Located in the heart of Great Britain, Leeds is a modern and cosmopolitan city, which, nevertheless, is not devoid of interesting historical and cultural heritage. Like many major Yorkshire cities, it boasts a glorious past, a prime example of which are the impressive Victorian buildings scattered around the historic center, including Leeds Town Hall, concert Hall, and theater, as well as the Victoria Quarter, to a former shopping center in the north of England.
Although its skyline cannot be called iconic, Leeds boasts commercial areas that have nothing to envy of London, a gastronomic scene on the level of Birmingham, and a nightlife that can rival Manchester. It is also a multicultural and heterogeneous city, where small local markets arise next to luxury shopping malls, and the aroma of curry from Indian restaurants mixes with the aroma of stew from nearby pubs.
Start the day at Millennium Square
Millennium Square is the real center of Leeds’ social life. It is close to major local attractions, including Leeds City Museum and City Hall, as well as several theaters and galleries.
The square regularly hosts special events and attractions, including a Christmas market, concerts, an outdoor skating rink, and screenings of major sporting events. Thanks to the large selection of cafes, pubs, and restaurants near Millennium Square, it is the perfect place to have a drink or a snack with friends, as well as the perfect place to choose a hotel.
Watch an exciting equestrian tournament at the Royal Armory Museum
The Royal Armory Museum has a large collection that traces the history of war with a wide variety of weapons, from medieval armor and swords to modern firearms from around the world. The museum is conveniently located near the center, on the banks of the River Eyre, and it can be visited free of charge.
What attracts many visitors is, first of all, the arena, an open space where you can watch reconstructions of famous battles, duels, and tournaments on horseback. These special events usually take place a couple of times a month on weekends, but more information can be found on the museum’s official website.
Enjoy an exciting music festival
It is impossible to talk about Leeds without mentioning the various festivals that attract crowds of visitors and fans of good music to the city. Among the most important is undoubtedly the Leeds Festival, one of the largest in the United Kingdom, which attracts famous bands from the international stage to the Bramham Park stage every year during the August holidays.
Although the city hosts numerous festivals throughout the year, most of them take place in the summer, especially from May to September, for example, Live at Leeds and the Slam Dunk Festival held in the city center. If you are a fan of folk or rock music, do not miss the opportunity to visit the Otley Folk Festival in nearby Otley or Let’s Rock Leeds!, near the city center. In short, Leeds’ musical offering is great and makes it an ideal destination for fans of any musical genre.
Go in search of great deals on the Kirkgate market
Housed in a historic building in Leeds since 1857, Kirkgate Market now also extends to the square opposite, taking up a very large total area. In a great location served by buses and within walking distance of the train station, it is an ideal place to taste local or international cuisine and make all kinds of purchases.
The market has about 200 stalls selling clothes, jewelry, hardware, and haberdashery, as well as snack bars and shops selling fresh local products. Old local merchants alternate with foreign sellers, which gives the market a touch of diversity, fully reflecting the diverse atmosphere of the city.
Experience the Emmerdale Studio experience and become a soap opera star for one day
Emmerdale Studio Experience is the place where the filming of the famous British soap opera “Emmerdale” once took place. The studios are now open to the public and can be visited as part of a 1.5-hour tour that offers access to various interior sets of the fictional Yorkshire village where the series takes place, including the Woolpack Pub. Admire the original costumes of the actors and find out interesting behind-the-scenes details of the show.
Avid fans will also be able to join the Emmerdale Village Tour, a 90-minute outdoor walk through Harewood House parks that serve as a backdrop for filming; the starting point is about 5 km north.
Don’t miss the Victoria Quarter
Leeds has several commercial galleries that perfectly reflect its historical splendor. Among them stands out the majestic gallery of the early twentieth century: the Victoria Quarter. A real temple of luxury stores, there are boutiques of major brands such as Harvey Nichols, Vivienne Westwood, and Louis Vuitton, as well as mid-range stores.
Even if you are not in the mood to shop, the Victoria Quarter is worth a visit. Stroll through the galleries of this quarter, decorated with elegant marble and wrought iron, and relax in one of the several best restaurants and cafes. If you want to try your luck, Victoria Gate Casino is a short walk from the block. In the Victoria quarter, you will also find the most affordable accommodation options in Leeds.
Stand out from the crowd at the Leeds Corn Exchange
Leeds Corn Exchange, another great example of Victorian construction, certainly stood out as one of the most luxurious farmers’ markets of the time. This is one of the very few retail locations in the UK that has retained its original use, with the difference that it now houses clothing stores, household goods, musical instruments, and much more.
Leeds Corn Exchange is also known as an alternative commercial center of the city due to the presence of many independent stores and a very small number of major brands. There is no shortage of places to eat. If you’re a lover of Middle Eastern flavors, stop by Humpit, a restaurant specializing in hummus and known as one of the best places to eat in Leeds.
Visit one of the many restaurants in the center of Leeds
With many excellent independent restaurants scattered throughout the city center, the food offerings in Leeds are truly diverse. It’s almost impossible to report one street or neighborhood better than another — you’ll find great restaurants on every corner.
The selection of restaurants specializing in South Asian cuisine deserves special attention. He has nothing to envy about the culinary scene of Birmingham, known as the cradle of the Baltic dish based on meat, vegetables, and curry. Try Hansa’s specials on North Street, Tharavadu on Mill Hill, or Bengal Brasserie on Merrion Way. Given the multinational nature of the city, there is no shortage of Thai, Japanese, Italian, and, of course, English restaurants.
Go on a ghost hunt at the Thackray Medical Museum
The Thackray Medical Museum is a particularly atmospheric place on Beckett Street, telling the often terrible story of the development of medical technology around the world. Originally a shelter and then part of the nearby St. James University Hospital, this building is now classified as a building of special interest. Given the nature of the events that took place within its walls, it is not surprising that there are legends that the building is the most visited in the city.
Admire reproductions of everyday scenes on the seedy streets of Leeds in Victorian times, or join one of the oft-staged ghost hunting nights at this old hospital. If you are lucky (or unlucky, depending on your point of view), you may encounter the spirit of a mysterious woman in eighteenth-century clothes or hear strange knocks and pats.
End the day on Call Lane
Call Lane, known as the center of the city’s nightlife, cannot envy other places chosen by pre-dawn lovers, such as Canal Street in nearby Manchester. There are numerous bars and clubs on this street, so it is an ideal place to have a drink with friends. The music selection is quite diverse and offers a great choice: go from one place to another and choose the perfect one for yourself.
Among the most popular bars are Jake’s, Wire, and Call Lane Social, but if you are a fan of live music and good tequila, Neon Cactus is waiting for you with a wide selection of cocktails.