Welcome to Leeds
Welcome to our Leeds Guide. Known as the ‘Knightsbridge of the North’ Leeds is a city of indulgence, with an array of designer stores, independent boutiques, award-winning dining and trendy bars. On the flip side the city is great for families too, visit the Royal Armouries for an interactive history lesson, take a picnic to RoundhayPark or head out to the surrounding countryside; let the children blow off some steam and take in the fantastic scenery.
Lovers of heritage will be spoilt too with Harewood House, TempleNewsham and Kirkstall Abbey all close by, as will all you culture vultures out there with major centers of art, ballet and opera based in the city. Sports fans can experience Championship football at Elland Road, international and county cricket and rugby league in Headingley. Our Leeds Guide will help you to make the most out of your stay, highlighting must do’s and see’s, the best ways to get around and get to the city and of course places to stay whilst you are there. There is always something going on in Leeds, from music festivals to Christmas markets, so make sure that you check out the events listing in this travel guide too. We hope that you find our Leeds Guide useful when planning your break in Leeds – have a great time!
Must do's by day
Treat yourself to designer gear at Harvey Nichols
See history brought back to life at the Royal Armouries
Don’t miss the penguins at Harewood House!
Must do's by night
Dine at Fazenda for a delicious taste of Latin America
Head to bars on Call Lane for a party atmosphere
Experience Opera North and the Northern Ballet
Travelling to Leeds
Located at the very heart of the UK, Leeds is one of the country's most accessible cities. With a great travel infrastructure covering land, sea and air, getting to Leeds for even the shortest break is practical.
Frequent, direct trains carry visitors from London to Leeds in just over two hours. There are also regular services from Scotland, the Northeast, Midlands and across the Pennines.
Sitting at the crossroads of the M62 and M1 with the A1/M1 link, Leeds is easy to reach from any direction; the ring road connects motorists to all major routes into the city.
Leeds Bradford International Airport lies just eight miles north of the city. With direct flights from Aberdeen, Belfast, Bristol, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Isle of Man, Jersey, London, Newquay, Plymouth, Southampton and many more.
Getting Around in Leeds
Leeds city centre is fairly compact and so is easy to get around on foot. Alternatively there are plenty of bus services and taxis to get you to where you want to go.
There is no cycle network or system of public bike hire but the council provides maps showing ideal road routes for cyclists.
Due to its location in the heart of England, Leeds is one of the most easily accessible cities in The UK. On a direct route between London and Edinburgh, and just a short hop over The Pennines from Manchester, train and road links to Leeds are the best way to travel to this cosmopolitan city. Leeds Bradford Airport is one of the busiest in The UK, with flights to numerous destinations across Europe and the rest of the world, so flying into Leeds is a great way to get there whether coming from abroad or the far corners of Britain.
Frequent trains carry visitors from Leeds to London in a little over two hours meaning journeying to and from the capital is no hassle at all. The major cities of Manchester and Birmingham are accessible in just over an hour, and visitors can arrive in the historic city of York in around 25 minutes. With the station located right in the centre of Leeds, forwarding journeys to hotels and attractions are easy, and numerous taxi firms wait outside of the station to help you on your way.
Sitting at the crossroads of the M62 and M1 with the A1/M1 link, Leeds is easy to reach from any direction with the ring road connecting motorists to all major routes into the city. A short scenic drive over The Pennines gets you to Manchester and surrounding cities in around 2 hours, York is around 40 minutes away and with the A1 North/South link a ten minute drive away from the centre, journeys further afield are easy to plan.
Leeds Bradford Airport is situated just 8 miles away from the city centre, meaning getting there is easy via train, car or taxi. Flights leave frequently from LBA on domestic flights and to a huge range of destinations all over the world. Approximately 35,000 passengers travelled through Leeds Bradford Airport during 2012.
Leeds is the largest city in West Yorkshire and one of the largest in the whole county, so making sure you know how to navigate the city is vital before you head off on your trip. Although the city centre shops and attractions are all rather compact and easy to walk around, there are others that are further out of the centre that will require a bus or train ride. Travelling around Leeds can be cheap if you know which tickets to ask for, and making sure you pre-book a taxi is essential if you’re trying to keep costs down. Buses run regularly for travelling around the city, and numerous urban rail links are available if you’re staying or travelling a little further out.
The two bus companies that provide numerous routes around Leeds are First and Metro. An all day ticket on a Metro service can be bought for around £5.40 with the same ticket on First costing around £4.60. First is the largest bus company in West Yorkshire with routes throughout the city centre and out to the more rural villages. The Leeds City bus arrives every 6-7 minutes and fares cost from as little as 50p.
There are numerous taxi firms that are available for travelling in and around Leeds, and many wait outside the train station and airport to take you onto your destination. However, these taxis can be expensive so the best thing is to book one in advance. The cheapest firms are Amber Taxis (+44 113 231 1366) and Apollo (44 113 243 3333) with a fare of £3-7 being enough to get you around.
