Home Travel 11 Very Best Things To Do In Leeds – Hand Luggage Only

11 Very Best Things To Do In Leeds – Hand Luggage Only


Perched in the North of England, in the heart of Yorkshire; Leeds is an incredible city to visit. Now, I know it might not be the first city you’ll think about when visiting England, especially if visiting from outside the UK. That being said, it shouldn’t be missed for a day trip whist exploring Yorkshire. In fact, there are so many of the best things to do in Leeds that it’s even great for a weekend trip. 

Now, Leeds is a pretty vibrant and young city in lots of ways. It’s got heaps of music venues, plenty of bars and restaurants and is an all-round fun place to spend a night. 

That being said, Leeds is also so much more than that. You’ve got some pretty epic museums, ruins just outside the city and beautiful arcades. 

So, to help you get the most out of your visit, I’ve jotted down my favourite places in Leeds that I think you’ll love. Have an amazing time visiting Leeds and exploring the rest of Yorkshire.

1.) Kirkstall Abbey

Best Things To Do In Leeds Yorkshire England Kirkstall Abbey

Perched on the northwest fringes of Leeds, visiting Kirkstall Abbey is one of the best things to do in Leeds if you want to explore the history of the region. 

You see, Kirkstall Abbey is a ruined Christian monastery that was plundered and ruined many centuries ago. Today, you can pop inside the ruins and explore the 800 years of history It’s well worth a visit for an hour or two. 

Way back when, 1152 to be exact, Kirkstall Abbey was founded and today you can still learn about the site, its ruins and the life of a Cistercian monk in medieval times.

You do pay a small fee to enter the site, which I think is worth it to have a look around. Also, it’s easiest to get to Kirkstall Abbey by car. So, plan your visit as you’re leaving Leeds and pop in for a little stop. 

Read more: Best places in Yorkshire to visit

2.) Leeds Theatres

Best Things To Do In Leeds Yorkshire England Leeds playhouse

Founded in 1990, the Leeds Playhouse is pretty epic to visit for a show. You see, this is a great place to catch so many theatre-worthy shows that are on regional roadshows.

Throughout the year, they show everything from Pantomines, Rocky Horror around Halloween and standup comedy that are incredible. Just be sure to book your tickets before visiting Leeds. This way, you’ll guarantee a seat. 

Alternatively, head over to the Grand Theatre in Leeds. This theatre which is located right within the heart of Leeds  It started its shows in late 1878 and since then, this theatre has hosted numerous shows from everything from opera, and ballet to sing-a-long shows.

3.) Leeds Corn Exchange

An iconic spot in the city, the Corn Exchange is one of the best things to do in Leeds as you stroll the city centre. Built back in the 1800s, the Leeds Corn Exchange was created by architect Cuthbert Brodrick and still stands proudly to this day.

Best Things To Do In Leeds Yorkshire England Corn Exchange

Once inside, you’ll find heaps of local retailers, independent coffee shops and artists that make the space so lovely. It’s the perfect little stop to see and, dare I say it, one of the most famous buildings in the city. 

Read more: Best places in Yorkshire to visit

4.) Leeds Cathedral

Leeds Cathedral (St. Anne’s) is a Roman Catholic Cathedral in Leeds that you really can’t miss if you’re interested in religious history.

In fact, Leeds Cathedral is one of the most famous cathedrals in the city that dates back to 1878. Once here, you’ll get to explore the Neo-Gothic architecture that’s so impressive. Now, it’s much smaller than the likes of York Cathedral or Westminster Abbey due to the size of the land. This means it’s missing some ‘wings’ that you typically see in larger city cathedrals. 

Not only that, It is also a five-minute walk from the Leeds train station; making it easy to pop in if you’re travelling by train. 

5.) Leeds Music Venues

Best Things To Do In Leeds Yorkshire England Arena Concert Music

Leeds really is one of the UK’s premier music cities and not just because of bands like; the Kaiser Chiefs, The Mekons and Softcell that call it home. Yes, in lots of ways Leeds competes with the nearby city of Sheffield for its music prowess which makes for some tongue-in-cheek rivalry between the cities. 

So, to get the most out of the Leeds music scene; make sure to book some gigs or concerts at some of the bigger, and smaller, venues that are dotted across the city. 

Now, for international events, you have the Leeds Arena. This typically attracts global acts and nationally famous comedians who fill out the arena. That being said, there are also smaller, and no less good, music venues in Leeds that are well worth seeing. 

Make sure to check out the O2 Academy in Leeds offers performances. Trust me, this is a great place to enjoy the nightlife in Leeds, the choice of bands is great but also note that it is more of a standing concert (if that makes sense). 

