Are you looking for the best things to do in Leeds? The best of both worlds are available in Leeds. With the Yorkshire Dales and beautiful national parks nearby, a trip to the expansive, lush countryside is always an option. However, for those who want to explore it solely as a city, you’ll find a food, culture, and shopping-packed center that provides a wealth of options – offering the ideal balance between busy city living and close proximity to the great outdoors.
Here are some of the best things to do in Leeds right now, whether you’re visiting for the city’s world-class galleries, cutting-edge restaurants and bars, incredibly vibrant street food scene, or to escape to nearby natural beauty.
I wrote another article about the 5 Ways How to Get from London to Leeds (UK), I encourage you to read it. If you want to have a great walking tour around Leeds, I can recommend this Leeds Walking Tour from GetYourGuide.
Read more: 33 Best Places to Visit in the UK
Best Things to Do in Leeds (West Yorkshire, UK)
1. Kirkstall Abbey
Kirkstall Abbey is the perfect location for you to visit if you are interested in learning about the kind of history that, due to the length of time it spans, has the ability to captivate your imagination. Today, it is one of the most intact examples of a medieval Cistercian abbey that can be found in Britain.
Guests of Kirkstall Abbey and the Abbey House Museum, which is attached to the abbey, have the opportunity to explore the ruins of a Cistercian monastery and gain an understanding of the monastic lifestyle. Both a work of art in terms of architecture and a safe haven for various species of flora and fauna, this abbey dates back 900 years.
During the warmer months, there will be outdoor screenings of movies among the ruins.
There is also a play area for children and a picnic area, but there is no need to feel stressed out if you forget to bring anything to eat with you. There is also a café right here on the premises. The abbey is located on the banks of the River Aire, so the majority of visitors choose to go there during the warmer months of the year when the weather is more agreeable.
Along its banks, there are a number of planned walking routes that you can take, and if you plan ahead and do some research, you might even be able to catch one of the live Shakespeare plays that are performed in the ruins during the Summer.
2. Harewood House
Are you interested in viewing a mansion that not only has a history, but also a modern twist? This is precisely what Harewood House can provide for you; despite its ongoing efforts to maintain its relevance in today’s world, it also maintains a firm grasp on the past and is home to some of the most impressive art collections in all of England.
The Harewood House was built in the eighteenth century and sits on the outskirts of Leeds on one hundred acres of land surrounded by beautiful Yorkshire countryside. The land was bought by Henry Lascelles on 1738 using his fortune that he amassed with his successful business involvement with the West Indian Sugar trade. He became one of the richest men in England during his time.
From then on, Henry’s son Edwin Lascelles built the Harewood House that we’ve seen today.
You should go to the Harewood House if you want to look at one of the most impressive art collections in all of Britain and wander through elaborately decorated, stately rooms. The mansion is not only inhabited by its human inhabitants, but also by a colony of adorable Humboldt penguins. During the warm summer months, it is fun to bring the whole family to enjoy the bird garden and farm and to watch the daily feeding sessions.
Harewood House, the oldest building on the grounds, is located on a steep north-facing slope with spectacular views up and down Wharfedale. Once you have arrived here, head into the wider grounds of the estate to look at these otherworldly ruins. Harewood Castle is the oldest building on the grounds.
Keep your eyes peeled for red kites as they soar above you. In 1999, as part of a conservation effort that was being carried out in the UK, the birds of prey were let loose on the Harewood estate.
3. Roundhay Park
It can be difficult to find beautiful green locations within the cities of England; on the other hand, there are a large number of such locations outside of the cities. Roundhay Park will satisfy your need for nature. Picnickers, people who walk their dogs, people who run, and people who lie in the sun all congregate in Roundhay Park, which covers a total area of 700 acres
It is unique among parks in Leeds in that it is the only one to have a meerkat colony living there. In addition, there are lakes, wooded areas, gardens, and the crown jewel, which is called “Tropical World,” and it is home to a wide variety of wild and wonderful animals.
If you are planning on going to Roundhay Park, you should take the “train” that goes around the park every 15 minutes during the summer. The “train” leaves from the Lakeside Café and travels all the way to the main park gates and then back again. On Guy Fawkes Night, you can also find the largest bonfire and fireworks display in Leeds at this location.