On FootAs large a city as Leeds is, walking around on foot is a very easy way to see the sights. Free maps are available at the tourist information centre as well as street maps that are dotted around the city. The main shopping area of the city centre is relatively compact, with all major stores, restaurants and bars within walking distance of each other.
Shopping in Leeds
Shopping in Leeds is something that draws visitors from around the north of England thanks to a huge range of stores. From designer boutiques and luxury stores like Harvey Nichols, to high street giants and local producers. There are a number of indoor shopping centres in the middle of the city, including the Merrion Centre, Leeds Shopping Plaza, St John's Centre, Headrow Centre, the Victoria Quarter, The Light, the Corn Exchange and Trinity Leeds, which is set to open in 2013. Whatever you fancy buying on your trip to Leeds, you’re sure to have plenty of options on where to find it.
Top 5 Shopping Destinations in Leeds
Jumbo Records, 5-6 St Johns Centre, Leeds LS2 8LQ, England
With over 30 years of trading behind them, Jumbo Records is the place to go for music buffs.
City Art Gallery, The Headrow, Leeds LS1 3AA, England
Stroll around the Gallery’s collections of paintings and sculptures and be amazed by outstanding art by exciting artists. Enjoy tea and refreshments and buy inspirational books and gifts in the Gallery shop
Topshop, 43-44 Briggate
Officially the largest Topshop outside of London, with the latest fashion and trend setting designs
County Arcade, City Centre
Built in 1898, the architecture of the arcidade makes a visit worthwhile on its own.
Harvey Nichols, 107-111 Briggate
Fancy treating yourself to something a little extra special? Everything you need is here
Top 5 Shopping Arcades in Leeds
Leeds' brand new and inredibly cool shopping outlet in the very centre of the city, housing every possible shop you could want to visit
County Arcade, City Centre
Built in 1898, the architecture of the arcidade makes a visit worthwhile on its own.
Corn Exchange, Call Lane Leeds, LS1 7RB
As well as housing numerous clothes stores and eateries, this Grade I listed building also hosts exhibitions and music events.
White Rose Shopping Centre, Dewsbury Road, Leeds, LS11 8LU
With every high street name, food courts and beauty salons under one roof, you won’t need to go anywhere else.
Victoria Quarter, Briggate, Leeds LS1 6AZ, England (Leeds City Centre)
With numerous stores making their out-of-London debuts here, Victoria Quarter is definitely for the up-market shopper.
Eating Out in Leeds
Leeds has a rich history of fabulous restaurants, with numerous famous chefs making their home in the city. Raymond Blanc and local legend, Anthony Flinn are two of the most popular names in food around Leeds, but there are a great range of local, independent restaurants that do just as well. With so many restaurants the range of cuisine is very varied, with everything from Mexican to Thai, European to tapas and much more. Whatever your taste, you’ll find somewhere delicious in Leeds.
Top 5 Treat Yourself Restaurants in Leeds
The Man Behind the Curtain, Vicar Lane
Ultra modern food made with premium products, this O'Hare venture is a new Leeds favourite
Sukhothai, South Parade Leeds
This atmospheric restaurant will give you a Thai dining experience like no other, all at a reasonable price
Brasserie Blanc,Victoria Mill, Sovereign St
With a relaxed atmosphere and high quality food, this is one of the best eateries in Leeds.
The Bon Restaurant & Wine Bar, Sherburn-in-Elmet
Newly refurbished with a modern interior, this cosy eatery offers a balance of hearty tradition and contemporary meals
Fazenda Rodizio Bar & Grill, Granary Wharf
Enjoy a taste sensation with the delicious mix of Brazilian and South American traditions
Top 5 Family Restaurants in Leeds
Akbar’s, 15 Eastgate
Akbar’s has built a solid reputation for the very best in South Asian cuisine.
Brasserie Forty 4, 44 The Calls City Centre
One of Leeds’ longest established restaurants offering the finest British and Mediterranean cuisine.
Jamie’s Italian, 35 Park Row
A former bank with a ‘crazily’ ornate ceiling, Jamie’s is every bit as good as he says.
Pickle’s & Potter, 18-20 Queens Arcade
Eat in or take out, this great deli has delicious homemade food perfect anytime of the day.
Hansa’s Gujarati, 72-74 North St
20 years down the line and they’re still considered Leeds’ best vegetarian restaurant.
Nightlife in Leeds
Although the main draws of Leeds on a night are the bars and clubs, there are a great range of other activities to enjoy around the city. From comedy nights to dramatic theatre shows, local gigs to the latest films, Leeds’ nightlife is varied and exciting. Fro a family evening head to Vue or to The Grande Theatre and Opera House, if you’re out with friends then The Wardrobe is a must visit, and for a date just for two, the Jongleurs Comedy Club is bound to be a hit.
Top 10 Leeds Nightlife
Jongleurs Comedy Club, The Headrow, Leeds LS1 3AA, England
Local and some more well-known faces take to the stage for an evening of laughter
O2 Academy, 55 Cookridge Street, Leeds LS2 3AW, England
Hosting some of the biggest names in world music, The O2 Academy is one to check out while you’re in Leeds
The Elbow Room, 64 Call Lane City Centre, LS1
An award winning pool and music bar, this place has everything for a relaxed evening with friends.
