- 1. Admire the architecture of the Victoria Quarter Galleries
- 2. Harvey Nichols Cocktail Bar
- 3. Staying in a nice hotel in the city center
- 4. Dine in Issho, one of the best Japanese in Leeds
- 5. Breakfast at Laynes Espresso
- 6. Go through Granary Wharf and take a taxi boat by the canal
- 7. Relax in The Lock.
- 8. Eat at HOME where you will truly feel at home
- 9. Enter the colorful Leeds Corn Exchange
- 10. Stroll through the luxurious Victoria Gate galleries
- 11. Discover the Kirkgate Market and try the delights it has to offer
- 12. Visit a beer factory
- 13. Visit Leeds Art Gallery and the Henry Moore Foundation
- 14. Enter the Central library and have a drink at their cafeteria
- 15. Go shopping at Trinity Leeds
- 16. Take the Afternoon Tea in “the Crafthouse”
- 17. Through the other galleries that have Leeds
- 18. Admire the architecture of the city
- 19. City Town Hall
- 20. Get close to the nearby Abbey of Kirkstall
If you follow me at the social networks, you would know that last month I was one of the lucky ones to attend the conferences that Iambassador -the largest community of travelers that connects tourism offices with travel influencers- organized in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The experience was wonderful, spending few days expanding information and learning from the best.
Two days of intensive sessions on how to be better bloggers, which tools we should use, how to use them better and ultimately, full days of intensive learning. But it was also days of meeting amazing people, other travel bloggers who, like me, are dedicated to writing and recounting their adventures and experiences as they travel the world.
People with the same passions that I, with the same desire to know the world, to extend frontiers, not only physical but those of the own mind. In short, it has been an incredible experience in the five senses. And I say five senses, because we’ve seen amazing sites and amazing shows, enjoyed the best activities, eaten and drank delicious local produce, hand-held and known to new people, heard interesting things and above all, we have shared our experiences with others, with people wanting to listen to you because their passion is yours too.
After a wonderful few days in Belfast, I set a course for Leeds.
Leeds? It doesn’t ring a bell. Where is that? These and some others may be normal reactions. Many people have never heard of Leeds, I included, until this trip and Oh! How could I not have heard of this amazing city before? It was a real discovery and a pleasant surprise. Yes, that’s right, I didn’t expect Leeds to be that nice, but I knew it from the first moment I went out on the street to discover, walking, this city.
Nevertheless, let’s start at the beginning. Leeds is a municipality of England, halfway between London and Edinburgh (Scotland) is the second financial center after London and has five universities. In addition, it is also the city with the highest rate of growth in the UK.
Leeds grew up driven by the trade in wool and textile factories, so it is not surprising that one of the things we can do here is to go shopping since Leeds has several of the best fashion brands, both national and international. Also, the city is a maze of shopping arcades that you can not miss.
Moreover, another highlight of Leeds is its incredible architecture, both ancient-of the Victorian era-, largely due to the fact that this city was barely bombed during the Second World War, as its modern architecture. It is a city that is in full growth, now even more than ever. It is not surprising that many British choose Leeds as a destination to spend their weekends as it has one of the strongest leisure offers after London and is also super well connected. Just two hours by train from London and 45 minutes by train from Manchester, this city is on everyone’s lips today. In addition, do you know that Leeds has been named City of culture for 2023? This city promises a lot!
If you are lucky enough to spend 48 hours in this amazing city, I leave here several things you can do:
1. Admire the architecture of the Victoria Quarter Galleries
The Victoria Quarter Gate consists of several connected galleries. This glamorous shopping mall was created to replace an area of slaughterhouses and slums at the end of the nineteenth century. The development was designed by Frank Matcham, an architect known for designing more than 200 theaters in the UK, which can explain the theatricality atmosphere of the arcades we see here.
In fact, right here, he designed the Empire Theater that now houses Harvey Nichols’s store. These galleries are roofed with an impressive stained glass window, being today the largest in Britain. As for the decoration, let’s say that the building exudes luxury: Rose-pink Siena marble, gilded mosaics, mahogany, and glass ceilings.
