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Free Things to do in Leeds

Friday 02 June 2023

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Leeds is one of Britain's most vibrant and historic cities, meaning that there is a lot of culture, history, and fun to be discovered! Whether you're visiting from nearby on a day trip or coming from further afield for a city break, we know that days out can get expensive. So, we've found some of the best budget-friendly attractions and destinations Leeds has to offer so you can enjoy the city without breaking the bank. Come along with CrossCountry to discover free things to do in Leeds.

Getting to Leeds by train:

Located on the CrossCountry network, getting to Leeds by train is super easy. Simply hop on board at stations including York, Edinburgh, Birmingham New Street, or Exeter St. David's, and alight at Leeds station.

Explore the Kirkstall Abbey ruins

This atmospheric 12th-century abbey is one of Britain's most complete Cistercian monasteries, surrounded by tranquil tree-filled parkland. The River Aire runs right through the grounds, making this iconic landmark even more picturesque. Offering a mix of history and nature close to the heart of the city, the grounds of the Abbey are ideal for a leisurely afternoon stroll.

Stroll along the banks of the canal

Starting from the city centre, you can stroll along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Admire colourful barges, spot local wildlife, and if you’re visiting in the summer, stop at one of the green spaces for a picnic along the way.

Admire art at the Tetley

One of the most iconic buildings in Leeds, the Tetley is a former brewery offering art lovers three floors of contemporary art. Not only does the gallery offer free admission for its exhibitions, but there are also free workshops, activities, and occasional open days. Peckish? The Tetley Bar & Kitchen serve a reasonably priced, locally sourced menu, perfectly accompanied by a pint of Tetley's.

Get historic at the Leeds City Museum

Whether you’re interested in ancient Egyptian history or Greek pottery, you’ll find an extensive array of artefacts to discover on the four floors of Leeds City Museum. One of the highlights not to miss is Nesyamun, also known as the Leeds Mummy, which has been in the museum since 1823.

Take a stroll through Roundhay Park

If you’re the outdoorsy type, you will appreciate Leeds’ choice of parks, gardens and surrounding countryside. One of the largest city parks in Europe, Roundhay Park is a lovely choice for a breather from the city, featuring scenic gardens, playgrounds, woodland, and even a large lake.

Check out some street art

Originally commissioned by the University of Leeds in 2020, the Colour Hyde Park street art trail takes you through six murals inspired by the natural beauty of the area and the diversity of the Leeds community. They’re all worth seeking out - from Joy Rooney’s colourful representation of local landmarks, to Fem Sorcell’s beautiful floral mural inspired by the work of children at Brudenell Primary School.

For more, why not follow the Waterfront Art trail? Stroll along the river, taking in eight unique works of art along the way. From huge graffiti murals to a recycled bicycle tree and the famous Marshall’s Mill Sheep, you’ll uncover an eclectic array of art as you explore the city’s South Bank. 

Soak up the culture at Left Bank

There is plenty to explore at Left Bank Leeds, a progressive creative zone situated in a Grade II listed former church building. With events and workshops on poetry, art, textiles, yoga, and much more, Left Bank has a wide variety of ways to get to know the Leeds community and enjoy yourself. Make sure to pop into the café for a spot of lunch or a cup of coffee.

Admire sculptures at the Henry Moore Institute

The Henry Moore Institute is an internationally renowned sculpture gallery that attracts some of the most prestigious artists in the world. Their mission is simple – to continue Moore’s legacy by making sculpture part of our everyday lives – and they do it by bringing us an endless procession of art.

Window shop at the Victoria Arcade

If you’ve got the willpower to avoid shopping, visit the Victoria Quarter to admire the beautiful architecture of these Victorian arcades. The mosaics, stained glass and ornate detailing, are just as luxurious as the designer shops surrounding them.

Cheap Places to Eat in Leeds

  • Senbon Sakura: Head here for a taste of authentic Japanese cuisine. It may look unassuming from the outside, but they really know what they’re doing in the kitchen – and they don’t charge too much. 
  • Fat Annie's: With a classic American diner menu to dig into, Fat Annie's is a deliciously budget-friendly eatery in Leeds. Tuck into vegan hot dogs and loaded fries with hand-spun shakes on the side; you won't leave hungry!
  • Pieminister: Can you really take a trip up north without eating a pie? Pieminister is always there for a cheap feed when you need one. You can enjoy their classic pies with added sides like smoky baked beans and mushy peas for around £10. 
  • Manjit’s Kitchen: Treat yourself to an array of traditional Punjabi dishes from around £5 at Manjit’s Kitchen in Kirkgate Market. There are light bites and full meals on the menu, so whatever you're in the mood for, you will surely be happy at Manjit's Kitchen.

Cheap Places to Stay in Leeds

You’ll want to visit for longer than a day to make the most of your trip to Leeds. Check out these budget options for a great stay in Leeds.

  • Quebecs: Set in a grand Victorian building in the heart of Leeds, this boutique hotel offers luxurious rooms, elegant lounges, and free WiFi. Quebecs is just off City Square, 300m from Leeds Station, the perfect location for your weekend away.
  • Leeds Super Luxurious Apartments: If you’re after a little more space, head to Leeds Super Luxurious Apartments. Each unit has a fully equipped kitchen, a seating area with a sofa & TV, a washing machine, and a private bathroom.
  • ibis Style Leeds City Centre Arena: The ibis is always a great option for a budget break. Situated less than a mile away from the First Direct Arena in Leeds, Ibis Styles Leeds City Centre Arena is very central and features an onsite restaurant, bar, and free WiFi.

If you’re planning a trip to Leeds, don’t forget to book an Advance ticket via our website or the CrossCountry app. If you need more information, you can contact us here.

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Written by Julia

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