Today I want to bring you my guide to a day trip to Leeds, Yorkshire. This city in the north of England is known for its shopping, and there’s a lot more to see and do besides.

Day Trip to Leeds

Day Trip to Leeds

Today I took the fastest business trip of my life. I wanted to meet with a client up in Leeds, but the best prices on train tickets were only available if I arrived in Leeds just before noon and departed just after 2pm.

After a bit of indecision, I bought the tickets, agreed to hold the meeting with the client at the station, and hoped for a delay-free train trip.

Conveniently, my train arrived early, the client arrived early, and the meeting ended with just under an hour left before I had to head back to London.

Historic building in Leeds, England

Things to Do in Leeds

Not wanting to kill time in the Starbucks at Leeds train station, I decided to turn my hour into a very compact day trip to Leeds.

I asked my client to point me in the direction of “things to see in Leeds” and set out on the fastest city tour I’ve ever taken.

Shopping arcade in Leeds, England

My client pointed me towards Briggate, a wide pedestrianized street with historic shopping arcades branching off of either side.

My first stop was Victoria Quarter and its adjacent—and in my opinion more beautiful—twin, County Arcade.

Leeds Christmas Tree

Brimming with wrought-iron Victoriana and chock-a-block with luxury shops like Vivienne Westwood and Harvey Nichols, these two shopping areas were a delightful blend of beautiful design, both Victorian and contemporary.

Shopping arcade in Leeds, England decorated for Christmas

After speed walking through the arcades, I raced back out to Briggate and continued my day trip to Leeds by heading north to a street called The Headrow.

The Headrow was all Victorian-architecture-meets-contemporary-design. It was the home of the famous Leeds Town Hall, a striking 19th-century number designed by architect Cuthbert Brodrick.

The Headrow also featured the adjacent twins of the Leeds Art Gallery and The Henry Moore Institute, both of which are part of the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle.

The Henry Moore Institute in Leeds

Glancing up at the larger-than-life clock dwarfing the Town Hall’s dainty cupola, I picked up my pace and sped back down Park Row and over to Bond Street.

I followed the pedestrianized walk to Commercial Street, then beat a path to the Leeds Corn Exchange, a giant domed building that used to house maize and now houses boutiques, bakeries, barbers, and more.

Leeds Corn Exchange ceiling

I took a few pictures of the architecturally-thought-provoking space, then walked back outside to check out a few more streets before my day trip to Leeds came to an end.

Leeds Corn Exchange building interior

I stumbled upon the Leeds Kirkgate Market on Vicar Lane, which sold everything from two-inch purple acrylic nails to pink foam curlers, Greek food, and Tinkerbell figurines.

I couldn’t help but feel like I was worlds away from the nearby boutiques of Victoria Quarter. It was certainly a different side of Leeds.

Clock in Leeds, England

Leeds Day Trip

Bewildered, I exited, grabbed a quick sandwich, and flew back to the train station.

The giant clock in the station read 1:46pm when I entered, and shortly thereafter I was safely in my seat on the train.

I felt exhausted from my speed walking tour of the Leeds city center and glad to not have to look at another clock until I got back to London.

But above all, I felt happy to have taken a day trip to Leeds, even if it was the shortest one in history. It whet my appetite for seeing the city and made me want to return again someday to see more of it. Spoiler alert: I did.

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Day Trip to Leeds

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