Leeds is filled with many Instagrammable places, having reaped multiple awards for being a cultural and vibrant city where its Victorian-style buildings blend with its modern restaurants and shops. It's also home to a thriving arts and music scene with regular exhibitions, theatre and ballet performances, and live music festivals.

    So, if you're planning a trip to this West Yorkshire city soon, you'd want to take note of these camera-worthy spots around Britain's top legal and financial centre outside of London.

    1

    Kirkstall Abbey

    Visit the remains of this 8-century-old Cistercian monastery

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    Learn the lifestyle of monks by touring Kirkstall Abbey, which is located 3 miles from the city centre and found on the north bank of River Aire. The Grade I-listed structure, made of Bramley Fall gritstone and completed in 1152, was later closed due to the dissolution of the nation’s monasteries. The City of Leeds then bought the site in the 1890s and turned the abbey grounds into a public park.

    With its high medieval walls and serene grounds, there are plenty of spots where you can take excellent shots. You can also discover what life was like in Victorian Leeds through a guided tour at the nearby Abbey House Museum.

    Location: Abbey Rd, Kirkstall, Leeds LS5 3EH, UK

    Open: April–September: Tuesday–Sunday from 10 am to 4.30 pm. October–May: Tuesday–Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1133 784079

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    2

    Headrow House

    Enjoy grilled culinary delights and drinks

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    Located in Leeds' city centre is the 4-level Headrow House, a textile factory in the early 1900s that’s famous for housing the Michelin awardee Ox Club. Food served at this 40-seater restaurant is all cooked using locally sourced produce and a premier grill. Some of the main course favourites include its signature hanger steak, cherry wood-smoked ox cheek, and coal-cooked scallops.

    Check out the Beer Hall, which offers more than 60 beers from all over the world. Going up, you'll find 2 terraced bars called the Redondo Beach cocktail bar and Kennedy Meadows. The latter allows you to take snapshots from a rooftop, with the sky and dormer roofs of the city as a backdrop.

    Location: 19a The Headrow, Leeds LS1 6PU, UK

    Open: Monday from noon to 11 pm, Tuesday from noon to 11.30 pm, Wednesday from noon to midnight, Thursday from noon to 12.30 pm, Friday from noon to 2 am, Saturday from 11 am to 3 am, Sunday from 11 am to 11 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1132 459370

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    photo by Mtaylor848 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    3

    Armley Mills

    Step into Leed’s industrial beginnings

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    Armley Mills, found in a district west of Leeds that bears the same name, is the site of what used to be the world's largest wool mill. Built in 1805, the Grade II-listed building was transformed by the Leeds City Council into the Leeds Industrial Museum.

    Various textile machinery, including looms and the steam engines that powered them, heavy engineering, and railway equipment that changed the UK and the world are now on display inside. Aside from this, the museum also houses a 24-seat cinema, a gallery on high street fashion, and a picnic area.

    Location: Canal Rd, Armley, Leeds LS12 2QF, UK

    Open: Tuesday–Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm, Sunday from 1 pm to 5 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +44 (0)1133 783173

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    photo by Tim Green (CC BY 2.0) modified

    4

    County and Cross Arcades

    Go on a shopping spree at these baroque-style retail centres

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    A tour of Leeds won’t be complete without going to the city's premier retail area, the Victoria Quarter, and shopping at the County and Cross Arcades. These 2 establishments are the most elaborate of the arcades designed by noted English architect Frank Matcham, who also specialised in theatres.

    These shopping areas feature pink terracotta façades, mahogany shop fronts, marble columns and floors, wrought iron detailing, and glass ceilings. Gilded mosaic panels surround its glass domes, making for a thrilling shot when you point your camera upwards.

    Location: 44, Victoria Gate, Vicar Ln, Leeds LS2 7AU, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)1132 455333

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    photo by Michael D Beckwith (CC BY 4.0) modified

    5

    Dark Arches

    See the tunnel complex put on a spectacular light show

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    More than 18 million bricks were used to build the Dark Arches – a record-breaking feat in the 1860s. It’s a network of unlined arches on Neville Street beneath the Leeds City Railway Station. Neon pink, blue, yellow, orange, green, and purple beams light up the arches that span 2 to 4 tracks wide.

    A popular spot for photoshoots, you can try your hand at various types of shots and angles here. Nearby, you'll find the Granary Wharf Shopping Centre and the terminus of the Leeds-Liverpool canal, the longest in Britain.

    Location: Leeds LS1 4GS, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)1132 434324

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    photo by Alan Murray-Rust (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    6

    The Ivy

    Get ready for classy dining at this Victoria Quarter restaurant

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    Frequented by celebrities at their outlet in London's West Street, the outlet in Vicar Lane is The Ivy's first in Leeds City. It's a 240-seater that features leather banquettes, pendant lighting, and an onyx bar. Go smart casual if you plan to drop by this lavishly decorated 2-storey restaurant. 

    Its menu includes avocado and spinach Benedict, crab linguine, chicken bourguignon, duck liver parfait, shepherd's pie, and Keralan sweet potato stews for vegans. Meanwhile, its most sought-after desserts include chocolate bombe – a vanilla ice cream and honey-filled chocolate ball with hot salted caramel sauce poured on top – and 2 other classics: crème brulee and apple tarte fine.

