Leeds is an exciting and vibrant city. From beautiful and affordable vintage shops, to a thriving music scene and nightlife, as well as numerous museums and galleries, it has everything a young traveler could want. The place also offers a number of architecturally impressive buildings to explore and is also fairly cheap, due to Leeds being a student hub. So no matter if you are an outdoor enthusiast looking to enjoy some beautiful countryside, someone looking for the best shopping experience, or even someone who is looking to immerse themselves in rich culture and heritage, one day in Leeds is guaranteed to have something for you.
What’s the best time to visit Leeds?
It’s a good idea to book your trip for the period between mid-May and mid-September as you’re most likely to get warm weather during this period. If you’re planning on spending time outdoors, then the summer months are the best time to visit. The city also tends to be slightly less busy at this time as students return home over the summer break.
Leeds has a thriving live music scene, so there are many festivals you can enjoy in this period. Key music festivals to look out for include, Live at Leeds (in early May), Slam Dunk for punk and metal fans (in late May), and Leeds Festival (in late August).
Food lovers should add The North Leeds Food Festival to their diaries, which usually takes place during a summer weekend (between June and August). The city also hosts the Leeds International Beer Festival, where craft beers and real ales are showcased, in early September.
A few facts about Leeds:
Leeds is located in the North East of England, in the county of West Yorkshire. This makes it an ideal location for outdoor enthusiasts, as it is within easy reach of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales National Park. The city of Leeds itself is often referred to as the Knightsbridge of the North, due to its mostly pedestrianized city center and spectacular shopping experience. Leeds is also home to one of the largest indoor markets in Europe, known as Kirkgate Market.
The city’s unofficial emblem are owls, and these can be found on a number of buildings throughout the city. There is even an Owl Trail which you can follow around the city center, offering a lovely way to see some of Leeds’ most interesting buildings.
One Day in Leeds Itinerary:
This itinerary is designed to give you a real taste of the best the city has to offer during your one day in Leeds. The best way to get around is to use the city’s bus network. You can simply buy a day ticket (costing £4.70) and scan it each time you hop on the bus. A group ticket (costing £7) is another good option if you’re travelling over a weekend, as it offers unlimited travel for up to five people.
Enjoy a breakfast with the locals
Start your day with a delicious breakfast at Layne’s Espresso. Layne’s Breakfast is a favorite with the locals, offering a little of everything you’d expect from a full English breakfast and leaving you full and satisfied.
Shop for vintage items…
Next, head over to Leeds Corn Exchange for a unique shopping experience. This is the perfect place to purchase some quality vintage items, as well as to explore the city’s independent shops.
From here, continue your shopping experience by visiting the Victorian arcades. County Arcade is particularly beautiful and worth a look.
… and stop at a gallery
Alternatively, head to Leeds Art Gallery. This stunning building has a great variety of art on offer, much of which is regularly rotated. Even better, it is completely free of charge and is a brilliant and tranquil space to spend a couple of hours. It’s also a fantastic option if you’re visiting on a rainy day.
Grab a quick lunch with a nice view
After that, head over to the Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen for some lunch. Treat yourself to either some hand-stretched pizza at Dough Boys (where you can get half price pizza Monday to Friday, from 11am to 3pm) or indulge in a delicious burger at Patty Smiths. You can even enjoy a craft beer or cocktail on the roof terrace.
Enjoy some amazing history
If it’s a sunny day, make the most of it by visiting Kirkstall Abbey. Simply catch the bus and within 20 to 30 minutes, you’ll be greeted by 850-year-old ruins of an ancient monastery, originally founded in 1152.
The visitor’s center is worth checking out as it has plenty of information on the abbey’s history. Even better, it is completely free! The public park around the abbey on the banks of the River Aire makes this a really enjoyable way to spend a sunny afternoon.
