Leeds has no shortage of things for you to do — whether that be on campus, in the city centre, or in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside. If you enjoy socialising or taking in culture, or prefer exploring walking trails? Maybe you’re a foodie desperate to know where to first try? Lauren Toulson, a third year History and Sociology student at the University of Leeds has compiled a list of the 30 best things to do in and around Leeds and she’s left no rock unturned.
1. The Edge
If you’re looking for a top of the range fitness centre then your best bet is the Edge. It contains something for everyone with a 25-metre pool, a climbing wall, a huge gym, sports courts, and a ton of exercises classes. Students can access discount memberships while those of you who are living in student accommodation will receive a free membership — which I’d encourage first years to make the most of while they can.
2. Student Union Activities
Maybe you’re someone who would love to try a new hobby or fitness class but the thought of the Edge is a little bit intimidating. If that’s the case then the student union is a great alternative for fitness related classes, especially for those interested in trying yoga and meditation. Usually these classes will offer free, introductory sessions for those who want to give it a go and afterwards will require a small membership fee that covers the whole year.
3. Old Bar
Old Bar is a student favourite within the union and it’s known for its famously delicious potato stacks, cheap drinks and a traditional good old pub atmosphere. Thursday nights you’ll find they host a pub quiz and Sunday nights offer live music.
4. Cafes and Social Spaces
The campus has a number of spaces for socialising, catching up on work and grabbing a bite to eat. From upstairs in the union to The Edit Room to the business school’s very own Caffe Nero. One of my personal favourites would be the ground floor of the Roger Stevens building. Here you’ll find good coffee, comfy chairs to catch up with friends, and a number of computers to use for seminar prep.
The Union is home to the Stylus, an inside venue that is known for hosting a wide variety of live musicians. On a weekend the Stylus can be particularly busy, with the likes of Sigrid and Mabel having performed there in previous years.
6. Escape Rooms
One of the most prominent escape rooms in the city centre would be Escape Hunt Leeds in the Light. You have approximately 60 minutes to escape and the experience costs £25 per person. However, if you play during the week students are offered a 15% discount! If you’re still wanting to try this out but aren’t looking to travel into town then check out Locked In Games in LS7 or Escape Reality in LS12.
7. Everyman Cinema
Leeds has a number of Vue Cinemas in the city centre but we are also known for Trinity’s Everyman cinema which provides a more expensive, comfort based experience where you’re able to enjoy the big screen from sofas and have drinks brought to you. At around £14 per ticket, Everyman is a little bit pricier but make sure to take your student ID for their discount.
For those of you who love a bit of retail therapy or even window shopping then you’ll find that Trinity in the city centre will be your best friend. It has a multitude of shops from Primark, to H&M, Urban Outfitters and so many others.
While you’re in town make sure to check out Victoria Quarter, a sophisticated shopping arcade full of boutique stores, and Leeds Kirkgate market for an experience of history and culture. It’s also one of the best places for plants, craft supplies, and fresh fruit stalls. Blue Rinse, a particular student favourite vintage shop, is also located opposite the market and is worth a look.
9. First direct arena
Another one for the music fanatics is the first direct arena. It offers some of the latest and greatest artists with performers such as Stormzy, Dua Lipa, The Human League and Rick Astley coming to the arena by the end of 2021 and early 2022.
10. Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen
Belgrave is known for its £1 pizza slices and rooftop bar which you’ll find is often packed full of students. It’s also the place to go for live comedy, movies, and music.
11. Roxy Ball Room
Located on Boar Lane, Roxy Ball Room can be a short stop destination before a night out or offer a full night of games including pool, beer pong and mini-golf.
12. Junkyard golf
From £5 cocktails and student discount on tickets, mini golf at Junkyard golf in the Light won’t leave you disappointed. There are currently three courses to choose from and provides a colorful vibe and photobooth to capture the night.
13. Leeds Grand Theatre and Leeds Playhouse
If you’re interested in the arts and theatre then you’re in luck in Leeds. In the city centre there is the Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House located in Briggate, as well as the Leeds Playhouse which is one of the largest theatres in the North.
