Forget trial and error, just speed your way through our ready-made freshers’ bucket list as fast as you can!
A brand new world awaits – new city, new friends, new adventures. And Leeds is crammed with unmissable activities that’ll help you hit the ground running. Impress your mates with your local know-how and start the year right with epic pub crawls, outdoor escapades, feast-worthy food and bonkers bingo. Trust us, by the time you’ve finished this list, you won’t ever want to leave.
1. Take on Leeds’ ultimate pub crawl
Don’t make the mistake of thinking the Otley Run is a sporting event (although it can feel like a marathon at times). It’s the city’s most famous pub crawl and there’s no finer way to acquaint yourself with some of the best boozers in town. A must for students, you’ll hit up 16 pubs on the 1.5-mile walk from Woodies Craft Ale House in Headingley to The Dry Dock in the city centre.
There are traditions to uphold. Fancy dress is a must (bonus points if your group can co-ordinate), you have to have one drink in each pub (half pints are not only permissible, but wise) and you’ve got to stick with the crowd. It’s a fresher favourite, so there will be a ton of tipsy new friends to make along the way. Whether you remember them in the morning, that’s another matter.
Start at Woodies Craft Ale House, 107 Otley Road, Headingley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS16 5JG. You can get the 1, 1A, 1B, 6, 27 and 28 from outside the Original Oak to Hyde Park Corner. Get your free First Bus day pass…
2. Scoff an almighty Sunday lunch at Man v Roast
On the hunt for a hangover cure? Missing those home-cooked roast dinners? Whatever your reason, the never-ending meat marathon at Man v Roast is always a mighty fine way to fill your boots any day of the week. Loaded trays of beef, gammon, turkey, lamb, pork and rotisserie chicken never fail to draw in the carnivorous crowds at this tiny Hyde Park cafe.
As you know, roast dinners can get personal. No two families make them the same, so whether you’re team mash or roasties, charmed or challenged by cauliflower cheese, you can build the Sunday roast of their dreams. Whatever you pick, you’re going to want to slather it all in their rich, meaty gravy, and you certainly won’t break the bank because it’s just £7 a box. You’re in Yorkshire now, after all.
Man v Roast, 144 Cardigan Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 1LL. You can get the 1, 1A, 1B, 6, 27 and 28 from Leeds city centre to Hyde Park. Get your free First Bus day pass…
3. Feel the festive magic at Leeds Christkindelmarkt
Warming booze, hearty snacks and the chance to pick up last minute pressies for the family, you’d be mad to miss out on Leeds Christkindelmarkt. Every December, Millennium Square transforms into a winter wonderland with a German theme and it’s an absolute must.
Take a break from your end of term essays to wrap up warm and wander through a magical winterscape strewn with twinkling lights, festive stalls and cosy retreats. Admire the charming gifts, chomp on a classic weiner schnitzel (behave), before settling down to glug on hot gluhwein by the log burner. Finish with a ride on the vintage carousel – it’s the picture perfect finale to your first term.
The Christkindelmarkt is takes over Millennium Square, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 1UR. You can get the 1, 1A, 1B, 6, 27 and 28 from Headingley and Hyde Park to Leeds city centre. Get your free First Bus day pass…
4. Swing from the trees at Go Ape
Ready to find out what your new-found friends are made of? Hop on the bus to Temple Newsam where over 1,500 acres of lush parkland awaits. But that’s not your final destination, because nestled in the centre of this verdant haven is an exhilarating treetop adventure course that keeps both spirits and adrenaline flying high.
Go Ape is the perfect place to monkey around after a long week of lectures. Unleash your inner daredevil to take on sky-high rope bridges, wobbly walkways and speedy zip lines between the trees. Don’t forget to take bets on who has the guts to complete the nail-biting plummet back down to earth – it’s a neat way to decide who buys the first round later.
Go Ape, Temple Newsam Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS15 0AD. You can get the 19 or 19A to Selby Road Primrose Lane. Get your free First Bus day pass…
5. Track down a treasure in Headingley’s thrift shops
Let’s face it, students love to bag a bargain. Luckily, Leeds can cater for your shopaholic tendencies without breaking the bank. Your first port of call? Headingley. This trendy suburb is a haven for vintage vultures. And with such rich pickings only 20 minutes up the road, it won’t be long before you uncover a treasure.
From vintage clothing to retro homewares, classic vinyls to well-thumbed books, Headingley is a treasure trove of thrifty finds. Root out a one-of-a-kind 1920s outfit at Sue Ryder Vintage & Retro or head to Martin House Hospice Shop to find a quirky new furnishing to festoon your bedroom with. You’ll always remember precisely where you got it from, which is what makes thrift shopping so special.
