Have you discovered Leeds yet? I feel like it’s one of Yorkshire’s best kept secrets. Compact, funky, with great shopping, beautiful architecture and some of the loveliest locals to share a cocktail or two with. I’ve been twice so far this year and really feel at home there, it might even be my favourite northern city…
So, when GoEuro contacted me recently about trialling their National Express booking service in the UK and choosing somewhere to day-trip to on the bus, it wasn’t one of their continental destinations that I had in mind, but something a little closer to home. With the offer of being shown the Leeds highlights by my super fabulous friend Beverley (Pack Your Passport) burning a hole in my inbox, I knew exactly where I was headed for my next weekend away.
Pulling up their website, alongside train timetables and car hire companies, I soon realised just how cheap it would be in comparison to other sites to book a bus trip via GoEuro and – even better! – the journey to Leeds would take around the same time as hopping on a train.
Once Beverly and I found a free date that worked, it was a cinch to book myself a seat quickly through their website. Hopping onto the bus was an absolute breeze, and I have to mention my legendary driver Chris – he was absolutely lovely and we chatted the whole journey about all kinds of random stuff. He was the font of all knowledge when it came to the best tea to drink. T2 was the winner in his eyes if you’re interested?!
Once I arrived on the city centre on the bus, I was lucky enough to be staying with the lovely aforementioned Beverley and she took me on a brilliant tour of her favourite places. Beverly was the hostess with the mostess, who knew all of the best spots in Leeds and looked after me oh so well!
Here are a few of my new favourite places in Leeds:
Weekend Brunching at Laynes
Small and perfectly formed, the brunch menu at Laynes Espresso is perfect for catching up. Right around the corner from the Trinity shopping mall (full of designer fashion shops) we both ordered the sweetcorn fritters with all the trimmings and I had a scrumptious hot chocolate.
I literally wanted to order everything on the menu and could quite happily be taken there for brunch every morning. Maybe I should move in with Beverley and we can be daily brunch buddies?! It has recently had an extension it’s doing so well so normally you can just about get a seat, though may have to sit downstairs.
Find Instagram gold in Leeds shopping arcades
For photo opportunities the beautiful Victorian shopping arcades in Leeds are perfect. From shops festooned with ornamental pomegranates and delicate arches, to the stunning vintage markets at the Corn Exchange, I couldn’t stop snapping. I especially loved the Kirkgate Market right outside the Leeds Bus Station – one of the largest indoor markets in Europe – with 800 stalls including the original Marks and Spencer stall from 1884 (known as the Penny Bazaar.)
Thanks to Beverley (again) for these lovely photos she took of me, if I may say so myself.
Shopping, shopping and more shopping!
The retail therapy possibilities of Leeds definitely need a section all of their own. Leeds is an absolute mecca for shopping and as everything in the city centre is perfectly walkable (even laden with bags at the end of the day) the city is a shopper’s paradise. Named the best shopping destination in the UK by the rough guide to Britain, Leeds City Centre has over 1,000 shops.
There is everything ranging from quirky boutiques to high-end luxury and the big name high street brands – or you could try out the craft stalls in the Corn Exchange.
Rooftop giant gin and tonics at the Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen
As the sun was shining we took a break from seeing the best sites of Leeds with giant gin and tonics! Obviously! It’s a great rooftop bar and they also do ridiculously tasty burgers and often have live music on too. Basically it’s a pretty awesome place to visit! Possibly my favourite!
Cocktails at The Alchemist
On the second floor of the Trinity shopping mall, the somewhat unorthodox Alchemist bar provided some much needed respite from our busy afternoon around town. We met up with the lovely Jess (author of The Travelista blog and now fellow Leeds resident) starting with Prosecco in B’s flat before we headed for dinner at a tapas Mexican restaurant. We nibbled our way through a sharing board at Cielo Blanco, bringing a taste of Mexico to the Victorian architecture of Leeds, . The hardest part was choosing between the free-range Barbacoa chicken, Veracruz style fish, and even the scrumptious sounding Vegetable Meze.
Once we had our fill it was time for… cocktails! We loved the funky decor and heated wrap-around terrace at the Alchemist, which has stunning views over the church spires and building towers of Leeds. We had plans for a bit of a bar crawl but somehow the cocktails, the wine and ALL the gossip we had to catch up on meant we didn’t move all night and before we knew it we were getting kicked out as they wanted to close.
So there we have it a lovely day in Leeds with the lovely Beverley and Jess, love them!
I definitely want to do more day trips and weekend trips around the UK and will be sure to try out buses as a different way of getting around the country. First, though I just want to book another trip to Leeds to see my Northern blogging favourites!
Any recommendations for other northern towns I should try out?
As mentioned I was invited to go on a day trip with GoEuro but where I went, everything I did and everything I write about in this post is 100% my own honest opinions 🙂