Leeds is home to posh Victorian arcades, trendy bars and the flash Millennium Square. It could have got a bit big for its boots, but the huge student population and prevailing Yorkshire spirit keep Leeds grounded. Here’s why to visit.

Leeds nightlife – clubs and bars

The nightlife in Leeds is legendary – the Kaiser Chiefs’ tune, I Predict a Riot, was written about a stonking night out here. Superclub Oceania is a multi-roomed cheese fest, Northern Light is the place for funky house, while HiFi plays soul, R&B and motown. Meanwhile, Call Lane is a street full of cool bars. For cheap drinks and a lively buzz, head to the student district of Headingley.

Art and culture

The City Art Gallery has one of the UK’s top collections outside London, and at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in the countryside outside Leeds you can enjoy art in the great outdoors. Another stalwart of the Leeds cultural scene is the acclaimed theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse. The Royal Armouries museum is world class: fire a crossbow, see the world’s largest suit of armour (for an elephant) or watch falconry and jousting in the medieval tilt yard.

Cafes and restaurants

Teeming with trendy cafes and restaurants, Leeds has plenty of choices. Room, in the city centre, serves up retro dishes with a touch of glitz. For something pricier, French eatery No. 3 York Place is
often voted the best place in town. The recently restored Grade I listed Corn Exchange houses Piazza by Anthony, a restaurant from top chef Anthony Flinn, and fine food and drink retailers that sell a tasty array of cakes, chocolate and cheese. For cream teas, visit The Tiled Hall Cafe, wedged between Leeds Art Gallery and Leeds Central Library. If you love retro Americana, get down to Shaky Jakes, a 50s-style milkshake bar in Headingley.

The Yorkshire County Cricket Club

Cricket fans should also visit Headingley for the home ground of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, and the scene of many of England’s greatest victories. Further afield, check out the magnificent interior and gardens at Harewood House.

Shopping trip

More than 1000 shops are packed into the city’s heart, laced with pedestrianised streets, charming Victorian buildings and plenty of pubs and clubs to show off your new threads and get chummy with the locals. The Victoria Quarter is a series of Victorian arcades with stained-glass ceilings and trickling fountains. You’ll find designers Louis Vuitton, Vivienne Westwood and others – mixed with more affordable boutiques.

Essential information

WHEN TO GO: A few weeks before Christmas for some of England’s best festive shopping.
GETTING THERE: Trains run direct to Leeds from London King’s Cross, and National Express coaches depart from Victoria coach station. 
GETTING AROUND: Leeds is easily explored on foot. Out-of-town attractions, such as the Sculpture Park and Harewood House have good bus connections from the central bus station.
GOING OUT: A pint of beer costs about £3.
ACCOMMODATION: Hotel rooms cost from £23 a night.
GET MORE INFO AT: visitleeds.co.uk