Leeds overview

Leeds is a city that has everything - from state-of-the-art shopping centres and independent boutiques to grand stately homes and beautiful parks.

Here are the best things to see and do in Leeds, the best places to eat, where to head for a great day out, and where to enjoy some retail therapy.

Things to see and do in Leeds

The Tetley is a new centre for contemporary art and learning which opened in November last year. It’s run by Project Space Leeds and is located in the art deco headquarters of a former brewery in the centre of Leeds. Check out the A New Reality: Part 3 exhibition, which uses art to explore the past of the former Tetley Brewery HQ.

Temple Newsam is a great place to go on a summer’s day. The kids will marvel at the largest collection of rare breed farm animals in Europe - with goats and pigs among the residents. You’ll all be captivated by the stunning stately home - the birthplace of Lord Darnley, who was married to Mary Queen of Scots. Wander its decadent halls and rooms and imagine life as lived in the 18th century.

For something different, the Thackray Museum is on the site of a former hospital and tells the sometimes-gory tale of the history of medicine. Captivate the kids in the summer hols or at the weekend with the Skelton Science exhibition – exploring how scientists use human remains to learn about the past.

Shopping in Leeds

Leeds is a serious shopping destination. From high street brands and designer boutiques to independent stores - retail therapy is on tap.  

The Victoria Quarter in the city centre combines stunning Grade II-listed arcades with a host of designer shops for fashion-lovers. We love Aspecto for retro trainers, All Saints for skinny black jeans and Cootchie-Coo for fashion for the little ones.

Trinity Leeds is the UK’s largest shopping centre. Spread over three of Leeds’ busiest shopping streets, it’s a true shopaholic’s paradise. From Topshop and Urban Outfitters to the hipster pop culture shop Pulp and M&S, it has the lot. There’s even a cinema with luxurious sofa seating - and an actual Lego shop.

Food and drink in Leeds

Looking for somewhere nice to sit outside on a summer’s day? At Nicholas Vegetarian Deli you can share a mezze of houmous, feta, falafel and olives from a pavement table. 

Sous Le Nez offers French food at an affordable price and is a favourite of both visitors and locals. Think pan-fried filet of hake and roast breast of chicken stuffed with sub-blushed tomatoes and goat’s cheese.

Have a thing for a posh burger? At Boss Burgers you can expect just that. They only use beef from grass-fed Yorkshire cattle, while little touches like a brioche bun and sweet potato fries add to the experience. Grab one to takeaway and sit in the park.

Hidden Leeds

Here are three spots in Leeds you might not have heard of…

Murton Bakery is on a quiet corner of Cardigan Road and is like stepping back in time with its shabby-chic frontage. Once inside the family-run bakery you’ll find fresh bread, sandwiches and handmade cakes, which are incredibly cheap.

The Hyde Park Picture House in Headingley is a 1914 cinema which prides itself on being the ‘cosiest in Leeds’. It’s bursting with history and shows a mix of independent and family films.

For those who want a café with a difference, LS6 Café (also called The Clock Café) prides itself on its relaxed atmosphere and funky décor. The café serves breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as cocktails, coffees and smoothies.

Have a wander into Wakefield

Take a short 20-minute train ride to nearby Wakefield for an afternoon of culture.

The Hepworth art gallery is the biggest new gallery outside of London. The distinctive sculpture-like building is designed to appear as though it’s rising out of the nearby River Calder, upon the banks of which it sits. Step inside to check out exhibitions celebrating Yorkshire as a place of inspiration for artists, as well as the work of artist and sculptor Barbara Hepworth, painter LS Lowry and many more.

Art lovers should also make time to see the Yorkshire Sculpture Park – the 2014 NationalMuseum of the Year. Sculpture and art installations are dotted across lush green fields and woodland at this unique open-air museum set in the Bretton Estate, at the heart of the rural north.