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Free things to do in Leeds

The best things in life are free! So take a look at some free reasons why we love Leeds, and why you will too!

Playing a key role in the Northern Powerhouse, and one of the five biggest cities in the UK, Leeds has so much to offer. From plenty of employment, entertainment and education opportunities to its massive affordability, Leeds is arguably one of the best places to call home.

That affordability doesn’t just include the cost of living (it’s 42% cheaper in Leeds than in London). It also extends to things around the city, which means you can learn, play and keep fit in and around the city without having to spend a penny.

But what exactly is there to do in Leeds that means you can keep your hands firmly away from your pocket? Well, you might be surprised. In this post, we’re going to let you know about some of our favourite free things to do in Leeds so you can have a great time doing something for nothing.

Here are some free things to do in Leeds

There’s loads to do around Leeds. No matter what you like to do, you’ll more than likely find a way to do it here in the heart of the Northern Powerhouse. There’s also plenty to do that won’t cost you a thing, meaning this affordable city is suddenly even more affordable.

Below, we’ll run down a few of our favourite free things to do in Leeds.

Visit the Leeds City Museum

Right in the centre of the city is Leeds City Museum, a brilliant 19th-century attraction that, like many other museums, is free to access. It’s not too far from the train station, so whether you’re visiting for the day or you live in Leeds, it’s simple to get to and will keep you and whoever you decide to take busy for hours.

There are plenty of exhibits, including those dedicated to Planet Earth, ancient civilisations, the history of Leeds itself and many more. There’s also a garden-inspired cafe that offers a range of options, including hot and cold snacks, cakes, drinks and more.

If you’re looking to spend time learning about the region's exciting past without having to pay an admission fee (though donations are always welcome) Leeds City Museum is a fantastic place to visit for a few hours.

View Kirkstall Abbey

Just northwest of the city centre, Kirkstall Abbey, on the banks of the River Aire, is the ruins of a Cistercian monastery which is one of the best-preserved of its kind. Once you’re done exploring the ruins, you can pay a visit to the visitor centre or enjoy a light bite in the on-site cafe.

If you’re visiting Leeds there is a small fee to visit Kirkstall Abbey, but if you’re local you can visit without having to pay – just make sure you take proof of your address along on your visit. That makes it a fantastic place to visit for Leeds locals and a great way to learn about hundreds of years of history related to the abbey.

Walks around Leeds

If you enjoy stretching your legs and soaking in some amazing countryside, there are loads of walks around Leeds which – rather unsurprisingly – don’t cost anything for the pleasure.

And we hope you’ve got some comfortable shoes because you’re spoilt for choice. You might want to start with Leeds Country Way, a mammoth 62-mile route that stretches around the city and passes through parks and woodland, crosses rivers and even skirts the airport offering plane spotters some great views – so take those binoculars. If you were to do the whole route it would take you almost a week, so unless you’re especially brave and have a lot of time on your hands, it’s best to do it in chunks.

For something a little more manageable, you might prefer to take on one of the shorter walks around the city. You can stroll three miles down a disused railway between Garforth and Allerton Bywater. There’s the seven-mile Meanwood Valley Trail which makes its way to the fantastic Golden Acre Park. For a circular route, Fulneck Loop is a lovely walk through picturesque countryside that shows off the best that Leeds has to offer.

These are just a small sample of the walks available around the city, so if you like to explore, there’s plenty on offer. The Yorkshire Dales and Peak District are also not too far away.

Parks in Leeds

Looking for some nice open green spaces to relax, have a wander or enjoy a picnic? Leeds is home to many parks that show off the very best of the North Yorkshire countryside.

While of course every park is free to enter, meaning you can pay a visit to any of them without having to worry about getting your wallet or purse, some do include attractions that might cost a little. But, that won’t stop you from enjoying the majority of the scenery and facilities they offer.

Some of our favourite parks and green spaces around Leeds include:

  • Woodhouse Moor is one of Leeds’ most popular parks and is located just northwest of the city centre.
  • Golden Acre Park is home to woodlands, gardens, lakes, a miniature railway and even a swimming pool.
  • Horsforth Hall Park is a quaint suburban park with a carefully tended Japanese garden and skate park.
  • Roundhay Park is enormous, and at 700 acres you’ll spend forever exploring the woodlands, gardens, lakes, trails, playgrounds and more.
  • Middleton Park is packed with history within its more than 600 acres and invites you to explore ancient woodland, bike trails, sports facilities, and signs of a medieval coal mine.
  • Temple Newsam, to the east of the city centre, is absolutely enormous, and has pristine gardens, lakes, woodland walks, playgrounds and more - there’s no way you’ll see it all.
  • Potternewton Park, in Chapeltown, is only a small park but is a great escape, with tennis courts, a skate park and even a community garden.

Visit the Leeds Discovery Centre

Leeds Discovery Centre is a fantastic museum space that is home to more than a million objects including those related to archaeology, the natural world, fine art, world cultures, industry and more.

Of course, the Discovery Centre is free to enter and allows visitors to get hands-on with a piece of history like no other museum out there. It also offers classes and events to teach you something new.

Leeds Urban Bike Park

Do you have a BMX or mountain bike and like to take part in some extreme sports? We’ve already mentioned that Middleton Park is one of the top parks in Leeds – one of the reasons why is because it’s also home to Leeds Urban Bike Park. Here, you can ride your bike on the various trails, skills track, jump line or pump track.

Use of the bike park is free and it’s funded by the adjoining cafe and shop – so if you need to pick up some new gear or a drink, make sure to do it here so it keeps the facilities free for everyone.

Leeds Central Library

Leeds Central Library is set within a grade-II listed 19th-century building right in the heart of the city and is a fabulous place to learn, study and read. There’s also an art collection, free internet access and activities, meaning you can spend all day here without having to spend anything (unless you decide to buy a bite to eat or drink in the on-site cafe).

Renting in Central Leeds

These are just a sample of some of our favourite free things to do in Leeds, why not see what else this incredible city has to offer? 

You can rent a fully-serviced flat in central Leeds with UNCLE and experience thriving, affordable city life for yourself.

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