City Varieties, Swan St
Having hosted Harry Houdini, Charlie Chaplin and Mickey Rooney over this, this Victorian music hall is definitely worth a visit.
Grande Theatre and Opera House, 46 New Briggate
135 years old, this theatre still plays some of the biggest names in entertainment
Vue Cinema, 22 The Light, The Headrow
The place to head for the latest movies to hit the silver screen. Tickets cost around £
Hyde Park Picture House, Brudenell Rd
Rescued from closure in 1989, this cosy theatre withstood the war and continues its success in the new millennium.
The Wardrobe, 6 St. Peters Square, LS9 8AH
Great food, great drinks, great local up-and-coming bands
Canal Mills, Brandon Street, Armley Road, Leeds, LS12 2ED
This dynamic space hosts exhibitions, live film screenings and lots more cultural events
A Nation of Shopkeepers, 27-37 Cookridge Street, Leeds, LS2 3AG
Local artists and great food with a fabulous outdoor courtyard in the centre of Leeds
Bars in Leeds
With quaint, real ale pubs, trendy cocktail bars, gritty live music venues and some of the best sports bars around, Leeds’ bar and club scene literally has something for everyone. The usual Wetherspoons type watering holes adorn every other street, mixed in with unique and quirky cocktail bars to tempt you with their signature drinks. There’s a great range of places for you to head I you fancy seeing the latest bands in action, and some lovely gastro pubs for the parents to enjoy a glass of pinot noir while the kids eat dessert.
Top 10 Leeds Bars
1871 Bar & Lounge, 7-9 Boar Lane, Leeds LS1 5DD
Inside the Leeds Marriott Hotel. With signature cocktails in a contemporary bar.
Brooklyn Bar, 50, Call Lane,, Leeds LS1 6DT
‘Funk, soul and Rock n Roll’ in this chilled out, fashionable bar.
North, New Briggate
A warm and stylish nook stacked with top-shelf liquor and over 120 fine British, German, American and Belgian beers.
Foley’s Cask Ale House, The Headrow
Quality real ale in a friendly and personal atmosphere. One of the most popular pubs in Leeds.
Baby Jupiter, 11 York Place, Leeds, LS1 2DS
A quirky basement bar with a kitschy retro air about it. Straight from the ‘70’s.
The Grove Inn, Back Row
A traditional English pub with a wide range of local and international real ales.
Mojo, 18 Merrion Street, Leeds, LS1 6PQ
Rock ‘n’ Roll music all night long and a signature drink of Rum ‘n’ Ginger.
Smokestack, 159a Lower Briggate, Leeds, LS1 6LY
A moody, gritty, Deep-South inspired bar with a New Orleans vibe.
SoBe, 11-15 Hirsts Yard, Leeds, LS1 6NJ
Short for ‘South Beach’, this Florida style bar thrives in the Leeds drink scene.
Trio, 44 North Lane, Leeds, LS6 3HU
A chic new, north Leeds bar, perfect for Long Island Iced Teas and specialist beers.
Attractions in Leeds
With free entry offers, historic buildings, wildlife galore and some amazing museums, Leeds has an incredible array of attractions with something to suit everybody. Leeds is well known for it’s shopping so make sure you check out The Corn Exchange, but there’s also a great variety of sporting venues, intriguing waterways and even a butterfly house! Whether with kids, friends or in a couple, Leeds will have something for you.
Top 10 Leeds Attractions
Roundhay Park, Roundhay, Road Roundhay, Leeds LS8 4AR, England
Leeds' biggest city centre park is always popular with visitor looking for some open space
The Royal Armouries, Armouries Drive, Leeds LS10 1LT, England (Clarence Dock)
The UK's national museum of arms, armour and artillery.
Temple Newsam House, Temple Newsam Rd, Leeds, England
One of the most popular Tudor-Jacobean mansions in the whole of the UK
Kirkstall Abbey, Abbey Road, Kirkstall, Leeds LS5 3EH, England
Boasting fabulous architecture, wildlife and greenery, Kirkstall Abbey is a brilliant example of Medieval Britain
Tropical World, Canal Gardens, Roundhay Park, Leeds LS8 1DF, England
Discover all types of creatures and creepy crawlies at the locally know 'Butterfly World'
Leeds United FC Stadium, Elland Road, Leeds LS11 0ES, England
Head to a Leeds United home game and take in the atmosphere.
Leeds Corn Exchange, Call Lane, Leeds LS1 7BR, England
Shops, bars, restaurants and exhibitions make the Corn Exchange a great place to visit
Leeds City Museum, Millennium Square, Leeds LS2 8BH , England
Four floors of interactive and exiting activities, including the 'Leeds Tiger'
Hyde Park Picture House, 73 Brudenell Road, Headingley, Leeds LS6 1JD, England
The oldest cinema in Leeds, this building withstood the war and continues its success today.
Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Leeds
Crossing the Pennines with a distance of 127 miles, this canal is very popular with fans of boating