    Location: Vicar Ln, Leeds LS1 6BB, UK

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 8 am to 12.30 am, Sunday from 9 am to 11 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1133 886222

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    photo by Mtaylor848 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    7

    Leeds Town Hall

    Enjoy the city skyline from another view

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    Formally inaugurated in 1858, the Leeds Town Hall has been modernised with renovation and improvements that didn’t spoil its historic charm. Initial upgrades were made to the iconic clock tower and the building's rooftop, allowing public access to the area for the first time since the structure opened. The top offers stunning views, great for capturing the city skyline at sunset.

    Other improvements include the roof of the auditorium called Victoria Hall, which was soundproofed to reduce external noise when hosting events. Welsh slate replaced roof tiles across the building, and the chandeliers and the vestibule also got a facelift. The refurbishments also covered the town hall organ, which features over 6,000 pipes.

    Location: The Headrow, Leeds LS1 3AD, UK

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +44 (0)1133 760318

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    8

    Victoria Gate

    Head to this stunning shopping centre for more retail therapy

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    Victoria Gate is an award-winning shopping centre adjacent to Leeds' Victoria Quarter. Its architectural splendour is a sight for sore eyes and camera lenses. You can take numerous creative shots of its eye-catching white latticed concrete exterior, which is inspired by the city's textile heritage.

    The John Lewis department store leads the group of shops found in this retail and leisure hub, occupying 5 floors. Victoria Gate's tenants include around 30 stores, restaurants, cafés, and the Super Casino.

    Location: Victoria Gate, Harewood St, Leeds LS2 7JA, UK

    Open: Monday–Friday from 10 am to 6 pm, Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm, Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1132 455333

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    photo by Mtaylor848 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    9

    Corn Exchange

    Don’t miss the haven of independent brands on Call Lane

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    The Corn Exchange is the centre of Leeds’ nightlife, offering about 30 independent retailers and food outlets. Completed in 1863, it’s one of the 3 remaining corn exchange buildings in England that remain functional to this day.

    Restoration work paved the way for the waterproofing of the domed roof as well as the opening up of basement space, balconies and staircases. Jewellery and accessories, men’s and women's clothing, guitars, vinyl records, indoor potted plants, and more are sold by shops in this establishment.

    Location: Call Ln, Leeds LS1 7BR, UK

    Open: Monday–Wednesday from 10 am to 6 pm, Thursday from 10 am to 9 pm, Friday–Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm, Sunday from 10.30 am to 4.30 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1132 340363

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    10

    Sky Lounge

    Spend the evening at Doubletree Hotel's glitzy rooftop bar

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    Sky Lounge at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Leeds City Centre has floor-to-ceiling windows offering a panoramic view of the city. This includes Leeds’ tallest building, Bridgewater Place, which is illuminated in violet and green at night. 

    The bar is famous for its “bottomless brunch” and afternoon tea menu of roast chicken in tarragon mustard creme fraiche, glazed blueberry cheesecake, and freshly baked raisin scones. Enjoy their signature cocktails and live music while getting nighttime views of the city. 

    Location: Granary Wharf, Leeds LS1 4BR, UK

    Open: Monday–Thursday from noon to 1 am, Friday from noon to 2 am, Saturday from 7 am to 2 am, Sunday from 7 am to 1 am

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    11

    Royal Armouries Museum

    See the countless swords in the Hall of Steel

    The Royal Armouries Museum is home to a lot of military hardware, as its collection dates from as far back as medieval swords and suits of armour up to current-generation firearms. You can also find artefacts from around the world. The museum is free to enter and conveniently close to the city centre, right by the River Aire.

    Perhaps the most famous attraction of the Royal Armouries Museum is its arena, where you can see live re-enactments of famous battles, duels and jousts. These special events take place throughout the year, usually on weekends.

    Location: Armouries Drive, Leeds LS10 1LT, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)113 220 1999

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    12

    Leeds Welcome Art Crawl

    Journey through a public art trail

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    The Leeds Welcome Art Trail is an exciting trail of exceptional artworks that winds throughout the city showing off traditional art installations alongside some more unusual designs. Numerous local artists, sculptors and illustrators have contributed to this art trail, along with some of the best from the popular art nouveau scene here in Britain. 

    The ages of the art installations vary quite a bit as well, as you'll find recent additions from the past few years along with iconic statues that have been part of Leeds for over a century. Being a public art installation, the trail is available for you to enjoy without paying anything.

    Location: New Station St, Leeds LS1 4DY, UK

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    photo by Tim Green (CC BY 2.0) modified

    13

    Leeds Minster

    Find solace in a spectacular architectural feat

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    Leeds Minster is a breathtaking English Gothic-style minster that's cruciform in plan, with a massive clock and an intricately decorated interior showcasing extensive Perpendicular tracery. Thick, stained glass windows line the interior and are decorated with exquisite depictions of important religious figures. 

    There are massive arches included as well alongside breathtaking Venetian mosaics. Despite its age, this church is still functional and holds regular services. As a member of the public, you can enjoy the few hours each day when Leeds Minster is open to the public. Parishioners often offer light meals and refreshments, which you can enjoy for no charge.

    Location: 2-6 Kirkgate, Leeds LS2 7DJ, UK

    Open: Monday–Friday from 11 am to 2 pm, Saturday from 10 am to 12.30 pm (open only to parishioners on Sundays)

    Phone: +44 (0)113 245 2036

    Map
    Geri Mileva | Contributing Writer

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