Presentation of the destination
Once the leading light of the British textile industry, lovely Leeds has certainly seen hard times, not that you'd know it walking through today's colourful, stylish and cultural city centre. It's a vast city with Georgian, Victorian and more modern architecture, a thriving nightlife scene and plenty of natural beauty spots and small historic towns within striking distance. It’s the third-largest city in the UK with a population of nearly 800,000, and there’s always something going on, with world-class theatre, music and art at your fingertips. Locals speak English, the currency is the British pound and the timezone is GMT. British weather is notoriously changeable, even in summer, so make sure to bring an umbrella, just in case!
Points of interests / things to see
What this fantastic cathedral lacks in size it certainly makes up for in interest. Unusually for Great Britain, St Anne’s is a Catholic cathedral, and a unique example of early 20th-century arts and crafts design applied to a more typically 19th century Neo-Gothic structure. Constructed between 1901 and 1904 to replace an older building that was demolished at the turn-of-the-century, the cathedral is a Grade II listed building. Designed by local lad John Henry Eastwood, the building is deliberately compact in order to make the most of its small site, but is nonetheless an uplifting space from within. With mock Georgian windows, Gothic arches and an elaborate crucifix sculpture, this beautiful Weldon stone space is still a working church, with a programme of vigils, masses and evensongs as well as musical events such as choral vespers, organ recitals and BBC radio broadcasts. Lovers of choral or organ music should definitely check out one of these. Address: Great George Street, Leeds, LS2 8BE. Phone number: (0113) 245 4545.
This iconic building is very dear to the hearts of local people, as it’s a symbol of Leeds’ rich Victorian heritage. One of the world's finest buildings of its era, the Town Hall was built in the mid-1800s and has enjoyed considerable recent investment in order to renovate the interior, a breathtaking auditorium of huge proportions with towering marble pillars, an ornately decorated ceiling and an air of 19th century opulence. It's no wonder that this building is one of the top venues for weddings in the city, but you don't need to know a bride and groom to be invited in, as the hall has a wonderful programme of arts events. The concerts, recitals and theatrical events here are absolutely wonderful, including chamber and philharmonic orchestras from all over the world, modern musical icons such as Clannad and comedians such as Sarah Millican. You're sure to find something to catch your interest at Leeds Town Hall. Address: The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 3AD. Phone number: (0113) 247 6647. Website: www.leedstownhall.co.uk.
Just a few doors up from the Town Hall, the Leeds Art Gallery holds a nationally important collection of 20th-century British art as well as plenty of earlier paintings, sculptures and illustrations, and best of all it's completely free. Originally paid for by public's inscription upon its opening in 1888, the gallery is now run by the city council. It's home to some of Britain's best loved artworks, including ‘The Lady of Shalott’, a haunting depiction of the cursed Arthurian figure painted in oils in 1894 by the famous Pre-Raphaelite artist J.W. Waterhouse, or Barbara Hepworth's Portland stone sculpture ‘Hieroglyph’. Other key artists represented here include Graham Sutherland, Antony Gormley, Auguste Rodin, Francis Bacon and William Holman Hunt. One particular highlight is the Henry Moore Institute, celebrating the work of Yorkshire’s favourite sculptor, whose massive abstract bronzes and marbles helped to redefine British sculpture. The Institute is linked to the Gallery via a walk bridge. Address: The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 3AA. Phone number: (0113) 247 8256. Opening hours: 10am – 5pm daily except Wednesday (12 noon opening) and Sunday (1pm opening).
The largest covered market in Europe, Kirkgate is a traditionally British affair, so much so that it is best known as the birthplace of that most British of shops, Marks & Spencer, who first started business here with their ‘Marks Penny Bazaar’. Situated in a wonderful late Victorian building whose entrance wouldn't look out of place in Harry Potter film, Kirkgate is a shopper’s heaven, with 800 stalls attracting over 100,000 visitors every week. It's an incredible place to explore, with colourful characters selling everything from silver jewellery, local vegetables, sweet scented flowers and the city's best coffee. Jamie's Ministry of Food, presided over by Jamie Oliver the famous British TV chef, is the place to shop for your groceries, but there are also more exotic options such as a Polish delicatessen, Chinese supermarket as an Asian bazaar every Wednesday morning, as well as regular farmers markets. Six days a week you will also find 200 stalls outside, selling everything from second-hand clothing to flea market items. Address: Vicar Lane, Leeds, LS2 7HY. Phone number: (0113) 378 1950. Opening hours: 8am – 5.30pm.