One of the details of the decoration to be highlighted was the friezes decorated with pomegranates and colorful tiles made by a local Leeds company. Moreover, the decor features allegorical figures representing the industries in Leeds as well as figures representing freedom, commerce, work, and art, suggesting the success and prosperity of Leeds in Victorian and Edwardian times. For visitors who adore Art Nouveau, the Victoria Quarter is a real delight for the view.
Among the brands you will find here are Louis Vuitton, Harvey Nichols, Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith, Mulberry, Oliver Sweeney and Reiss among others. Indeed is not suitable for all the pockets, but certainly is a beautiful place to walk, to admire the impressive Victorian architecture or stop for a coffee right here reveling of the wonderful stained glass.
2. Harvey Nichols Cocktail Bar
While visiting these galleries, I recommend you to enter to Harvey Nichols, the famous fashion store in London that chose to open its first “provincial” branch here, in the mid-nineties within the Victoria Quarter. Its “Cocktail Bar” is the best option to rest after a long walk around the center or after an exhausting afternoon of shopping.
3. Staying in a nice hotel in the city center
There are several options to stay in Leeds, in fact, you can take a look for the Cyber Monday that has always Booking.com.
In fact, one of the best options is to choose one of the many design hotels in Leeds. They are synonymous of how cool this city is, full of art and design everywhere. My recommendation is the Dakota Luxe, one of those design hotels, located a few steps from the center, where you will find the best services and quality.
The rooms are most comfortable, the breakfast is fantastic and the hotel bar with a vintage touch always has a lot of ambiances, so it is perfect to rest a bit after a busy day by Leeds or before you prepare for dinner.you can get a 25% discount on Booking.com by clicking here.
4. Dine in Issho, one of the best Japanese in Leeds
I didn’t expect to find at the new shopping mall Victoria Gate this restaurant that means “together” in Japanese. It is just spectacular. In fact, it has an amazing rooftop bar where you can enjoy a cocktail before, or after dinner in the restaurant. Moreover, try their huge variety of Japanese whiskeys. Their cocktails are inspired by the different seasons in Japan, like the almond trees in bloom in spring.
The restaurant has a menu called Kanpai which means “health” or “Cheers”, when you toast, which offers six cocktails to six pounds each, from Monday to Thursday from 17.00-19.00. You should try out their “Maiko” cocktail. Maiko is a geisha apprentice, who goes with her white makeup, elaborate hairstyle, and kimono. This cocktail mixes vodka and sake with a touch of pineapple, peach, and lemon and is adorned with an edible impression of a “maiko”.
As for the food, do not fail to try their edamame, Bao buns (steam filled bread bao), their tempura and maki.
5. Breakfast at Laynes Espresso
If you are looking for a place to have breakfast, Laynes Espresso is one of the best cafes in Leeds to have a tasty breakfast. We tried four different dishes and they were all delicious. The place has two floors, but it is not very large and they do not book, so as a recommendation I will tell you to try to arrive soon enough to be able to catch a table because is also located near the train station and is crowded very often.
6. Go through Granary Wharf and take a taxi boat by the canal
This is one of those things you should do if you’re in Leeds. Two small yellow boats called Twee and Drie go from Granary Wharf/Leeds station to Leeds Pier or “Leeds Dock”, opening hours: Monday to Friday from 7.00-19.00 hours and Saturdays and Sundays from 10.00-19.00 hours. They leave every 20 minutes on both sides and are completely free.
Granary Wharf is located next to the brick tunnels next to the Leeds Canal and Liverpool, just below the train station. It draws attention to the structure of the arches and its colorful lighting known as “black arches”. The boat tour is rather short and once you get to the other side, the Leeds Dock, (Leeds Pier) I recommend you go to the bar Dock 29.
7. Relax in The Lock.
Within the Double Tree Hotel Leeds ,you will find one of the best places to relax and rest a bit, either inside or on its beautiful terrace next to the Granary Wharf, before taking the boat to Leeds Dock. Another of the places where the design stands out.
8. Eat at HOME where you will truly feel at home
This restaurant offers a relaxing meal or dinner in Leeds. It has tasting menus of several dishes from Wednesday to Sunday, each dish accompanied by a carefully selected wine that changes every month. You’ll feel at home. The chefs are Mark Owens and Elizabeth Cottam. One is a former chef of a restaurant with two Michelin stars and the other is one of the participants in the MasterChef contest, both creating a culinary experience based on truly British products.
