisted that you needed an EDR. Perhaps they said: "Oh I wouldn’t do that if I were you” - but then… no EDR no sale. This is a stylised example, of course, but you see how this kind of thing can happen. 

And hence, gradually and imperceptibly, a large proportion of the world’s companies came - mostly unbeknownst to their leaders - to be running the very same piece of software with direct access to the most privileged parts of their computers. 

And then all it took was a few lines of code and all of those machines were instantly dead - or rather, they faced the 'Blue Screen of Death'. 

A costly cautionary tale

So there’s a reminder here about the risks of complexity. It's way too early to put a figure on how much disruption this episode has caused and how much economic damage wrought. The short answer is almost certainly: a lot. 

Millions of people around the world have been unable to travel, to communicate, to transact. It may well transpire that it has put lives at risk, given it has affected many doctors’ ability to do their job. 

Perhaps the best thing that can be taken from today’s chaos is that it might just serve as a cautionary tale which could make our computers that bit safer and more stable in the future. 

It might remind bosses that cyber security decisions are more than box-ticking exercises - and sometimes installing cyber security software can backfire. 

It reminds us how dangerous it is if everyone in the world is relying on the same provider. 

It reminds us about the need for redundancy - to have backup systems. 

It reminds us of the dangers of complexity. 

This probably won’t come as much consolation if you’re one of those people whose holiday plans have been disrupted or your business messed around by the IT outage today. 

But it’s something. 

The National Pharmacy Association has warned disruption is likely to continue through the weekend as outlets deal with a backlog of medicine deliveries.

Pharmacies reported issues with accessing prescriptions from GP surgeries and said this would affect the delivery of medicines to patients.

Patients with "minor ailments" were also being sent to pharmacies from GP surgeries earlier today, according to the Independent Pharmacies Association.

No "serious patient safety issues" have been identified during the outage, Health Secretary Wes Streeting said, urging people to "bear with" GPs after disruption to appointment bookings and other services.

The global IT outage has impacted the EMIS Web system, NHS England says, which is understood to be used by about 60% of practices in England.

The programme enables GP practices to book appointments, examine records and help with admin.

Around 3,700 GP practices may be affected, the Press Association reported.

Professor Kamila Hawthorne, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, said: "Our members are telling us that today's outage is causing considerable disruption to GP practice bookings and IT systems – practices using EMIS IT systems appear to be particularly affected.

"Outages like this affect our access to important clinical information about our patients, as well as our ability to book tests, make referrals, and inform the most appropriate treatment plan."

There were issues with administrative systems in some hospitals while some ambulance services reported a surge in demand.

The disruption caused by the outage has been truly global - here are just a few examples.

Bradesco, one of the main banks in Brazil, notified its users via its app that digital services were unstable due to a global cyber outage, but its ATMs were working normally. 

Azul Airlines, a Brazilian low-cost airline, said its check-in systems were affected, causing occasional flight delays. 

Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, western Japan, said the global system outage will affect ticket sales at the park over the weekend. The park said its ticket booth sales will not be available on Saturday and Sunday. 

The outage grounded some flights, disrupted hospitals and backed up border crossings in Canada. 

Porter Airlines said it was cancelling its flights for several hours because of the outage. 

Air Canada, Canada's largest airline, said there is no major impact to its operations, adding that it's monitoring the situation closely.

University Health Network, one of Canada's largest hospital networks, said that some of its systems had been impacted by the outage. 

Windsor Police reported long delays at both the Canada-US border crossings at the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor tunnel. 

The National Centre for Cyber Security in Sri Lanka says four information technology companies there have been affected.


Landings at Switzerland's Zurich Airport have returned to normal after being suspended earlier in the day.

A German regional grocery chain, Tegut, temporarily shut its 340 stores in the country this morning due to the impact on cash register systems. By early afternoon, more than half of the stores were open again. 

South Africa

In South Africa, at least two major banks said they experienced service disruptions as customers complained they weren't able to make payments using their bank cards at grocery stores and gas stations or use ATMs. Both said they were able to restore services hours later.  

Baltic Hub, a major container hub in the Baltic port of Gdansk, Poland, says it's battling problems resulting from the global system outage. Entry gates are temporarily closed and business has been suspended, the Baltic Hub said in a statement.  

We have some updated figures now on the number of cancelled flights.

