A weekend in Leeds
Leeds is a go-to destination for a UK city break, there is so much to see and do in this big, bold, brilliant regional capital. It’s the perfect place to come with friends, or with family and there’s something for everyone, whether you’re looking for shopping & pampering, supper & partying or sports & pubbing.
Leeds is the third largest city in the UK, and teems with life, especially on a weekend. There is so much to do, you might need a hand to work out your options!
Look no further!
I’ll walk you through your weekend with suggestions for groups, families and couples and if you see something that you like the look of, links are included at the bottom of this article.
Friday afternoon in Leeds
Check in to The Queens.
Up front and central, The Queens has the whole of Leeds on it’s doorstep. Having had a £16 million transformation, there has never been a better time to stay here. It is the city’s largest hotel with 232 stylish bedrooms but it doesn’t feel that way, it’s a very personal level of service from the wonderful team here. A familiar landmark right next to Leeds train station, The Queens ‘transports you back to the golden age of the railways, with all the glamour of art deco style and a firm focus on first-class service’. If the weather is a bit off, they have a private residents entrance inside the train station, cool!
(If you’d prefer something more boutique-y, or something other than a hotel, check out my links to other fantastic places to stay, at the bottom of this article.)
Cute for Couples – Once you have checked in, you need to get to know the city. If you’re unfamiliar with Leeds, or even Yorkshire, what better way to spend an afternoon than on a Leeds Food Tour? With six stops, food in each and drinks at three venues, tour guide Nell will take you to sample some of the best food Leeds has to offer, as well as furnishing you with interesting facts about the city and it’s history. Tours start at 12 and last around 4 hours and by the end you’ll also have got your Leeds bearings, ready for the rest of the weekend’s exploration.
Good for Groups – If you want to try something a little more strenuous, head west out of the city centre to Leeds Arial Arts, Kirkstall and spend some time posing on the hoops, or hanging elegantly from red silk drapes? Private sessions can be arranged or you can join a scheduled class if you book in advance.
Fab for Families – Why not get a water taxi over to the Royal Armouries where you can see an amazing collection of armour, weapons and battle scenes all for free. Time it right and you can catch knights of old jousting on horseback – what child can resist? The Water Taxis run every 15 minutes from Granary Wharf (near the south side train station entrance) to Leeds Dock. Rides are £1 per person, per journey, but children 5 and under ride free!
Friday evening in Leeds
If you’ve been on the Food Tour with Nell you’re going to need to burn off some calories and energy. Why not head to Junkyard Golf (think indoor crazy golf, meets Tron) or one of the Roxy trifecta with all the booze and ball games you can think of.
Less strenuous but still great fun, get up to the oche at Flight Club for darts and drinks. With a fantastic menu, this really is a great spot for an evening out.
If you were out in Kirkstall for some Aerial Arts, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump to Arcade Club for a gamers paradise. 3 floors of arcade games, 1 entry price and games are on freeplay mode. Family friendly at other times, but on Friday night it’s adults only so you can take full advantage of the bar!
Vegans who are out Kirkstall direction should definitely try Meat Is Dead for a smorgasbord of seasonal vegan delights, with sharing and togetherness at the heart of their ethos. Oh, and the cocktails are pretty hot too!
Saturday Morning in Leeds
You are in the perfect place to enjoy the huge breakfast spread at The Queens, or have an indulgent lie-in, get ready at your leisure and enjoy the most amazing brunch/lunch at the Grand Pacific restaurant, all without stepping foot outside of the hotel. Think Raffles, Singapore in the beating heart of art-deco Yorkshire. The result is fab-u-lous! Enjoy your relaxing meal either way, because you have a jam-packed day ahead!
Fab for Families – If you are looking for a family day out, Leeds and the surrounding areas have so many options, head out after breakfast/brunch to any of these destinations to enjoy the best of what Leeds has to offer.
This is an 18th century stately home and so much more! The kids will love the bird sanctuary, check online for penguin feed times. There are beautiful walks through the grounds, with new routes added this spring, not to mention an enormous outdoor play area. Great café for afternoon tea too.
Temple Newsam Estate.
The estate has a farm where children can meet the animals, lots of space to run around and really impressive gardens. Book in to Go Ape here if you fancy clambering around the treetops!
If you find yourself craving a bit of fresh air and greenery, you are in luck! Leeds has the beautiful Roundhay Park – complete with lakes, two playgrounds and a mini train that takes you from one side of the park to the other.
If the park isn’t enough – families could even head to next door Tropical World where you can find all sorts of animals (OMG the meerkats are the cutest!) insects, birds and wildlife.
Saturday afternoon in Leeds
Good for Groups – If you want a fun group activity that will provide you with lunch, and support the local community, head east out of the city centre about 3 miles to Leeds Cookery School. They have group cookery lessons, from knife skills to Nordic baking, with DIY take-aways, Mexican tacos and all sorts in between! As well as offering a huge choice of courses, Leeds Cookery School donates 100% of its profit to Zest, a local Leeds charity supporting people living in disadvantaged areas of the city. Good fun, good food and a good deed, all in one!
If you are on a couple-friends break and the lads are up for something sporty, Leeds certainly offers options;
Cricket at Headingley
Leeds Rhinos for Rugby League
Leeds United for football at Elland Road
Leeds Knights Ice Hockey
or they can just watch the days sporting events while enjoying a few drinks at The Box sports bar in the city centre.
