48 HOURS IN LEEDS
A 48 hour visit gives you just enough time to immerse yourself in the bustling city of Leeds, with the opportunity to also head out of the city centre to the calmer suburbs. This two day itinerary will help you take full advantage of your time, but we reckon you’ll be wanting to stay longer!
A good breakfast is essential in setting you up for a busy first day, so head to IF Coffee Bar on Call Lane for classic breakfast dishes, the fluffiest pancakes or their legendary breakfast burrito. Wash it down with coffee sourced locally from North Star Coffee Roasters or even a breakfast cocktail or two.
Then it’s time to get to know the city, and there’s no better way to find your bearings than following a city trail. The street art trail takes you past murals old and new, hidden and looming.
You’ll take in Athena Rising, the UK’s tallest mural which is taller than the Statue of Liberty, as well as the colourful Cornucopia, the mosaic Rainbow of Hope and eleven other striking works of art.
If you’re wanting to find out more about why Leeds has such a connection with Owls why not spend your morning seeking out 25 owl statues around the city centre on the Owl Trail. You can download a free map online, or pick up a copy for £1 from Leeds Visitor Centre.
Start your afternoon with lunch at Livin Italy, with an extensive menu of salads, pasta dishes and arguably the best pizza in Leeds. If the weather is fine, you can sit outside and enjoy the waterfront buzz of Granary Wharf.
After lunch, venture out of the city centre to Kirkstall Abbey: one of the best preserved Cistercian monasteries in the country, founded over 800 years ago. It’s a lovely walk from Granary Wharf along the Leeds Liverpool Canal taking just over an hour, or you can get there on a bus in less than 20 minutes from the city centre.
Explore the ruins, wander through the surrounding woodlands and visit the Abbey Museum to learn about the history of the Abbey and life as a Monk. Over the summer there’s a monthly market at the Abbey selling crafts and local produce, and regular events such as outdoor cinema screenings are also held here.
Spend your evening enjoying some live music. You’ll find local acts at venues such as Wardrobe, Belgrave Music Hall, Headrow House, Oporto and Howard Assembly Rooms to name just a few. For bigger artists try O2 Academy and first direct Arena, or for alfresco tunes you’ll find a range of events at Millennium Square over the summer months.
For a pre-concert dinner, head to locals favourite Michelin recommended Ox Club, located in a former 20th Century textile mill and perfect if you’re going to Headrow House for music, as it’s in the same building. Ox Club showcases the best of seasonal, Yorkshire produce, most of which is cooked on their solid-fuel grill.
For cocktails afterwards, let yourself be wowed by dry ice and an extensive drinks menu at the Alchemist, which you’ll find in Trinity shopping centre and there’s one on the newly pedestrianised Greek Street.
No city break is complete without a morning of sightseeing, so grab a hearty breakfast from Bill’s Restaurant & Bar before heading off on foot.
Begin by exploring the beautiful Victorian shopping arcades including the Queen’s, County, Thornton’s, Victoria and Grand Arcades – the latter in which you’ll find a fantastic 105-year old animated Potts Clock.
From here, walk towards Millennium Square: an iconic outdoor space home to Leeds Civic Hall, Leeds City Museum, and some striking gold owl statues.
Next, stroll over to Leeds Town Hall, one of the largest Town Halls in the UK. As well as hosting a range of events including music, comedy, film screenings and beer festivals, you can take a tour visiting the historic prison cells and the top of the clock tower. Next to the Town Hall you’ll find Leeds Art Gallery and Leeds Central Library – both worth a visit if you have time.
Your sightseeing tour has to include Kirkgate Market, so head here next. One of the largest covered markets in Europe and dating back to 1875, you won’t be able to resist gazing up at the beautiful roof of the 1914 hall. Make sure to visit the original Marks & Spencer stall, and stop for a snack at one of the incredible street food stands.
Finally, walk towards the Calls (that’s what we call it) and have a wander around Leeds Minster before crossing over the river and taking the canal path to colourful Leeds Dock. Look out for ‘Reflective Approach’: a sculpture of a man pushing a large mirrored ball, offering an interesting optical illusion.
Now that you’ve explored much of Leeds city centre, it’s time to explore the outskirts with a visit to one of the Treasure Houses of England, Harewood House. Around 20 minutes away by car/taxi or 25 minutes on the bus, this historic 18th century house with royal connections is set within Capability Brown designed grounds is well worth the visit.
You’ll most likely be starving from all the sightseeing you’ve done this morning, so make sure to start with lunch at Harewood’s Terrace Tearoom, Courtyard Café or nearby Muddy Boots Café & Bistro.
The House itself is a delight to walk around, with art and history exhibitions throughout. It’s like stepping back in time! Make sure to explore the surrounding estate too, which is home to the Farm Experience, a rare bird garden, a woodland wonderland and some adorable penguins.
Regular events are also held in the grounds including food festivals, drive-in cinema screenings, outdoor theatre performances, craft markets and more.
Sharpen up your cocktail making skills with a 90 minute cocktail masterclass at Liquor Studio. You’ll begin in the tasting room where you’ll learn about the history of gin and the science of flavour through fun experiments, before industry experts show you how to create three shaken and stirred cocktails from a range of premium spirits. You’ll then enjoy your cocktails whilst listening to some interesting cocktail facts!
The cocktail masterclass starts at 8.30pm on Friday and Saturday evenings, which gives you plenty of time for an early dinner first. Tharavadu is a Michelin recommended and multi-award winning Keralan restaurant just a five minute walk from Liquor studio serving traditional dishes from family recipes, using fresh, natural ingredients. And what’s more the chefs at Tharavadu cook for the Indian cricket team when they play at Headingley!
If all of this has got you wanting to visit Leeds for longer, take a look at our 72 hour itinerary, which will also take you out into the Yorkshire Dales to give you a true appreciation of the surrounding areas. If you’re tight for time, you’ll also find ideas for a shorter stay in our 24 hour itinerary.