The 12 most popular tourist attractions in Leeds
This pleasant university city on the River Aire offers excellent shopping in the historic city center and has a number of interesting museums and art galleries , Leeds also has a long tradition of industry, especially textiles, and its paramount importance as a commercial and financial center in West Yorkshire.
The city is also the cultural center of the area and boasts many attractions, including annual events such as the Leeds Festival in Bramham Park; Leeds International Concert Season, an annual celebration of music with over 200 concerts; and the Leeds International Film Festival , Many of the city’s attractive parks and gardens are ideal for walking, especially the 700 acre Round Park (one of the largest city parks in Europe) and Golden Acre Park , while the surrounding Yorkshire valleys and moors offer no Particularly popular are the Westwood Valley, an annual footrace site that attracts participants from all over the UK, and the famous Ilkley Moor.
See also: Where to stay in Leeds
1 Civic Quarter.
The center of Leeds, a pedestrian area known as Town Square, is famous for its many statues, including figures of the Black Prince and inventor James Watt. Nearby is Joseph Priestley Church and the impressive town hall, consecrated in 1858 by Queen Victoria. A beautiful Corinthian colonnade graces its front, dominated by a 200-foot clock tower, and the ornate Victoria Hall is often used for concerts. Another important structure in the city is the Leeds Civic Hall, with towers adorned with owls, the city’s heraldic emblem.
In Victoria Square, the Leeds Art Gallery is a must for art lovers. Its magnificent collection of works by British artists includes 750 paintings by J. S. Cotman (1782-1842) and works by Constable and Gainsborough, along with Italian and French masters such as Courbet, Renoir and Signac. The Henry Moore sculpture galleries contain works by the artist and his contemporaries Jacob Epstein and Barbara Hepworth. Finally, be sure to visit Millennium Square, a focal point for theater performances and concerts. The Square is also the site of the Leeds City Museum, with its excellent geology, zoology, ethnology and archaeology departments.
Address: Town Square / Millennium Square, Leeds
2 Tail and Briggate.
Tail and Briggate
Headrow is a pedestrian-friendly half-mile where many of the city’s major commercial, civic and cultural attractions are found. Headrow leads to Westgate, Eastgate and Quarry Hill, which are also home to important cultural attractions, including the East Yorkshire Theatre – the largest production theater outside London – and the Grade II listed Leeds City Varieties , the oldest music hall in the world. Another theatrical attraction is the Grand Theatre, an opera house that serves as home to the Opera North.
Briggate area is famous for its historic shopping galleries , many of which are of architectural significance. Those to explore include the Grand Arcade, built in 1897, as well as many small boutique stores and the Thorntons Arcade, completed in 1878 and notable for its clock with four life-size figures. Queens Arcade was opened in 1889 and is home to upscale designer and novelty stores, while the Earl’s Arcade in the Victoria Quarter was completed in 1903. It has marble floors, elaborate stonework, and elegant iron domes. The jewel in the crown is undoubtedly the Queen Victoria Street ; although in 1990 it was only arcaded, it is the largest expanse of stained glass in Europe.
3 Royal Armaments Museum, Leeds
Royal Arms Museum, Leeds TonyParkin67 / photo modified
In the city’s antebellum area, the Royal Armory Museum, Leeds, is home to Britain’s national collection of arms and armor. With more than 8,500 exhibits in six impressive galleries, the museum covers some 3,000 years of armor and weaponry from around the world. Highlights include the tournament gallery, showcasing the splendor (and brutality) of medieval jousting (also where you’ll find armor made by Henry VIII); an impressive Oriental gallery with many fine examples of weapons and armor from Africa and Asia; and even a collection of weapons and swords used in the hit movie The Lord of the Rings. Add live demonstrations and stunning permutations into the mix, and this museum is a must-see.
Also worth checking out is the Thackray Medical Museum , Next door to St. James University Hospital this fascinating museum has a collection of 20,000 medical artifacts and showcases the development of medicine through the ages.
