Travel Guide | Leicester

College Tourist Student Guide to Leicester, England

The largest city in the EastMidlands, rich in history and beauty.

By Rarione Maniece, Old Dominion University

Leicester, England, is known among many as a diverse city filled with individuals form all over the world.  Leicester is one of the largest cities in the East Midlands with a population of over 300,000.  This city is also known as the tenth largest in the wonderful country of England.  This great city’s rich history goes back over 2,000 years.  Both the Romans and Danes utilized the city to control the Midlands.

The region offers a great mix of city living and countryside with some of the most beautiful countryside surrounding the city. The location of the city is also ideal for those who enjoy traveling around England.  Leicester is located in the center of England making wonderful cities such as London, Oxford, Cambridge, and others quite accessible.

Must see:

  • Haymarket Memorial Clock Tower The wonderful clock tower can be located in the heart of city centre; it’s rather hard to miss.  It is one of the most known landmarks in Leicester.  Given that this massive clock is so hard to miss it acts as a meeting place for many. It was first designed and built in 1868 by Joesph Goddard in honor of four notatble benefactors: Simon de Monfort, William Wyggeston, Sir Thomas White, and Alderman Gabriel Newton. For many years this massive clock has been the focal point of the city.  Throughout history this was the place where many proclamations were read out to the people of the town.  For the holidays the Haymarket Clock Tower is a prime location.  Each year a beautifully decorated Christmas tree can be found right next to the clock tower to spread the Christmas spirit around the town.
  • Leicester Market One of the best places to find tasty produce in the city of Leicester is the Leicester Market.  It is said to have been around for over 800 years and is also located in the centre of the city.  The market is open to shoppers between Monday through Saturday and consists of over 270 stalls.  A number of goods can be found at the market such as fresh produce, flowers, clothing items, jewelry, and other great items.   Leicester’s Corn Exchange can also be found in the market.  This building once served as a site where farmers and merchants traded things such as grains until the 19th century.  The building now serves as a place we can all enjoy.  It is now a trendy bar/restaurant.
  • University of Leicester Botanic Gardens The Botanic Gardens, located in Oadby Student Village, is made up of 16 acres of wonderful gardens and greenhouses.  Some of the most diverse plants are here in this beautiful garden. Admission is free.  This is a wonderful place to take that Sunday walk when the weather is nice out.  The gardens is one of the most beautiful places in the city of Leicester.  It is for sure a must see during the Spring and Summer seasons.
  • National Space Centre  The National Space Centre is a very popular attraction in the UK and it just so happens to be located in Leicester, England.  It is known as one of the largest and best attractions dedicated to all things space.  Inside the centre one can find one of the largest planetarium domes in the UK and over six interactive galleries.  The only known Soyuz spacecraft in Western Europe can also be found inside the space center. Not only is the inside filled with many amazing things but the outside of the building is pretty pleasing to the eyes.  The “Rocket Tower” is 42 meters tall and was designed by Nicholas Grimshaw.  This bubble like tower is sure to catch anyone’s attention riding along the A6.


  • New Walk Museum This free museum is a few steps away from the city centre.  Inside there are two dinosaur skeletons.  The New Walk Museum gives their visitors the opportunity to walk through Egypt thanks to the wonderful Egyptian exhibit, discover the minerals of Leicestershire, and explore in wild space exhibit that displays animals from all over the world.  A great selection of paintings and sculptures can also be found with in the walls of this wonderful museum.  The New Walk Museum has featured numerous exhibits such as a Wallace and Gromit display, Spirits of War to Hands of Peace exhibition of paintings and sculptures on the horrors of war and the power of peace, and also the Attenborough collection of Picasso ceramics.

blue art flower

  • City Centre  The city centre of Leicester offers a multitude of things to do.  From shopping, to grabbing a drink at the pub there is something for everyone.  A favorite destination for many Leicester residents is the Highcross shopping centre.  This mall offers one of the best shopping experiences in Leicester.  There is a store to please any fashion taste.  Highcross also hosts student nights where they allow students to shop after hours.  Many stores also offer great discounts to students.

