Leeds is a lively city, rich in culture and heritage with lots to explore. Over 100,000 people come to work in the city center every day. Many thousands more tourists and visitors come to shop, eat out or enjoy the range of attractions Leeds has on offer.
Rail: The train station is one of the largest in the country, and the sixth busiest outside London. There are services to all of West Yorkshire – the West Yorkshire rail network serves 67 local stations operated by Metro.
There’s a Transpennine service to Manchester and Liverpool, and regular trains to London Kings Cross. Also services to the Midlands and Scotland.
Bus: Metro bus service running throughout Leeds and the whole of West Yorkshire. Leeds’ city bus station, for both local and countywide services, is on New York Street. There’s a coach terminal for inter-city bus travel next door.
FreeCityBus links Leeds’ rail and bus stations, business and shopping districts, the General Infirmary, Universities and Park Lane College.
Road: Excellent road connections – the M1 motorway runs from London to Leeds via Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield. The M621, A64, A65, A61, A58 are also easily accessed.
Air: Leeds-Bradford International Airport is located between Leeds and Bradford and has internal UK flights and flights to Europe, Egypt and Turkey.
Southerners gasped when Harvey Nichols opened here, but Leeds takes shopping seriously and deserves its ‘Knightsbridge of the North’ reputation. There are over 1,000 stores in the city centre so you’ll be doing well to escape with your bank balance intact.
The broad pedestrianised Briggate, which runs gently downhill, is lined with independent stores, high street staples and some of the city’s best shopping arcades.
Arcades and shopping centres are big in Leeds – there are some fabulous historic examples, glittering and gilded, with marble floors, stained glass and magnificent decorative detailing.
Victoria Quarter: Superbly ornate Victorian arcade with a funky new glass entrance. Definitely upscale: Harvey Nicholls, Louis Vuitton, Vivienne Westwood, Fat Face, Ted Baker, Karen Millen, etc. Also a good spot for cakes and coffee.
Leeds Shopping Plaza: Lots of high street brands – BHS, Boots, TK Maxx, Virgin, JJB Sports, Mothercare.
Headrow Centre: HMV, Republic, antiques shops, Oriental Centre, Toy World, The Pier and more.
Thorntons Arcade: Trendy fashion boutiques: Chimp, Dune, No.15 Boutique, Hip. Also OK Comics.
Merrion Centre: Old-fashioned (ie: 60s) shopping centre with Woolies, Superdrug, Morrisons, etc.
St John’s Centre: Dorothy Perkins, Reefer, Topshop. Also gift shops and cosmetics.
The Light: Retail and leisure destination. Fashion and design stores, cafes, restaurants, bars, a 13-screen multiplex cinema, health and fitness club and 147- bedroom 4-star Radisson SAS Hotel.
The Corn Exchange: This striking Grade I listed Victorian landmark is well worth a visit, even if you buy nothing. Inside, the broad floors, ornate balustrades and soaring ceilings give the place the feel of a luxury liner or a vast elliptical airship.
Good for independent shops and boutiques and definitely the place for Goths to pout, pose and show off their latest piercings. Also hosts fashion shows, exhibitions and events.
Kirkgate Market: Another historic treasure, complete with ornamental dragons holding up the roof, this vast, bustling indoor market is reckoned to be the largest of its kind in Europe.
Recently refurbished, it’s home to 800 traders selling everything from fresh fish, fruit and veg to clothes, cosmetics, and all manner of bewildering foodstuffs, household goods and gadgets. Voted the best market in Britain, and quite right too: a riot of interesting sights, sounds and smells.
Leisure And Entertainment
Theatre: Serious theatre in the West Yorkshire Playhouse (local boy Alan Bennett has premiered work here), opera at the Grand Theatre, old-style music hall at the City Varieties. Also a Jongleurs comedy club.
Museums: Quite a few, including the intriguing National Museum of Arms and Armouries, where you can view everything from Samurai armour to a vast and astonishing suit of armour for an elephant.
Several mill museums, a medical museum, Leeds Art Gallery and the Henry Moore Institute. A little out of town, the magnificent Kirkstall Abbey is well worth a visit.
Cinema: The Light has 13 screens. Also cinemas in Headingley and Hyde Park.
Music: Leeds has a strong dance and club scene as well as a good record of producing indie bands (Kaiser Chiefs, The Wedding Present, Chumbawamba. More recently, folksy blues singer, Corinne Bailey Rae etc). Plenty of top-class live music venues.
Music Events: Rock festivals held in Roundhay Park, gigs in Harewood House and Leeds Town Hall, events in Millennium Square. Classical concerts in the Town Hall. Talk of building a large arena in the city.
Festivals: Annual Leeds Film Festival; Music Festival; Choral Festival.
Ice Cube: In the winter months there’s an ice rink in Millennium Square – the UK’s largest outdoor ice skating rink with over 1200 square meters of real ice.
Eating And Drinking
Eating: Plenty to keep you busy, with food from every corner of the globe. In the city centre you’ll find lots of trendy bistros and sleek restaurant/bars – so if it’s sushi, shaved parmesan and the like you’re after, you won’t have far to go. Also more traditional fare available in more traditional surroundings.
Cafes: Leeds has embraced cafe culture so you won’t collapse in a sorry heap for want of a grand skinny latte or a vitamin-packed smoothie. The usual suspects (Starbucks etc) and lots of interesting independent places too (including juice bars).
Pubs: Again a great mix – from trendy bars with glass, marble, fancy lighting and leather sofas to more traditional pubs with proper pints and salt-of-the-earth regulars
Cricket at the Yorkshire County Cricket Club (Headingly); next door, the Leeds Rhinos (Rugby League) and Leeds Tykes (Rugby Union). Eland Road, of course, is home to Leeds United FC.
Leisure centres across the city and golf clubs aplenty – especially around Alwoodley (also a public course in Roundhay).