Destinations | Europe

How to spend an epic weekend in Leeds – Itinerary for first timers

30 Mar 2021 | Destinations, Europe

Wondering how to spend an amazing weekend in Leeds? I got you covered. In this post, you will find all the planning tips, accommodation, and sightseeing spots to add to your upcoming Leeds itinerary.

This post is sponsored by House Of Britain to bring forth some of the stunning destinations in the United Kingdom.  As always the opinions and ideas are my own. 

Planning for an amazing weekend in Leeds: Travel Tips

Is Leeds worth visiting?

Leeds is located in the north of England, in the United Kingdom. If you love architecture, and looking for a city break, Leeds makes for an amazing visit. It is a great destination for shopping, hanging out at bars and restaurants, couple’s stay, and more. 

Leeds is about a two hour train ride away from London, making it an easy weekend destination for solo travelers, couples and families. 

Where to stay in Leeds West Yorkshire?

There are many amazing hotels, and affordable hostels to stay in Leeds. My recommendation is to stay at the Art Hostel (East Street Arts).

  • The coolest thing about the Art Hostel is that is the first social enterprise in the whole of the UK where all the proceeds from guests goes to support artists
  • At the Art Hostel, you can choose from private rooms and shared dorm rooms
  • Plus you get to access Leeds’ independent art & music scene, and many special events
  • Art Hostel also offers rooms with light breakfast, if you are interested

Find out more about the Art Hostel here 

 

Transportation in Leeds: How to get around in Leeds?

In order to explore Leeds with ease, I recommend opting for the TransPennineExpress ‘North of England City Experience’ 4 in 8 day rail rover Ticket. 

The North of England City Experience ticket connects many cities in the country, with frequent services, bringing you into the heart of each city. It gives you freedom and flexibility to travel at your own pace, and for the duration of your trip.

Ticket highlights,

  • With the ticket, you can travel between the cities of Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Hull and NewcastleGateshead with one ticket saving time and money (instead of buying multiple tickets),
  • Travel time from various cities, 
    • Hull – Leeds – approx. 1 hour
    • Hull – Manchester – just under 2 hours
    • Manchester – NewcastleGateshead under 2.5 hrs
    • Leeds – Manchester – just under 1 hour
    • Manchester – Liverpool – 35 mins
    • Leeds to Liverpool – just under 1.5hrs

How to spend an epic weekend in Leeds: Itinerary for first timers

These trains operate after 9.30 am, and the tickets are applicable on the Transpennine Express only. It is valid for 4 non-consecutive days use from 9.30 am daily, within any 8-day period. Note that it’s activated on the first day of use. 

For £99 consumer price, you can make the most of frequent connections across the north of England from any starting point mentioned above. 

You can also buy the North of England City Experience train ticket in advance (with special offers) from TranspPennine Express’ website here.

You can have the tickets delivered to your home address or purchase at any of the train stations located in the five participating cities. 

Day 1 of Leeds weekend itinerary

Start bright and early to Leeds on day one, and join a city walking tour to learn about its history, architecture and galleries!

This is a pre-bookable – City Walking Tour: Leeds Owl Trail (Cliff Stead). In this tour you will learn about Leeds from an artists’ perspective, especially their sculpture, street art, and artists’ studios. 

Take time to check out the Leeds City Square, Leeds Art Gallery, Henry Moore Institute, and the Tetley contemporary art gallery that showcases many smaller artists’ studios and artwork. Learn more about the walking tour here.

If you are an art lover, we recommend visiting the Contemporary Art Gallery: The Tetley in Leeds. This is a centre for contemporary art housed in an beautiful Art Deco headquarters of Joshua Tetley and Sons Brewery. The building dates back to over 200 years.

Check out temporary exhibitions, special events and hang out at the Tetley brewery archive in the afternoon. Tetley brewery was the site of the largest brewery in the North of England.

The Leeds Tetley brewery was closed in 2011 and demolished in 2012, with production contracted out to other UK Carlsberg breweries. 

There is a bar and kitchen on site, where you can stop for lunch (and drinks. Please check hours and restrictions before visiting during these unprecedented times).

Note that you can book guided tours of the Tetley – its historic building, temporary exhibitions and the brewery archive. The main gallery is free to enter with a self-guide option. All the Tetley Bar and Kitchen proceeds go directly to support the artistic programmes. Check out more here

There is a popular Leeds Heritage Beer Tour, which is worth considering. 

In this tour, you can join ‘Beer Evangelist’ Mike Hampshire on an award-winning, fun and immersive tour of Leeds. You get to learn about the rich history of beer in the city, and sample fine ales along the way.

  • The tour takes in The Tetley, which was the headquarters for Leeds’ most famous brewery, Joshua Tetley and Sons, and 5 pubs including the Duck & Drake on Kirkgate, Leeds’ oldest street with a dark past. 
  • It also enriches your understanding about the history of the pubs, other old breweries in the city and how it compares to the modern brewing scene.
  • You can also arrange for private tours
  • These tours last for 3 hours, and they run on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays
  • Tour cost: £28 pp. You can book it here

Plus you also get to enjoy a half of beer (or equivalent drink for non-beer drinkers) provided at each pub stop (five in total) for the price of the tour!

How to spend an epic weekend in Leeds: Itinerary for first timers

After all the sightseeing, you can relax at the Headrow House. You will be interested to know that there is a beer hall included at the complex. So if you are craving a drink after learning all about the heritage brewery, then grab a drink and relax at the terrace at the Headrow House.

