Important things to know about Leeds
- Leeds is a city in the north of England, it’s the largest city in West Yorkshire, and the 2nd largest city in England with a population of almost 800,000 people, and the metropolitan area population is over 2.6 million.
- Leeds is a cultural, commercial and finance hub with the 3rd largest employment zone, 5 universities and the 4th largest student population.
- Leeds is the largest legal and finance centre in the U.K, outside of London worth £13 Billion of the city’s economy
- The city is central to a web of motorways and trunk roads making it easily accessible by car. The M62 motorway runs to the south from the Hull in the east to Manchester and Liverpool in the west of England, the M1 coming from London and breaking off to the east of the city to adjoin the A1 which goes to Edinburgh and the M621 connects both M1 and M62 with the heart of the city centre.
- There are numerous hotels, restaurants, cafes and bars in the centre of the city, it’s a pleasant and compact city centre with the majority of shopping centres, finance quarter, old town and market, train stations and central bus station all within walking distance of each other
- The indoor and outdoor Kirkgate market is amongst the largest indoor markets in Europe
- The speed limit on the motorways is 70 MPH, the trunk roads 60 MPH and built up areas unless otherwise indicated are 30 MPH. School areas are often limited further to 20 MPH.
Car hire in Leeds Bradford airport
About Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA)
Leeds Bradford airport is located 10 miles to the north west of the city and accessible by car and bus. There is no train connected the city and airport which is seen by some as a barrier to growth for the airport. Despite this, LBA has grown over recent years and now has exceeded 4 million annual passengers. It is the home of Jet2 airlines, who have their head office in the city as well as Ryanair, KLM and BA running daily flights to London.
Car hire companies onsite at the airport include the usual major brands such as Alamo and Europcar, as well as cheaper ones such as Keddy and Easirent.
Guide to Leeds
A shopping hub
Leeds is a cultural and financial hub, as well as a university town famed for its language centre its also a renowned shopping centre with a range of mainstream and boutique shops. The Victoria quarter is combines the flamboyant Victorian era arcades and walkways with modern snazzy shopping brands, designer labels and quality, whilst now extending to the Victoria Gate complex recently completed and home to John Lewis.
Take a 5 minute walk down Briggate and you’ll come to the more mainstream and equally modern Trinity shopping mall with hundreds of shops selling clothing, food, drink, toy stores, designer, a cinema and range of eateries and cafes. Head into the old town area of Kirkgate and find the Leeds indoor market, arguably the largest indoor market of its kind in Europe selling a range of bargains, food, street food stalls, home goods, and all of the things you’d expect to find in a market.
If you’re coming to Leeds by train, you’ll naturally stumble across Leeds City Square, famous for the Old Post Office, up until recently a Grade II listed building and post office, and more recently a restaurant and bar. The Square is now surrounded by restaurants and bars with the Black Prince monument in the centre.
Potted History of Leeds
The city of Leeds is built upon the River Aire which defines its history. During the 5th century Brythonic era, the first origins of the name Leeds can be seen in their term Ladenses meaning fast flowing river. Loidis, Leodis came after during the Roman era and become the Latin name for the city with records showing Leodensian and Loiner being descriptions of the people of Leodis or Leeds.
During the dark and middle ages the city was a textiles epicentre of the north developing as a market town and it became a manufacturing hub during the industrial revolution. The Leeds Liverpool canal was crucial to Leeds’ ongoing growth and economy when it in 1816. The Leeds and Selby railway then further advancing the city’s importance in 1834. The Corn Exchange opened in 1864 which is still today a fascinating building and trade centre containing a range of boutique shops and stalls.
Leeds Town Hall was complete in 1858, having taken 5 years to build. This beautiful building sits in the centre of the city, with Millenium Square to the rear with its bars and restaurants, the Light shopping centre to the right, and the city courts to the left. The Leeds half marathon concludes here every spring as well as the Abbey Dash (10 KM fun run).
