If you’re planning a visit to Leeds, we highly recommend staying for at least a weekend to allow plenty of time for exploring the city and surrounding area. It is possible to get a real taste of Leeds life in a short 24-hour trip, although you’re likely to leave wanting more. If you do find yourself in the city for just one day, follow our itinerary below to make the most out of your time.
There are so many amazing places to eat breakfast in and around Leeds that you’ll be spoilt for choice, but if you’re only visiting for one day, make Layne’s Espresso your first choice. Located right by the train station, it’s the perfect location for popping into as soon as you arrive in the city. Treat yourself to one of the best coffees in Leeds and their trademark vegetarian breakfast (bacon is an additional extra).
Once you’re fed and watered, spend a couple of hours exploring one of the best high streets outside of London. You’ll find every high street store that you need, alongside an interesting array of independent stores to explore. Head into the Victorian arcades to admire the ornate architecture and discover intriguing shops such as Village bookstore and Tall Boys Beer Market. Serious shopaholics shouldn’t miss the Victoria Gate shopping centre.
If you’d like to visit a selection of the city’s most interesting buildings but feel a little overwhelmed with the short amount of time that you have available, try following the owl trail around the city centre. The unofficial emblem of the city, owls, appear everywhere, including on statues and as part of mosaics on buildings like the City Library, Leeds Municipal and the Town Hall. Follow this map to discover some of the most interesting owl motifs while admiring the architecture.
Once you start to feel peckish, make a beeline for Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen for a quick lunch in relaxed surroundings. Treat yourself to a couple of slices of Dough Boys pizza (your first two slices are half price) or an award-winning burger and loaded fries from Patty Smiths. If the sun is shining, head out to the roof terrace to enjoy a frozen cocktail or craft beer outside.
Take advantage of sunny days by exploring some of the beautiful outdoor spaces that surround the city. Our top choice would be to visit Kirkstall Abbey to explore the ruins while enjoying the fresh air. Take a stroll along the river or take a well-earned rest and sit on the grass while catching up with friends.
Don’t despair if the weather is miserable, there are plenty of indoor options for spending an afternoon. The Henry Moore Institute is not to be missed, offering one of the largest sculpture gallery spaces in Europe. Admire iconic pieces of work by the prolific artist alongside the temporary exhibition spaces.
When it comes to picking a restaurant for dinner, there are plenty of outstanding options in the city centre, but we really think that every visitor to Leeds should experience Bundobust. Specialising in South Indian street food and craft beer, this buzzing space has secured rave reviews both sides of the Pennines after opening a sister restaurant in Manchester last year. If there’s a group of you dining, opt for their special offer that gives you everything on the menu for just £60.
Once you’re feeling suitably stuffed, head out into the night to explore the vast variety of bars in the city. Set up residence for the night on Headrow House’s roof terrace or check out the programme to try to catch a local band playing at A Nation of Shopkeepers. If you prefer pints to cocktails, Parkside Tavern or The Cross Keys are all great options with cosy interiors and sizable beer gardens.