Whether you’re getting the early train to Leeds for a full day of fun or heading in after work and hitting the town, you’ll never be short of things to do in Leeds.
There’s a lot to be said for getting the train. Not only do you get to spend the journey doing whatever you please – working, chatting, even watching a movie – but you can also plan your trip around your schedule, with trains from London into Leeds every half hour. And rest assured, whatever time you get here, there’s always something awesome to do.
Leave work, get here in time for dinner
Even if you’re coming from London, you can get out of work and be in Leeds in 2hrs and 13 mins on Virgin Trains on the East Coast route, which means you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy our rather spectacular food and drink scene. So what do you fancy?
You can jump straight off the train and into Friends of Ham, where they serve up a delectable array of meat and cheese boards, alongside a long list of beers from all over the world. Or make a beeline for the new southern entrance to the station, which will take you down to Granary Wharf and one of the best tapas restaurants in town – Bilbao. It’s a small, intimate restaurant with a menu of Basque classics, try the patatas bravas, it always exceeds expectations.
If you’re after something a little more luxurious, book yourself a table at Crafthouse, where Executive Head Chef Lee Murdoch cooks up an ever-changing menu of creative dishes that will surprise and delight. Afterwards, head to Angelica upstairs to enjoy a nice bottle of wine with views across the city.
Leave early doors, get a full day in
We’re going to let you in on a secret now. If you get on the 07:30 train from London Kings Cross to Leeds on a Saturday, you can be here by 10:04 to pack in a full day of action. So if you want to take your time packing the night before and save on your hotel stay, this is the perfect choice.
You’ll be here in time to take advantage of the city’s many bottomless brunches – you just need to decide if you want absolute extravagance at Gaucho, interesting eats at Shears Yard or a street food extravaganza at Oracle. Whichever you choose, it’ll set you up for a long day of exploring or an equally long day of boozing.
Or how about some culture? You could visit the Henry Moore Institute and see some of the most important art exhibitions in the world. Over the next few months alone, they’ll be showing The Body Extended: ‘Sculpture and Prosthetics’, which brings together a series of works that explore changes to the human body, and Eleanor Antin: ‘Carving: A Traditional Sculpture’, which tracks the artist’s loss of four-and-half kilogrammes in a series of daily photos.
If you’re after something a little bit different, why not round up your mates and check out Tick Tock Unlock? It’s an escape game in the heart of the city centre that will see you racing against time to solve the puzzles and find your way out the room.
Leave late, get a lie-in
If you don’t want to get out of bed at the crack of dawn, why not wait until later in the day? The Virgin Trains 10:03 service on a Saturday will bring you into Leeds from Kings Cross for 12:24, just in time for lunch – and you won’t have to go far to find a good feed. Bundobust mixes craft beer and Indian street food, just around the corner from the station, while a swift exit from the new southern entrance will bring you to LIVIN’Italy, a traditional Italian restaurant where they serve up classics done well – try the slow roasted belly pork porchetta.
You will, of course, also be here in plenty of time for an afternoon of shopping, a visit to The Tetley’s latest exhibition or a leisurely walk down the Leeds Liverpool Canal to Royal Armouries, Leeds Industrial Museum or Kirkstall Abbey. But after that lie in, you’ll also be ready to paint the town red in the evening.
How about a night at the theatre? You can see the big productions at Leeds Grand Theatre, including the likes of Chicago, The Rocky Horror Show and Mamma Mia! But the fun doesn’t end there, because they also show the latest work from Opera North and Northern Ballet. The former will be showcasing Der Rosenkavalier, Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica and Billy Budd in coming months, while the latter have their own beautiful take on Beauty & the Beast.
Meanwhile, West Yorkshire Playhouse has a packed calendar of events, which includes their own productions as well as collaborations with, and tours from, other critically acclaimed companies. In the coming months, you can see Villette, The Woman in Black and more.
Leave at lunch, get here for a big night out
Even if you don’t leave until mid afternoon, you’ll still be here in plenty of time for a big night out on the town. First, drop your stuff off at your hotel – The Queens is the closest to the station, but you can also enjoy waterfront views at the DoubleTree by Hilton or the on-site swimming pool at Crowne Plaza, all within minutes of getting off the train.
Now, where are you headed? Call Lane is the obvious choice, it’s the most famous nightspot in town, packed with bars that will keep you busy long into the night. Grab a meaty dinner at Red’s, where they serve up barbecued goodness, or stop at Art’s Cafe for creative dishes served alongside some mighty fine art. Afterwards, choose Roland’s for chilled out drinks, Milo for live music and Black Swan for craft beer.
Alternatively, try Call Lane’s biggest rival – Merrion Street. Here you can tuck into pan-Asian delights at Bar Soba, as well as supping cocktails at The Pit, rocking out at Mojo and dancing the night away at Sandinista. You’ll also find a host of bars along the waterfront, with the likes of Calls Landing, SkyLounge and Candle House all offering views over the water – or you can stick to the centre of Leeds, where Trinity Leeds has a hoard of popular bars, like rooftop venue Angelica, game-centric hangout Roxy Ball Room and beer-lovers’ haven Tapped.
Cover image copyright Sean Webb. Friends of Ham image copyright Ollievision.