7 reasons why Leeds should be your first post-lockdown staycation

4th August 2021

As the nation emerges from lockdown, many of us are looking for an escape. A chance to explore, relax and have fun somewhere further than our own four walls and local highstreets. That’s where the great British city break comes in.

But not all city breaks are created equal. Getting it right when visiting a city requires an ambitious checklist – from accessible transport links and a compact city centre, to attractions, sights and sounds for every member of the family. Great food and drink, buzzing nightlife, intriguing culture and… Well you get the picture.

We might be a bit biased, but we reckon that Leeds ticks those boxes more than anywhere else. So this is our case for Leeds as THE destination for your first post-lockdown staycation. Stuff to do, places to visit, and activities in Leeds city centre and beyond. All so you can plan your own Leeds visit with ease.


Issho Food credit Will Stanley

1 – We’re the foodie capital of the North…

There’s no point even considering the rest of your trip if we can’t whet your appetite.. So Leeds’ reputation as the North’s premier food destination is a definite selling point. We’ve got a thriving independent food and drink scene – celebrated by the UK’s first dedicated Indie Food Festival, and everything from Michelin-starred destination dining, to thriving street food markets. You can pick up pretty much any produce under the sun at Europe’s largest covered market, or pound the pavements on a guided food tour. Basically, it’s 100% delicious.


Thackray Museum of Medicine - credit David Lindsay

2 – There’s an action-packed family adventure for everyone…

Finding fun for all the family is pretty high on everyone’s agenda, whether you’ve got small kids, big kids or grown up ones. Leeds is a city well worth exploring, with adventures and action around every corner. A great way to get to know the city is by spotting feathery friends on Leeds Owl Trail, with 25 sculptures nestled on buildings around the city. Then there’s the exotic flora and fauna of Tropical World, with Roundhay Park just outside to explore, one of the largest in Europe. Take a walk through the Victorian streets of Leeds at Abbey House Museum, or uncover the grisly side of historic healthcare at Thackray Museum of Medicine.


the breathtaking views of Ilkley Moor - credit Visit Bradford

3 – The world’s best countryside is well within reach…

You could fill every weekend of the year with fantastic city centre activities. But we think that it’s also worth venturing slightly out of Leeds too, because the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales National Park is right there for the taking. You can follow in the footsteps of the Bronte sisters in Haworth , or hike up to the cow and calf rocks in Ilkley for stunning views. If you need to burn off some energy, why not hire a bike and take to the rolling roads made famous by the Tour de France?


Opera North and Phoenix Dance - The Rite of Spring credit Tristram Kenton

4 – There’s culture to be found around every corner…

Culture means different things to different people, but whatever your preference there’s something exciting in Leeds to discover. We’ve got nationally renowned opera and dance companies, and historic theatres and venues that draw the world’s biggest stars. If you time your visit right, you might find film festivals and concert series. Or take to the streets with Leeds West Indian Carnival – the first in the UK to fly the flag for Black British culture.


Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds - Credit Mikee Wilcze

5 – We make it easy to discover something new…

Not every city makes their galleries, exhibitions and museums so accessible, but we love helping people learn about Leeds, our history and the stories that make us tick. A great place to start is Leeds City Museum, with collections that span prehistoric bones to Leeds United memorabilia. Then there’s the nationally recognised collection of arms and armour at Leeds Royal Armouries, or the mix of classic and contemporary art and sculpture at Leeds Art Gallery and its neighbour, the Henry Moore Institute.

And it’s not just what’s on the inside that counts. Leeds is also the flagship city for the visual arts, with striking street art by renowned artists including Manchester’s Nomad Clan to French street artist Akse P19, and intricate sculptures spread across the city for visitors to discover.


Leeds City Station - Carl Milner Photography for Leeds City Council

6 – It’s really quick and easy to get here…

No-one wants to arrive at their much-anticipated city break destination hot, bothered and at the end of a mammoth, multi-route journey. Luckily, Leeds finds itself at the centre of transport networks that make getting here an absolute breeze. If you’re travelling by train, a range of fast intercity services will get you here in a flash – direct from London in  not much over 2 hours, and Edinburgh in under 3 hours. You can fly direct to Leeds Bradford Airport from all over Europe, with regular shuttles to the city centre. Or drive, where you’ll find us at the heart of the UK’s motorway network.


Park Square - credit Carl Milner for Leeds City Council

7 – And once you’re here, we couldn’t be more accessible…

There’s no trekking for miles between attractions, or jumping on and off trams, trains and shuttles to get you around the city centre. We’re a truly walkable city, where you can get from a big gig at the first direct Arena in the north to the cocktail bars along the River Aire in the south in less than 12 minutes on foot. That means it’s the perfect place to explore as part of a walking tour – we’ve got food, beer, history, art and plenty more besides. If you’ve got specific accessibility requirements, from step-free access to quiet spaces to escape the buzz, you can find out more about what our city has to offer here.