What to do in... Leeds

I love Leeds. Back in the high school times, I used to carry a tote bag with those three words almost everywhere. It perfectly shows how long this romance has been going on. Even though I first went there because of my massive teenage obsession with one certain Leeds band, I quickly realised that it has so much to offer. It is, in fact, quite a great example of an ideal city. Lively, but not too crowdy, with amazing architecture and great connections to both western and southern beaches. I remember shedding a few tears when I was leaving it for the first time. I thought I won't have a chance to come back there ever again. Now, thanks to the thing called destiny (and my boyfriend living just half an hour away), I visit Leeds almost every month. A perfect scenario, isn't it?

What I can't understand is why my friends (and my boyfriend) don't understand the ongoing romance I have with Leeds. "Your precious Leeds is dead", like Jarman brothers once said. And because I always defend things (or people) I love the most, I came up with the idea of an ultimate Leeds guide - both for people who just don't get the charm of Leeds and for those, who have a spare 24/48 h and are thinking about visiting it.


Mrs Atha's
If your breakfast place of choice is a little crowded coffee shop, Mrs Atha's is definitely a place for you. With a variety of breakfast choices, it's one of those places that can satisfy both tratitional British beans-on-toast/sausage sandwich lovers and more fussy eaters. If you have a sweet tooth, they also have a massive selection of different confectionery that is a perfect match with a freshly brewed coffee. And the amazing interior design! The walls bedecked with old paintings, vintage mugs and pots, flowers in nice vases. It's a perfect place for those who like to spend a few more quid for a nice atmosphere.

Central Road, Leeds LS1 6DE

The Picture House
Feeling less spendy & have a massive craving for a full English? The Picture House is there for you. Just round the corner from St John's centre, it has a typical pub atmosphere & breakfast choices starting from £3,50. Yes, £3,50. For all-you-can-eat. It was a place where I discovered that full English might actually be tasty and I still go there every time I'm in Leeds.

Woodhouse Ln (Merrion Centre), Leeds LS2 8BT


Almost Famous
I'm not gonna lie - Almost Famous is in the top three of my favourite burger places in the whole wide world (because you simply can't beat NYC's Shake Shack). Starting from the name of the restaurant, everything there is just uber cool - the photobooth (!), the tables with American candies inside, the music. The burgers though! They both sound and taste amazing (three words - River. Phoenix. Burger.). It's a must for all the burger lovers.

23-25 Great George St, Leeds LS1 3AL (near Millenium Square)

Trinity Kitchen
Once again - if you don't want to spend too much money but at the same time feel like eating a street food from various places in the world, Trinity Kitchen will be your heaven. Filled with over 40 cafe's with foods from all parts of the globe, it makes you want to try everything. Favourite places: Duck & Roll, Chicago Rib Shack and Tortilla.

Albion St, Leeds LS1 5AT (inside Trinity Centre)


Nation of Shopkeepers
One of Leeds' most hip places to drink at. Settled just round the corner from Millenium Square, Nation of Shopkeepers is a place that perfectly combines three things - food, booze & live music. And though I'm still yet to experience a gig there (missed on Skaters & Spring King already…), I loved the atmosphere so much that I totally understand why it's so popular.

29 Cockridge St, Leeds LS2 3AG (just outside Millenium Square)

Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen
Belgrave is definitely my favourite bar in Leeds. It got me with its rooftop terrace, where you can watch the city skyline while sipping your drink. It's always loud and full of people, but it doesn't make you feel claustrophobic. A perfect place to go when you're visiting Leeds in the summer!

1-1A Cross Belgrave St, Leeds LS2 8JP

Headrow House
Owned by the same people as Belgrave, Headrow House is quite a new addition to Leeds' pub map. They've done a massive work there, changing it from a scary, abandoned places to an independent club. So independent that it's one of the very few bars outside Czech Republic that sell Pilsner Urquell beer. It also hosts a lot of music events, including Beacons Metro - a metropolitan festival that takes place in Leeds and Manchester in October & December.