They have two tasting menus:
- The “Season” menu is 10 dishes with flavors and seasonal ingredients that change monthly and takes around three hours. (75 GBP per person)
- The “Selection” menu is 5 dishes also with seasonal ingredients and again, changes every month. It takes an hour and a half more or less. (55 GBPper person)
I have to say, we tried the second menu, “the Selection” and accounting the time we stayed before to have a cocktail , we were there a total of almost 3 hours. Nevertheless, 3 hours of delight, of tasting, of rest and of giving delight and free rein to our senses, especially the taste and the smell.
As I said, different wines have been previously selected by the chef and the sommelier to perfectly complement each dish of the menu. (55 or 95 lbs depending on the types of wines chosen).
It was all delicious, a real delight for the senses. The taste of each dish, the presentation, the relaxed atmosphere, the wine that accompanied each dish: spectacular.
For more information on menus, on its website: https://www.homeleeds.co.uk/
address: 16/17 Kirkgate, Leeds, LS1 6BY
-click on the image to see it bigger-
9. Enter the colorful Leeds Corn Exchange
The Leeds Corn Exchange was a real surprise. This Victorian building was built in 1864 by the same architect who made Leeds City Hall. What used to be the storage and trade of maize, is now a kind of shopping mall where you will find brands of local clothing, cafes and food, music, design, plants, cameras, photographs and other gadgets as well as stores Beauty.
Its architecture stands out for its great dome, inspired by that of the Paris Stock Exchange, and its decoration composed by different doors painted of cheerful colors attract much attention. One of the most “instagrammable” site in Leeds.
10. Stroll through the luxurious Victoria Gate galleries
This mall, that opened just two years ago, stands out for its design and architecture. It tries to maintain a similarity with Victorian architecture but with modern design. Designed by the ACME Architecture Studio, it has three enveloping facades with bricks that create a 3D effect. Moreover, it includes the second largest John Lewis of the United Kingdom after London. The mall has five floors packed with luxury shops like Antropologie, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger or Cath Kidston among many others. It also has cafes, bars and restaurants: a Pain Quotidien, the Japanese restaurant Issho, Pret a Manger even a Casino.
Address: Victoria Gate Arcade, Harewood St, Leeds LS2 7AR, United Kingdom
11. Discover the Kirkgate Market and try the delights it has to offer
It is the largest covered market in Europe. It has 800 positions, not bad at all, right? It began to be built in 1822 and as a fact, to say, this is where Marks & Spencer was born, in 1884, with a small position selling trinkets. Moreover, nowadays there is in front of the post of Marks & Spencer, which still exists, a watch that commemorates the 100 years of the birth of the brand.
This market is like a neighborhood market, hence it derives its charm, with fishmongers, butchers, flower stalls, fruit shops, etc. They also sell second-hand clothes, old CD´s, flea market as well as hosting several food stalls.
Its architecture is of Art Deco type and Oriental-inspired as we see in its red dragons.
As a recommendation, do not miss:
- Manjit´s Kitchen where you will find the best Indian vegetarian food. His creator says that it was his grandmother, who moved to Leeds before she was born who taught her to cook Indian food based in Punjab while taking care of her because her parents worked. His cuisine has received a variety of awards. Food Punjab = Northern zone of India border with Pakistan. It is characterized by its wide variety of dishes.
- Café Moor where you will find the best falafel, hummus, dolma, samosas, kibbeh, etc of all Leeds. Go on an empty stomach because you’re going to want to eat everything.
- Banh and Mee direct from Vietnam to your plate. I recommend your fresh rolls with rice paper, just delicious and also a very good price.
- Hayes Seafoods. And I thought the English didn’t eat shellfish! I was wrong. The seafood here is one of the best I have ever tasted!! We were able to taste the oysters, the prawns, the sea ox, the cockle among other things and what a delight! It is a family business that takes 33 years bringing the best local seafood to Leeds market.
- Caravan Serai: The best tagine, falafel, and shawarma of Leeds. Indescribable!
