A city of students, students and more students. Leeds is a thriving industrial city with a fairly youthful population. I’ve been living here for the last 5 months and besides the typical dreary English weather, it’s safe to say I’ve loved calling Leeds ‘home’. While not an obvious tourist destination, Leeds is up ‘North’, not quite Manchester and no replica of York. However, this city has its own charms. Friendly, youthful, a shopper’s delight and thriving nightlife- the city has something for everyone.
Here’s my guide on the best shopping, cafes and entertainment in Leeds.
Take a step back in time by visiting this medieval Cistercian abbey. The ruins and parkland along the banks of the River Aire are truly magnificent. Walking inside the abbey, you can imagine how breathtaking it would have been many years ago as much of the building remains standing. Even better, visit on the last Saturday of the month to enjoy the Kirkstall Deli market to stock up on produce from local and northern suppliers!
What better way to embrace Leeds than joining in on the annual Saturday night Otley Run. The pub crawl visits 16 pubs along Otley Road, starting at Woodies Ale House and finishing at Dry Dock. One of England’s most famous pub crawls, this is an all day drinking affair! The best way to do it is to get a big group together, set a theme and dress up in costumes and start the run around midday.
Visit Dry Dock just for the novelty of drinking in a docked boat! If you’re lucky enough to have good weather, head upstairs to the roof top and look out onto Leeds. Best nights here are Tuesdays- packed to the brim with students. Cheap drinks, music, wifi and always busy- you won’t find much better!
Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen
Hungry? Thirsty? Want to see live music, film, art exhibitions?! Then get down to Belgrave, because this venue offers it all! Spread over three floors, Belgrave has two bars, two permanent kitchens and a roof terrace for the rare sunny day. Offering premium craft beers, delicious pizza or burgers, coffee from Laynes and free wifi, this is one of the best places to hang out in Leeds. Go on the 2nd Saturday of the month for the Belgrave Street feast where you can eat till your heart’s content and peruse creative artworks.
Trinity Shopping Centre
Trinity is the UK’s largest shopping centre and really a haven for shopaholics! Located in the city centre, the plaza boasts 120 shops, bars, restaurants and a cinema. The Alchemist is a great stylish bar and if you’re hungry try Trinity Kitchen- the best ‘food court’ in a shopping centre I’ve ever been to! Forget traditional shopping centre food, this is mouthwatering street food!
Froth and Fodder
Directly across the road from Leeds Uni, Froth and Fodder provides cheap, quality food and coffee! Notable standouts include the ‘Dirty Chai’ and ginger cake as well as their outdoor garden, free wifi and complimentary books/games corner.
Walk to Headingley
For a look into a ‘classic English’ suburb, go for a walk out to Headingley. You’ll see plenty of beautiful houses, pubs and bars and a small shopping strip. If you walk far enough, you’ll also come across the Headingley campus of Leeds Metropolitan which is worth the visit alone for the photos!
Laynes Espresso & Mrs Athas
If you’re after quality coffee (aka: reminiscent of Melbourne) say goodbye to the multitude of Starbucks and Costas that line the streets and hello to independent cafes. Laynes and Mrs Athas deliver two of the best cups of coffee in Leeds as well as a delicious array of cakes. Even better, they also make flat whites!
Bars and clubs in Call Lane
Leeds has a thriving nightlife scene where something is normally happening every night of the week! If in doubt of where to go, head to Call Lane where you’ve got plenty of choice between bars and clubs. If you don’t like your first choice, it’s a single step to the next bar!
When the sun shines in Leeds, everyone crawls out of their flats and out into the sunshine. Head to Hyde Park to soak in your Vitamin D, sprawl out on the grass and relax with friends and a picnic lunch.
Tour de France
And if by chance you find yourself in Leeds between the 5th-7th July, you’ll get to witness the first Tour de France ever held in Yorkshire! Starting in Leeds on the 5th, get caught up in the excitement with locals and tourists alike and follow the race through to London!
One of the friendliest cities in the UK, Leeds is the place to experience life as a local!