Best tourist attractions in Leeds

Updated: Jan 29

If you’ve never been to Leeds before – what have you been doing with your life?

Well, we’re a bit biased but still, Leeds is such an incredible place for a city break. You’ve got the unrivalled nightlife and shopping in the city centre and within half an hour, you can be in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside. It’s a bit corny to say there is something for everyone but with Leeds, it’s true.

Here are some of the best tourist attractions in Leeds that are a must-see on a weekend break.

Best tourist attractions in Leeds

Leeds’ shopping arcades

Leeds has an unbeatable shopping scene. The Trinity centre which opened in 2013 has all of your high street favourites under one roof. However, just outside and in the surrounding area, you’ll find the Leeds arcades.

There are six arcades in Leeds each with their own distinctive personality. While all are a must-see, Victoria Quarter and Victoria Gate are particularly impressive. Victoria Quarter is the most famous arcade thanks to its stunning architecture which is home to high-end designer brands. Just over the road in Victoria Gate, you’ll find more exclusive brands alongside a flagship John Lewis.

The other arcades in Leeds feature mostly independent businesses so are great for supporting the local community.

Royal Armouries, Leeds Docks

If you’re a bit of a history buff, you’ll love the Royal Armouries. It’s one of the best tourist attractions in Leeds.

The museum is free to enter and with 8,500 objects split over five galleries, there’s plenty to see. The galleries include War, Oriental, Tournament, Self-Defence and Hunting. In each gallery, you’ll see the weaponry and arms throughout history.

You can easily spend a whole afternoon here and with live-action demonstrations, you get the chance to see some fighting in action. There’s also daily jousting that happens in an outside area – pretty cool if you ask us!

You can find the museum in Leeds Docks which is a rejuvenated area of the city with an array of bars, restaurants and cafes where you can stop for a bite to eat. Plus, you can get the water taxi from just outside the museum which takes you back and forth along the River Aire stopping at the docks and the train station. At £1 per person, it’s a total bargain and a fun way of getting around the city.

Northern Ballet

Fun fact: Leeds is one of only three cities in the UK to have its own ballet and opera companies. Northern Ballet is a critically acclaimed company that many consider being the best in the world.

The company puts on classic ballets, like Swan Lake, but they also do some more modern shows too. For example, The Little Mermaid and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. If you’re in Leeds for the weekend or a few days, you absolutely must check to see if there is a ballet taking place.

Kirkgate Market

Prefer to do your shopping away from the glitz and glam of the high street? Kirkgate Market is the biggest indoor market in Europe. Yep, you read that right – the whole of Europe.

The architecture is beautiful, and the market is filled with local businesses like florists, greengrocers, bakers and more. Also, did you know that Kirkgate Market is home to the mega-brand, M&S?

The very first M&S was right here in Leeds with a stall in Kirkgate Market. Now, there is a heritage and coffee shop in the market right next to the famous M&S clock in the centre of the market.

Corn Exchange

If you’re a bit of an architecture fiend, you’ll love Leeds. All of the before-mentioned tourist spots are held in stunning buildings. Another such beauty is the Corn Exchange. The Grade 1 listed building was Designed by revered British architect Cuthbert Broderick.

Okay, so, for those of us who aren’t super clued up about architecture, the Corn Exchange is basically a pretty big deal. It’s a gorgeous building filled to the brim with independent retailers and a few cafes for a coffee or lunch stop.

Leeds Art Gallery

If you’re feeling super cultural and stuff, Leeds Art Gallery is another gem in this city’s crown.

The Art Gallery is found next door to the gorgeous town hall where you’ll probably see at least one wedding during your visit. The gallery is free to enter and for that, you get to see an impressive collection of art including the old stuff and the more modern bits.

As part of the museum, you’ll find the infamous Tiled Hall Café. If you love finding unique cafes, this is one to tick off your list. The café is in, as the name suggests, a tiled hall. It’s definitely one for the gram’.

Nightlife and bars in Leeds

Of course, we can’t forget to mention the amazing nightlife in Leeds.

Once you’ve had your sophisticated day out at the museums and marvelling at the city’s architecture, it’s time to get down to business.

There are three streets you need to know about for nightlife in Leeds. They are Greek Street, Merrion Street and Call Lane. On all three you’ll find a reem of bars and clubs all of which are bustling on the weekend. Luckily, Leeds is a fairly compact city centre so walking between the three is easy. All you need to do is follow the crowds.

Whether you want a pint in a pub or a cocktail in a swanky bar, in Leeds, you’re covered.

Best tourist attractions in Leeds

Which of these attractions have you been to? Or, which ones will you be adding to your list when you visit Leeds?