Leeds is among the most popular cities in the UK, known primarily for its diverse economy and culture. That diversity has brought plenty of economic opportunity and culture to the city, especially in terms of its restaurant scene, but that's just the beginning of its offerings. 

    If you want to get a full taste of Leeds' incredible and unique culture, you'll have to venture to some of its more hidden attractions. From expansive art-filled trails to underground cinemas showcasing old-school films, here are some of the best off-the-beaten-track things to do in Leeds. 


    Kirkstall Abbey

    Explore centuries-old history

    Kirkstall Abbey is a monument to West Yorkshire's rich history, located on the north bank of the River Aire. Built in 1152, these well-preserved Cistercian ruins are among the oldest in all of England. They are so picturesque that famous painters such as Thomas Girtin and John Sell Cotman have used them as their subject.

    You're free to explore this official Scheduled Ancient Monument – the nearby visitor centre makes the journey easier than ever. The best part is that access is completely free. You can even enjoy guided tours for free occasionally. There's a donation box available if you're feeling generous and want to help support the maintenance of this striking location.

    Location: Abbey Rd, Kirkstall, Leeds LS5 3EH, UK

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +44 (0)113 378 4079


    The Tetley

    Take a free art workshop

    • Couples

    If you're a fan of contemporary art, you'll find plenty of exciting pieces to see at The Tetley. Formerly known as Tetley's Brewery, this massive building has since been converted into a contemporary art gallery. Inside, you'll find art deco designs across its numerous floors, along with breathtaking pieces including paintings, sculptures and photos from all around the world. 

    Access to the exhibitions is free, but that's just the beginning. The Tetley also hosts free art workshops that cover several different topics such as oil painting and sculpting. You just have to book a time and bring all the necessary supplies.

    Location: Hunslet Rd, Leeds LS10 1JQ, UK

    Open: Thursday–Tuesday from 10 am to 5 pm, Wednesday from 10 am to 8 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)113 320 2323


    photo by Mark Stevenson (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Leeds City Museum

    Immerse yourself in history

    • History

    For travellers interested in learning more about history, the Leeds City Museum is a relic of history itself, with a building dating back to 1819. Inside the museum, you'll find numerous exhibits that predominantly focus on Leeds' rich history. In fact, the scale model of Quarry Hill Flats and the massive Leeds map on the floor are among the most popular features of this museum. 

    You'll find a natural history gallery, a stuffed Indian tiger and archaeological items including floor mosaics dating to the 3rd century BCE and an Egyptian mummy from the 2nd millennium BCE. You can view all of this for free, as the museum has no admission fee.

    Location: Millennium Square, Leeds LS2 8BH, UK

    Open: Tuesday–Friday from 10 am to 5 pm, Saturday–Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +44 (0)113 378 5001


    photo by Chemical Engineer (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    The Henry Moore Institute

    Peruse artistic sculptures

    • Budget
    • Couples

    The Henry Moore Foundation is dedicated to promoting the fine arts throughout England, and one of its best features is the Henry Moore Institute. At this gallery, you'll find intricately crafted sculptures from both contemporary and historical collections as well as an archive and library of sculpture and art-related works. 

    Numerous events take place all year long at the institute, including seminars and lectures from renowned sculptors and artists along with special exhibitions highlighting a particular theme or artist. Access to the Henry Moore Institute is completely free, so you can enjoy its offerings without even touching your budget.

    Location: 74 The Headrow, Leeds LS1 3AH, UK

    Open: Tuesday and Thursday–Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm, Wednesday from 10 am to 8 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)113 246 7467


    photo by Mtaylor848 (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    The Gallery at Munro House

    Enjoy local art

    • History

    Leeds is a city that's full of incredible art, but you can see some of the best at Munro House. The building itself dates back to the 1930s and housed offices for most of its history. In modern times, however, Munro House is within Leeds' cultural centre and is home to the Leeds Art Gallery. 