4. Go Shopping Around the Various Victorian Arcades
Leeds is a great place to shop. All kinds of shopping are within reach. Our city center is small and easy to get around on foot, so you’re never far from the biggest brands, the best boutiques, and those cool and unusual things that markets and independents are known for. You can get your shopping fix by wandering around Victorian arcades, looking at interesting new buildings, or walking down streets full of different things. Here are a few of the best parts.
- Victoria Quarter
The grand shopping arcades in Leeds are the best place to see how important the city has been in the past. There are many in the city, but Victoria Quarter is the best. It’s like a palace for high-end shopping, with stores like Harvey Nichols, Vivienne Westwood, and Louis Vuitton.
Even if you just want to look around, Victoria Quarter is a good place to go. It has some of the best restaurants and cafes in the city in its marble and wrought-iron building. The Victoria Gate Casino is just a short walk away, adding to the city-like feel.
It’s at 10 Queen Victoria Street, Leeds, UK, LS1 6BE.
- Queen’s Arcade
Queens Arcade Leeds is in the best pedestrian area of Leeds City Centre. It is one of the main streets that connects The Victoria Quarter and Harvey Nichols on Briggate to The Core at Lands Lane. The Arcade was built in 1889 with Victorian architecture that has been given a Grade II listing. It is a unique place to shop and eat, and it is also home to some well-known independent niche retailers.
- Thornton’s Arcade
Thornton’s Arcade is one of the many charming old arcades that branch off both sides of Briggate, the main street in Leeds. Thornton’s may not be as well-known as places like Victoria Quarter and Grand Arcade, but it is just as nice and full of places to visit.
The arcade has been around since 1878, which is a few years before those that came after. It was opened by Charles Thornton, who also owned City Varieties Music Hall. Architect George Smith designed a space that was theatrical and beautiful, and it still does.
Find it at Off Briggate Leeds LS1 6LQ United Kingdom Shopping Quarter, City Centre.
- Central Arcade
There is a modern, three-story covered shopping street right next to Trinity Leeds. It has a lively feel and is lined with trendy stores, making it a unique place to shop. Central Arcade honors Leeds’s shopping history of Victorian arcades and connects Briggate, which is the best place to shop in Leeds, with well-known shopping spots like the Corn Exchange and Kirkgate Market. Find it at Central Road, Leeds LS1 6DX England
- Victoria gate
Victoria Gate is half of the beautiful shopping district Victoria Leeds, which is known as the best place to shop in the North of England. Victoria Gate opened in October 2016, and in 2017, it won the award for “Best Shopping Center.”
Victoria Gate is a modern take on Victoria Quarter that pays tribute to the buildings around it. Victoria Gate is home to stores like Anthropologie, The White Company, and Aspinal of London. It is also where the biggest John Lewis store outside of London is located.
Victoria Leeds is located at the heart of the Leeds shopping area, 26 Eastgate, Leeds, LS2 7JL.
- The Grand Arcade
The Grand Arcade, which was built in 1897 and is in the middle of the Northern Quarter, is close to the historic Grand Theatre. One of the oldest places to shop in Leeds City Centre is the Grand Arcade. Anyone who wants to shop somewhere different and find things that aren’t on the high street will love this place.
A lot of stores, like Our Handmade Collective and My Vibrant Home, are in the Grand Arcade. You can go to Roots and Fruits, the vegetarian cafe, or Just Grand for afternoon tea. Tearoom in the past.
You can also order clothes made just for you from Redneck Clothing, or you can go to Casa Colombiana for real Colombian coffee and food, among other things. And make sure you take the time to watch the Potts Clock knights strike the hour on their anvils and the moving figures come and bow.
5. Leeds Cathedral and Leeds Minster
Leeds Cathedral, which was formerly known as St. Anne’s Cathedral, underwent restoration in the year 2006. It was reconstructed in 1901 and designed in the gothic revival style; today, it is still used for worship and has a large and active congregation. It is a monument to the religious history of the city, which has frequently vacillated between the Catholic and Protestant faiths throughout its history, and it is one of the most arresting points in the city’s landscape.
This is a beautiful place to enjoy English design and to take in the atmosphere, regardless of whether or not you believe in any particular religion.
