10 things you can't miss in Leeds

Leeds has loads to offer - from ancient abbeys to great gig venues. We've picked 10 things that should be on every student's bucket list.

Kirkgate Market's grey, domed roof.

If you're studying in Leeds - whether it's for a few months or a few years - you can't miss these 10 days out. If you want to go further afield we've also picked Eight must-see locations in Yorkshire.

1. Visit an ancient Abbey

The remains of Kirkstall Abbey on a summer's day.

Kirkstall Abbey is a ruined monastery a few miles from campus and the city centre. The Abbey dates back to 1152 but was put out of use by King Henry VIII in 1539. 

The picturesque ruins now sit in a park by the river Aire and are a great place to visit on a sunny day. Why not cycle to the abbey along the canal towpath? It's a traffic-free and picturesque route and takes about 20 minutes by bike.

2. Tour the arcades

Rows of shops in the ornately decorated Victoria Arcade.

Leeds is famous for its covered shopping arcades. Our favourite is the Victoria Arcade - the grandest and most ornate example in Leeds. And while the shops might be a bit expensive for a student budget, getting a pic for Instagram is free.

3. Take a walk in the park

A runner in Roundhay Park jogging between rows of trees.

You can visit some terrific green space without leaving the city. Woodhouse Moor located directly next to campus is a popular choice for students during the summer.

We’d also recommend going further afield and visiting Roundhay Park which features two lakes, Victorian follies and the Tropical World attraction in its 700 acres.

4. Grab a bargain at the market

Flower and fruit stalls under the roof of Kirkgate Market.

Kirkgate is one of Europe’s largest covered market and is housed in a magnificent Edwardian building. Marks & Spencer was started here in 1894 as a Penny Bazaar – selling all items for a penny. And while prices have risen in the last 125 years, the market is still a great place to find a bargain. It sells a wide variety of goods, but in particular a huge range of food: from local specialities to ingredients from around the world.

5. Shop at the Corn Exchange

Two floors of shops inside the circular Corn Exchange building.

The Corn Exchange is one of Leeds’ most iconic buildings with its breathtaking domed roof. Originally built in 1864, it now houses independent and specialist shops and cafes.

6. See a show

The City Varieties stage, seating and balconies.

There’s plenty of places to catch a play, show or comedy in Leeds including the Leeds PlayhouseLeeds Grand Theatre  and Carriageworks Theatre

We particularly like the Leeds City Varieties – a rare surviving example of a traditional Victorian music hall. It’s got an illustrious past with Charlie Chaplin and Harry Houdini having performed there.

7. Visit the UK’s collection of arms and armour

Hundreds of pieces of weaponry as decoration on high walls at the Royal Armouries.

The Royal Armouries Museum holds an amazing collection of arms and armour including swords dating back to the Middle Ages and the world’s only suit of armour for an elephant. A great way to travel there is by catching a water taxi from Leeds Station to just outside the museum. 

8. Watch a film by gaslight

The front of Hyde Park Picture House cinema at night.

The Hyde Park Picture House is just a short walk from campus and you can’t miss this piece of history while you’re in Leeds. The single screen cinema was built in 1914 and is the only remaining gas-lit cinema in the world.

9. Check out some art

A view of part of a dark-coloured sculpture at Leeds Art Gallery.

Visit Leeds Art Gallery which includes modern and contemporary art. While you’re there make sure you check out the grand Tiled Hall Café in the library’s old reading room. 

The Henry Moore Institute next door hold regular exhibitions. It's named after a local lad who became one of the most famous sculptors in history. 

You can also visit The Tetley, a contemporary art gallery housed in the old brewery. Set up by two Leeds alumni, you can still get a pint of Tetley’s from the bar downstairs.

10. Catch a band at a famous venue

A smartphone screen showing someone filming a band playing live.

There are plenty of places to watch live music in Leeds including the O2 AcademyBelgrave Music Hall and our very own Refectory.

The Brudenell Social Club in the Hyde Park area of Leeds is one of the city's best loved music venues. It's a traditional working men’s club that attracts some big names.