Budget-friendly activities in Leeds for students

University of Leeds
5 min readDec 13, 2022


Spare time can feel a little strange sometimes as a student, especially if you are in your first year and still settling in. If you live on campus you might want to escape the ‘uni bubble’ for a bit.

This blog, written by past student Phoebe, provides budget-friendly ideas for weekend activities in Leeds so that you can still have fun without breaking the bank.

Worried about how to manage your money? The University can help you. Check out our links and guides to help keep your finances on track.

Nature and countryside

  1. Roundhay Park

The park is stunning throughout the year but particularly picturesque in autumn/winter and there is a little café by the lake so you could treat yourself to a warming hot drink. If you enjoy running, then the park offers lots of great running routes, particularly around the lake which is relatively flat. There is a restaurant nearby called the Roundhay Fox which does a fantastic roast dinner and is not too expensive either.

Roundhay park is located just outside of the city centre and is about 15 minutes/4 miles by car or a 40-minute bus journey from the university. If you are arriving via public transport then bus number 12 will take you from the city centre (Lovell Park to Roundhay). If you are going by car then parking is free and there is plenty of it.

2. Ilkley Moor

Ilkley Moor is easy to get to by train from Leeds or Burley Park station and return tickets are less than £10 (without a rail card). I advise wearing proper walking boots or trainers as it is a bit of a trek up the moor! You could take a picnic to enjoy as the views are amazing. If you have a car then it is about a 40-minute drive from the university (16 miles).

3. Surprise View Chevin Park

Personally, this is one of my favourite places in Leeds as the views over Otley and the surrounding countryside are amazing. It is particularly stunning in the summer months watching the sunset. It is only a 25-minute drive from the university and there is free parking, or you can take the X84 bus which goes from the university (by Laidlaw library) and takes you into Otley.

4. Kirkstall Abbey

This is a beautiful historic site which is free to walk around and is a place you can visit all year round regardless of the weather. It is the closest out of the locations mentioned so far, as it is 13 minutes by car from the University or 35 minutes by bus (take bus number 34, which goes from the city centre).

5. The Donkey Sanctuary

This is a non-profit organisation which is located in Eccup, Leeds (a 20-minute drive from the University). Unfortunately, the sanctuary is only accessible by car, but it is free to visit as it is a charity,- donations are encouraged.

Shopping and retail

  1. Leeds Kirkgate Market

This market is one of the largest markets in Europe and is filled with fresh produce which is very reasonably priced. With that being said, you don’t have to buy anything as it is free to look around. It contains many independently owned food stalls so you could grab a snack or a coffee if you’re feeling peckish. It has previously hosted fashion fairs and live music events so keep your eyes peeled for upcoming events. Kirkgate Market is located in the centre of Leeds and is around a 25-minute walk from the university.

2. Leeds Corn Exchange

The Corn Exchange is a beautiful, Victorian building which is also located in the centre of Leeds It is on Call Lane and is currently decorated beautifully for Christmas. It is open every day of the week and is filled with independent retailers such as Colours May Vary bookshop, Indie Makers or The Plant Point and has hosted events such as art shows and record fairs.


  1. Leeds Playhouse

This theatre is located in the city centre by the bus station and is about half an hour’s walk from campus. Tickets start from around £14 but there are sometimes events and workshops that are free, and the theatre offers special rates for students.

2. Leeds Art Gallery

This gallery is free to enter and is located on the Headrow in the centre of Leeds. It has a wonderful coffee shop on the ground floor which serves amazing food and drinks. The gallery often hosts workshops such as ‘meet and make’ which are inspired by current exhibitions. Check out their ‘What’s On’ website.

3. The Brudenell Social Club

The legendary independent music venue, in the heart of Hyde Park is a must to visit. There’s always live music, darts, pool tables, plus great value drinks. It’s been there since 1913, and it’s a must to visit. Did we tell you it’s also accessible? Here’s their website.


  1. Pub Quiz

The Library Pub hosts a pub quiz at 7 pm every Sunday which is free to enter, and they often have themed quizzes. The pub is very close to campus. Royal Park Pub do their ‘Universally Challenged’ quiz on a Sunday which is £1 per person to enter.

2. Come Dine with Me

(My housemates and I did our own version of ‘Come Dine with Me’)

You can recreate your own version of the popular TV programme with your friends and/or housemates. It is a really cheap but fun activity as you can split the cost of food and get creative and could do it in pairs to ease the pressure — or independently if you are up to the challenge!