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With a population of nearly 500,000 in the city districts and a metropolitan area of over 1.5 million people, Leeds is the fifth largest city in the UK and the largest in the historical region of Yorkshire.
The city has a proud industrial heritage that is reflected in its architecture and many canals. It is also a great base to explore Yorkshire’s literary heritage with the Bronte Sisters home of Haworth and James Herriott Country just a short drive away.
Leeds today is one of the most important financial centres outside of London and this is reflected by the plethora of designer shops that can be found here. Visitors will be spoiled by the fantastic architecture, amazing culture, vibrant restaurant and friendly gay nightlife.
Though nowhere near as well-known as Manchester’s gay scene, Leeds has a modest and bouncing gay scene centred around Call Lane. Here you will find a variety of gay bars, clubs and a sauna.
Leeds has a popular annual gay pride festival which attracts visitors from around the North of England. The New Penny claims to be the longest running gay venue in the UK having opened in 1953.
Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) is situated 11km north west of the city centre in the town of Yeadon. It is mostly served by budget carriers which connect it to destinations across Europe. British Airway and KLM offer connections to the major hubs of Heathrow and Schiphol.
The 757 bus takes you into Leeds city centre and has free wi-fi and power points. A single costs £3.80 but you can pay in euro notes (change in sterling). The first bus into the city leaves around 5am and the last leaves around midnight. Journey times are around 30 minutes.
A taxi into Leeds city centre is faster and costs around the £20 mark. Arrow Taxis are the official taxi company serving the airport so if travelling back to the airport it is worth baring in mind that these are the only taxi company that can stop in the forecourt.
Leeds train station is the third busiest station in the UK outside of London, and busiest in the North of England. It offers great connections on the East Coast Mainline up to Scotland and down to the south west coast. London is just over 2 hours away by train.
The city centre of Leeds is realtively easy to get around by foot. The gay venues are in very close to proximity and there aren’t any steep inclines to battle with. It’s only worth taking other modes of transport if you’re visiting attractions outside of the city centre.
The Leeds metropolitan area and its surrounding attractions are well served by frequent bus connections. A single to the boundaries of the metropolitan zone will cost £3 and a day ticket will cost £4.20.
Be wary of getting in unofficial taxis, especially on a night out, as you will be ripped off. Look out for the standard city cabs or alternatively pre-book via Amber Taxis or Apollo for a cheaper rate.
It is recommended to stay close to The Calls/Call Lane as this is close to Leeds’ gay village. For a list of recommended hotels, visit our Gay Leeds Hotels page.
Town Hall – a splendid example of Victorian architecture and a building that Leeds folk are fiercely proud of. The venue hosts a wide variety of events and concerts.
Millenium Square – large civic space that is frequently host to some form of event. In winter the German Market is held here and there is a big screen for large sporting events.
Leeds Art Gallery and the Henry Moore Institute – both are free entry and offer a short but sweet introduction to the worlds of classical and modern art. The Henry Moore Institute is a fitting tribute to Yorkshiere’s best known sculptor.
Victoria Quarter a fantastic Victorian Arcade known for its extensive use of marble. Here you will find high fashion mixed with up-scale cafes.
Kirkgate Market – an Aladdin’s cave offering everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to vintage clothing. This was the venue of the very first Marks and Spencer establishment, known as Marks Penny Bazaar.
The Corn Exchange – architecturally based on the Paris Corn Exchange, this is a wonderful destination for some upscale shopping and dining. We recommend Humpit, a wonderful food joint that specialises in hummus and pitta.
The Royal Armouries and Leeds Dock – an imposing modern museum dedicated to weaponry in all its forms. The surrounding development of Leeds Dock has a casino, restaurants, bars and is extremely lively during the Leeds waterfront festival.
Leeds First Direct Arena – recently opened performance venue and the first in the UK with a fan-shaped orientation. Acts that have played here include Elton John, Bruce Springsteen and local lads the Kaiser Chiefs.
Roundhay Park – take bus lines 2 and 12 out of the city centre to this massive Victorian Park. It is perfect to stroll around on a summer’s day with a variety of lakes and gardens to explore. It also has a glass house (Tropical World) with butterflies and meerkats if the weather’s poor.
Kirkstall Abbey – ruined Cistercian abbey that was dissolved in Henry VIII’s rampage against the Catholic church. The dramatic ruins have inspired artists from across the years.
Unlike some of it’s more touristy neighbours, Leeds does not get swarmed by tourists in the summer. We’d argue Leeds is worth a visit anytime of the year.
Leeds is actually one of the driest cities in the UK due to it being directly east of the Pennine mountain range. Summers are usually mild for the most part but temperatures can climb up. Winters are crisp and cloudy and occasionally dusted in snow.
Due to its diverse population there is a whole host of great celebrations to visit in Leeds. The city has a popular pride celebration in August and a queer film festival in March. The Leeds West Indian Carnival, held in August, is the oldest in Europe.
In recent years, the UK has tightened its immigration procedures and introduced the use of biometrics. Full details can be found here.
Most visitors from Hong Kong SAR, Singapore and Taiwan do not require a visa – check here to see if this applies to you.
Most other visitors from Asia need to obtain a visa before travelling to the UK. You will normally be required to attend an interview at your local British Embassy.
Entry is normally permitted for a period of 6 months, and you are free to travel anywhere in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. A British visa is not valid for travel to other European countries.
The UK currency is the Pound Sterling, symbolised by £. Euros are not accepted as payment in the UK.Visa & MasterCard and debit cards are accepted almost everywhere.
American Express and Diners cards are widely accepted. The UK uses a ‘Chip and PIN’ system for all payments. If your card has a microchip, expect to be asked to enter your PIN number rather than sign. If you do not have a PIN, expect to be asked to show official photo ID.
Exchanging cash into British Pounds in the UK can be expensive. Most Asian travellers get a better rate by exchanging currency before travelling to the UK.
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