Off the beaten path

Leicester’s diverse population dates back centuries making it the ideal place for a number of cultural events. The ethnic minority population is said to make up more than third of the population.  Not only is this town known for its diversity but at one point it was named as the ‘Curry Capital of the UK’.  One thing this town is not short on is curry and hosts one of the biggest Diwali celebrations outside of India each October-November.  This event attracts visitors from all over each year.

leicester england diwali city guide image

Light display for the start of Diwali

Fun for free

Leicester has a great selection of free museums and parks.  The New Walk Museum and the Newarke Houses Museum is not only free but holds some of the best history about the city of Leicester.  During Diwali there are also a number of free festivals and celebratations that take place throughout the city.  A favorite among locals are the lights on Belgrave Road and the firework show with live entertainment.

Eat and drink

One thing city centre is not short of and that’s places to grab something to eat.  The streets of city centre are lined with some of the best pubs and restaurants in Leicester!

  • Dry Dock is a favorite among students, its rather close to campus and it also has great food and drinks at reasonable prices.  What makes this place even cooler is that it is a cool yellow boat.  Who wouldn’t want to have drinks and good food in a boat?  Its also a great place to hangout during the warm months.  Students can also purchase discount cards for great deals on both food and drinks.
  • The Crumblin’ Cookie is a cute little café tucked in one of the side streets of city centre.  The cookie offers a very fun and warm atmosphere with tasty pastures and a wide array of teas to choose from.
  • Walkabout Inn: If a trip to Australia is not in the budget don’t worry Walkabout Inn has got you covered.  This Australian themed eatery has some of the best Australian like food you can find in England.  Kangaroo burgers are even offered on the menu.  During happy hour everything on the menu is half off!
  • Nando’s is one of the best places to eat great chicken.  This is a Portuguese themed restaurant with come of the best Peri-Peri chicken.


Once classes are over students love gathering at the local pubs and clubs to let loose.  Students have their favorite places to hang each night of the week.

  • The Loaded Dog is very popular among many uni students every Sunday.  The pub offers one pound drinks and other drink specials to students.  Starting your school week off with a few cheap drinks with your best mates is never a bad idea.
  • Club Republic on a Monday night is never a let down.  Inside this popular club are three different rooms that provide a unique party experience.  Students from both University of Leicester and De Montfort University, a university also located in Leicester, gather at this hotspot each Monday.
  • O2 onWednesdays you can always find a uni student in a strange costume headed to the themed night titled, “Red Leicester”, this is the University of Leicester’s very own nightclubThis is always a pretty corky night at the nightclub where they play loads of cheesy music. This two-story hotspot provides students a place to dance and enjoy themselves on Wednesday and Friday nights.
Another fun night at the O2, a nightclub located in the University of Leicester's Student Union.

Another fun night at the O2, a nightclub located in the University of Leicester’s Student Union.


Leicester offers numerous forms of transportation for their residents.

  • A popular way to get around during the day is the city bus.  This is one of the easiest ways to move about in the city and is also very affordable.
  • Arriva Bus offers students semester passes to allow them to hop on any bus in the area to bring them to places such as uni and city centre.  The bus is also a hit among students that live in accommodations far from campus.
  • After leaving your favorite pub late at night taxis are a great option to get you back home safely.  Since the city bus stops running rather early, taxis are the only option for late night traveling throughout the city.
  •  Coach travel is the cheapest option although it may take a little longer then a train, but for those traveling on a budget it is usually a great choice.  Student cards are also offered for discount travel on both the purchase of train and coach tickets.  For those fun weekend trips both coach and trains are great sources of transportation.

The bus is always a popular choice among uni students.

Local knowledge 

Leicester is a wonderful city that offers many different options for entertainment.  One piece of advice, remember to always carry an umbrella daily.  The weather in England is very unpredictable and you never know what mother nature has up her sleeve.  Another piece of advice, many stores close rather early in city centre.  So make sure you get your shopping done early to be sure not to miss out!


Rarione Maniece

Old Dominon University | 6 stories

I am a Senior at Old Dominion University studying Communications and Information Technology in Norfolk, VA. New Orleans, Louisiana is where I was born and raised. I am an apsiring news reporter that loves all things Beyonce and Orpah. This Fall term I had the wonderful opportunity of traveling to Leicester, England to complete my semester abroad at the University of Leicester. I look forward to following the foot steps of the wonderful Ron Burgundy, "Stay classy, San Diego!"

One response to “College Tourist Student Guide to Leicester, England”

  1. […] from popular destinations like Barcelona and London to lesser known locations like Leipzig and Leicester. Even if your wanderlust keeps you stateside you can discover places like Tuscaloosa or Ocean […]

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