The cosmopolitan city of Leeds in West Yorkshire offers visitors both new and old a warm welcome and has plenty to see and do in your time there. Leeds has gained a well-deserved reputation as one of the most exciting cities in England, and it’s been nicknamed the “Knightsbridge of the North” for the amount of retail therapy that goes on there!
That’s not the only title Leeds has gained, it’s also been voted the best place to live in Britain, the most pollution free city in the UK and the most female friendly city in the UK. So why not head on down there and see what all the fuss is about for yourself.
How to get there
By rail: Journeying to Leeds from London can be done via the main East coast route and takes a little over 2 hours for a direct journey. Prices for this journey start at £33.50 for a single ticket (correct at time of writing). If you’re travelling from the other end of the country then the journey time from Glasgow to Leeds Central takes just over 4 hours and prices for this journey start at £22 for a single ticket (correct at time of writing).
By air: The closest airport to York is Leeds Bradford International, which serves a number of domestic and international routes. Within the UK, it serves Glasgow and Aberdeen in Scotland and London Heathrow and Southampton in the south. It also serves passengers from Belfast, with routes from Belfast City and Belfast International airports. Within Europe, it serves a number of routes including Italy, France and Germany.
By road: Leeds is served by the M1/M6 motorway networks, depending on which end of the country you’re travelling from. Driving time from London is approximately 3 hours and from Glasgow, 3 hours and 20 minutes approximately.
Things to do in Leeds
Harewood House: One of the most stunning country houses in England, Harewood House was designed and built in the 18th century for the 1st Baron Harewood, Edwin Lascelles. The house is listed as one of the Treasure Houses of England and is a Grade I listed building.
Harewood has a vast art collection and in the past served as inspiration for JMW Turner, who spent time at the House as a young man and painted a series of watercolours inspired by his time there. The collection of works that Turner produced in his time at Harewood is still in the collection today and can be seen in the Main Library of the House.
Aside from the Turners, Harewood also houses works from the Italian Renaissance alongside works by Joshua Reynolds and John Hoppner.
Visitors to Harewood will also see interiors designed by Robert Adam, furniture by Chippendale (Harewood was the largest commission that Chippendale ever received).
The gardens at Harewood are no less spectacular, having been landscaped by Capability Brown. There are over 100 acres of garden at Harewood which you can explore on your visit, including the Himalayan Garden, which contains the Harewood Stupa. The Stupa is a Buddhist monument which was built by monks from Bhutan and is the only one of its kind in the UK.
One of the main attractions are Harewood is the Bird Garden, which is the home of a number of exotic birds, which are classified as endangered and threatened in the wild. You’ll get the opportunity to see penguins (which you can feed daily), flamingos and owls, and also some much more exotic species, including the Cereopsis Goose, Himalayan Monal and the superbly monikered Superb Spreo Starling.
Harewood House and Gardens are open throughout the year and opening times and ticket prices can be found on their website.
Thackray Museum: The Thackray Medical Museum is one of the largest medical museums in the UK and is part of the St James’s Hospital in Leeds. The Grade II listed building was originally used as a poorhouse in the mid- 19th century. The building now houses the museum which tells the history of medicine through a number of exhibits and events. Some of the highlights of a trip include;
- New Frontiers of Surgery – showcasing the advances in surgical techniques from the 1800s to modern day. Survival rates in surgery rose dramatically when anaesthetic procedures were introduced, paving the way for modern surgery including organ transplants and keyhole surgery.
- Pain, Pus and Blood – the hands down winner of best titled exhibit, Pain, Pus and Blood tells the story of surgery in the days before anaesthetics and established medical schools. This exhibit gives visitors an insight into Victorian surgery and how badly wrong some of these procedures could go.
- Leeds 1842 – this exhibit will take you back in time to Victorian era Leeds and let you experience first-hand the sights, sounds and smells of a typical Leeds street in 1842. At the height of the Industrial Revolution, living conditions led to increases in fatal diseases such as TB and cholera. This interactive exhibit lets you follow one of the inhabitants of the street and find out how they live and what is making them ill and how they can be helped.
The Thackray Museum is a great day out and really informative for adults and kids alike. The museum is open daily (except 24th-26th Dec and 1st Jan) and ticket prices start at £7 for an adult ticket and £5 for children’s tickets.
Place to stay
If you’re feeling a bit faint after some of the exhibits at the Thackray Museum you’ll need a lie down to help you recover. If you’re spending a few days in Leeds then some of the comfiest beds can be found in the Village Urban Resort Leeds North. This stylish Leeds hotel is centrally located and within easy reach of all major public transport links. Guests will find loads of little luxurious touches to make their stay a memorable one, including the super comfy beds, TVs with satellite channels and free wi-fi. Contact the hotel direct for more information on availability and pricing.