Dubbed the Knightsbridge of the North, The Victoria Quarter is a series of interconnected Victorian arcades. With its elaborate stained-glass ceilings and trickling fountains, it’s a truly plush shopping experience. This is where the big guns of the designer world can be found – Louis Vuitton, Vivienne Westwood, Hugo Boss and plenty more. There’s also a branch of the posh department store Harvey Nichols, the first to open outside London. Soak up the refined atmosphere with high tea at Anthony’s Patisserie in the arcade.

If you’re looking for unusual clubbing outfits, funky jewellery or a bag that no one else in London has, the Corn Exchange is the place. Featuring smaller, independent designers and quirky gift shops, this is the Victoria Quarter’s rebellious younger sister. Housed in a historic oval building, its shops offer everything from inflatable bondage chairs, vintage film posters, surfwear and goth baby clothes (really).

Whatever you’re looking for, chances are you can find it in Europe’s biggest covered market. Kirkgate Market is a dizzying maze of stalls flogging the likes of goatskin rugs, pet supplies and hair weaves along with all the usual market fare. It’s amazing what you can pick up here with a bit of loose change.

Art beat
Yorkshireman Henry Moore, generally recognised as the greatest British sculptor of the 20th century, has strong ties to Leeds. The Henry Moore Institute, adjacent to the City Art Gallery, is a top source of information on the great man and modern sculpture generally. It features regular exhibitions and talks. The City Gallery, meanwhile, is one of the UK’s most significant art collections outside London, and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in the countryside near Leeds provides a great opportunity to enjoy art in the great outdoors. Another stalwart of the Leeds cultural scene is the acclaimed theatre the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Weapons, fun and war games
If weapons and armour float your boat, the world-class Royal Armouries museum ( will be right up your street. Just follow the signs adorned with what looks like a gimp mask with curly horns. Even if you’re sceptical about the appeal of swords, guns and other boys’ toys, the Armouries will surprise you. Allow several hours or ideally a whole day to explore the vast collection, which is presented in a modern, engaging and endlessly interactive way (you can even try your hand at firing a crossbow). Gaze in awe at the world’s largest suit of armour (it’s for an elephant) or head outside to the medieval tiltyard where you can watch falconry and jousting demonstrations. Best of all? Apart from a nominal charge for one or two activities, it’s completely free.

Get your glad rags on
Leeds people love a big night out, and this goes for townies as well as students. The city’s renowned clubbing scene covers everything from hip-hop venues to ’70s disco-themed clubs and trendy indie nights. The massive Oceania is a multi-roomed cheese fest complete with an illuminated dancefloor, dodgy velvet furnishings and corners full of furtively snogging punters. It’s a magnet for out-of-towners on the pull and hen and stag nights running amok. If sophisticated, funky house is more your thing, try The Northern Light, while HiFi plays contemporary soul, R&B and Motown. If you fancy shooting some pool in between trips to the dancefloor, check out The Elbow Room. If you’d settle for cheap drinks and young eye-candy, the student district of Headingley is your best bet. You sleaze.

• Amy Macpherson travelled to Leeds with GNER. Fares from London to Leeds start at £10 single, £20 return