The magnificent Leeds Minster was constructed in the Victorian era, and its walls are home to a wealth of historical artifacts. You can either gaze upon Sally Scott’s Angel Screen, a contemporary take on the stained glass window with a design based on the story of Jacob’s Ladder, or you can admire the beautiful Flemish stained glass windows that date back to the 16th century as the midday sun shines through them.
In addition to that, they have the Leeds Cross, which is one of the earliest artifacts that was found in the city. It is a stone cross that has been intricately carved and is composed of multiple pieces. It dates back to the eighth to tenth centuries.
6. Leeds Grand Theatre and City Varieties Hall
Visiting the Grand Theatre is a must if going to the theatre is your “cup of tea,” a common phrase used in the UK. It was designed with a sense of humor as a reaction against the standard practice of bringing down the mood of an event by using the type of comedy typically seen in a bar.
It served its purpose admirably, and its mixture of gothic and romanesque styles makes it an interesting stop for tourists. You can find everything from stand-up comedy to ballet to shows suitable for the whole family if you take a look at the schedule.
7. Leeds Museum Discovery Centre
When you visit the Leeds Discovery Centre, you will have the opportunity to look behind the scenes. It is a state-of-the-art object store for all of the Leeds Museums and Galleries, with the capacity to hold a staggering 1.3 million items that span billions of years. Whatever it is that piques your interest, whether it be fine art, historical dress, natural science, or archeology, you’ll be able to find it here because the collections span the gamut.
You can look at taxidermy polar bear skulls and bats, as well as gold ingots and other things. Even better, their staff is extremely knowledgeable, and they are able to exude excitement until the cows come home!
8. Emmerdale Village Tour
The Emmerdale Studio Experience is nothing more than the old set of the well-known ITV soap opera, which is now available for tours by the general public. A guided tour of the fictitious Yorkshire village and the indoor sets, including the well-known Woolpack pub, can be taken for a duration of one hour and twenty minutes. In addition, participants will have the chance to learn some of the techniques used in the production of the television series during the tour.
The outdoor set of Emmerdale is also open to visitors, which is great news for die-hard fans of the show. It is located approximately 3 miles to the north of the Studio Experience on the Harewood Estate.
I can recommend this Emmerdale Village Tour from GetYourGuide. So you can fully immerse yourself in the exciting sets of this popular British TV drama series.
9. Leeds City Museum
After a lengthy closure for renovations, the Leeds City Museum reopened in 2008 to much fanfare. There are six distinct displays to explore, ranging from natural history to city history. The Leeds Tiger, a stuffed animal that is said to have originated as a tiger-skin rug, is one of the museum’s most popular curios because of the titillating aspects of the city’s history that it displays.
You will learn everything about ancient civilizations to the natural world as you while away the hours perusing the museum’s many displays.
10. Royal Armouries Museum
What about history? In that case, head over to Leeds’ Royal Armouries. The free admission attraction has 8,500 objects spread across six themed galleries, so there is undoubtedly a lot to see. You can check out the Treasure Collections of the Royal Armouries.
There is a large collection of military equipment at the Royal Armouries Museum. The collection includes artifacts from all over the world and spans time periods from medieval swords and armor to modern firearms. The museum is open to the public and is conveniently located near the city’s center by the River Aire.
You can find items devoted to hunting, peace, conflict, competitions, self-defense, and even oriental items. The collection, whose origins date all the way back to the middle ages, was purposefully made for viewing by visitors.
The arena, where famous battles, duels, and jousts are live-action recreated, is arguably the museum’s most well-known attraction. These unique occasions occur throughout the year, typically on weekends.
The Tower of London held the remaining items from The Royal Armories. Your interest and imagination will be captured by something at the national museum of arms and armour.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Everything ZanyTravel Blog
Everything Zany Travel Blog exploring the UK and beyond. Sharing travel guides, tips, history, and culture. Our travel media brand is founded by travel and hotel industry expert – Ryazan Tristram, a Dual Citizen (British – Filipina) based in Birmingham, UK. Everything Zany is a reputable and award-winning travel blog. Our work and contributions have been featured in Huffington Post, CNBC, Discovery Channel, GMA, Readers Digest, and Lonely Planet. Our missions are to build a great travel community and resource of travel tips, visas, and travel guides for travelers. Join us as we travel around the UK and beyond with a mission to share the best of the world.