12. Visit a beer factory
I admit, I am not a big fan of beer, but I have always been struck by visiting a brewery, since I have visited wine cellars but never a brewery. So when I saw that one of our visits in Leeds was to “Northern Monk”, it couldn’t make me more excited. Northern Monk is located in an old mill, now a red brick building of industrial air that gives a more hipster touch to the brewery. During the 7th century BC, the monks from all over Europe have brewed and sold beer. For this reason, like the monks, from here is produced quality artisan beers. We tried 3 different and the 3 were very rich, I even found it curious because one of them had a slight coffee flavor. All of them are made by combining the local and traditional ingredients.
The brewer boy showed us with an incredible passion the part of “brewery” the place where brewing is brewed, in the same building on the ground floor. He told us how they make the different beers that are distributed to everyone. This ground floor has several refrigerators with 18 different beers.
He also showed us with the same initial passion, what they call “the refectory” a space with tables and running benches where you can savor your beers and accompany them with the best food. Currently serving Moroccan food that was delicious, the restaurant Mor mor.
He also showed us the “chapter room” on the top floor. A place where they do events, weddings included. A beautiful space with red brick walls, original stone floor and wrought iron columns.
In short, we enjoyed a different Friday night. I found the plan perfect and an amazing experience.
13. Visit Leeds Art Gallery and the Henry Moore Foundation
This is o ne of the largest museums in the city. Located next to the Henry Moore Foundation and the Central Library.
The foundation, founded by Henry Moore himself and his family in 1977 to encourage public appreciation of the visual arts. Nowadays, they support various sculpture projects as well as various exhibitions as well as preserve the legacy of Henry Moore himself, one of the great sculptors of the twentieth century.
14. Enter the Central library and have a drink at their cafeteria
It was built at the end of the nineteenth century and a design competition was made to choose a design for the building. It definitely draws attention to its architecture. I recommend entering the interior because it is very nice inside. There’s also a cafeteria inside where you can get some rest and have a drink.
15. Go shopping at Trinity Leeds
Trinity Leeds is another building that stands out for its architecture and design. This mall opened its doors in 2013. As you can see, everything is design in this city, which surprised me and very pleasantly. There are actually several buildings united by a series of streets linked at the same time by arcades but adapting to the surrounding Victorian buildings, such as the adjacent Church of the Most Holy trinity of the 17th century. This complex, designed by Chapman Taylor, has been rated as excellent for sustainability and has won several awards.
One of the most spectacular things of this design, is the large vaulted glass ceiling and the sculpture of a giant horse, exactly 15 meters high called Equus, the work of Andy Scott. Why a horse? Because the cargo horses were used to transport goods, in particular, clothing. Therefore the horse is related to the history of Leeds and its wool and textile industries.
This mall has several floors with lots of shops, bars, restaurants and a cinema. One of the restaurants you can find here is the “Crafthouse” which brings us to our next point.
16. Take the Afternoon Tea in “the Crafthouse”
Who doesn’t like the Afternoon Tea? Lately, it seems to be gaining even adherents to brunch. Definitely one of the best Afternoon Tea I have ever tasted. It consists, as usual, in several savoury and sweet pastries, accompanied by coffee, tea and a glass of Prosecco. You can also order it with Prosecco free bar for an hour and a half.
In particular, I was able to taste the autumn afternoon tea and consisted of blinis of salmon and fresh cheese, mini quiche Lorraine, various delights of sandwich, and croissant stuffed with ham and cheese.
The sweet part consisted of a small black Forest cake, Apple crumble’s macaroon, tartlet of red berries and several scones. All pure delight thanks to the talents of his pastry chef Stefan Rose, who appears in one of the BBC’s cooking programs. This mixed with the talent of Lee Murdoch, the other chef, makes you leave here more than satisfied and wanting to return.
It was all delicious and the place could not be prettier. With large windows overlooking the roofs of Leeds, it also has an open terrace in summer, which unfortunately I could not taste. I’ll have to go back;)
17. Through the other galleries that have Leeds
If after the afternoon tea you have just filled that is most likely, what better plan to walk around visiting the countless galleries that Leeds has. All within five minutes walking from this restaurant.