Check out our guide to thrift shopping in Headingley. You can get the 1, 1A, 1B, 6, 27 and 28 from Leeds city centre to Headingley. Get your free First Bus day pass…
6. Snatch a hot deal at the Student Social
Speaking of shopping, you’d best start saving for the inevitable splurge at Trinity Leeds’ annual Student Social. This is one of the biggest and best shopping events in the whole of the city and it’s exclusively for students! Did somebody say up to 50% off? And a shed-load of freebies too? Heck. Yes.
For one evening only, over 70 high street favourites will slash their prices for students. Urban Outfitters, Topshop, Office, Yo! Sushi and… wait for it… Krispy Kreme could all be yours for less. Just think of the savings you could make (and not only on donuts). Get your hands on one of the wristbands, shop ’til you drop and feel mighty smug for the rest of the year.
The Student Social takes place on from 12pm-8pm Tuesday 1st October 2019 at Trinity Leeds. You can get the 1, 1A, 1B, 6, 27 and 28 from Headingley and Hyde Park to Leeds city centre. Get your free First Bus day pass…
7. Bop ’til you drop at Brudenell Social Club
If you’ve been gagging to explore Leeds’ legendary live music scene, there’s one place you cannot miss. Brudenell Social Club was once a working men’s club but now it’s a top notch gig venue. Every night of the week, you’ll find a stellar line up of acts, from big-name bands to up-and-coming artists. Keep your eyes peeled for a favourite or take a punt and try something new. If you love live music, there’s no better place to be.
They take their music seriously here with a sound system to impress the techies among you, but that’s where the seriousness ends. The rest is all about letting your hair down with quality music, cheap-as-chips drinks and a great mix of people who are all out to have a good time. They even sell pies, what more can you want?
Brudenell Social Club, 33 Queen’s Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 1NY. You can get the 1, 1A, 1B, 6, 27 and 28 from Leeds city centre to Hyde Park. Get your free First Bus day pass…
8. Take a walk through history at Kirkstall Abbey
Get yourself down to the stunning Kirkstall Abbey. History buffs will find much to bond over at these breathtaking medieval ruins, which are just 20 minutes from the city centre by bus. You’ll find yourself surrounded by 24 hectares of park, woodland and, of course, that magnificent monastery.
Founded over 800 years ago, it remains one of the most complete cistercian abbeys in the UK . Wander through the ruins, discover their history on a guided tour with monk Bernard, then spend the rest of the day soaking in the beautiful gardens. The River Aire runs right through the grounds, making it prime picnic territory. Make yourself up a sarnie and spend a day exploring – you won’t regret it.
Kirkstall Abbey, Abbey Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS5 3EH. You can get the 33 or 34 to Abbey Road Abbey Walk or the 50 or 50A to Morris Lane Morris Avenue. Get your free First Bus day pass…
9. Find your purr-fect pal at The Kitty Cafe
Leeds has a few surprises up its sleeve and an entire cafe filled with fluffy cats is just one of them. If you’re missing Fifi at home, you can get your feline fix at the Kitty Cafe instead. It may sound a little gimmicky, but this cosy escape doubles as a rescue centre, so you can enjoy all those strokes safe in the knowledge that the furry residents are in safe paws.
Meet Patch, Cookie, Noodle and the gang as you sink back into an armchair with a cuppa and slice of cake in hand. Not that you’ll be paying much attention to what’s on your plate when you have a room full of cute kitties rubbing around your legs. There are plenty of toys to entice them into play, although it’s pretty darn relaxing to watch them leap from walkways, snooze in hidey-holes and sidle up to the soft touches for a chin scratch.
Kitty Cafe, 8-9 Kirkgate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6BZ. You can get the 1, 1A, 1B, 6, 27 and 28 from Headingley and Hyde Park to Leeds city centre. Get your free First Bus day pass…
10. Picnic, play and roam at Roundhay Park
Spoiler alert – by the end of your first year at university, Roundhay Park will feel like your very own back yard. Students love it here. Families love it here. Anyone with a jot of common sense loves it here. It is, quite simply, the green jewel in Leeds’ crown. At a whopping 700 acres in size, it’s got hours of exploring for you to do.
Watch the colours change in autumn, sledge down the hill in winter or enjoy colourful flowers bursting into life through spring. At any time of year, a walk around the humungous Waterloo Lake is a great place to start, but there are enough trails to see something new every time you visit. Tropical World, on the western edge of the park, is a must if you fancy meeting a meerkat or two. Which you do, right?