Alternatively, head over to indie venues like Brudenell Social Club or The Refectory that’s on the university campus. 

Read more: Best places in Yorkshire to visit

6.) Leeds Arcades

What I love about Leeds city centre is the Victorian shopping arcades that are well worth a visit. I’d even go as far as saying visiting is one of the best things to do in Leeds for a real feel of a city that grew rapidly in Victorian times. 

Today, the likes of the Victoria Quarter, the Grand Arcade and the Central Arcade are well worth strolling around whilst in the centre of Leeds.

Best Things To Do In Leeds Yorkshire England Victoria Quarter Leeds Arcade

In fact, you can spend a good few hours browsing the stores, stopping for a gelato at Amorino Gelato, too. Their chocolate gelato is so good. 

Best Things To Do In Leeds Yorkshire England Ivanhoe Clock Thornton's Arcade

Also, don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for the Ivanhoe Clock that’s on the archways of Thornton’s Arcade. You see, it has figures of Richard Coeur-de-Lion and also a figure of Friar Tuck.

These both move and strike on the hour. Though don’t worry if you don’t get here for that strike, you can see Robin Hood and Gurth the Swineherd how to move around the quarters on the clock. It’s so kitsch and quaint to see. 

Best Things To Do In Leeds Yorkshire England Trinity shopping Centre

Finally, if you’re looking for more high street and global stores, head over to the Trinity Shopping Centre. Here, you’ll find the global names you know and it’s got everything you can imagine. 

7.) Roundhay Park

Best Things To Do In Leeds Yorkshire England Castle Roundhay Park

On the fringes of Leeds is one of the largest public parks this side of Yorkshire. It’s called Roundhay Park and visiting is one of the best things to do in Leeds if you’re fancying a more relaxed day in the city. 

After arriving, be sure to stroll around Waterloo Lake (which is lovely on a sunny day) and spot Roundhay Castle. The latter is something of a folly and was recreated by Victorians during the expansion of Leeds in the 1800s. 

Read more: Best places in Yorkshire to visit

8.) Leeds Kirkgate Market

Best Things To Do In Leeds Yorkshire England Leeds Kirkgate Market

Leeds Kirkgate Market is one of the largest indoor markets in the UK and all across Europe. It’s huge and well worth heading inside to explore some of the stalls. There are anywhere between 800-900 stalls present at any one time. 

Once inside, you’ll be able to find everything from groceries, freshly-cut flowers, jewellery, art; you name it, the market has it. Just be sure to give yourself enough time to wander around. Oh, and arrive hungry, I guarantee you’ll be buying some treats. 

To make things easier, book this 2-hour walking tour of Leeds. It’s a great way to see the main sights in the city, without any of the hassle of finding them. Just be sure to book online before arriving in Leeds; spaces can fill up at peak times. 

9.) Royal Armouries Museum

Best Things To Do In Leeds Yorkshire England

The Royal Armouries Museum is one of the city’s prestigious museums that’s right in the Leeds Dock area of the city. Founded in 1983, it’s one of the best things to do in Leeds if you’re interested in military history.

You see, there are five themed galleries on War, Self-Defense, Tournament, Arms and Armor of the Orient, and also hunting. It takes hours to fully explore everything, but it’s a great way to spend the day in Leeds as it is easily accessible, too. 

Entry into the museum is free and you’ll even get to see Henry VIII’s historic armour once inside. 

Read more: Best places in Yorkshire to visit

10.) The Otley Run

Leeds has become famous, especially with its younger crowds and students for The Otley Run. Now, let me explain, this is something of a pub-visiting ‘run’ where you’ll get to stop off at pubs along a very loosely defined route from around Headingley and Hyde Park and the city centre. 

You’ll start off at the likes of Woodies Ale House in the Headingley area of Leeds and make your way towards the city centre. Along the way, you’ll stop off at 15 (sometimes less or more) bars and restaurants to have a tipple along your route.

Now, don’t feel obliged to drink alcohol in each spot; in fact, I’d suggest against it! Grab a coffee, a soda or even a pub lunch as you make your way. 

11.) Leeds Galleries

Best Things To Do In Leeds Yorkshire England Henry Moore Institute

Now, one thing that Leeds isn’t short of is art galleries and exhibitions to explore. Whilst in the city, be sure to stop by the Leeds Art Gallery that’s right within the city centre. Here, you can check out their permanent exhibits and explore the Ziff Gallery which houses Victorian works of art. 

Alternatively, head over to the Henry Moore Institute. It’s right next door the the Leeds Art Gallery and open in Summer. 

Read more: Best places in Yorkshire to visit

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