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Things to do in Leeds

What to do and see in Leeds. Just trust us, we know what we're talking about.

Leeds is one of the top five biggest cities in the UK and plays a key role in the Northern Powerhouse. There’s a fantastic range of housing and employment opportunities, which means there’s also a huge range of attractions to visit, things to see and do, food and drink to enjoy and places to learn something new.

So, whether you’re looking to catch a show, learn about local history or just kick back with a nice drink by the river, you’re spoiled for choice. When it comes to Leeds attractions and places to go, the hardest thing will be deciding which one to do first.

So, join us in our guide to the best things to do in Leeds. There’s something (actually, many things!) for everyone in this iconic city in North Yorkshire.

Leeds City Museum

In the heart of the city, a little north of the train station, is Leeds City Museum. Established at the beginning of the 19th century, the museum is a wonderful piece of architecture, and inside you’ll find exhibits focusing on life on Earth, ancient worlds, the history of Leeds and more.

There’s also the botanical-themed cafe which serves hot and cold food, as well as cakes, snacks and drinks. It’s a great place to bring the kids to learn all about life in the north and beyond, as well as the history of this fantastic city.

Leeds Art Gallery

Ready to immerse yourself in culture and take in incredible artistic works from world-famous artists from around the world and up-and-coming talent? Leeds Art Gallery is only down the road from Leeds City Museum, so it’s the perfect one-two for a day of soaking up information and learning something new.

There are plenty of permanent exhibits around the gallery, and they welcome guest exhibitions and events throughout the year, including everything from sculptures and art to dance nights and skate parks. This isn’t your typical art gallery, after all.

When you’re ready for a breather, there’s also a cafe and shop so you can refuel before heading on to your next destination.

Leeds Trinity Mall

If you’re a big fan of retail therapy, Leeds offers you plenty of opportunities to shop ‘til you drop, and your first stop should definitely be Leeds Trinity Mall. With over 120 high street shops and independent retailers, restaurants, bars and entertainment offerings, you can practically spend all day here.

For shopping, there’s an Apple store, Deichmann, H&M, Hotel Chocolat, LEGO store, M&S, Next, Pandora and Primark, to name just a small handful. For food, you might want a cheeky Nandos, a sweet treat at Krispy Kreme, authentic Italian pizza at Pizzaluxe, or something else – the choice is huge. Then you could catch a flick at the Everyman Cinema which has five screens and even an outdoor terrace so you can enjoy a post-movie chat.

If you need something, chances are you’ll find it here at Leeds Trinity Mall.

The Royal Armouries Museum

On the southern banks of the River Aire, you’ll find the Royal Armouries Museum, which has an incredible collection of arms and armour from across the world. Including objects related to Japanese samurais and even King Henry VIII’s royal armour, you can dive into the rich and interesting history of all things combat. There are even live shows and demonstrations so you can see how armies used weapons and defeated their enemies, which offers a great look into the grim and sometimes gory past.

Roundhay Park

Not too far outside the city centre are over 700 acres of incredibly well-kept parkland, lakes, woods, gardens and more. Roundhay Park is also home to Tropical World, an attraction that teaches all about rainforests, mangroves and deserts, and features animals and habits from all over the world.

The park also has playgrounds, a skate park, a visitor centre, specialist gardens, sports facilities, a land train and a lakeside cafe, so one visit is never enough, and it’s a fantastic escape from the craziness of city life.

The Corn Exchange

The Corn Exchange is a true Leeds landmark and is a fantastic piece of Victorian architecture which was once, as the name suggests, a building used for merchants to trade grains.

Now, the Corn Exchange is home to dozens of independent and boutique retailers, selling everything from jewellery to art. It’s as quirky as it is unique, and is worth a visit purely for a browse – but we bet you’ll find something you have to take home with you.

Assembly House

If you’re a creative person, you’re definitely going to want to check out Assembly House, just to the west of the city centre.

Assembly House is home to exhibitions and galleries, and has space for artists to work on their craft while surrounded by other creatives and resources. There are regular events, so pay Assembly House a visit and get in touch with your creative side – just don’t forget your paintbrush.

Leeds Discovery Centre

Just a short walk from the Royal Armouries Museum is Leeds Discovery Centre, a museum and learning space absolutely jam-packed with over a million objects from the natural world, human history, outer space and more.

The Discovery Centre calls itself a state-of-the-art museum, and it does things a little differently from other museums. Get an up-close look at everything from an elephant skull to meteorites and learn all about them with the enthusiastic team of researchers.

Leeds Urban Bike Park

Are you an extreme sports fan with a mountain bike or BMX? If so, head down to Middleton Park, where there’s not only a fantastically stocked bike shop, but a selection of BMX and mountain bike tracks to test your skills and provide plenty of thrills. Plus, it’s also a free facility, so you can use the tracks as often as you like – just remember to buy a coffee or soft drink in the cafe afterwards as it helps keep the tracks free for everyone.

Kirkstall Abbey

With more than 800 years of history, Kirkstall Abbey, over the road from the Abbey House Museum, are the ruins of a Cistercian monastery which allows visitors a chance to take a look back to the 11th century.

There’s also a visitor centre and cafe, so you spend plenty of time here finding out about life in Leeds 800 years ago, in one of the country's best-preserved abbey ruins.

Victoria Quarter

If you’re looking for a gift that’s extra special, or you just want to treat yourself to something nice, you definitely should head down to Victoria Quarter. The height of luxury, it’s a shopping arcade home to fantastic boutique jewellers, fashion retailers, art sellers and more.

If nothing else, you’ll want to check out the architecture. The building itself is a part Grade II listed Victorian shopping arcade and part modern mall with diamond patterned ceiling. 

There are also spots to grab a drink and bite to eat, including a gelato from Amorino or the world-famous The Ivy.

Things for the kids

If you’ve got kids, you might want to know the best places to take them so they can burn off some energy – or maybe you want to join them and have some excitement! 

A short drive north of the city is Stockeld Park, which is absolutely packed with things to do, like indoor and outdoor playgrounds, go-karts, a hedge maze, the Enchanted Forest, boats and more.

For animal lovers, enjoy afternoon tea surrounded by cats at Kitty Cafe, or take a trip to Jump Inc for a mad time jumping around.

Nighttime entertainment

Enjoy catching a show? Leeds Heritage Theatres is a trio of incredible venues: Leeds Grand Theatre, City Varieties Music Hall and Hyde Park Picture House. Each venue hosts fabulous performances including plays, musicals, comedians and opera.

There are plenty of pubs around the city – read our guide to the best pubs in Leeds for more information on those. But, for something a little different, you might want to check out the underground jazz bar or have a night to remember at the Junkyard Golf Club. There’s something for everyone in Leeds!

Renting in Leeds with UNCLE

Now that you know all about the things to do in Leeds, why not come and see what this historic city has to offer for yourself? Not only is Leeds home to brilliant attractions, nightlife and dining, but a variety of affordable living options.

Rent in central Leeds with UNCLE and live in one of our modern, fully-serviced flats in the heart of the action.

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