Princes Avenue, Roundhay Park, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS8 2ER. You can get the 2 or 12 bus to Roundhay Park, Princes Avenue. Get your free First Bus day pass…
11. Conquer the Paralyser food challenge at the Greasy Pig
Food – it’s a big consideration for any fresher. But there’s one foodie experience that can’t be missed if you’ve got a belly worth bragging about. The Greasy Pig cafe in Headingley is already a student favourite, thanks to its stonkingly good breakfasts. Full English feasts, super-stacked muffins and even a vegan fry up – it’s all here and all easily devoured. Until you meet the Paralyser, that is.
This monster meal is the stuff of legend. Four pieces of bacon, four sausages, four eggs, four hash browns and four wedges of bread thick enough to double as door stops. Plus mushrooms, tomatoes and a tub of beans. If you think you’ve got what it takes to polish it off in under 12 minutes, you’ll even get a refund. Challenge accepted.
Greasy Pig, 74 Victoria Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 1DL. You can get the 1, 1A, 1B, 6, 27 and 28 from Leeds city centre to Headingley. Get your free First Bus day pass…
12. Party until the early hours in the city’s hottest nightspots
If you want to get a taste of the Leeds nightlife, there are two places you need to go – Call Lane and Merrion Street. They’re the hottest nightspots in the city, home to hidden cocktail dens, live music hangouts and club nights with DJ sets pumping til’ the early hours.
Got a date to impress? It has to be The Maven’s sultry speakeasy vibes, which you’ll find hidden behind an unmarked doorway. Fancy sipping local beers over a game of pool? Get yourself down to Parkside Tavern. In the market for a good old fashioned blow out with your mates? Wire is your rock’n’roll refuge, open until 4am on weekends. It’s super central and night buses are right round the corner, talk about a no-brainer.
Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 7BT & Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PQ. You can get the 1, 1A, 1B, 6, 27 and 28 from Headingley and Hyde Park to Leeds city centre. Get your free First Bus day pass…
13. Enter the barmy world of Bongo’s Bingo
Once the realm of pensioners, bingo has had a serious makeover. Wave goodbye to patterned carpets, hushed silences and rickety chairs, and get ready to usher in a new era of dabbing banter at Bongo’s Bingo. It’s a hilarious night out, with a raft of unexpected surprises. Let’s put it this way, you wouldn’t bring your nan here.
There are dance-offs, impromptu raves (complete with glow sticks) and bizarre prizes for the lucky winners. Sure, there’s cash up for grabs, but you’re equally likely to head home with a stuffed toy or a box of cereal clutched under your arm. You don’t come for the prizes though, you come for a no-holds-barred night of bonkers bingo, and this is the place to find it.
Bongo’s Bingo, O2 Academy, 55 Cookridge Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 3AW. You can get the 1, 1A, 1B, 6, 27 and 28 from Headingley and Hyde Park to Leeds city centre. Get your free First Bus day pass…
14. Get flip-happy at Woodhouse Moor Skatepark
There’s no need to leave your beloved skateboard behind when you head to uni. Not when there’s a cracking skate park at Woodhouse Moor with not one, not two, but three skating segments to ollie and grind over. First is a ramped section that’s all about the quarter pipes, then there are two street sections, both with fast, smooth surfaces and a hubba to career down when you’re feeling brave.
If you’re in need of a bit of sustenance after all that exertion, you won’t be disappointed. You’ll find a whole host of cafes here, so you can pick up a post-kick flip coffee at LS6 Cafe or step into the higgledy piggledy delight that is Oranaise Cafe for a mouthwatering mezze platter.
Woodhouse Moor Skatepark, Hyde Park Road, Woodhouse, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 1AG. You can get the 1, 1A, 1B, 6, 27 and 28 from Leeds city centre to Hyde Park. Get your free First Bus day pass…
15. Stuff your face with street food at the city’s pop-ups
Freshers are renowned for getting a little creative with food, and not always in a good way (no, ketchup on pasta doesn’t count as a balanced meal). But university is the perfect time to try something new and where better to experiment than at Leeds’ finest street food festivals?
Eat North gets big bonus points for popping up at one of the city’s best breweries, North Brewing Co. Weekly throughout spring and summer, this bad boy combines Yorkshire’s favourite food traders with 10 taps of beer fresh from the brewery. Meanwhile, Belgrave Feast takes place at Belgrave Music Hall every second Saturday of the month and boasts three floors of local street food, an art market and live music. Save the beans on toast for another day, eh?
