21 places in Leeds everyone needs to visit at least once

By Dave Himelfield

Think you know Leeds?

OK... you probably do because you're reading LeedsLive.

But even born and bred Leodensians haven't been to every single place in our city.

Read the latest news on things to do in Leeds here.

So here are 21 places in Leeds everyone should visit before kicking the bucket.

And if you think some (or most) of the places on this list are too obvious, it's also aimed at non-Loiners.

After all, tourism pumps millions into our city's economy and after the worst of the Covid pandemic (fingers crossed) Leeds' hospitality and tourism sectors need all the visitors they can get.

Here's a 21-piece snapshot of the natural, historic, cultural and gastronomic riches Leeds has to offer.

1. Stroll on Armley Beach

The south bank of the River Aire at Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve, locally known as 'Armley Beach' (Dave Himelfield)

In Kirkstall Nature Reserve where the River Aire converges after briefly splitting into two is this pebble beach.

It can get a bit busy on a hot day and sadly, somewhat litter-strewn. But on a quiet day, it's a perfect place for watching birds and fish in quiet, relatively unpolluted surroundings.

2. Eat at Bengal Brasserie

You're spoilt for choice when it comes to south Asian food in Leeds but this Leeds' institution, founded in 1992, is still one of the best. It's good for curries, vegetarian dishes and more.

There are branches on Merrion Way, Haddon Road, Burley; Roundhay Road, Roundhay and High Street, Wetherby.

3. Drink at the Bingley Arms

England's oldest pub, in Bardsey village, dates back to the early 10th century. It's also just the spot for a cosy drink and the food is decent too.

4. See a gig at Brudenell Social Club

This traditional working men's club, established in 1913, has been the place to catch new bands on the ascent for 20-plus years.

The club, on Queen's Road, Hyde Park, is the place to watch sport, or play snooker, pool or darts or just relax with a pint.

5. Have a night out on Call Lane

The heart of Leeds' vibrant night scene is Call Lane which is full of independent bars. It's just the spot for a boozy night out or a brunch the morning after.

6. Visit the German Market

Damn you, pandemic.

Leeds' famous Christkindelmarkt (to use its proper name) was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 because of Covid. We really hope the best place to get yourself into the festive mood will be back this year.

7. Tour Harewood House

Harewood House, near Leeds (Alistair Wilson/PA Wire)

A grade I-listed stately home with a mindblowing interior, lush gardens, extensive grounds and penguins. What more do you want?

8. Have another night out in Headingley

The Otley Road drag is the main place to party outside the city centre. For a less studenty experience, visit in July and August.

9. Admire The Headrow

This entry seems too obvious but if you're visiting from out of town, this is the place to visit first.

It's sort of Leeds' Champs Elysees or Fifth Avenue where the city's grandest public buildings and shops are found.

10. Explore Kirkgate Market

Kirkgate Market, Leeds (Leeds City Council)

Leeds' main indoor market is great for bargains as well as first-class street food from fish and chips to Vietnamese baguettes.

It's where Michael Marks of Marks & Spencer started out and the market has a replica of his original Penny Bazaar.

11. Walk around Kirkstall Abbey

Explore the ruins of this magnificent mid-12th century priory set in wooded parkland by the River Aire.

12. Eat at the Knave's Kitchen

Leeds is one of the North's best places for vegans and if we had to choose one it would be Knave's Kitchen at Oporto bar on Call Lane.

This 100 per cent vegan kitchen serves ethical, vegan versions of classic junk food that vegans and non-vegans can't get enough of.

13. Visit Lotherton Hall

Lotherton Hall (Flickr/vagueonthehow)

Every bit your classic country house with grounds, Lotherton Hall, Aberford, is an economically priced, perfect day out for a family or anyone, really.

As well as the grand house there are gardens, aviaries, kids' playgrounds and a deer park.

14. Walk through Meanwood Valley Nature Reserve

Follow Meanwood Beck from Adel to Headingley through another of the city's principal green lungs.

15. See the view from Otley Chevin

For the best view in Leeds go to The Chevin at Otley. Enjoy views over Otley and out to the Yorkshire Dales as well as walks in the forest.

16. Stay at the Queens Hotel

Staying at a hotel in your hometown sounds a bit daft, except this isn't any old hotel. The Queens is Leeds' classic interwar hotel.

The four-star, reasonably priced, art deco hotel has retained some of its old glamour.

Stay in one of the top floor rooms, which includes access to a private bar with a rooftop terrace, for the best experience.

17. Relax in Roundhay Park

This 700-acre park is one of the biggest urban parks in Europe. It's not just the outdoor bits that are worth seeing. There's the Mansion House and Tropical World where you can see reptiles, amphibians, birds, butterflies and more.

18. Visit the Royal Armouries

Britain's biggest collection of historic arms and armour can be found under one roof at this museum at Leeds Dock. Watch knights joust, reenactments and plenty more.

19. See inside Temple Newsam

The other main stately home in Leeds is also the oldest dating back to Tudor times. As well as an aptly spectacular interior, this council-owned mansion has an extensive farm you can visit plus sprawling grounds.

20. Window shop in the Victoria Quarter

County Arcade will be the home of the new London Cubitts shop (Michael D Beckwith)

Leeds' luxury shops are in the newish Victoria Gate mall and the fine County and Cross arcades, from the turn of the 20th-century. Even if you can't afford anything in any of the shops it's worth strolling through to admire their splendour.

21. Drink at Whitelocks

Leeds' oldest extant pub, tucked away in an ancient alley off Briggate, is a real gem inside with tiled walls and stained glass. The beer and the chips are decent too.

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