Insider Leeds - what to see and do, where to eat and shop

Shop yourself silly in cosmopolitan Leeds – where northern grit meets urban chic. It even has its own Harvey Nicks. Be inspired with Virgin’s pick of the shops, museums, galleries and grub.   

Need inspiration? What to see

Need inspiration? What to see

Science geeks? Find out what the brain smells like and other things that’ll leave you feeling queasy at Thackray Medical Museum.

Wince at the gruesome, grisly operating theatre of Victorian times when patients went under the knife without anaesthetic and surgical practices were, shall we say, primitive. 

History lovers? Buccaneering knights in shining armour and swords like those wielded by Gandalf in Middle Earth. What’s not to like about the Royal Armouries?

England’s national museum of arms and armour tells the story of conflict from the Middle Ages to more recent times.

Elephant armour lines up alongside English cavalrymen in dapper red jackets. With cheap train tickets to Leeds you can treat yourself to a little something to take home. 

Feeling hungry? Where to eat

An intimate dinner: In the doghouse? Lay it on thick at Kendells. It’s fabulous in a Parisian bistro way. No annoying waiters brandishing huge pepper mills. Just a nice, laidback vibe – all flickering candles, hand-chalked menus and soft cloth napkins. Then there’s the food which is French and fantastic.

A light lunch: Dough Boys do pizza as it should be – hot, stringy cheese, heavenly toppings, hand-kneaded dough. Check out the Paul & Linda – artichoke, Sicilian olives, smoked mozzarella and salsa verde. Still hungry? Sample another topping – that’s the beauty of buying by the slice. Variety is the slice of life.

International: Dinner cooked at your table at Bulgogi Grill. Each table has a built-in barbecue. And cuts of meat and fish are slathered in Korean marinades and spices before being grilled before your hungry eyes. Think prawn and squid in Korean soy sauce. Lip-smackingly moreish. 

Street food
: Hot dogs get posh at Fat Annie’s food truck < . Premium sausages handmade from prime cuts of pork and beef and with no nasty bits added. Sandwiched between locally-baked artisan bread and topped off with homemade relishes. Oh my dawg – it’s a hot dog worth taking trains to Leeds for. 

Retail therapy - where to shop

High-street heaven

Suitably swanky shops, pop-up restaurants and buskers that belt out Hey Jude await at Trinity Leeds. This is shopping but not as you know it. Shop for fashionistas at Topshop, for gadget geeks at Apple. Take trains to Leeds for an amazing shopping sesh.

Vintage shops, one-off boutiques and homewares

Take a left at the top of Briggate and dive into the Grade-I listed Corn Exchange – a haven of quirky boutiques and independent stores. Mad Elizabeth is a vintage girl’s paradise.

Label lovers - designer shopping

Harvey Nichols:Harvey Nicks is a must-do whether you’re shopping or merely having a peek. From Stella McCartney to Burberry and Calvin Klein to Cartier it’s a one-stop shop for the finer things in life.

Hidden Leeds

Take the Owl Trail: Explore Leeds in a wacky, offbeat way with the famed Owl Trail. Owl sculptures old and new are dotted across the city – fill a couple of hours by trying to follow the trail and find them all. Download the map to get started

Enjoy a pint at the Adelphi: Leeds brewery Tetley’s created this pub to show off its wonderful bitter in Victorian days. Its interior retains plenty of charming period detail: carved mahogany, ornate tiles and a sweeping staircase (nearly). It’s very grand and (nearly) upstages the fantastic range of beer.

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