Cultural Experience | United Kingdom

10 Interesting Places to go in Leeds, England

If you ever find yourself in this major UK city, here’s a list of some great places you need to visit!

Located in the north of England all the way up in Yorkshire, Leeds is one of the major cities of the U.K. Known for its Victorian architecture, amazing shopping venues and universities, Leeds is a fast paced city that might be easy to get lost in. While most people may not be in Leeds for five months like I was when I studied at the university of Leeds, there is a great deal of things one can see even if you’re only visiting for a day or two. While it’s not a classic tourist destination and you’d be hard pressed to find tourist shops or merchandise, it’s a lovely and authentic English city. In my time there I managed to compile a list of fun places the city has to offer if you should ever find yourself visiting, or studying there like I was.

The Briggate: The heart of Leeds, the Briggate is home to a vast amount of shopping stores, as well as restaurants and cafes. It’s a pedestrian only street, and on weekends can be home to street performers as well as market stalls. Several beautiful shopping arcades lead off of the main street, such as the Victoria Quarter, home to high end stores as well as a beautifully stained glass ceiling. Whether you’re on a shopping spree or simply walking through to admire the architecture, the Briggate is a must-see in Leeds.

Leeds Briggate image

Leeds Briggate

Trinity Leeds: Right off the Briggate there’s the massive shopping mall, Trinity Leeds. It’s home to stores such as Topman Topshop and Marks & Spencer, as well as home goods, electronics, and even a Lego Store. There’s also a cinema, a huge selection of restaurants and food stalls. It’s the ultimate shopping experience and makes Leeds one of the top cities in the U.K. for shopping.

Trinity Leeds image

Trinity Leeds

Leeds Kirkgate Market: A classic Leeds attraction, the Leeds Market is located right outside the Briggate and is home to a huge selection of local food stalls and eateries. Constructed in 1875, it is easy to imagine what it might have been like walking into the market nearly a century ago. Known for its cheap prices, the market can be a good place to grocery shop as an alternative to supermarkets. Whether you’re there as a tourist, a shopper, or both, it offers delicious local food as well as an array of goods such as clothes, books, toys, and trinkets and is a lovely place to explore.

Leeds Kirkgate Market image

Museums: The Leeds City Museum is a great place to learn about the history of Leeds, from the present all the way back to ancient times. If you like history and culture this is a great place to go, and it’s free admission. Pick an afternoon and wander through artifacts from medieval Leeds to World War II to the 21st century.  Several streets over, you can also stop by the Leeds Art Gallery, also free of admission, to see present day art as well a collection of British art throughout the 20th century. If you like art and history, the Leeds Art Gallery and Leeds City Museum are great places to get some culture- all for free!

Leeds City Museum image

O2 Academy: If you want a night out, Leeds has some fantastic nightlife. The O2 Academy offers club nights (4 pound admission) as well as music venues for gigs by prominent artists. I saw the British pop band McFly there, and it was one of the most spectacular shows I’ve been to. Club nights offer two levels of dance floors with different kinds of music and atmosphere. Located in the heart of the city, the O2 is loud, crazy, and fun!

McFly at O2 Academy image

McFly at the O2 Academy

Headingley: If you’re looking to get out of the city, maybe get lunch somewhere a bit quieter, Headingley is a charming suburb to spend an afternoon. Full of homey shops, cafes, and pubs, Headingley is a refreshing change of pace and definitely caters to a ‘small town’ vibe. Several food stops might include Ecco Pizzera, which serves authentic Neapolitan pizza, as well as gelato and other delicious Italian cuisine. Costello’s Bakery is home to award winning pies (I’d recommend the rabbit pie, then the strawberry and apple for dessert), as well as cakes, scones (try the cinnamon apple), and other baked goods. The Love Rouge Bakery is a great place to stop and get a specialty cupcake, or stop to eat lunch in its charming interior. If you’re looking for a pub, you can’t go wrong with the many that line the street- whether it’s to watch a football match with locals or get drinks with friends. You can also head to Cottage Road Cinema to see one of the latest films. Built in 1912, it’s one of the oldest cinemas in the UK. Located along the north road leading to the city, Headingly is definitely worth a visit.

Love rouge in headingley image

Lunch at Love Rouge in Headingley

Roundhay Park: If the weather is nice and you feel like getting some air, having a picnic, going on a walk, or playing some sports, Roundhay Park is the perfect place to go. It has wide, open green fields perfect for kicking a ball around or lounging in the sun, as well as many walking paths that circle around its lake and pond. It’s a beautiful place to relax for an afternoon, and if you’re looking for a bit of history there’s a small castle folly, constructed in 1826. If you’d like a bit more nature, you can also head to Tropical World across the street from the park’s entrance- home to a vast collection of tropical plants (the largest in the U.K. only second to Kew Gardens in London), a butterfly house, several aquariums, and birds and reptiles. Roundhay is about a twenty minute bus ride from the city center.

Roundhay park image

Roundhay Park

Kirkstall Abbey: Built in 1152, what remains of this Abbey after its dismantlement under Henry VIII’s reign 1539 is still beautiful today. There’s no admission, so you’re free to roam the ruins as you please, as well as its surrounding Abbey Park. Kirkstall Abbey is a little ways outside the city, but definitely worth the bus ride, especially on a market day, when local shops and eateries come and sell their goods in the main courtyard within the Abbey. Market days take place once every month, so be sure to look up the date beforehand. If you enjoy history and delving into the past, Kirkstall Abbey is a must-see.

Kirkstall Abbey image

Kirkstall Abbey

Meanwood Valley Trail: If you’re in the mood for something more solitary and you like nature and fresh air away from the city, the Meanwood Valley trail would be perfect for you. Located several miles outside of the city near Headingley, this trail is ideal for a long walk. It’s particularly beautiful in the early spring as the weather is warming up and the flowers are beginning to bloom, and is a great place to spot wildlife. This trail leads one through a wooded path lined with trees and dotted with small waterfalls. It’s a great place to get fresh air, stretch your legs, and take some nice photos.

Meanwood Valley Trail image

Meanwood Valley Trail

The Fisherman’s Wife: Britain is known for their fish and chips- you can get them almost anywhere in the UK, and I tried a lot from many different places in many cities, but none were able to compare to the fish and chips at The Fisherman’s Wife. Located down the street from the Kirkgate Market, it’s a little hole in the wall place – it doesn’t even have seating – that serves some of the best fish and chips in the UK. Fresh and made right in front of you, you get it hot and can choose from a selection of curries to eat it with (I recommend the chip shop curry), as well as peas and other side dishes. If you’re going to eat one meal while you’re in the city, I would definitely recommend this one.

Stephanie DiCarlo

University of Massachusetts Amherst | 9 stories

My name is Steph and I'm a recent grad of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I traveled to Leeds, England to study abroad during the spring semester of my junior year of college! I love to travel, love to photograph, love to eat, and love to write!

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