    This commercial art gallery features a diverse array of media including paintings, prints, sculptures, illustrations and photography. Admission won't cost you anything, but if you're looking to bring any of the pieces home, you'll have to pay for that. As a bonus, you can enjoy affordable coffee at the gallery's onsite cafe.

    Location: St Peter's Street, Leeds, Leeds, LS9 8, UK

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +44 (0)113 234 5551


    photo by Mark Stevenson (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Crowd of Favours

    Watch a classic film

    • Nightlife
    • Budget
    • Couples

    Crowd of Favours is a bar/restaurant known for its live musical performances, but something special happens on the last Tuesday of every month in the basement. They set up chairs and a projector screen for people to come and watch classic films of various kinds, some dating back a few years, others dating back a few decades. 

    Access to this miniature cinema is free as well, so it won't cost you a thing to view your favourite films there when they're showing. The film line-up changes every month, so there's a nice variety you can enjoy the more often you attend.

    Location: Harper St, Leeds LS2 7EA, UK

    Open: Shows start at 7 pm on the last Tuesday of every month

    Phone: +44 (0)113 246 9405


    photo by Mtaylor848 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Roundhay Park

    Stroll through the park

    Roundhay Park encompasses more than 700 acres of parkland, making it one of the biggest city parks in all of Europe. You'll find vibrant landscaped gardens, along with multiple lakes with walking trails around them. There are slightly hidden paths by the gorge if you're looking to traverse this parkland off the beaten path. 

    There are even football pitches, playgrounds and a skate park if you're feeling more adventurous. You can also visit Roundhay Castle, a cheeky name for a small folly built back in 1811. Even with all of these attractions centred in the same place, access to it all is completely free.

    Location: Mansion Ln, Roundhay, Leeds LS8 2HH, UK

    Open: 24/7

    Phone: +44 (0)113 378 6002


    Eccup Reservoir

    Take a leisurely scenic walk

    • Budget

    The Eccup Reservoir offers a scenic walking path that stretches 5.2 miles around its borders. Along this path, you'll find a nice, quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city with rolling grassy hills, lush woodlands and tree-lined paths that effectively create a visually striking canopy tunnel. 

    The area is also noted for being a site of special scientific interest and for having a large population of red kites, so keep that in mind if you're interested in a spot of bird-watching over the waters. Sunsets and sunrises are notably alluring in this area as well, depending on which side of the reservoir you're on. Of course, access is entirely free.

    Location: Alwoodley Lane, Leeds LS17 7DJ, UK


    photo by jcw1967 (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Leeds Minster

    Find solace in a spectacular architectural feat

    • Photo
    • Budget
    • History

    Leeds Minster is a breathtaking English Gothic-style minster that's cruciform in plan, with a massive clock and an intricately decorated interior showcasing extensive Perpendicular tracery. Thick, stained glass windows line the interior and are decorated with exquisite depictions of important religious figures. 

    There are massive arches included as well alongside breathtaking Venetian mosaics. Despite its age, this church is still functional and holds regular services. As a member of the public, you can enjoy the few hours each day when Leeds Minster is open to the public. Parishioners often offer light meals and refreshments, which you can enjoy for no charge.

    Location: 2-6 Kirkgate, Leeds LS2 7DJ, UK

    Open: Monday–Friday from 11 am to 2 pm, Saturday from 10 am to 12.30 pm (open only to parishioners on Sundays)

    Phone: +44 (0)113 245 2036


    Leeds Welcome Art Trail

    Journey through a public art trail

    The Leeds Welcome Art Trail is an exciting trail of exceptional artworks that winds throughout the city showing off traditional art installations alongside some more unusual designs. Numerous local artists, sculptors and illustrators have contributed to this art trail, along with some of the best from the popular art-nouveau scene here in Britain. 

    The ages of the art installations vary quite a bit as well, as you'll find recent additions from the past few years along with iconic statues that have been part of Leeds for over a century. Being a public art installation, the trail is available for you to enjoy without paying anything.

    Location: Trail begins at New Station St, Leeds LS1 4DY, UK


    photo by Tim Green (CC BY 2.0) modified

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