Be prepared and book a Car Hire Leeds Bradford Airport service well in advance of your trip. The Cheapest Rentals are generally found when you reserve early.
A performance at the historic City Varieties, which was recently re-opened after a £9m refurbishment and has seen such acts as Charlie Chaplin and Ken Dodd perform over the years. For families a visit to the Royal Armouries museum should be high on the list of places to visit. Entrance to the museum is free and there’s plenty to keep the kids entertained.
Walk around the Leeds City Art gallery, which houses a collection of 20th century British art, including paintings and sculptures by the likes of Anthony Gormley, Henry Moore and Paula Rego. Another of my favourite places to visit is the Leeds City Museum where you can learn about the history of Leeds and hunt for the Leeds tiger and meet Nesyamun, the Leeds mummy. Entrance to the museum is free and is interactive, making it family friendly and fun.
For vintage clothing and accessories visit Bird’s Yard. For music lovers there’s Crash records, who specialise in indie, rock and punk music, and is one of the few remaining music shops left on the high street. Support local traders and shop at the historic Leeds Kirkgate market where you will pick up plenty of bargains. Or pamper yourself with a manicure, pedicure or beauty treatment at Millies on Vicar Lane.
Comic fans will love shopping at Ok Comics in the Thornton’s Arcade – in fact one way to discover what Leeds has to offer in the way of shops is by strolling up and down the Victorian arcades along Briggate, which is the main shopping district in the city centre.
For designer clothes and accessories visit Victoria Quarter – it is an impressive building and home to Harvey Nichols. The Corn Exchange is the place to find boutique shops and something a little quirky. Throughout the year various events are hosted here, like Cornucopia, a food event, and Reetsweet, a regular crafts fair.
Leeds restaurants offer cuisines from around the world including Ethiopian, Lebanese, plus the popular Italian, Chinese and Indian cuisine. For a good steak I can recommend Cattle Grid behind the Corn Exchange. Viva on Leeds Bridge is one of the less common Italian restaurants in the city centre, but their food is perfection.
For good pub food visit Cross keys near Granary Wharf, their roast dinners are worth the extra walk. Alternatively, book a table at Akbar’s, for good quality Indian food. Chinese food lovers should head towards Red Chili near Millennium Square.
Vegetarians should eat the scrumptious food at Roots & Fruits café, or Hansa’s, who specialise in Gujrati vegetarian cuisine. I love Japanese food and can recommend the bento boxes at Little Tokyo, where all the staff wear traditional Japanese clothing. If you are looking for restaurants that cook with Halal meat then eat at Tampopo, a pan-Asian restaurant that serves up great food and is popular during the lunchtime.
Wine lovers will enjoy Aglassto, a stylish wine bar located near Millennium square, or visit Leventhorpe vineyard, Britain’s most northerly, and commercial vineyard. Try a different beer from around the world at North Bar, which also offers free WiFi.
Step into Leeds’ past at Whitelocks pub – a real ale pub dating back to the 1700s. Enjoy a cocktail and a different view of Leeds from the 13th floor Sky Lounge at the Mint Hotel. Treat your friends to game of golf in a bar. Practice your swing on simulators at Leeds golf cafe bar.
For real ale lovers I highly recommend Mr Foley’s, the Victoria, Hotel and most of the Leeds brewery pubs including Midnight Bell and Brewery Tap near the train station. For cocktails head off to Mojo or Sandinista near the Grand Theatre.
Ten years ago you could count the number of hotels in Leeds city centre on one hand; today there are dozens of them for you to choose from. Opposite the train station is the iconic Queens Hotel or a cheaper option the Discovery Inn. Hotels near the waterfront are particularly popular because of the views, so recommended are the ultra modern Mint hotel, with iMacs in all rooms, or the cheaper Jury’s Inn.
Spend the afternoon walking up Ilkley Moor and have a picnic at the White House. Have a smoothie at Out of the Woods after a walk along the Leeds waterfront. Go for a five-mile ramble around Eccup Reservoir and try and spot the Red Kite bird or spend a Sunday walking north of Leeds on the Almscliffe Crag walk. Walk from Golden Acre Park through the Meanwood Valley trail for a 7-mile walk to Woodhouse. On the way comes face to face with friendly farmyard animals at Meanwood Valley Urban Farm. If walking is not your thing then rent a bike at Cyclepoint opposite the train station and cycle along the Leeds & Liverpool and visit the Rodley Nature Reserve.
Visit the volunteer-run Middleton Railway and enjoy a ride on a steam train. In the summer take the kids to Ilkley Lido, which opened in 1935 and is one of only 127 lido’s left in the country. Kids driving you up the wall? Let them let off some steam at the indoor climbing centre.
Learn how to sail at the Leeds Sailing and Activity Centre on Yeadon Tarn. Discover the story of medicine from the slums of Victorian Leeds at the Thackray Museum. Meet the meerkats and walk around the tropical world at Roundhay Park, with its vast parkland and lake.
Learn about the industrial past at Armley Mills Industrial museum. Walk up to Surprise view and watch the sunset on Otley Chevin, or pack your best hat, have a flutter on the horses and watch the horse racing at Wetherby racecourse.
Listen to live jazz music at Seven in Chapel Allerton. Listen live music at the Brudenell Social Club, the city’s best music venue. Listen to classical music during the concert season at the magnificent Leeds Town Hall. The city is known for its live music, places like Empire, 02 Academy, and HiFi club have great live music acts throughout the year.
Avoid the public transport! Joking aside, like most UK cities, the bus services aren’t the most reliable – trains tend to be more reliable but are often crowded, especially during peak hours. So, my advice would be to avoid the early morning and evening rush hours where the roads are often very busy.