The best things to do in Leeds as a solo traveller

7th March 2024

It’s official – 2024 is the year of solo travel.

Stepping out on your own and exploring the world around you is one of life’s greatest excitements. It’s all about stepping outside of your comfort zone and experiencing something wholly for yourself. Meeting new people and adventuring your own way, with the flexibility to do exactly what you want, when you want. Travelling alone is surely an enticing prospect.

Solo travel takes planning. We understand you’ll need to do your research before setting out as an intrepid single explorer. Luckily, Leeds has everything you need and more! So we’re here to make the case for our city as one of the best UK solo travel destinations …


Find culture on your terms

There are loads of fun things to do in Leeds for culture vultures, and for the solo traveller they couldn’t be more accessible.

Film and cinema is central to a Leeds experience we’re home to not one, but two of the UK’s oldest and well-kept cinemas. (and it’s believed that the first moving picture was filmed in Leeds!) Make your way to the bustling student suburb of Headingley to catch an arthouse flick at Cottage Road Cinema, or to Hyde Park for the iconic Hyde Park Picture House – home to Leeds International Film Festival (November) and the last remaining gas-lit cinema in Europe.

You can explore the wealth of museums and galleries in the city centre, (all of which are free to enter) including contemporary sculpture at the Henry Moore Institute, classic artworks at Leeds Art Gallery.


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


For something a bit different take one of Leeds’ Water Taxi’s (you can alight near the train station) to Leeds Dock where you’ll find the Royal Armouries museum housing one of the world’s most extensive collections of arms and armour. There are also plenty of fantastic cafes, bars and even a book shop on a barge to complete your experience.



Lose yourself in retail therapy

Shopping is the perfect solo pursuit in the walk-able city of Leeds. The best boutiques, the best brands, and the unique items that markets and independents are known for are all within grasp in the city centre, making a trip to the shops one of the top things to do in Leeds.

Kirkgate Market hosts a bunch of bargains, from haberdashery and homewares to furniture and foodie delights (more of those later). It’s also one of Europe’s oldest and largest covered markets, with Victorian gems to uncover. Our historic and modern shopping arcades are always worth a visit too, including the stunning Victoria Arcade, quirky Thornton’s Arcade and boutique Queen’s Arcade. Leeds Corn Exchange is also home to a community of indie retailers not to be missed and you can easily while away the hours exploring all the different stalls and shops.



Enjoy drinks your way

Once you overcome your first concerns about drinking alone, there’s nothing better! Securing a bar stool at an exquisite bar for a cheeky cocktail for one means no fussing over the cost and no awkward small talk.

If you do fancy propping and sampling a cocktail or two, then visit Maven cocktail bar, for a one-of-a-kind cocktail experience. Dominos Club provides an authentic speakeasy environment complete with live music at the weekend. For a truly attentive drinking experience, try Below Stairs. With expertly crafted cocktails from knowledgeable bartenders in an underground, homely and quiet space, this is one perfect place to sip solo. There are so many great cocktail bars you can explore, see our Nightlife pages for further inspiration.


Bar at dakota hotel



And to allay any fears about not feeling safe, when you’re in many of our wonderful bars and restaurants, you can use the code word “Angela” to let trained staff at participating establishments know you need help and will help you out safely as part of the Leeds ‘Ask Angela’ campaign.


Dinner Date for One

Leeds is considered to be the foodie capital of the north so there are lots of recommendations all over Leeds that make it a top place for solo travel in the UK. One great option for single travellers is the food hall in Kirkgate Market, where a host of street food traders cook up a storm in the bright communal dining space. It’s a similar deal at Trinity Kitchen, where you’ll find a rotating cast of traders to suit all tastes.

Empire Café is a Leeds institution, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner with small plates and rotisserie available accompanied by an amazing wine selection, with a cosy interior and outdoor seating if you wish to watch the world go by. Kino is a perfect spot for dinner and drink if you’ve got plans for after-dinner – operated by Opera North and right next door to Leeds Grand Theatre, it’s the perfectly curated experience for an evening at the theatre.


OWT, Leeds Corn Exchange - Amy Heycock for Visit Leeds


Laynes Espresso, a key location on the north’s coffee map, is a fantastic tranquil place for people-watching while getting a delicious breakfast and a cup of coffee. It is located just near to Leeds train station – so perfect to grab a bite to eat after you arrive in the city. Not to be missed is Leeds’ stunning Tiled Hall Café next to the Leeds Art Galley, it’s a perfect spot to sit with a coffee and take in beautiful surroundings.


Let us entertain you

If you’re after a show – Leeds is the place for you. You’ll find something to entertain  every night of the week, from comedy nights at cool clubs like The HiFi Club and Verve to a night at the theatres – take your pick from City Varieties, Leeds Playhouse and Leeds Grand Theatre. Or be the first to witness the next big thing at one of Leeds’ iconic music venues like Brudenell Social Club, Belgrave Music Hall and Project House.



Step out on your own

Heading out on foot is a surefire way for the solo traveller to experience a city in all its glory, and Leeds has everything you need to rack up the step count. If you like green, open space then our majestic parks are ready and waiting. Roundhay Park is one of Europe’s largest with 700 acres of parkland, lakes, woodland and gardens.

If you’d prefer to mix in a little history and heritage, Temple NewsamHarewood House and Lotherton Hall all provide acres of beautiful grounds to roam, as well as perfectly preserved historic houses providing a window on the past. For those struggling to decide, we can recommend a walk along the iconic Leeds-Liverpool canal or River Aire as one of the top things to do in Leeds. Discover the medieval ruins of Kirkstall Abbey, or head to the UNESCO World Heritage village of Saltaire.

Leeds is also home to many tours and trails to enjoy as a solo traveller. From walking tours around the city to art walks, self-guided tours, stadium talks and history and heritage tours, there’s something new for everyone to explore and discover.



Room for one

A solo stay might just be the best thing about travelling on your own! You can keep your own hours, make your own mess (or not), and really make your space a home from home. And there are some fantastic options for solo explorers in Leeds to choose from.



A classic venue like The Queens Hotel is one great way to travel. Dump your bags, pull on a bathrobe and order room service for one in this newly-refurbished 1920s style hotel. Leeds Art Hostel provides a unique environment and represents a fantastic way to meet fellow travellers in their quirky and creative communal spaces.  Or find a little more space with an apartment stay from Roomzzz, right in the heart of the city centre. The Mansion Suits offer serviced apartments, so you’ll be taken care of throughout your stay.


Give it a go


Ultimately, it’s all about taking the leap. Solo travel in a busy, modern city like Leeds is safe, fun and freeing. You’ll be amongst friendly crowds, in a city with a tourist infrastructure perfectly suited to getting you where you need to be.


So why not book that trip? Leeds is here ready and waiting. And to find out how to fill your time in the city, whether you have 24 hours, 48 or 72, then check out our itineraries.

But solo travel still takes planning. Not every destination is ideal for the lone traveller, and you’ll need to do your research before setting out as an intrepid single explorer. Luckily, Leeds has everything you need and more! So we’re here to make the case for our city as one of the best UK solo travel destinations…


This blog was originally published in March 2023, and has been updated for this year.