UK breaks: 24 hours in Leeds

Victorian warehouses and shiny 21st-century architecture collide to awesome effect in this gritty (not grotty) Yorkshire city. Go for the shopping, museums and nightlife. Stay for the craft beer and hipster life.

1

Start the day with a local favourite

Laynes Espresso

Leeds has plenty of great breakfast options, and Laynes Espresso is right at the top of the list. A firm favourite with commuters, Laynes pairs fresh European coffee with delicious breakfast bites to get any day off to a good start. Get your mouth watering with a plate of savoury buckwheat pancakes, or choose from a selection of vegan options to fuel you up.

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2

Shop in the historic Victoria Quarter

Victoria Quarter

High-street, designer and exciting independent brands can all be found in this series of shopping arcades. The beautiful Victoria Quarter is the place for deluxe buys amid marble, mahogany and stained-glass windows. Nearby, the Grade I-listed Corn Exchange is packed with character and independents.

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3

Baulk at the cures of the past

Thackray Medical Museum

For a more offbeat thing to do in Leeds, check out this warts’n’all history of medicine. It takes you from the quack ‘cures’ that prevailed on the grubby streets of Victorian Leeds to the driving force of modern military medicine, via lanced boils and surprisingly Instagrammable apothecary jars.

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4

Lunch at Friends of Ham

Friends of Ham

If you love beer, ham and cheese then your spiritual home is this restaurant in Leeds. The finest cuts of cured meat and European cheeses make mouthwatering small dishes, and the range of ales stands out even in Leeds – try something from local Kirkstall or Northern Monk breweries.

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5

Take a tour of Leeds' Owl Trail

Civic Hall

Walk off lunch on the self-guided Leeds Owl Trail, starting at Civic Hall. Twenty-five owl statues roost along the route past key Leeds’ heritage sites. Look carefully and you’ll spot owls everywhere, from the modern Trinity Centre to the Victorian Town Hall. Why owls? Three of them feature on the Leeds Coat of Arms.

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6

Linger at The Henry Moore Institute

The Henry Moore Institute

Moore trained as a sculptor in Leeds and, with neighbouring Leeds Art Gallery, this eponymous black granite-clad gallery has one of Britain’s best collections of home-grown sculpture. Expect to see anything from a lecture on Peter Blake to film screenings and provoking exhibitions from the world’s top sculptors.

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7

See the Tiled Hall Café

Leeds Art Gallery

Yes, the artworks in Leeds Art Gallery are world class, but it’s the Tiled Hall Café that earned the institution its place in locals’ hearts. It used to be a reading room, but now this ornately tiled room with marble columns and a mosaicked ceiling is the place for your Yorkshire tea fix.

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8

Study history at the Royal Armouries Museum

Royal Armouries Museum

Gaze in awe (and a smidge of fear) at the national collection of arms and armour. There are spears, crossbows (you can shoot them on floor 5) and Henry VIII’s actual suit of armour – he was a large man but the suit pales in comparison to the 18-stone elephant armour also on display.

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9

Savour a sweet treat at Temple Coffee & Donuts

Temple Coffee & Donuts

This foodie newcomer based in Kirkstall - 15 minutes by bus or 30 minute walk from the centre of Leeds; we recommend the latter to burn off those doughy calories - has all your afternoon cravings covered. Everything about this place is instagrammable, from the lavishly-decorated doughnuts to the pastel pink lattes.

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10

Relish exciting tastes at The Man Behind The Curtain

The Man Behind The Curtain

Dinner at the best restaurant in Leeds (the city’s only Michelin-starred restaurant) is more of an event than a meal. Each of the 10-14 “sequences” on the tasting menu is a work of modern art. Amazing, considering the ingredients include pig trotter reduction and the signature dehydrated squid ink. Book now – rightly, there’s a long waiting list.

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11

Rollick at trendy Call Lane

Call Lane

Start the evening by heading to Call Lane, which has a warranted reputation for wild nights. Start at The Maven, a prohibition-era bar with exquisite cocktails from some of Leeds’ leading mixologists. On nearby Briggate, The Hedonist Project has a complete make-over every 3 months. Past reinventions include a surf shack and a winter mountain lodge.

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12

Rest up at 42 The Calls

42 The Calls

This exclusive boutique hotel doesn’t try to hide that it used to be an 18th-century flour factory. The rooms still have their original mill mechanisms, so you could end up sleeping under machinery used to haul grain up from the river outside. Top off your Leeds adventure with a tasty breakfast, starring one of 12 varieties of sausage.

Good to know

Hop on the train and 30 minutes later you’ll be in Ilkley on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Get on your bike and coast/sweat your way along the same routes used by the Tour de France pros.

Get there:

Train: 2hr10 from London Kings Cross Station

Coach: 4hr20 from London Victoria Coach Station

Car: 3hr50 from central London

23 Nov 2018(last updated)
  • 1

    Laynes Espresso

  • 2

    Victoria Quarter

  • 3

    Thackray Medical Museum

  • 4

    Friends of Ham

  • 5

    Civic Hall

  • 6

    The Henry Moore Institute

  • 7

    Leeds Art Gallery

  • 8

    Royal Armouries Museum

  • 9

    Temple Coffee & Donuts

  • 10

    The Man Behind The Curtain

  • 11

    Call Lane

  • 12

    42 The Calls

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