As of 8pm, 167 flights scheduled to depart UK airports have been cancelled, aviation analytics company Cirium said.

This equates to 5.4% of scheduled departures, the firm said.

Some 171 flights due to land in the UK were cancelled.

Globally 5,078 flights, or 4.6% of those scheduled, have been cancelled.

The crash occurred because the wrong file was distributed to computers, says an IT security expert.

Human error will have played a part because the faulty file must have been approved at some stage in the process, says Tim Rawlins, director of the NCC Group, a organisation which secures business data.

CrowdStrike will be "tearing their hair out" trying to find the cause of the crash. Only they will know why the wrong file was uploaded, but it will come out.

"I imagine somebody there is having an extraordinarily bad day," he said.

"It is really unfortunate, but imagine you are the person who is responsible for going: 'Right, here is the file, we have made all the changes, we've done all the testing, push it to the machine to do the distribution [and] the distributor has either grabbed the wrong file or the wrong file has been given to it.'"

Asked if human error was involved, he said: "It is probably a fully automated system but at some stage there will have been a person in the loop. Somebody would have gone 'yes I approve this one to go'.

"Who knows where that mistake is. It will come out. I'm sure CrowdStrike will be tearing their hair out trying to find that issue."

How did the mistake happen?

Mr Rawlins explained software that protects computer systems from threats, named end point detection and response (a more comprehensive package than simple anti-virus), went awry.

Update packages are constantly created and then uploaded and pushed out it out to "endpoints" - the computers - but it appears the distribution system took and pushed out "the wrong file".

"That's the file that is full of zeros, as people describe it - there is noting in there for the system to operate," said Mr Rawlins.

"And that has caused the system to glitch, which has led to this blue screen of death that everyone is talking about."

Constant security updates have to be released "because the bad guys and girls are constantly changing their attacks".

One computer will report a dodgy new file to Crowdstrike, which will then need to tell all it's other computers how to stop it.

"It's this classic arms race," said Mr Rawlins.

The IT crash has been an "early wake-up call" for the prime minister, perhaps damaging his honeymoon period, says chief political correspondent Jon Craig.

The outage overshadowed Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressing the cabinet - the first foreign leader to do so in person since Bill Clinton, he says on our special programme, Crash: The Global IT Outage.

The government will have to take a "very critical look" at precautions for this type of issue.

Craig adds there is every chance there will be a COBRA meeting with ministers over the weekend.

"The prime minister will want to be better prepared for a crisis of this sort or a different sort in the future," he says.

"I'm sure there will be a big inquest after today and the PM will bang a few heads together."

This will happen again,  science and technology editor Tom Clarke   says on our special programme, Crash: The Global IT Outage.

Continual updates and fixes are required to keep systems safe from cyberattacks, he explains.

If they are to work, those updates must be pushed out globally and immediately - or else leave networks vulnerable.

"Really the answer is: People have to rethink the way they are going to manage when they don't have access to their IT."

Much of everyday business needs to be connected, and backup systems are a question of cost, says Clarke.

Many shops and restaurants are cashless, but it may be time to think about "how do we revert to some other form of payment if we lose that".

Tune in soon for a special programme on the global IT outage, including the latest developments and analysis.

Crash: The Global IT Outage  - will air on Sky News at 8pm.

It's free to watch on TV and you can catch it on YouTube as well.

We'll be covering the key moments right here.

Be the first to get Breaking News

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  26. The Shops of Grand River

    Established in 1873. Visit the Leeds Levi's Store, located at 6200 Grand River Blvd East and we can personally help you find the perfect pair of jeans. You wear jeans. You live in Levi's.

  27. Leeds United

    Welcome to the official Leeds United website. All the latest news, features, videos and ticket information from Elland Road

  28. The 10 Best Things to Do in Leeds

    1. Royal Armouries Museum. 4,757. Military Museums. The Royal Armouries is home to the UK's national collection of arms and armour as well as our annual International Jousting Tournament. We are a free museum based in Leeds with a daily events programme…. 2024. 2. Roundhay Park.

  29. Global IT outage: More than 5,000 flights cancelled; how security 'arms

    Travel. As of 8pm, more than 5,000 were cancelled across the globe - out 110,000 scheduled; There were long queues at multiple UK airports, but Heathrow and Edinburgh say operations are now ...