This leaves the lasses free to enjoy the finer things in life!! Make a beeline for the beautiful city centre spa at the Leeds Lush store. With various treatments to suit every budget, this unique spa is one of only eight in the UK and is extremely well reviewed for those looking to escape the city centre without leaving it. I can personally recommend The Good Hour (total understatement!).
Shopping is a number one pass time in the city centre, with John Lewis and Victoria Gate, Harvey Nichols and the Victoria Quarter standing out as places for designer shopping. Briggate and Trinity Shopping Centre have all the high street brands covered as well as so many bars and restaurants hand-picked for that mid-shop-refreshment-stop!
If you’re looking for something a little different, shop with the independents in Leeds Corn Exchange. Here you can find hand-made jewellery, vintage fashion, even plants and lifestyle stores. If you are taking home souvenirs, don’t miss The Great Yorkshire Shop you daft ha’p’orth.*
In the market for a bit of culture? Leeds Art Gallery and The Henry Moore Institute on The Headrow are host to many permanent exhibits or The Tetley and Left Bank Leeds have a fantastic programme of events, there is always something going on. Then head back to your hotel to freshen up and get ready to hit the town!
*Yorkshire slang for ‘foolish person’
Saturday evening in Leeds
Fab for Families – With the family in mind, Leeds City Varieties, The Playhouse or the Everyman Cinema should provide something for the evening’s entertainment, and with all the food options available at Trinity Kitchen, there is something here that will satisfy even the pickiest of palettes!
If you want to hop from bar to bar, Leeds is a perfect place to be. Call Lane, Merrion Street and Trinity will all give you plenty of results on Google but if you’re looking for something a bit different read on…
Man Behind the Curtain by Micheal O’Hare
You will need to book weeks ahead of time, but it’s well worth it for Man Behind the Curtain, a Michelin star restaurant in the Victoria Quarter of Leeds. Offering a tasting menu in stylish and sophisticated surroundings, seats behind this curtain are in-demand among Leeds restaurant goers.
Cute for Couples – Situated in the luxurious Dakota Hotel this is a stand-out, showstopper of a restaurant. If you are looking for something a bit special, quality dining and a luxurious atmosphere, this is the place to be. There is a sophisticated buzz about the place and a live pianist adds to the ambience and feeling of luxury. If it is a special occasion that you are celebrating, they offer private dining too.
Belgrave music hall
Good for Groups – Laid back and friendly, Belgrave Music Hall is a fantastic venue to grab a bite to eat and catch some live music. Fresh baked pizzas from the oven are incredible here, as are the salt & pepper fries. Get a spot on a sofa if you can, or on the roof terrace if it’s the right time of year.
Good for Groups – Outside of the City Centre in Farsley is The Constitutional, a place that is gaining a reputation for fabulous comedy and live music. Along with it’s sister venue, The Old Woollen at Sunny Bank Mills, it has a relaxed vibe and a packed program of bands and artistes as well as regular event – Quantum Sauce. Described as SCIENCE + ART + BEER = MIND EXPANSION! Three experts talk for 30 minutes each on a wide range of subjects such as ‘What happens when gravity goes wrong?’ and Don’t Feed the Fatberg’. A few drinks and an education, brilliant!
For drinks after, Leeds has several ‘speakeasy’ style hidden bars you have to be in-the-know to know. I suggest Domino Club – found through a barber’s shop and has fab cocktails, live music and a great atmosphere.
Sunday morning in Leeds
If you time it right, you’ll be lucky enough to experience Briggate Farmers Market which runs every first and third Sunday down the main shopping street in Leeds. With a huge selection of artisan bakeries, butchers and pastries, why not pick up some breakfast bits here to enjoy al-fresco on the benches while you watch the world go by?
If you’re feeling lazy, Moose Coffee has one of the biggest breakfast menus I’ve ever seen, so you’re bound to find something to take your fancy.
If you want to go a little further afield, you could blow the cobwebs away with a stroll around Kirkstall Abbey or the amazing York Gate Garden, both of which have darling little tea rooms serving local produce.
All good weekends must end with a good Sunday dinner.
An old-school classic is The Mustard Pot in Chapel Allerton, they’ve been serving Leeds foodies for over 30 years, so you know they are doing something right.
There is the relatively new kid on the block – The Beck and Call in Meanwood.
They have a great little play area round the back which makes it a perfect choice for families.
If you want to steep yourself in some Leeds history, the oldest pub in the heart of the city – Whitelock’s – is famed for it’s Yorkshire puddings as well as it’s cask ales and it’s not far from The Queens Hotel.
Fanfare please! A vegan Sunday Roast can be found at Meat is Dead on Kirkstall Road – if you didn’t call in here on Friday, the Sunday lunch is the stuff of legend so check it out!
And not forgetting:
The hottest places to grab a sweet treat in Leeds right now!
If you can fit one of these places into your trip you will definitely leave on a (sugar) high!
Fleur Cafe – An insta-worthy floral café of dreams, in The Light, Headrow
Dukes Donuts – Vegan doughnuts as big as your head, on Cardigan Road
Bluebird Bakery – Super cute Bluebird bakery in Kirkgate Market
With those goodies safely stashed away, I wish you a safe journey home.
Thanks for reading,