Soak in some more culture
If you prefer to stay indoors, or if you have time after the abbey, go and check out the Henry Moore Institute, a place where you’ll find one of the largest sculpture gallery spaces in Europe. Leeds City Museum is also a fantastic choice and absolutely free to visit, so you certainly have plenty of great options to explore.
Treat yourself to a nice dinner
Leeds has a wealth of restaurants to choose from, but Bundobust is a particularly good choice. This restaurant specializes in South Indian street food and craft beer and is a popular choice. If you’re dining in a group you can make the most of their £60 special offer, where you can get everything on the menu!
Have a nice drink to end your day
Round the evening off with a drink on the rooftop of Headrow House, or alternatively head to The Cross Keys or Parkside Tavern if you’re looking for a great pub atmosphere. If you enjoy live music, check out A Nation of Shopkeepers, where you can usually find a local band playing. Leeds has a lot to offer at night, and you’d do well to make the most of it.
Where to stay in Leeds, England?
8 Russell Street, Leeds, LS1 5RN, United Kingdom
For the ultimate luxury while in town, book a room in Dakota Leeds. Its rooms feature bathrooms with monsoon showers and free toiletries, while the bar and grill-restaurant have some excellent choices for foodies.
DoubleTree by Hilton Leeds
Granary Wharf, 2 Wharf Approach, Leeds, LS1 4BR, United Kingdom
If you’re looking for a centrally located hotel for your one day in Leeds, then head to the Hilton Doubletree. Located next to the train station, it boasts great views and is reasonably priced, with rates of around £75 per night.
ibis Styles Leeds City Centre Arena
Wade Lane, Leeds, LS2 8NJ, United Kingdom
ibis Styles offers great value for your money because not only do you get free toiletries in the room, but there are coffee and tea making facilities, as well. Everything is very comfortable, and the on-site restaurant uses produce sourced from local farmers.
Russell Scott Backpackers
1 Lisbon Square, Leeds, LS1 4LY, United Kingdom
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a cheap hostel option, the Russell Scott Backpackers is a popular hostel, costing around £16 per night for a bed in a dorm room. The location is pretty good because you are just a kilometer away from the Town Hall.
Day trips from Leeds
There are a few excellent options if you’re planning to make a day trip from Leeds. You will enjoy a lovely day out, no matter which destination you choose, but here’s a few places you won’t want to miss.
A mere 30-minute drive from Leeds is Saltaire Village, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, due to its preservation as a Victorian industrial village. Built by Sir Titus Salt (a mill owner) for his 3,000 workers, Saltaire Village is now a popular destination for millions of visitors each year.
Yorkshire Dales National Park
For outdoor enthusiasts, a day trip to the Yorkshire Dales National Park is a must. You’ll find beautiful limestone scenery, ancient woodlands and even some stunning waterfalls. See the Pendragon Castle or Bolton Abbey Estate while you’re there, too.
A trip to London is also an option as you can hop on a train and get there in about two and a half hours. That leaves you plenty of time to explore the capital city and all its charms. Maybe you take a ride on the London Eye, explore the wonders of the British Museum, or visit Buckingham Palace – the choice is yours.
Roam the North
Alternatively, you can take the train and explore other cities in the North of England. You can be in York in just half an hour, whilst Newcastle is only 90 minutes away on the train. So, a nice tour of this part of England can also easily be set up if you’d like to explore several cities at once and still be back in Leeds for dinner
Extra tips for visiting Leeds:
Leeds is a friendly and entertaining city. Make sure that you go prepared with an umbrella in case of rain, and it’s worth taking a sweater as the evenings can get chilly even in summer. Be mindful that pubs and restaurants can get busy, especially during term time due to the high number of students, so it may be worth booking a table in advance. However, there is plenty to see and do all year round, no matter the weather!
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Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.
Katherine Rundell is a travel writer at Best essay writing services and Academized Review, where she regularly writes about traveling and shares top tips with her readers. She is also a successful proofreader at Assignment writing services reviews. When not writing, Katherine enjoys spending time reading and travelling, immersing herself in the culture of the places she visits.