Address: The Armoury, Leeds
Official website: www.royalarmouries.org/visit-us/leeds
4 Church of St John the Evangelist
Church of John the Evangelist Tim Green / photo modified
The most beautiful of Leeds’ many beautiful churches is St. John’s in New Briggate. Built in 1634, its interior features two aisles, as well as the original Renaissance screen, pulpits, and stalls. Other religious sites worth visiting in Leeds include St. Anne’s Cathedral, the Roman Catholic Cathedral on Cubridge Street (built in 1904); the Georgian Church of the Holy Trinity on the Riverbank in Cabana (1727); and St. Peter’s Parish Church in Leeds, perhaps better known as Leeds Mister, a medieval church rebuilt in 1841 and the oldest parish church in the city.
The address is 23 New Briggate, Leeds
5 Leeds Corn Exchange.
Leeds Corn Exchange
One of three such structures that have survived in Great Britain, listed the Leeds Corn Exchange class, which is considered one of the finest buildings in Victorian-era England. Designed by Cuthbert Brodrick and completed in 1864, the building now houses an eclectic variety of stores, galleries and cafes.
Location: Call Lane, Leeds
Official website: http://leedscornexchange.co.uk/
6 Harewood House
Harewood House by Elliot Brown / photo modified
Harewood House, Earl Harewood’s place, is a magnificent Georgian country house that took 30 years to build and was completed in 1771. Only eight miles north of Leeds, this impressive house has interiors designed by Robert Adam and includes a beautiful wall and ceiling painting by Angelica Kaufmann and furniture by the famous English furniture manufacturer Thomas Chippendale , As well as an outstanding collection of china, it has many valuable works by the likes of Reynolds, Gainsborough and El Greco. Outside, the grounds include a beautiful landscape designed by Capability Brown, with a 32-acre lake, bird garden and the remains of a 12th-century castle.
Location: Harewood, Leeds
Official website: www.harewood.org
7 Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills
Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills Tim Green / photo modified
Just two miles west of downtown Leeds on Canal Road are the former Armley Mills, once the world’s largest wool mills and now home to the beautiful Leeds Industrial Museum. The museum presents a fascinating history of wool production in Yorkshire since the 18th century, as well as exhibitions on textile and clothing production, printing, engineering, and locomotives. While there, spend some time exploring nearby Leeds and the Liverpool Canal, which links these two important industrial cities. Spanning 127 miles and even crossing the Pennines, this remarkable feat of engineering covers some 91 locks on its main line. (The Thwaite Mill , a carefully restored water mill nearby Stourton , is also worth a visit.)
Address: Canal Road, Armley, Leeds.
Official website: www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/Pages/armleymills.aspx
8 Newsam House
Newsam House Temple
Newsam House Temple, the magnificent 40-room Tudor-Jacoban mansion, is a must-see when in Leeds. Set in a vast 900-acre park on the edge of the city, it is known as the birthplace of Lord Darnley, husband of Mary Queen of Scots, and contains many Old Master paintings, as well as Thomas Chippendale furniture and collections of Leeds Creamery and Silver. Outside highlights include beautifully manicured grounds with their amazing rose bushes and rhododendrons, and one of the largest rare breed farms in Europe.
Address: Temple Newsam Road, Leeds.
Official website: www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/Pages/Temple-Newsam.aspx
9 Lotherton Hall.
Edwardian-era Lotherton Hall was built before World War I for the Gascoyne family, avid collectors of antiquities and art. The East Gallery is especially good, with items dating back to the 19th century, and the Nightingale Gallery showcases the work of local artists.
The house is surrounded by a formal Edwardian garden and a bird garden with more than 200 species, as well as many excellent walking trails.
Location: Lotherton Lane, Aberford
Official website: www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/Pages/Lotherton-Hall.aspx
10 Abbey House and Museum
Abbey House and Museum
About four miles west of Leeds in the Aire Valley, the Abbey Museum at Kirkstall is housed in a magnificent Cistercian house built in 1152. The picturesque remains include a roofless church with a narrow choir and a ruined tower, an almost completely preserved chapter house, as well as a refectory, kitchen, and various other buildings. The gate is now part of the Abbey Museum with its reproduction houses, stores and workshops illustrating life in Yorkshire through the centuries.
