The very best of... LeedsMonday 03 August 2015 by Leila Wright Leeds has thrown off the cloaks of its industrial past and emerged as a lively and exciting city, full of museums, fantastic places to eat and plenty to do.
The best things to see and do
Leeds is a vibrant and alluring city, which landed on the British map in the 18th century as one of the main centres of the Industrial Revolution. This city’s fascinating history is captured in outstanding attractions like the Leeds Industrial Museum and the National Coal Mining Museum. The city’s most popular visitor attraction is the Royal Armouries, which is home to the national arms and armour collection, and it’s also well worth taking the time to explore Leeds’ wonderful galleries, particularly the 20th century collections in the City Art Gallery and the wonderful Hepworth Gallery. For many visitors, however, the beauty of Leeds lies in its delightful city centre, packed with grand Victorian architecture, outstanding shopping and great places to eat, drink and watch the world go by.
The best food and drink
Leeds has a thriving café, pub and restaurant scene, and you’ll find many of them tucked away in converted historic buildings with original Victorian features. Whilst there’s no shortage of places serving local specialities like Yorkshire Cream Teas and Yorkshire puddings, the city boasts a superb range of Modern British gastropubs, bistros and cafes showcasing outstanding local ingredients and some of the finest young chefs in the country. For a night out, you’ll find Leeds isn’t short of pubs and bars – the city has a big student population and is known for its vibrant nightlife. There’s plenty of classy cocktail bars to choose from – head to Hirst’s Yard for some of the city’s best.
The best way to get around
Leeds is a lovely compact city so it’s great for exploring on foot, particularly around the shops, bars and cafes in the centre. Taxis are plentiful and can be hailed from the street, or you can take one of the many buses that cover the whole city and the outlying villages - if you’re in town for shopping, the Leeds City Bus runs from train and bus station to all the main shopping areas. If you fancy a trip along the river, there’s a free water taxi from Granary Wharf to Leeds Dock, running at weekends from July to November. It’s a much-improved city for cycling too, with cycle racks and storage facilities throughout the city.
The best events and festivals
Leeds Festival is one of the UK’s largest music festivals, held each year on the August bank holiday weekend in the city’s Roundhay Park. 75,000 music-lovers descend on the city to see some of the world’s biggest bands and artists, putting the city firmly on the map as one of the biggest music venues in the UK. On the same weekend, the streets of Chapeltown and Harehills play host to the Leeds West Indian Carnival, a celebration of music and dance that culminates with a colourful parade on the Bank Holiday Monday. It’s a great event for the whole family, with wonderful street food and entertainment throughout the day.