Bramleys Yard, 19 The Headrow, Leeds LS1 6PU

Brudenell Social Club
Ok, I agree - Brudenell might be quite far away from the town centre, but this place is absolutely legendary. First of all - it hosts gigs. Second - it gives you an opportunity to play games while waiting for the gig. It has everything you need - darts, Pinball & quite a few pool tables. And third - the spirits are just dead cheap. It's worth a trek (and a taxi is just a few quid)!

33 Queens Rd, Leeds LS6 1NY


Corn Exchange 
...a.k.a. a masterpiece. Corn Exchange is for all those who love tiny, independent shops. You can find anything you want in there - cameras, homeware, clothes, jewellery, music equipment - or even get yourself a tattoo. It's one of Leeds' most significant buildings from the Victorian Era. What's even better - every week it hosts a special event like a vintage market, record fair or free dance lessons. You simply can't go to Leeds and not visit it.

Call Lane, Leeds LS1 7BR

Vintage clothes shops 
Although I'm still a bit outraged by the idea of second hand clothes being as pricey as new ones (seriously, visit Poland and get to know what a REAL thrift shop looks like), I like to stroll around the racks of clothes in Blue Rinse or Pop Boutique. Their selection of old dresses, jackets and furs definitely makes me wanna pull a Zoolander!

Blue Rinse - 9-11 Call Lane, Leeds LS1 7DH (near Corn Exchange)
Pop Boutique - 12-14 Central Road, Leeds LS1 6DE (outside House of Fraser)

Jumbo Records
Jumbo sells everything a music lover could possibly want. They have all those CDs and vinyl that you won't even dream to find in HMV, gig tickets to every event hosted in Leeds and in the surroundings and if you ask nicely, they will even treat you with a spare poster of your favourite band's gig (THANK YOU for bringing me hope after my unsuccessful trials of nicking the Father John Misty poster from Brudenell!). Come on, who doesn't love tiny record shops?

St John's Centre, Merrion St, Leeds LS2 8LQ (top floor)


Millenium Square
You might think that it's just a boringly normal square. But I swear to God - every single time I was there, there was something big happening. The Vaccines played a massive gig there back in 2013. You can have a ride on a big wheel in the summer, watch Wimbledon on a comfy deck chair or drink a nice cup of hot chocolate at the Christmas Market. It's also a place where I first met the boy who later became my own personal honeybear. Go there - you might be as lucky as me!

Kirkstall Abbey 
I probably would never know about this architectural gem if not for the Kaiser Chiefs. I first visited the Abbey a few weeks before their gig there, during my brief stay at the nearby Kirkstall Brewery. Even though it's all ruins, the view is... quite something. Especially when it's all misty, what makes you feel almost spiritual (or spooky). It is indeed a bit of a trek from the city centre, but believe me - the stunning architecture & the close proximity of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal makes it extremelly appealing.

Riverside (Granary Wharf/Calls Landing)
If (like me) you're a fan of chilling by the river, Leeds has a few pretty top notch places to do so. River Aire is just a few steps away from the centre and it's a perfect place to cut off and enjoy the silence (pardon the pun) and the breathtaking views. You can sip your drink looking at the beautiful Calls Landing or just have a walk/jog near the water.

One of Leeds' most stunning places are the shopping arcades. "Shopping" might be a bit of a strong word (most of the shops are waaaay too expensive), but they are worth a visit if only for the amazing ceilings. Every single one has quite a long history too - Grand Arcade dates back to 1897, Queen's Arcade - 1889, Thornton's Arcade - 1878 and the famous Victoria Quarter - 1900.

Grand Arcade - Merrion St, Leeds LS1 6PG
Queen's Arcade - between Briggate and Lands Lane (next to American Apparel)
Thornton's Arcade - also between Briggate and Lands Lane (next to Starbucks)
Victoria Quarter - 4 Cross Arcade, Leeds LS1 6AZ

Hopefully, you'll find my advices useful and start loving Leeds as much as I do!

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