Address: Abbey Road, Kirkstall, Leeds.
Official website: www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/Pages/Abbey-House-Museum.aspx
11 Wakefield and National Coal Museum
Wakefield and the National Coal Mining Museum Draco2008 / photo modified
The town of Wakefield, 30 minutes south of Leeds, contains an interesting outdoor sculpture gallery and is the birthplace of English author George Gissing (1857-1903). The Wakefield Theater hosts theatrical events as well as the city’s museum. Other famous landmarks include the ruins of Sandal Castle; Wakefield Cathedral; Wakefield Art Gallery; and the Priory of Nostell, built on the site of a medieval monastery in the 18th century. There is a collection of Chippendale furniture, paintings and Chinese wallpaper.
Also popular for tourists is the National Coal Museum in England. Located in the former Caphouse Colliery in Overton, just a short drive from Wakefield, this first-class attraction showcases the often hard life of miners at one of the oldest coal mines in the country (it dates back to the 1770s). Highlights include guided tours and a visitor center with exhibits relating to the long history of the coal mine, as well as a fun ride on one of the “rice” trains used to transport workers around the huge site.
Address: Caphouse Colliery, New Road, Overton
Official website: www.ncm.org.uk
12 Harrogate: Britain’s Floral Resort
Harrogate: Britain’s Floral Resort
Harrogate is a beautiful spa town that owes its fame to the medicinal springs discovered here in the 16th century. Today it is primarily a resort known for its parks and flowers , earning it the title of British Floral Resort. One of its most popular attractions is the RHS Garden Harlow Carr , In addition to its varied garden types, there is a gardening museum, model village, and tours of the 68-acre facility. Harrogate is also very popular for its elegant boutiques and antique stores. For iconic vultures, Harrogate’s International Festivals (year-round) consist of a series of excellent festivals that are considered some of the best in Europe, featuring everything from opera to drama, as well as cabaret, street theater and literary events.
Address: 32 Cheltenham Parade, Harrogate
Official website: www.harrogateinternationalfestivals.com
Where to stay in Leeds for sightseeing
We recommend these centrally located hotels near the main attractions in Leeds:
The Chambers Park Place: 4-star luxury apartments, turn-of-the-century style building, individually decorated suites, library, underground parking.
14 free things to do in Leeds, UK
14 free things to do in Leeds, UK
Video: Heads & Tails. Reboot – London | England (1080p HD) 2022, September
If you live in Leeds or are planning a trip, you’ll be surprised at the number of free activities throughout the city. Architecture enthusiasts, outdoor enthusiasts and museum junkies will find something to keep them busy without spending any money. Planning a weekend in Leeds on a minimal budget? Read on for our top tips for exploring the city for free.
Leeds Owl Trail.
Owls are the unofficial symbol of Leeds, appearing on the coat of arms and scattered throughout the city in an abundance of unusual places. Make wandering around the city more interesting by trying to locate all 25 owls that appear on and in a wide variety of Leeds buildings on emblems, as statues and even as part of a mosaic. This easy-to-use map will point you in the right direction to find owls, including the City Library, Leeds Municipality and City Hall.
One of the best preserved abbeys in the UK is just a short walk from Leeds city center. The ruins of 12th-century Kirkstall Abbey are free to explore, surrounded by beautiful green scenery that attracts many locals to walk their dogs, picnic or relax in the sun. Even on a bleak winter day, the Abbey is breathtaking, making it an ideal year-round spot for a free day out.
Kirkstall Abbey, Abbey Rd, Leeds
Art lovers should become a body for The Tetley to explore the three floors of contemporary art at the former brewery. One of the most iconic buildings in the city, the Art Deco architecture is a reasonable enough opportunity to visit, even if you’ve already browsed the current exhibition. Not only does the gallery offer free admission for its exhibits, there are also free workshops and events, as well as open days when visitors can explore all the hidden corners of the building.
Tetley, Hunslet Rd, Leeds
Artist Nikhil Chopra is currently part of @ documenta14’s ongoing weekend performance in Athens! He will be with us on August 5 & 6 at #TheTetley as part of #TheTetleyWeekender #nikhilchopra #leeds #gallery # documenta14 #art #performance #athens
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Leeds City Museum.
