Things to do in Leeds

People and students shopping in leeds city centre

As a multicultural city, Leeds is home to four universities; the University of Leeds; Leeds Beckett University; Leeds Trinity University; and Leeds Arts University. With a variety of things to do in Leeds, including a thriving art scene and prominent cultural activities, there is no wonder why so students decide to live in the city.

However, moving to a new city can be daunting to a student, especially for international and first years. This can be helped by understanding what waits for them in the city and the things to do when not studying.

This guide will cover the various aspects of Leeds, including music, culture, food and drink, and explore some of the most popular things to do for students.

Leeds landmarks

Every year, around 29 million tourists visit Leeds, due to its variety of attractions and landmarks.

Temple Newsam

Temple Newsam is one of the city’s most historical buildings and surrounding area. Just over a fifteen-minute drive from Leeds city centre, the estate, including the Grade I listed house, has Tudor-Jacobean routes and is home to a substantial collection of fine and decorative art.

Various events take place at Temple Newsam each year, including the rock music festival Slam Dunk. Within the estate, there are nature trails, gardens, parks and lakes that are all free admission.

Elland Road

Leeds is not just home to history and culture, there is also a major sports presence. Elland Road is home to Leeds United, a Premier League football club that seats over 35,000 fans each week. Elland Road also hosts various conference events and pop-up music events all year round.

Leeds Corn Exchange

Built in the 1860s, the Corn Exchange is one of Leed’s most iconic landmarks. After a few renovations, the Leeds Corn Exchange has remained a hub for commerce and community spirit for almost 160 years. Complete with a glass dome ceiling, the building is home to local merchants and holds a place in the community. Nowadays, the Corn Exchange has around thirty independent retailers, selling items such as clothing, plants, art and even includes a tattoo studio.

For students, there are a range of events that take place at the Corn Exchange. Based in Leeds city centre these include art shows, rum festivals and record fairs. Alongside the other small businesses, the food stalls are perfect for a simple catch-up with student friends.

Students who are wanting access to Leeds landmarks should make sure they are living in the right areas. At Mansion Student, we provide student accommodation in the Woodhouse area, located within walking distance of all universities and Leeds city centre.

Discover more about our Leeds student accommodation here.

Food and drink

In the city, there is a vast food and drink scene for students to delve into. From street food to cocktail masterclasses that overlook Leeds views. There is so much on offer; you just need to know where to look.

Students toasting with pints of lagerBelgrave Music Hall

Located in Leed’s Northern Quarter, Belgrave Music Hall is an independent venue that is home to music, art, film and food. Spread over three floors, the venue has a capacity of 200 and hosts a range of live music and comedy and serves canteen-style food and drinks throughout the year.

It is also a popular place amongst students, with its place in the city centre. The venue hosts free film screenings, including recent hits Nope and The Batman, and has food and drink deals such as 2 for £12 cocktails all day every day.

Trinity Kitchen

Leeds is home to some of the best and most diverse street food, and where better to indulge in the variety on offer than Trinity Kitchen? Based on the top floor of the Trinity Shopping Centre, students can explore cuisines from around the world with rotating street food vendors and popular permanent eateries, such as Archies and Pho.

Make sure to bring your student ID and treat yourself to the range of discounts available. If you are interested in the nightlife, read our previous article on the best Leeds bars, pubs, and clubs.


Amongst the city, Leeds has a wide range of cultural buildings that have both historical and societal significance. In 2023, Leeds city council is focusing on making it the year of culture to showcase local artists and the various cultures and ethnicities of the people that live there.

For students, there are museums and art galleries that offer free admission throughout the year.

Royal Armouries Museum

One of the best attractions in Leeds is the Royal Armouries. Across five floors, there is a vast range of antiques, relics, and memorabilia from the National Collection of Arms and Armour. Through these displays, the museum brings the military and combat history of Leeds to life right in front of your eyes.

Hosting various events, admission to the museum is free, though it is recommended pre-booking online before visiting. Other museums include the Abbey House Museum, Leeds Industrial Museum and Leeds City Museum, based in the popular Millennium Square.

The Tetley

The former Tetley’s Brewery HQ, which once housed one of the largest breweries in the UK, is now a centre for art and culture in Leeds. The Tetley has a wide range of offerings, including the gallery, which hosts several thought-provoking contemporary art exhibitions by well-known artists and up-and-coming talent.

There are also free art exhibitions throughout the year for students interested in art and culture, and classes such as life painting and watercolour workshops. Find out more about the local amenities in Leeds with our previous advice centre piece.

Man looking at art and paintings

Theatre, music and film

First Direct Arena

If you are interested in seeing your favourite music artists and comedians, First Direct Arena is the place to go. Although there are other music venues, such as The Key Club and The O2 Academy, First Direct Arena is the largest concert venue in the city and has hosted various musical superstars since opening in 2013.

From iconic musicians, Prince, Sir Elton John, and Fleetwood Mac to comedians The League of Gentlemen and even BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year; First Direct Arena is one of the main venues in the North of England.

Leeds Grand Theatre

The renowned Leeds Grand Theatre will take good care of all theatre fans. Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing was staged here when it first opened in November 1878, and ever since, it has hosted only successful productions.

Along with serving as the main stage for the famed Opera North and performances by Northern Ballet, this is the location to go to see the major West End musicals on tour, such as Wicked and Shrek the Musical. Other theatres include Leeds Playhouse, which supports local artists and engages with various communities in West Yorkshire.

City Varieties Music Hall

Opening in 1865, City Varieties Music Hall is a hidden gem in West Yorkshire and the Guinness World Record holder for the nation’s longest-running music hall. Although its 467-seat capacity is much smaller than other venues, it is still one of the favourites amongst the community.

No matter your preferences or interests, it is important that students looking to live in Leeds have the best accommodation available. Popular student areas include Hyde Park, Headingley and Woodhouse. Discover more about where you should live here.

Frequently asked questions

Is Leeds a good place to live as a student?

Leeds has a strong student population every year, with over 48,000 living around the city. With a variety of things to do and attractions for students, Leeds has been named one of the best places to live as a student by past students. This is primarily down to the vibrant nightlife and lower prices compared to other larger cities.

Make sure you book your student accommodation as soon as possible. Contact Mansion Student today and see how we can help you find the best accommodation.

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