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Explore Leeds with three ready-made day plans

By Elise Czyzowska

27 April 2022

The city of Leeds is home to a variety of cafes, museums, and parks, as well as a vibrant music scene and growing film industry. In other words, there’s something for everyone. But sometimes, too much choice can begin to feel overwhelming, and before you know it, you’ve spent the entire weekend researching different places to go without actually leaving the house.

To help you get started exploring the city, we’ve put together three day plans with different themes, all of which take you across the city to some of its best venues and locations. Plus, with our Leeds Open Day coming up this Saturday, these plans are just in time for a Bank Holiday weekend trip to the city!

A day in Leeds…

When you’ve got time to spare

Morning: If you’ve got a few hours to spare, we recommend a slow morning, followed by tea or coffee at Outlaws Yacht Club (they usually open at 11am). A ‘European style cafe/bar’, Outlaws offer free wifi and comfy spaces for meetings or catch-ups, encouraging freelancers to come and work there. With plenty of records and games to dive into, it’s the perfect place to ease into your day.

Afternoon: Why not go with a tried-and-tested method of passing the time: browsing the shops. Even if you don’t end up buying anything, Kirkgate Market is a great place to wander round. One of the largest indoor markets in Europe, you can find food and drink, fashion, homewares, and more. While you’re there, be sure to check out Tribe Records, which made it onto The Vinyl Factory‘s ‘Best Record Shops’, which is just three minutes away!

Outlaws Yacht Club to Kirkgate Market: 5 minute walk

Once you’ve explored the market, you’re in the perfect location to go and visit Leeds City Museum. Free entry, a cafe inside, and plenty of exhibitions to explore – what’s not to like? Alongside galleries of ‘World Views’ and ‘Ancient Worlds’ (the latter including Nesyamun, the 3000-year-old Leeds Mummy!), you can find out more about the history of Leeds in a dedicated gallery on the second floor.

Kirkgate Market to Leeds City Museum: 10 minute walk

Evening: To finish off the day, we’re suggesting a student-favourite: Brudenell Social Club. Although they mostly offer drinks and snacks, they do also have a selection of pies for you to choose from. On an evening, the club is typically home to live bands and music events – in fact, the Kaiser Chiefs and Franz Ferdinand have both played secret gigs there! Upcoming highlights include Julien Baker, Yard Act, Tim Burgess, and Lee Fields.

Leeds City Museum to Brudenell Social Club: 15 minute bus ride

Brudenell Social Club will be hosting the Gold Sounds Festival this Saturday 30 April, featuring Squid, as shown in the video above!

When your family are visiting

Morning: Start the day at Laynes Espresso, a well-loved cafe which is right next to the city train station. No matter the individual tastes, everyone is sure to enjoy the menu, which includes savory pancakes, cinnamon rolls, and a signature ‘Laynes Breakfast’!

Then, why not head down to Emmerdale Studios, where the flagship soap is filmed? Since the studios are right next door to Prime Studios, our campus location, you can show off how well you know your way around the city – why not treat them to a coffee from Archive (or possibly even a trip to Kirkstall Brewery)!

Laynes Espresso to Emmerdale Studios: 30 minute walk

Afternoon: While our next location is a bit further out, we promise it’s worth it. Roundhay Park covers over 700 acres and includes lakes, gardens, cafes, and even a ‘Tropical World’ attraction, making it the perfect afternoon for all ages. And did we mention – car parking is free.

Emmerdale Studios to Roundhay Park: 20 minute drive

If it’s raining, and you’d rather skip Roundhay, why not stay slightly closer to home and visit the Royal Armouries Museum instead?

Evening: After an afternoon at Roundhay, you’ll probably be tired and ready for a hot meal. To round off the day, we recommend the oldest pub in Leeds, Whitelocks Ale Pub, which has been open for more than 300 years! Whether you’re in Leeds for three months or thirty years, Whitelocks is a place that everyone needs to go to at least once.

Roundhay Park to Whitelocks Ale Pub: 15 minute drive

The iconic bandstand at Roundhay Park!

When you’re looking for inspiration

Morning: For this third and final day plan, we’re starting at Mrs Atha’s coffee shop – and for good reason: the food is great, the atmosphere relaxed and inviting, and the location is super close to our second destination. Bring a book and let yourself soak up new ideas as you read.

When you’re ready, take a short walk across the River Aire to The Tetley, a contemporary art gallery with plenty of pieces to inspire you.

Miss Atha’s to The Tetley: 8 minute walk

Afternoon: If you’re enjoying the gallery visits, we’re also fans of Leeds Art Gallery, which includes an impressive collection of modern and contemporary British art – even the entrance hall is an extraordinary sight, painted by Lothar Götz!

The Tetley to Leeds Art Gallery: 20 minute walk

Before your next stop, you might like to detour past City Varieties Music Hall. You could see what’s on, but just walking past the archway sign for the nation’s longest running music hall is a fun photo opportunity. Plus, if you’re starting to get hungry, you can also stop next door at The White Swan for a bite to eat.

Leeds Art Gallery to City Varieties and The White Swan: 5 minute walk

Take a tour of Leeds City Gallery here!

If you’ve gotten caught up in the galleries, you might need to save this next sight for another day, since final admission is 3.30pm – but whenever you’ve got time, Kirkstall Abbey is an amazing place to find your next story. As one of the most complete Cistercian monasteries left in Britain, you can step back in time and imagine the different lives all intersecting with your own.

City Varieties to Kirkstall Abbey: 20 minute bus ride

Evening: Finally, it wouldn’t be a MetFilm School list if we didn’t recommend a trip to the cinema. Leeds is home to Hyde Park Picture House, which has been open to the public since 1914, and shows a range of independent, documentary, and classic films from all around the globe. While Hyde Park is currently under development, they are currently showing films at Leeds University Union. Otherwise, check out Cottage Road Cinema, another historic film location showing a range of independent films.

Kirkstall Abbey to Hyde Park Picture House: 30 minute bus ride