When I headed to Leeds this year to spend a weekend exploring this northern English city and its famous pastoral surrounds, it was my first visit back in over 10 years! Which is a long time when you used to live in a city! And live in Leeds I did, for 3 epic, wild years as an undergraduate student.
And so Leeds has always had a soft spot in my heart, a warm and nostalgic spot in my memory. Which made returning to it slightly daunting to be honest. But I’m happy to say that after a long time away, this city did not disappoint, and in the 10 years since I last set foot here, it’s come a long way. So, in honour of this great city, and its continued greatness for the next decade (!), here’s my list of the best 15 things to do in Leeds on a budget.
I’m going to kick off this list of the best things to do in Leeds by starting in the city centre and working my way out from there, so that arguably the entries just keep getting better and better. But, for now, let’s start at the bottom of the city near the train station, because first up is a visit to the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds.
Essentially a collection of old suits of armour and weapons, for someone whose not into this sort of thing at all, I can tell you I was pleasantly surprised. The exhibition is quite large and way better than you expect, which means you can easily spend a few hours exploring both the rooms and outside spaces of this great Leeds museum. And if museums are your thing, then don’t miss the Leeds City Museum either. Sadly I didn’t get time to visit it on this trip, but it’s definitely on my hit list for next time I return.
I have to admit that when I was first researching things to do in Leeds, the Royal Armouries didn’t jump out at me, but there’s no doubt that the Leeds-Liverpool Canal did. A fairly recent construction, this wonderful public byway now allows car-free access all the way to another of Northern England’s great UK cities and what a delight it is to stroll or cycle.
Again starting in the south of the city centre, essentially behind the train station, this lovely trail reminded me a lot of the Bristol-Bath Canal and what a wonderful idea to create something similar up north too. If you are heading all the way to Liverpool, then check out my list of the best things to do in this wonderful city to ensure you make the best of your time there.
I didn’t have to head to the West Yorkshire Playhouse on my recent trip to Leeds because, having gone there a lot as a student (yes I studied Theatre and English Literature so we were there most weeks), I know that catching a performance at the West Yorkshire Playhouse is definitely one of the best things to do in Leeds. Considered one of the best performances spaces in the north of the country, many shows transfer from the National Theatre in London to the West Yorkshire Playhouse, and just about any company on tour makes a stop here. As such, the quality of theatre, dance, comedy and music you can see at the West Yorkshire Playhouse is very high and going mid-week, flashing a student card or checking out their website for deals, is a great way to grab a ticket for less.