Leeds isn’t short of places to visit. The city has great public transport links for day trips to one of the nearby towns or attractions, and there are plenty of places closer to home for a bit of breathing space from the hectic freshers’ week goings-on. If you’d like to see more of Leeds than just its student hotspots or you fancy being a tourist for a day, here are some ouf our recommendations…
Getting there: Take the 33, 33a or 757 bus from the city centre to Kirkstall Road, or walk ¼ mile from Headingley rail station.
Advertised as “one of the most complete examples of a medieval Cistercian abbey in Britain”, these 12th Century ruins are not only beautiful but steeped in history. There is a visitors’ centre with interactive exhibits about the history of the abbey and the monks that used to live there, and guided tours are sometimes offered free of charge. The Abbey hosts a number of events throughout the year such as the Leeds Shakespeare Festival, and holds an outdoor market at the end of each month selling hand-made gifts and local produce.
Getting there: About 20 minutes by car, or take the X84 bus
Highlights: Surprise View, supposedly one of the best panoramic views in Yorkshire
The Chevin is the ridge overlooking Otley to the south of Leeds and a good spot for walking. It boasts both woodland and pretty panoramic views over Otley and the surrounding countryside, so it’s the perfect destination if you’re keen to get out of the city. There are several different walking routes depending on whether you’re looking for a gentle amble or a strenuous hike, and there are even Geology and Heritage Time trails to follow for those inclined. There is also a bridleway for cyclists and horse riders.
Getting there: take the number 2 or 12 bus from Leeds city centre
Cost: Free; Tropical World £3.30
Highlights: The Meerkat house at Tropical World
Tropical World opening hours: Summer 10-6; Winter 10-4
Situated around 3 miles from the City Centre, Roundhay Park is one of the biggest city parks in Europe and a great place to relax away from the bustle of the city. Despite being one of Leeds’ most popular tourist areas – attracting a million visitors a year – it is often forgotten by students, who tend to favour the more accessible Hyde Park. It is certainly worth visiting, though, as it boasts 700 acres of parks, lakes and woodland, as well as sports facilities such as tennis courts and a golf course. It is also home to Tropical World, which has aquariums and a butterfly house.
Getting there: From the city centre, take any bus in the direction of Headingley to the Arndale Centre.
Situated just out of Headingley, this woodland area provides breathing space in one of Leeds’ most highly-populated student areas. The trees give this area a secluded feel despite being so close to civilisation, and it’s the perfect place for a gentle walk during a study break or an afternoon off. From the ridge you can catch glimpses of the Meanwood Valley, and in the spring there is a carpet of bluebells either side of the path.
Opening hours: 8-5.30 Mon-Sat (closed on Sundays)
Located on Vicar Lane near the train station, Kirkgate Market is the largest covered market in Europe. It has over 800 stalls and sells an array of products from computers to fabric to novelty items for fancy-dress. It also offers fresh, local produce at affordable prices – great for healthy living on a student budget. Some of the local suppliers who sell their produce at the market also provide the ingredients used in Harvey Nicks’ fourth-floor restaurant, so you can make a safe bet that it’s high-quality produce!
Leeds is not short of places to get a coffee, and Headingley is a particular hotspot for student-friendly, independent cafés.
Opening hours: 10-6 Mon-Sat; 11-3 Sun
This is a small but welcoming café found on one of Headingley’s side-streets. Board games are provided to entertain customers, and the café hosts live music nights featuring local jazz, latin and blues artists. For details of events, visit cafelento.co.uk.
Love Rouge Bakery
Opening hours: 9-6 Mon-Fri; 9-5 Sat; 10-4 Sun
One of Headingley’s most well-known cafés is the Love Rouge Bakery on Otley Road, set apart by its cute vintage feel and mouth-watering array of beautifully decorated cupcakes. We particularly recommend the chocolate orange one!
Getting there: Frequent trains from Leeds rail station (20-30 minutes)
Cost: Train fare £11.80/£7.80 with a railcard
Highlights: York Minster and the world-famous Betty’s tea rooms
With picturesque cobbled streets and an abundance of tea rooms, this classic Yorkshire town is well worth a day tip. There is no shortage of places to eat, from tiny cafes selling cakes to independent pubs where you can buy a hearty meal. It has a range of shops, from large chain stores to smaller, quirkier shops in The Shambles. York Minster is an impressive sight both inside and out, and it’s hardly out of the way as it’s right in the city centre. You can also take a walk along the city walls, though it can get quite bracing on a windy day – so wrap up warm!
Getting there: Take the number 36 bus from Leeds
Cost: £7 student; £14 adult. Admission is half price for visitors who arrive by bus, so save your ticket!
Highlights: The penguins at the Bird Garden
Harewood House is an impressive country house built in the 18th Century. Take a tour of the house to learn about its history and extensive art collections, or wander through its stunning landscaped gardens. The Georgian mansion also has a busy calendar of events including photography and craft workshops, wildlife walks and murder mystery evenings. The Bird Garden in the grounds is home to several exotic species of bird including flamingos, owls and cranes, and you can even pay £10 to feed the penguins!