For those who love to shop, head to the Queen’s Arcade for retail therapy. With stunning interiors, and elegant walkways, the Arcade are a delight for window shoppers, and card swipers alike. 

Queen’s Arcade was named in honour of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. It was home to a hotel in the past, and today there are impressive details that are worth capturing and exploring. It is also a great spot for snapping some Instagrammable shots!

Victoria Leeds combines Victoria Quarter and Victoria Gate together and welcomes visitors to over 80 boutiques and high end stores in a fancy setting. 

After all the long shopping, you can stop for dinner at the Arcade too. There are pizza places (like the Simpatico Pizza), family friendly restaurants (like the Olive & Rye), where you can satisfy your belly!

A couple walk whilst holding shopping bags through the 19th c. County Arcade, one of two arcades making up the Victoria Quarter in Leeds

Day 2 of Leeds Itinerary

 

Start your day 2 of Leeds itinerary, with warm breakfast at the Riveresque Leeds. This restaurant serves full English breakfast, plus more options. But the coolest thing about this place is that you can eat, whilst soaking in the river views. Address: Riveresque Leeds, 15 Bridge End, Leeds LS1 7HG, United Kingdom (They open at 07:00 am.)

After breakfast, hop on the water-taxi, and enjoy the serene side of Leeds from the comfort of your seat. These water taxis run everyday. Two yellow boats by the name of Twee & Drie have sailed over from Amsterdam to ferry passengers between Granary Wharf and Leeds Dock. 

The fare is only £1 per person, per journey. They run every 15 minutes.

From the water taxi station head to Kirkstall Abbey, a must visit historic attraction in Leeds. Kirkstall Abbey is located on the edge of the city centre, and is set on a north bank of the River Aire. There is a beautiful public park too, where you can go on light strolls, or just sit down to relax.

The Abbey was founded in 1152, and later disestablished during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII. I highly recommend going on a guided tour of the site. 

Kirkstall Abbey tour includes a guide book and Mead taster. Note that this tour is not offered on Mondays and Saturday mornings, so I suggest going there on a Sunday (like in this weekend itinerary). Find more about this guided tour here.

weekend in Leeds itinerary

After exploring the Abbey, you can enjoy a light lunch and an afternoon tea at the café on site. I say ‘light lunch’ because you must go on a Leeds Food tour after visiting the Abbey and relaxing at the park. 

Leeds Food Tours offer an amazing insight into the history of Yorkshire cuisine. You won’t believe the variety of culinary delights offered in the city. 

In order to explore the best food and drinks in Leeds’, you can choose between these 3 tour options 

  • Self-Guided: This is best for those who want to go at their own pace. This self guided tour includes 6 pre-paid tastings at street food vendors, map, fact cards and tokens. Booking details: Self-Guided £80 for 2 people
  • Local Leeds Guided Food Tour: Get the expert insider tips from a guide, and stop at 6 independent pubs and restaurants in this tour. There is food and drink, plus a market visit to learn about the history and culinary scene of Leeds. It is led by a guide, and lasts for 4 hours. Booking details: Local Leeds Food Tour £55 pp / max 5 pax
  • Leeds Guided Street Food Tour: Another guided tour with 6 street vendor visits with food from all over the world within two indoor street food hubs; ‘pour your own’ local beer. This tour lasts for 4 hours. Booking details: Leeds Guided Street Food Tour £55pp / max 5 pax. 
  • For all the tours and availability, click here

After the food tour, make your way to the Leeds Cathedral. Leeds Cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Leeds. It dates back to 1901 when it was rebuilt in Gothic revival style. 

The cathedral is very stunning, and worth a stop on your weekend itinerary. Sunday Masses are held at 11 am and 6 pm. You can visit outside of the mass, and admire the stunning architecture, especially the new Altar, Ambo and Cathedra which have been installed in the Sanctuary after the restoration work in 2006. 

The Town Hall, Leeds

Other things to do and places to visit in Leeds on a weekend break 

If you wish to swap any of the above restaurants and shopping arcades, then we have a few more recommendations for you, 

  • Belgrave Music Hall & Kitchen: Belgrave Music Hall & Kitchen is an epic spot to hang out in Leeds. With a 3 floor performing venue for music, film screening and art, Belgrave Music Hall showcases the best of what Leeds has to offer – in arts and culinary! This is a perfect place to sit back and relax, and enjoy a craft beer and listen to live music. 
  • Leeds Town Hall: Leeds Town Hall is a 19th century building, originally built to showcase the grandeur and wealth of Leeds as a city. Today, it is an iconic performing arts venue. Town Hall is located at the Headrow (or the former Park Lane). If music, or dance recitals is not on your list, I would still recommend admiring the beautiful neoclassical/baroque revival architecture of the hall from the outside.
  • Leeds Kirkgate Market: Leeds Kirkgate Market is one of the largest indoor markets in Europe, with over 800 shops. It is an amazing place for shopping lovers to literally ‘shop till you drop’, eat and hang out!
  • Leeds Corn Exchange: Another cool spot to go shopping in Leeds, the Corn Exchange is housed inside a historic building, and there are a variety of stalls with fashion labels, and food & drink options. 

So that’s a wrap! I hope you found this post useful in planning your weekend break to Leeds. Have questions? Let me know in the comments below.

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weekend in Leeds itinerary

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