Access to the Leeds City Museum is generally free (with a small fee for some of the visiting exhibitions), providing a full day of archives to explore. If you’re interested in Egyptian ancient history or Greek ceramics, you’ll find plenty of fascinating artifacts to unearth on the museum’s four floors. Make sure you check out the collection gallery if you’re curious about strange obsessions.
Leeds City Museum, Millennium Square, Leeds
Henry Moore Institute
The work of one of Yorkshire’s most famous sculptors is celebrated in this city center gallery, which also hosts rotating historical and contemporary sculptures from some of the biggest names in the world. Containing one of the largest collections of sculptures in Europe, it’s a nice surprise that admission is free, and a program of events and discussions is offered.
Henry Moore Institute, 74 Hever, Leeds
TONIGHT we are launching our premier exhibition #Votives! New sculptures by #AleksandraDomanovic. Here’s the monumental “The Primer” (2017), which takes center stage in our largest gallery yet.
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Feeling competitive and looking for something unusual to do outdoors on a sunny day? Walk up to Victoria Square and ask a friend to play giant chess or fast-paced table tennis. Games are available for everyone until 4:30 p.m. each day, though you may want to arrive early so you don’t have to wait your turn.
Victoria Square, Leeds
Leeds Welcome to Art Crawl.
Take in a creative array of public art by making your way to Leeds. This mostly open-air art tour takes you all the way from the windows of Leeds’ colorful letters at the train station to the Mabgate Mural on the exterior wall of the former mill. Along the way you’ll discover historic statues, contemporary sculptures, interesting street art, sidewalk poetry, an Einstein quote, and the largest stained glass window in the UK-all for free.
Gallery at Munroe House.
Looking for a more unusual exhibition, perhaps by a local artist or focusing on the fields of fine art, illustration and photography? Head to the gallery tucked away inside Munroe House, where you’ll find a regularly rotating array of creative work that you can access for free. Be warned that their exhibits change every two weeks, so if there’s something you’d like to see, don’t be put off.
Gallery at Munroe House, Munroe House, Duke St., Leeds
One of the most commanding structures on the Leeds skyline, the 19th-century Gothic Revival is also one of the most impressive. If you’re looking for a quiet place to sit and think, or just want to admire the architecture in more detail, you’re free to settle inside and take a look around.
Leeds Minster, St. Peter’s House, Kirkgat, Leeds
# Leeds church
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Crowd of Favours Cinema Club.
This laid-back spot is great for a relaxing pint or Sunday roast, but if you want to spend as little money as possible, head to your free Tuesday night movie club. Get there early to claim a comfortable seat, kick back and enjoy a screening of a classic cult movie.
Crowd Graces, Harper St., Leeds
If you love nature, you’re spoiled for choice in Leeds with plenty of beautiful parks and gardens and neighborhoods. One of the best and most accessible places to get out of the busy city center and enjoy the fresh air is Roundhay Park. One of the largest urban parks in Europe, this pretty park is a pleasure to stroll through gardens, woods and even a large lake to enjoy for free.
Roundhay Park, Ring Rd Shadwell, Leeds
“Come on, follow my lead” #magichour #swans #roundhaypark #leeds #uk
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Leeds and the Liverpool Canal.
Another great place to enjoy the great outdoors is along Leeds and the Liverpool Canal. It can be a challenge to walk the entire length of the country’s longest canal, but start in the city center and take a short walk next to the water as a welcome respite from the busy street. Depending on how long you walk, you’ll find colorful barges, interesting wildlife and green spots perfect for picnics.
Resist the urge to shop and visit Victoria Quarter to admire the beautiful architecture of these Victorian arcades. The mosaics, stained glass windows, and decorative details are as gorgeous as the designer stores they house. The arcades are especially stunning when visited during the week or early in the morning, before the hordes of shoppers descend.
Victoria Quarter, 10 Queen Victoria St, Leeds
I had a great morning in Leeds, which was my copycat of the Leeds Digital Festival.