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If you’re looking for shopping, sport, entertainment and amazing food, then Leeds has the lot. Over the last decade, Leeds has transformed into one of the coolest places in the UK, a reputation built on the bedrock of one of the best shopping experiences in the North – incredibly, there are over 1,000 shops, including a brand new John Lewis. It’s the ideal destination for a day trip or a weekend away, not least because it’s so quick to get to from other major cities. Trains to Leeds from Manchester take less than an hour and it’s around 1 hour 30 minutes from Newcastle.
For unlimited bus travel around the city, buy a Leeds Plusbus ticket with your train ticket for £3 (£2 with a Railcard). You can also use First Bus to travel around the city with regular services to places including The Royal Armouries Museum (70), Thackray Medical Museum (16), Roundhay Park and Kirkstall Abbey (33, 33A). You'll find taxis at the main entrance to the station.
Hyde Park Picture House is one of the many uniquely charming things to do in Leeds and this gas-lit cinema is one of only a handful left in the country. Hop across the city and you’ll find Tropical World, a family park filled with flora and fauna to rival Kew Gardens. Thousands flock to the First Direct Arena every month to see the incredible artists that pass through. And, for that ‘Game of Thrones’ vibe, there’s the Royal Armouries Museum, which has a huge selection of activities throughout the year.
Leeds was named one of the UK’s best cities for dining out according to the ‘Which? Good Food Guide’, so there’s plenty of food and drink options to choose from. For a fantastic fine-dining experience, the Michelin-starred The Man Behind The Curtain offers a mind-blowing tasting menu. In the mood for something a little more traditional? Then Bibis, a family-run Italian restaurant, café and cocktail bar, is the place for you. The atmosphere is friendly and the food is delicious. Meanwhile, for an unbeatable brain-freeze/sugar rush combo, don’t miss the 50s-style milkshake bar Shake-it.
Leeds is a beautiful, historic city, with more listed buildings than in any English city outside of London. A great way to explore its heritage is through the Owl Trail, where you can track 25 sculpted owls across the city’s architectural landscape. The Corn Exchange is a Grade I listed building filled with retro shops and it's a great place to stop for lunch too. Millennium Square is a large open space that holds concerts, markets and even hosts an urban beach. It's bordered by Leeds Town Hall and Leeds City Museum, so it also makes a good central point for spotting more things to do in Leeds.
Leeds shopping is near legendary. It has 5 miles of shopping streets, one of the UK’s largest pedestrianised zones and ‘The Rough Guide to Britain’ named shopping in Leeds as one of the top 30 things to do in the UK. Why not start your trip at the beautifully ornate Victoria Quarter, an intricate Fabergé egg of an arcade that boasts some of the fanciest brands around. It’s worth coming here for Harvey Nichols alone. Food steals the show at Kirkgate Market, one of the largest indoor markets in Europe. Granary Wharf is all exposed brick and canal-side charm. Hip young things flock here for great independent shopping – look out for craft stalls and street entertainers on the weekend.
For more ideas on what to do in Leeds, check out Visit Leeds.