North Brewing Co. Tap Room, 3 Sovereign Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4BA & Belgrave Music Hall,1-1A Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JP. You can get the 1, 1A, 1B, 6, 27 and 28 from Headingley and Hyde Park to Leeds city centre. Get your free First Bus day pass…
16. Grab a big belly-full of breakfast at Popina’s
No student worth their salt misses out on Popina’s. This no-frills Hyde Park greasy spoon is legendary and serves up hangover-busting breakfasts the size of small countries. Looking to settle your stomach after a big night out? Their Mega Breakfast is a rite of passage for any fresher. If you think finishing a degree is a challenge, just wait ’til you’re faced with this monster.
A towering plate crammed with bacon, sausages, eggs, hash browns, black pudding, mushroom, tomato and a few slices of toast to wash it all down with. Your stomach might hurt afterwards but your bank balance won’t – the heaving plate of food is a total swizz at £8.90. No wonder it’s reliably crammed with students most mornings. You may think you’ll never be able to eat again but, trust us, you’ll be back.
Popina’s, 31 Brudenell Road, Hyde Park, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 1HA. You can get the 1, 1A, 1B, 6, 27 and 28 from Leeds city centre to Hyde Park. Get your free First Bus day pass…
17. Putt your money where your mouth is at Junkyard Golf Club
For an unforgettable night out in Leeds, pop Junkyard Golf Club on your freshers’ bucket list and you’ll score a hole in one. This is crazy golf like you’ve never seen it before. Gone are the days of tired seaside courses and wonky windmills. Instead you’ll find a trio of wacky courses, each packed with attitude.
Flashing neon signs, giant glow-in-the-dark props, blasting music – this epic version of golf is more raving than behaving. And with a grand total of four bars dotted around the venue, each serving colourful sweetie-inspired cocktails as lairy as the surroundings, there’s no finer place to see who’s got the balls to become ultimate champion.
Junkyard Golf Club, The Light, The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 8TL. You can get the 1, 1A, 1B, 6, 27 and 28 from Headingley and Hyde Park to Leeds city centre. Get your free First Bus day pass…
18. Battle aliens at LaserZone Leeds
Hoping to start uni with a bang? Or maybe a zap? This is just the ticket! You can live out all your sharp shooting fantasies with a rousing round of laser tag. After all, nothing says friendship like affably chasing each other around a crash-landed spaceship, laser weapons in hand, screaming about how they can run but they can’t hide.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a game lover, it’s hard to not be sucked in. The 3,500 square foot arena is home to two neon-filled levels and masses of nooks and crannies for the tactical players to leap out of. Band together as a team to go up against other players, or turn on each other in a winner-takes-all glory fest. Loser buys the drinks afterwards – it’s only fair.
LaserZone Leeds, Cardigan Fields Leisure Park, Kirkstall Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS4 2DG. You can get the 34, 49, 50, 50A or 508 to Burley Road Cardigan Lane or Kirkstall Road Cardigan Fields. Get your free First Bus day pass…
19. Party like you don’t have to go to uni on Monday at The Garden Party
Three-day weekends bless us but a few times a year, but now you’ve got another reason to count down the days to those Bank Holidays. The Garden Party is the definitive way to celebrate the long weekend with a full day of al fresco drinking, dancing and DJ sets that stretch long into the night. Three big bashes set across three summer Sundays – it’s the perfect way to bid farewell to fresher-dom.
Big names like Maribou State, Dixon and Artwork have joined the party in the past. And have no doubt, it is a party. There’s street food to keep you sated, tunes spinning to keep you on your feet, and when you’re all danced out, all day Monday to shake off the cobwebs. No fresher bucket list is complete without one hell of a student celebration, and this is one you won’t want to miss.
The Garden Party takes place at Canal Mills, Brandon Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS12 2EB. You can get the 14, 15, 42 and 72 from Leeds city centre. Get your free First Bus day pass…
20. Lose yourself in nature on the Meanwood Valley Trail
Epic nights out on the town are a given for freshers, but let’s not forget the daytime adventures. The Meanwood Valley Trail absolutely has to be on your list. This seven-mile slice of nature will entice you back again and again to escape the hustle and bustle in favour of lush greenery and blankets of autumn leaves.
Pick a trail and escape into shady woodland, sunny meadows and the lovely Meanwood Beck, home to the endangered white-clawed-crayfish. The whole area is a haven for wildlife and there are plenty of historic tidbits to tickle your interest too, like the former tannery built by none other than brewer, Sam Smith. Don’t forget to toast him next you’re raising a pint of his finest to your lips.
Meanwood Valley Trail starts near the junction between Woodhouse Lane and Raglan Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 9DZ. You can get the 1, 6, 28, 56, 97 or X84 from Leeds City Centre, then jump on the X84 back from Golden Acre Park. Get your free First Bus day pass…Cover image credit: © Copyright Leeds-List 2019 by Jess Rowbottom