14. Restaurants and Bars
The city centre is obviously packed full of restaurants and bars but let me tell you some of the best. For some of the cheaper, student friendly eateries you’ll find Trinity Kitchen, Meatliquor and Pieminister are just a few options. During the day you can discover the tucked away Headrow house — a busy bar full of reasonably priced drinks and by night it’s open until late with DJs at the weekend. For something a bit fancier you’ll find that the Liquorist, Angelica, or Harvey Nichols Fourth Floor Bar are good starting points — but if I were you, I’d wait until the parents are visiting to go here!
Hyde Park and Headingley
15. Hyde Park Picture House
A staple in the Hyde Park community, the picture house provides free and often very cheap tickets for a range of movies. I was luckily enough to get a free ticket to the then recently released Booksmart. It’s definitely a go-to for movie buffs.
16. Hyde Park Pub and Royal Park Pub
These two classic pubs in Hyde Park mean that you have the choice of venues. Both can get very busy and lively on a weekend with inexpensive drinks making them the perfect places to meet up with friends.
17. Woodhouse Moor
During the summer months you’ll find that Woodhouse Moor is packed with students sunbathing and socialising. It’s also a great place for a game of football or even a picnic at the weekend.
18. East Village Bar
This is a local and independent cocktail bar hidden on Brudenell Grove but doesn’t fail to deliver. With an enjoyable atmosphere, good music, and cheap drinks, it’s worth visiting especially if you’re lucky enough to have it on your doorstep.
19. Charity Shopping
Venture into Headingley and you’ll find a street full of charity shops that are frequented by other students looking to grab a bargain.
20. Headingley Stadium
Sports fans will be happy to know that there is a rugby stadium and cricket ground at the Emerald Headingley Stadium, so get yourself tickets and get down there to watch the Leeds Rhinos.
21. The Otley Run
Headingley, famous for its number of bars and clubs, is central to the infamous Otley Run pub crawl. Find yourself a group of friends, choose a fancy dress theme and get started at the Original Oak.
22. Harewood House
Visit the beautiful, historic Harewood house where you can purchase entry into the house, the vast grounds, the bird gardens as well enjoying the tearoom and cafes that it has to offer. Prices vary depending on the day but tickets are usually between £12.50 and £16.50 if you book online.
23. Royal Armories
The national museum of arms and armour might be of most interest to history students, but it can be an interesting and informative day out for the rest of us as it displays awe inducing galleries of weaponry and battles throughout time. The museum also creates live action jousting and fighting scenes that bring these displays to life. Book a free visit and immerse yourself in the history.
24. Roundhay Park
Here not only will you discover one of the most known and largest parks in Leeds with an idyllic walk around the lake and through the wooded areas, you’ll also be able to walk through the gorgeous Canal Gardens and visit Tropical World. Make visiting Roundhay park a day out for all the house or even take your parents when they’re here to visit.
25. Temple Newsam
This is another historic estate that demands a visit. Not only can you uncover Temple Newsam house but you’re also able to access their home farm. If you’re looking for a place to picnic, relax or walk, this is a great option. It’s also home to Go Ape, the outdoor adventure treetop challenge. For the brave who are up to the test you’re able to book onto a course for £30.
26. Kirkstall Abbey
Not only can you explore the history behind the ruins of Kirkstall Abbey in the visitor centre and wander around the picturesque land, but they also have events on offer across the year. For students who live in Headingley or Burley, it is just a stones throw away.
27. Otley Chevin
Although it is a bit further afield, if you’re able to get there Otley Chevin is a perfect place for a day out with beautiful walking trails and incredible views. I find that walking through the Chevin can clear your head and relieve any stress, making it ideal for all students.
28. Jump Inc
In Holbeck you’ll find an indoor trampoline and inflatable park suitable for all ages — don’t let the younger children there scare you away! It really is a great day out (and surprisingly a LOT harder to bounce for an hour than you’d originally think) for you and your friends. There are group deals for £30 or individuals can pay £10.
29. Thackray Medical Museum
The Thackray museum might be right up your street if you’re a medicine or history student, but it can also be a really interesting experience for the rest of us. Explore the streets of the Victorian Leeds and experience the sights, smells, and horrors of this 19th century recreation.
30. Arcade Club
For those of you interested in retro games you can find the Arcade Club located in Kirkstall. It’s currently open every Thursday to Sunday making it the perfect weekend treat.
No matter who you are or what you like, Leeds has a little bit of something for everyone. Now you just have to get out and explore!