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Leeds’ 11 best outdoor spots to share a coffee with a friend

1st April 2021

People talk about Leeds as an undiscovered gem – packed with cool places to explore, and new experiences to try. Because while rocking with international stars at the first direct arena and welcoming the biggest talents in sport home with their gold medals is certainly a part of our identity as Loiners, we think that it’s just as much about taking time to catch up with friends over a cup of coffee, and making a little corner of this friendly city our own for a few minutes at least.

During the past year’s lockdowns, those brief moments have become more important than ever. And with hope on the horizon, this might be your last chance to enjoy some of Leeds’ most splendid spots in the relative peace and quiet.

So if you’re looking for things to do in Leeds beyond the standard sightseeing, we’re here to help. Let’s dive into the 11 best outdoor spots to share a coffee with friends! With a few bonus recommendations for where to pick up that brew thrown in for good measure.

Millennium Square - credit Carl Milner Photography

(Millennium Square, Carl Milner Photography)

1 – Millennium Square
If there’s one place our city comes together, it’s Millennium Square. It’s been the site of everything from Olympic celebrations to food festivals over the years, and some of the biggest bands have played the annual summer concert series.
So pick out a sunny spot, grab a takeaway tea from the Stage Espresso and Brewbar, and see what talking points the square has to offer.

 

Leeds Town Hall - credit Carl Milner

(Leeds Town Hall, Carl Milner Photography)

2 – Victoria Gardens
Leeds is blessed by a wealth of fine Victorian architecture, and none finer than the stretch of the Headrow that includes the Town Hall, Leeds Visitor Centre, Leeds Central Library and Leeds Art Gallery. Victoria Gardens is a fine place to gaze on the Corinthian columns and stone lions installed by renowned Cuthbert Broderick and his fellow architects over 150 years ago.
If you get the chance, nip into one of the many cafes on The Headrow for your hot cup to go.

 

Park Square - credit Carl Milner Photography

(Park Square, Carl Milner Photography)

3 – Park Square
This little oasis of green lies just a few metres from the bustling Headrow, but feels a world away. Tucked right at the heart of the Financial District, it’s easy to overlook, making it an all round great spot to share a brew with a mate.
Your best bet for a coffee is Tribeca City Cafe, just around the corner.

 

Mandela Gardens, Millennium Square - Carl Milner

(Mandela Gardens, Millennium Square, Carl Milner Photography)

4 – Mandela Gardens
Every Leeds local knows Millennium Square, but Chelsea Award Winning Mandela Gardens fly more under the radar. The space, dedicated during Nelson Mandela’s visit to the city in 2001, features planting that mixes native British and South African species.
There are plenty of cafes to choose from nearby, so take your pick.

 

Leeds Waterfront, Water Taxi - credit Carl Milner Photography for Leeds City Council

(Leeds Waterfront, Carl Milner Photography)

5 – Leeds Waterfront
Where once you’d have found crumbling warehouses and docks, Leeds waterfront now boasts some of the finest views in the city, whatever the weather. From Granary Wharf, accessible from a brand new entrance from Leeds Train Station, all the way to Leeds Dock, home to the Royal Armouries, there’s no better place to walk, chat and share a coffee.
A popular spot with locals is Kapow! Coffee, on the Calls at Brewery Wharf or North Star Coffee at Leeds Dock. Flat White anyone?

 

Briggate, Hannah Webster

(Briggate, Hannah Webster)

6 – Briggate
All of Leeds runs through Briggate. It’s got everything from Harvey Nichols to corn on the cob stalls, and that’s why we love it. As the spot of a coffee and a catchup, it can’t be beaten for options – and you’re always likely to bump into someone you know!
You can find hot brews everywhere from high street chains to charming independents, so you’ll be well served.

 

City Square- Carl Milner Photography

(City Square, Carl Milner Photography)

7 – City Square
If you’re meeting a friend in the city, it doesn’t get more central than City Square. With the train station right on the doorstep, there’s no more convenient place to catch a coffee before heading your separate ways.
Snag a shot from Laynes Espresso on New Station Street, and sip it beneath the iconic statue of the Black Prince.

 

University Square, Meet in Leeds

(University Square, Meet in Leeds)

8 – University Square
The University of Leeds is one of the UK’s most respected institutions, and a fine place to catch up with hot drink in hand. The piazza outside the Victorian Great Hall fronts onto the Students’ Union building, so there’s always a good brew nearby.

 

Roundhay Park, Credit Thomas Tornegard

(Roundhay Park, Thomas Tornegard)

9 – Roundhay Park
Venturing out of the city centre, Roundhay Park is perhaps Leeds’ most famous green space, and one of the largest city parks in Europe! Locals are rightfully proud of the beautiful lake and grounds, with plenty of paths and trails to explore.
The Lakeside Cafe is your go to, and the cakes are particularly good for a nibble on the go.

 

Golden Acre Park, Thomas Tornegard

(Golden Acre Park, Thomas Tornegard)

10 – Golden Acre Park
Another outdoor idyll to the north of the city centre, Golden Acre Park marks the terminus of the Meanwood Valley Trail, so you can walk the whole way if you fancy stretching your legs. It’s home to some amazing greenery, including several National Plant Collections.
Grab a coffee from the Golden Acre cafe, and watch the ducks and geese come into land on the lake. Bliss.

 

Kirkstall Abbey - Leeds City Council

(Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds City Council)

11 – Kirkstall Abbey
If you’re after a spectacular location for a coffee with friends, then Kirkstall Abbey is a Leeds sightseeing must. The ruined Cistercian monastery is a sight to behold, and you can wander through the arches and doorways first built in the 12th century.
While we wait for Abbey’s own Gatehouse Cafe to reopen, why not head to the up and coming foodie hotspot of Kirkstall Road before you arrive.

 

And for those who fancy taking a stroll around the city and getting active as Spring arrives, why not check out the nine best Spring walks in Leeds here.