Leeds attractions and things to do
As well as shopping which isn’t always for everyone, Leeds is home to a wide range of historic, cultural and scenic attractions. Head up to Roundhay Park in the north of the city. Just 4 miles out of the city by bus or car and you’ll find this vast country park with lakes, attractions, pleasant surroundings and woodland. A favourite for families and children this “park” is in the affluent Roundhay area of the north of the city and surrounded by modern bars, coffee shops, restaurants, traditional pubs as well as a range of attractions such as Canal Gardens.
Roundhay Park is also home to the Leeds Triathlon each year, part of the World Series and not to mention the Olympic champion Brownlee Brothers (Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee), born and bred in Leeds.
You’ll find a range of museums and galleries in Leeds too such as the Royal Armouries, the Leeds Art Gallery, the City Museum, Kirkstall Abbey, the Leeds Industrial Museum, Temple Newsam House and much more.
Eating out in Leeds city
You’ll find the city cobbled with charming eateries, bars, restaurants, bistros as well as traditional pubs, with so many to choose from here’s a selection of possibilities:
Issho Japanese Restaurant: This rooftop restaurant and bar sits above the new Victoria Gate complex adjacent to John Lewis. Serving a range of Japanese dishes, and Japanese beers, this is a modern and contemporary restaurant suitable for lunch and dinner. Its particularly popular within the business community and the food is fantastic.
Address: ISSHO Victoria Gate 3rd Floor Rooftop Leeds LS2 7AU. Phone: 0113 426 5000
Sous Le Nez: 5 minutes walk from the City Train Station, this is a French A La Carte restaurant serving French dishes, with a true French feel and mostly French waiters. For the starter you could go traditional with the French onion soup or you could try the scallop option. For the main you can enjoy a quality steak, French style, or a fish option.
Address: The Basement, Quebec House, Quebec Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire. LS1 2HA
My Thai: Traditional Thai street food from a traditional Thai menu. This is a relatively new chain of small boutique Thai café’s in Leeds. Due to its popularity you may want to book especially ‘The Old Steps’ in the financial quarter of the City. There are 3 restaurants now in Leeds.
Bar & Grill: Overlooking the City Square, this was once the main post office building in Leeds City Centre. In summer you can sit outside and enjoy the range of beers, wines and spirits whilst watching the bustling city pass by. The menu is a combination of foods from around the world, with locally sourced meat and quality dishes.
Blackhouse: Phenomenal steaks, live piano music on weekends, oysters, fine wine, what else could anyone ask for? This is a steak house in the south of the city and minutes walk from the train station and City Square.
Leeds bars and pubs
The Hop: Under the Dark Arches in the modern canal area tucked away behind the City Train Station is The Hop. It serves a range of local real ales and has live music.
The Adelphi: One of the oldest traditional pubs in Leeds, a local pub with a local feel, this pub dates back to the Victorian times and now serves a range of traditional beers, and local real ales.
Address: 1-3 Hunslet Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire
The popular student area of the city runs between the north of the city where the university is situation, through the Hyde Park area to Headingley (about 3 miles north of the city).
Headingley is also jam packed with pubs and bars.
Where to stay in Leeds City
The Hilton Double Tree, Leeds City Centre: This is a modern hotel in the canal area in the south of the city, situated right on the Leeds Liverpool canal, by one of the Locks, its is surrounded by restaurants, cafes and bars. The highlight is its rooftop cocktail bar with panoramic views of the city and surroundings. If you’re not staying the night, the rooftop bar is still well worth a visit.
Quebecs: A luxury boutique 5 star hotel close to the train station and 5 to 10 minutes walk into the heart of the shopping district.
Leeds is a major student city with 2 of the largest universities in the country. Headingley is home to Becketts Park campus, the main out-of-city campus of the Leeds Metropolitan University, now known as Leeds Beckett University. For this reason, Headingley is home to thousands of students, and along with students comes an area with many bars and pubs.
Its in the north of the city suburbs, Beckets Park is 4 miles into the city along the main road Otley Road.
Packed with stag do’s and Hen Parties, Headingley is a popular eating and drinking destination within the city outskirts.
