Leeds City Centre - About the Location
Leeds is the largest city in Yorkshire, situated in the North of England. Flanked above and below by York and Sheffield and within easy reach of the historic city of Harrogate, Leeds is a vibrant centre for the arts with a lively cultural calendar. The city centre is made up of five or six ‘quarters’, each with a distinct character.
The Arena Quarter is home to the First Direct Arena, and is an area packed with restaurants and bars. The city’s tallest building, Altus House, is located here. The Calls, one of the city’s original industrial areas, can be found along the River Aire. Nowadays, converted warehouses in old brick bring a cool vibe to the district. The Civic Quarter is home to the Victorian buildings which formed the heart of civic life in the 19th century. Today, the Town Hall, City Art Gallery and City Library still bring a gracious sense of the past. Towards the east, the Cultural Quarter houses the BBC building and the Leeds Playhouse. The Leeds College of Music and the Northern Ballet round out the cultural heart of this area, with Leeds Dock housing the popular Royal Armouries Museum. The Financial Quarter has the Georgian Park Square as its green centre and is home to modern highrise apartments and, as you might expect, major financial businesses; it’s also where you’ll find the city’s train station. Finally, the Shopping Quarter brings both the old - the Corn Exchange and Leeds Kirkgate market - and the new, with the Trinity Leeds shopping centre offering all of the major high street brands and Victoria leaning towards premium flagships such as John Lewis and Harvey Nichols.
Transport in Leeds City Centre
Walking - Leeds is known as the unofficial capital of Yorkshire but its compact nature means it’s an easy place to walk about. Nothing in the centre is more than half an hour away by foot, so you can easily manage without a car.
Bus / Train - The bus service is comprehensive, its network covering travel within the centre as well as out to other parts of the city. The main train station, located in the Financial Quarter but within reach of any of the main city centre areas, is one of the UK’s best served stations. It has lines to many of Leeds’ suburbs, as well as links to the rest of the country. Manchester is less than an hour away, and you can get to London in a little over two hours. The coach station is here as well, for travel to many destinations UK-wide.
Air - Leeds Bradford Airport is a half hour drive away, or 40 minutes on the A1 Flyer bus service.
Everything you need is within easy reach: libraries, art galleries, shops, theatre, gyms, and three of the main university campuses. Park Square is the largest green space within the city, and its traditional Georgian layout offers a peaceful retreat. The River Aire forms part of the city centre’s border, and opens up beautiful waterside walks. Whilst the larger supermarkets tend to be a little further out, there’s still a good choice of smaller city or local outlets for grocery shopping. Kirkgate Market is the spot to visit for a quirky mix of food, fashion and jewellery: it has over 800 stalls, an Asian Bazaar every Wednesday morning and a bi-monthly Farmer’s Market. For your high street favourites, there’s everything you need under one roof at Trinity Leeds.
You never need to be at a loss for something to do, with a year-long calendar of events, ranging from literature to food, live music to theatre. Big annual events include Leeds Light Night, the annual free festival of arts and light across the city, and the Leeds Festival. Theatres range from large to small: the Victorian splendour of the Grand Theatre hosts a programme of touring West End shows and is the home of Opera North and the Northern Ballet whilst the City Varieties Music Hall is the place for comedy. Or you can explore the community-based engagement of the Carriageworks Theatre or the diverse productions of the Leeds Playhouse. Cinema is well-provided for, from the mainstream Vue complex to the more intimate surroundings of the Everyman. With its large student population, Leeds is never short of live music. For big names, there’s the choice of the First Direct Arena or the O2 Academy; for smaller acts check out The Wardrobe or The Warehouse, or any of the university student unions. Then don’t miss Millennium Square summer series of open air gigs and music events.
Choices for eating out are too numerous to mention, but you have the choice of world cuisines and and anything from Michelin-starred The Man Behind The Curtain to gastro-pubs such as The Reliance to the relaxed setting of the Olive & Rye deli. The Oxford Place is dedicated to gluten-free eating, with a range of veggie and vegan options. Fint has a gourmet supper club. Shears Yard cooks with the seasons, and The Yorkshire Wrap Company at Kirkgate Market serves slow roast beef and pork inside a Yorkshire pudding wrap. Likewise, nights out can be as varied as you feel. Drink cocktails at Cuckoo, enjoy live music and Yorkshire beer at Nation of Shopkeepers, or look out over the city from the heights of the SkyBar at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel. Traditional pubs include Whitelock’s Ale House and The Horse and Trumpet whilst the New Penny has a blue plaque for being ‘one of the longest continually running LGBT venues in the UK’. It’s the place to be during Leeds Pride, one of the largest free Pride events in the UK.
As with any city, housing in the centre is at something of a premium. High rise apartments in the Financial Quarter or in the regenerated Waterfront district provide a smart and convenient option but come with a premium price. There are flats and shared houses to be found in the centre, along with bespoke student accommodation such as iQ Leeds, but many choose to live a little further out. Luckily, there are many affordable areas within easy reach!