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19th June 2022

A student-friendly guide to exploring Leeds

Only an hour train journey away from Manchester, Leeds is another great student city well worth a visit!
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A student-friendly guide to exploring Leeds
Leeds City Centre Photo: Wikimedia Commons

How to get to Leeds:

Being only 36 miles apart and a fellow northern city, Leeds can be a great day trip for students travelling from Manchester.

Travelling north-east to the city by train is a much more enjoyable experience in my opinion than going by coach, passing through the humble towns of Huddersfield and Dewsbury on your way (and getting a good view of the John Smith’s Stadium if you’re a football addict).

Getting to Leeds directly by train is extremely accessible from Manchester Victoria, Piccadilly and Oxford Road, with trains leaving regularly throughout the day from each station. This journey should take you just short of an hour.

The cost of trains to Leeds with a railcard is at its cheapest £7.50 with a 16-25 saver, and without is about £11. Although, it’s best to buy your ticket in advance for cheaper prices – I once got one for £3.80!

A cheaper option is to get the coach from Manchester Shudehill Interchange and arriving at Leeds Bus Station. This will cost you about £5-7 but will take around 20-30 minutes longer than the train. Overall, transport to Leeds is extremely accessible from Manchester, with options to suit you financially.

Leeds Station is right in the centre of the city, two minutes walking distance to city square and the Trinity shopping centre (a smaller version of the Arndale).

Once you’re in Leeds – Things to do and where to stay:

  • The Otley Run is a great pub crawl with 15 pubs to enjoy, starting from Woodies Craft Ale House in Headingly and finishing at the Dry Dock in the city centre.
  • Enjoy a film at Hyde Park Picture House, an independent cinema as it’s only a 4 minute walk from the infamous Brudenell Social Club and an 8 minute walk from Burley Park Station. Enjoy a meal at Punk Vegan on your way too!
  • Devour a Yorkshire Roast at the Whitelock’s Ale Pub (the oldest pub in Leeds) – only a 7 minute walk from Leeds Station.
  • Watch a show at Leeds Grand Theatre, an 11 minute walk from Leeds Station.
  • If you’re brave enough, painfully endure watching Leeds United at Elland Road. It’s best to get a bus from the station that’ll get you there in 20 minutes.
  • Leeds Art Gallery is free entry for the public and always has great exhibitions on. This is a good option for a rainy day (after all, this is northern England) and is about an 8 minute walk from Leeds Station.

If you’re looking for a cheap place to stay, you can find the Ibis hotel only 15 minutes walk away from the station. Alternatively, if you’re looking for somewhere a little more independent and homely than a hotel, you can find lots of cheap B&Bs and hostels from as little as £21 a night.

Leeds United playing at Elland Road – Photo: Flickr

Bars and venues:

From my personal experience, there are three great bars/gig venues worth a visit in and around Leeds.

A personal favourite is Brudenell Social Club. It claims to be “a lively and fun loving venue that embraces music and art under a wide and diverse umbrella that has no boundaries” – a claim which I believe it lives up to.

There are gigs on pretty much every night in the Community Room of humble size for up-and-coming performers. The Games Room includes a snooker table, pool tables, darts and table football to have fun with your mates over a pint or two. The Main Room is full of dated, homely, sticky tables with worn seats adding to the modest nature of Brudenell, where you can order smashing pies and pints from the bar.

It also has two large TVs showing sports matches on Sky TV and BT Sport. Brudenell has a great outside area, with benches and a pizza van in the summer, which is really popular with students.

The only downside with Brudenell is that it’s a 30 minute walk from Leeds Station or a cheap train journey to Burley Park that only takes about 4 minutes, but I promise it’s worth it, especially for a gig.

Most importantly, the Brudenell serves well-priced pints for you and your friends to get pissed while munching through bags of 20p space raiders.

Belgrave Music Hall is a great option if you want to stay in the city centre, with a 10 minute walk from the station. It’s basically Manchester’s YES but claims a different name, with the same half-price afternoon pizza slices that you just can’t get enough of.

Belgrave also has Patty Smith’s delicious burger kitchen which YES lacks, offering gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options at around £6.

It’s a larger venue than Brudenell, with a more alternative environment and there’s usually a DJ in the evenings. On the floor above is a small music hall, and the third floor is a great outdoor seating area for you to catch some rays.

Headrow House is a 4 minute walk from Belgrave Music Hall if you fancy a change in venue half-way through the evening. It’s another student-friendly bar with 50% off tasty kebabs from 2pm-10pm every Wednesday and 2 for £12 cocktails every day (I would also say its home to the best G&T in the north). Again, it has a great outdoor rooftop seating area and a DJ for you and your friends to enjoy.

Nothing performing live at Brudenell Social Club – Photo: Brudenell Social Club

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