The Otley Run
The famous Otley run is a pub crawl starting in the northern suburb of Lawnswood, working its way through Headingley and into the city. The official start point is the Lawnswood Arms in North Leeds which is a Hungry Horse pub with Wacky Warehouse. However its often more popular to start at Woodies at the top end of Headingley since the Lawnswood is quite far out.
The Otley run heads all the way into the city centre along the Otley Road (A660).
The route then heads into Headingley (by taxi) stumbling across a multitude of up to 20 pubs before arriving in the north of Leeds city centre.
The first pub you’re likely to arrive at in Headingley is Woodies, a free house serving numerous local ales with pool tables and Sky Sports. A 1 minute walk will find the Three Horse Shoes, then a 2 minute walk takes you to the New Inn. Continue along Otley Road and find Acradia Ale House, then continue down past a number of snack and food outlets such as Pizza Express, Nandos, numerous kebab, curry and other takeaways eventually coming to the next quarter where you’ll start with The Box.
A few doors down from The Box you’ll come across 2 more traditional and long standing original Headingley pubs The Original Oak and opposite the Skyrack.
If you’re still standing at this point and want to continue, then you’ll take a 5 minute taxi ride into the Hyde Park area of Leeds approaching the main city centre universities and following this, you can continue walking into the city centre passing numerous more pubs, kebab shops and pizza take aways.
Gateway to the Yorkshire Dales
The Yorkshire Dales is a national park starting 15 miles north of Leeds spanning hundreds of square miles as far north as the lake district and made up of hills, rivers, moors, walkways, quaint villages and pubs. It’s a popular tourist destination attracting visitors from all over the world thanks to its beautiful and unique scenery, and wide range of outdoor activities.
The Three Peaks is a famous and iconic 24 mile hike over 3 peaks which takes place every year and in the official annual event you are given 12 hours to cover the route on foot.
Bolton Abbey estate is within the Dales and contains the remains of a 12th century monastery.
The Yorkshire Dales can be accessed easily by car from Leeds Bradford Airport, head towards Otley on the A660 main road (Otley Road) and you’ll be at the southerly base in about 15 to 20 minutes.
From Leeds city take the A660 towards Otley, as you approach Otley, take the A65 towards Burley in Wharfedale and Ilkley.
Leeds Car Hire FAQ’s
How much does it cost to hire a car in Leeds?
You can hire a car from around £9 a day in the winter and the average is more like £15 a day depending on the time of year.
How much is the cheapest car hire in Leeds?
The cheapest car hire in Leeds is around £9 a day
How much does it cost to hire a car from Leeds Bradford Airport?
It can cost as little as £9/day from LBA but the average is more like £15/day
What is the cost of an economy car hire in Leeds?
You can hire a Ford Fiesta or similar from around £10/day
Which car hire companies are in Leeds Bradford Airport?
What is the best car I can hire from Leeds Bradford Airport?
You could hire a Tesla Model S for around £65 a day, or a Mercedes E Class, or Volvo S90, all from upwards of £60/day.
How far is it from Leeds Bradford airport into Leeds city centre?
It is 9 miles and roughly a 20-30 minute drive depending on traffic.
What’s the best way to get from LBA into Leeds?
There are a number of buses but the quickest way is by taxi and should cost around £25.
What is the Otley Run?
The Otley Run is a popular pub crawl starting in the north of the city’s Headingley district and ending in the city centre covering up to 20 pubs.
Where does the Otley Run start?
The official start point is the Lawnswood Arms however its more common to start at Woodies.
How many pubs are on the Otley Run
You can easily cover 20 pubs if you survive the full Otley Run pub crawl and then continue into the City Centre
How do I get from Leeds to Otley?
The main route is via the Otley Road (A660) and its about 12 miles. You can also take a bus.
Where is the Yorkshire Dales?
The Yorkshire Dales is a national park which begins around 15 miles north of Leeds and runs all the way to the edge of the lake district. You can get there by car from Leeds or Leeds Bradford Airport in 20-40 minutes.
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