If you've got kids in tow and they’re sick of sightseeing or weary of walking then head to the Thackray Medical Museum, a completely unique sight and one of the largest medical museums in the country. Housed in an ornate building next to the hospital, which once served as a workhouse housing nearly 800 paupers, the museum has won awards for its fantastic range of interactive exhibitions. Walk through Victorian Leeds, taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the old slums as you learn about the hard life of the Victorian poor. Visit the charmingly titled 'Pain, Pus and Blood' room to learn more about surgery before sedation and anaesthesia became widespread, all about developments in the dangerous world of childbirth in the ‘Having a Baby’ section. There's also plenty for younger children to explore, with lots of great hands-on activities that help them get to grips with the weird and wonderful human body. And for those with a taste for the colt, the museum also holds the skeleton of creepy Mary Bateman, the fortuneteller-cum-murderer of the 1700s known as the Yorkshire Witch. Address: Thackray Medical Museum, Beckett Street, Leeds, LS9 7LN. Open daily 10am – 5pm. Website: http://www.thackraymedicalmuseum.co.uk/
A national park of extraordinary natural beauty, the Dales are packed with beautiful historic towns and opportunities to get out into the great outdoors. Sample some of the famous cheese in Wensleydale, visit the spa towns of Skipton or Ilkley, or go grouse shooting in the early autumn. There are many world-class caves, wonderful waterfalls, long-distance hiking paths and cycleways for outdoors types. Learn more at the local tourist board website: http://www.yorkshire.com/places/yorkshire-dales.
Harrogate is one of the U.K.'s most beautiful towns, affluent, polished and elegant with a range of handsome Victorian and Georgian villas. Originally the town was famous for its spas, but now you are just as likely to find visitors flocking to Betty's Tearooms, the iconic destination for anyone seeking a real traditional English tea. With cucumber sandwiches, scones and cream and the local speciality ‘lardy cake’ piled high on a tiered cake stand, plus loose-leaf tea, waitresses in frilly white aprons and a refined atmosphere it's the ideal place to get to grips with this most British of traditions. http://www.bettys.co.uk/
Just half an hour by train from Leeds, York was the historic capital of Yorkshire and remains a stunningly beautiful city, with mediaeval walls, tiny alleyways known as The Shambles and the breathtakingly large and beautiful York Minster. This city has history in spades, with Romans, Saxons and Vikings all naming it a regional capital, and incredible wealth flowing into the town in the Middle Ages when it became the centre of the wool trade. Don't miss the opportunity to see one of the York Mystery Plays, medieval religious theatre that is surprisingly entertaining.
This award-winning attraction is one of the largest open-air displays of Henry Moore’s sculptures in Europe, but also features many other wonderful sculptors such as Barbara Hepworth, Nigel Hall and Yinka Shonibare. The YSP, as it’s known, sprawls throughout the grounds of the 18th century Bretton Hall, with vast installations representing all areas of British and international art. The works of Andy Goldsworthy, land artist whose site-specific natural works are truly breathtaking, particularly unmissable. Visit the website at http://www.ysp.co.uk/.
Vacation rentals in Leeds (England)
How to get there ?
It's really easy to get into Leeds, as it's very well connected by almost all transport options. Leeds-Bradford International airport is just 10 miles northwest of the city centre and is serviced by a range of short haul budget carriers, so for travellers coming from Europe there are plenty of opportunities. Those coming from further afield will most likely need to fly into one of the London airports such as London Heathrow or London Gatwick before travelling on to Leeds by train, bus or car. Be aware that compared to most other countries the UK has very expensive public transport, so it's always worth looking for deals as far in advance as possible or researching options like day tickets or discount cards. Leeds is one of the very best connected UK cities for drivers, as it’s situated slap bang in the middle of the country. Hit the M1 southbound and its four hours to London, or three hours to Edinburgh if you travel north. Despite Leeds’ large size the centre is compact and walkable, but there is also ample buses, taxis and even trains and boats. During the day the city centre is serviced by the fantastic LeedsCityBus, just 50p per ticket.
Leeds city hall
Hotels in Leeds (England)