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leeds city centre

Our complete guide on things to do while living and studying in Leeds

The really nice thing about Leeds – and many people say this – is that sure, it’s a major city, but it’s not immensely huge. Folks are friendly, and it’s easy to get around to do all the kinds of different stuff a good city can offer. Lovely.

Trains & boats & planes & buses. etc

Duh, it’s a major northern city. Of course it’s well connected.

Intercity train station on East Coast Mainline
Leeds City Bus Station – buses to all over the UK
Local buses – hundreds of them
Taxis – thousands of them
Bike&Go – bike hire £3.80 a day
M621, M62, M1, A1M, A64M – tarmac, vehicles, cones, you know the kind of thing
Leeds Bradford Airport
River taxi – no really, we’ve got those too…

Retail in detail

Obvs, all the major UK chains have outlets in Leeds. So we’re going to focus on some less well known Retails of the Unexpected. Pay attention now:

Blue Rinse Vintage – well organised retro fashion
Kirkgate Market – brilliant for food, crafts, plants, and also home to The Jar Tree, Leeds’ first zero waste shop
Crash Records – vinyl, CDs and tickets for gigs
Our Handmade Collective – 70 local designers/makers, gifts of all kinds
Colours May Vary – magazines, gifts, cards and artwork
Scent Salim – ‘niche fragrance design’ and natural scents
Sue Ryder – vintage heaven
Shopping centres: Trinity, Victoria Quarter, Victoria Gate (Anthropologie and Other Stories, COS), Queen’s Arcade, Grand Arcade, The Corn Exchange (cute and full of independents)
Little Leeds Beerhouse – craft beers in the Corn Exchange
Culture Vulture – quirky and weird gifts
CeX – 2nd hand computer games, consoles, mobiles and electronics

Do something. anything!

Guess what? Leeds has lots to do. And because the web designer gets a bit animated when a humble writer starts hammering the wordcount, this can only be the briefest list of do-able Leeds things…

Roxy Ballroom – pool, ping pong, beer pong, mini golf
Leeds Art Gallery – arty, in good way
Belgrave Music Hall – gigs, comedy, film, art, two bars and a fab roof terrace
First Direct Arena – big gigs
Opera North – internationally respected
Theatres – Grand Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse (currently being renamed)
Northern Ballet – inventive ballet
West Indian Street Carnival – unmissable August event
Thought Bubble – UK’s largest event celebrating sequential art
Leeds Pride – fabulous LGBTQ+ occasion
Royal Armouries – amazing and huge collection of weaponry and related exhibits
The HUB – a very different kind of theatre experience
Leeds International Film festival - November
Light Night – turns the whole city centre into an illuminated art installation

Here comes the night

At the risk of stating the obvious (again), Leeds is a city. It is rammed with brilliant bars, cool clubs, exceptional eateries and a plethora of pubs. You will not fail to find your kind of thing. Promise.

Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen - gigs, comedy, film, art, two bars and a fab roof terrace
North Bar – welcoming, fantastic variety of drinks
Sela Bar – beers, cocktails, pizzas and hip ambience
Tapped – brewery tap, guest ales and renowned pizzas
The Domino Club – live jazz, funk, soul, blues
Oportobar – live music and coolness
Mook – dancing and cocktails
The Dry Dock – a boat bar and restaurant on land
Hi Fi Club – club nights, comedy and gigs
Wire – small house, techno and underground club
Smokestack – Latin-funk-jazz vibe and cocktails to die for
Head of Steam – changing ales, live music and a friendly vibe
Mint Club – club nights and amazing lights
Bundobust – tasty Indian dishes and craft beers
Trinity Kitchen – global street food and pop-up carts
The Reliance – old-school pub for the 21st century
Humpit – hummus & pitta bar (clue’s in the name)  

Other student-friendly areas nearby