Leeds is full of galleries, each different from others and all with an architecture that will leave you in awe, with ceilings with glass vaults, mosaics, wrought iron, plaster prints and mahogany, designed by architect Frank Matcham. They all date back to the Victorian era.
County Arcade, Cross Arcade, Thorntons Arcade, Queen Victoria Street and King Edward Street.
18. Admire the architecture of the city
Just walk down the street and look around you. Classic buildings, antique and modern design.
Highlight the Millennium Square with the Leeds City Museum and the Leeds City Council.
Also, I recommend that you go to the city square to admire the statue of the Black prince, which was actually Prince Edward the son of King Edward II. In fact, this historical figure is not related to Leeds but they needed to put an equestrian statue for this square. The legend says that there was no local heroic figure so it was decided to put a national. It is also said that it was thought to put a Henry of Lazy, a crusader who is related to local traditions because it appears linked to the Abbey of Kirkstall (read below) but in the end decided to put a larger figure in the national history. We don’t know how this is true.
I recommend that once you are this square, you glimpse the Hotel “The Queens“. This hotel hosted the great Dance of Monaco in October 1972 to which was attended by His Majesty Prince Rainiero and Princess Grace of Monaco as well as several Hollywood celebrities among others Michael Cane and Omar Sharif.
Also, the city has several interesting murals. I have to highlight the Mural Cornucopia. Made by Graeme Wilson, is a nice color projection at the top of Call Lane, near the Leeds Corn Exchange and the Kirkgate market. This gigantic work won the Leeds Prize for architecture and environment. It depicts the Roman goddess of abundance, people of the city, fresh produce and a cherub holding a basket of bread, all next to an old potato store. It is actually a mural sponsored by Leeds Corn Exchange, which also appears on the mural.
I also advise you to enter the cathedral called Santa Ana and admire its Gothic style and stained glass windows.
19. City Town Hall
This building might be the most majestic in Leeds. In classic Baroque style, it is located in the heart of Leeds. In addition to being Leeds City Hall, it houses the city’s most important concert hall, called Victoria Hall. Music concerts, orchestras, opera shows, organ recitals and special events are held in their rooms, richly decorated.
This building is of Victorian architecture, as the whole city and dates back to the mid-nineteenth century. It won’t leave you indifferent if you find it walking around Leeds. There are also exhibitions and conferences here, so I recommend you take a look at their website before going to Leeds.
If still, there is no event that interests you, it also has guided tours that will tell you the story of the building. You can also go up to the tower and see some magnificent views of the city.
20. Get close to the nearby Abbey of Kirkstall
My last day in Leeds, I visited one of the jewels in the city (at least in my opinion). As you may know, I love art and architecture. I can’t visit a single place without admiring each building and visiting at least one museum. That’s why this place was at the top of my list. .
It is a ruined Cistercian monastery in Kirkstall, just a 15-minute drive from Leeds to the northwest. It was founded in 1152 and disestablished during the dissolution of the monasteries under Henri VIII. .
Today, there is a visitor center with interactive exhibits illustrating the history of the abbey and the lives of the monks. The Leeds Shakespeare Festival also took place annually from 1995 to 2009. It is now used for other events or some concerts.
Can you imagine what it was like to live here in 1152? Or what would it be like to attend one of those concerts that take place here?
In short, my impression of Leeds is that it is worth it and a lot.
It is true that from Spain there are no direct flights and that most airlines do a stopover in Amsterdam if travel with KLM or London if travel with British Airways. So if it turns out that you are not in Manchester, Scotland or London living or on vacation and you are in other countries such as Spain, my recommendation would be to flight to London and from there grab a train that takes you straight to Leeds in less than two and a half hours. These trains leave from Kings Cross Station and tickets you can buy in several websites:
You might get cheaper than a plane.
I find it also a good plan if you are in Manchester, Scotland or London to spend 1 or 2 days in this city. Even if you live in Holland, since Amsterdam there are flights to Leeds and it takes only an hour.
If you have any questions, you can send me an email or write it in comments.
If you want to see more pictures of my travels since here I only put a few, do not hesitate to follow me on my Instagram clicking here.
Thank you so much for reading me.
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