Getting Around in Leeds
Located in West Yorkshire, Leeds is amongst the most important cities in England. With a population of over 700 thousand, it is the third most populous city in the United Kingdom. The city was propelled into prominence during the Industrial Revolution, when it became a major mill town. From being an important Victorian centre of industry back then, Leeds has now transformed into a legal and financial powerhouse, ranking second only to London in these fields. The city’s economy is diverse and has a booming private sector. Over the past decade or so, the city’s industrial growth has been well complemented by a growth in its culture, and today Leeds ranks as one of the best cities to visit in Europe thanks to its thriving restaurant scene, vibrant nightlife and a unique city culture. The Victorian style architecture of the city’s buildings lends it a regal character. Simply put, your travel diary must have a place for Leeds.
Apart from its prowess as a centre of industrial importance, Leeds is also a delight for tourists and travellers, with its beautiful parks and gardens, restaurants that serve delightful gourmet experiences and its museums and galleries which take you on a tour back in time. Art lovers would be delighted by some of the works on display at the Leeds Art Gallery and the Henry Moore institute. The Abbey House Museum and the Leeds City Museum offer exciting tours for visitors, making it a good outing for families and groups. The one museum, however, that ought to be visited by everyone is the Royal Armouries Museum: Five galleries display over 8000 rare items- War, Tournament, Oriental, Self Defence and Hunting. Among the treasures of this wonderful museum are Henry VIII’s tournament armour and a world record breaking suit of elephant armour! All this comes for an entry fee of nothing!
With over 80 festivals occurring annually, Leeds also caters wonderfully to music fans and lovers.
One of the best things about Leeds is its wonderful parks and lush-green spaces. Such a beautiful setting makes the city and its surrounding areas a perfect spot for indulging in outdoor activities. The Roundhay Park, amongst the most popular in Europe is spread out over 700 acres and allows walkers to take a peaceful stroll in the lap of nature, while encountering a plethora of bird and animal species. The Temple Newsam and Kirkstall Abbey are two other gems which boast of being havens for both flora and rare fauna. Outdoor events keep occurring throughout the year to add to their appeal. Brimham Rocks in the Yorkshire Dales are highly recommended too.
Being an affluent city, Leeds has some spectacular shopping centres to cater to its population and visitors. Perhaps the most famous among them is the The Corn Exchange. The Victorian architecture adds to the grandeur and lends a strong pulling power to the place. Small independent boutiques operate here, selling handmade jewellery, handicrafts clothing and much more. Unique items are sourced from all around the world.
A city like Leeds, located in the heart of England, is well serviced by various means of transport. We shall now look at the various ways of getting around in Leeds, and some tips to make the best use of them:
1. Getting Around Leeds by Bus:
The information about buses and other means of public transport in Leeds and the entire West Yorkshire area is provided by Metro (West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Authority). Their website displays all relevant information pertaining to public transport in the city. The bus network in Leeds is very efficient and buses are the most preferred mode of transport for making local journeys within the city. The Leeds City Bus/ Service 5 links key locations around the city centre. Tickets are priced at one Pound, unless carrying special passes. The transport authority’s website displays all relevant information and must be browsed. (www.wymetro.com). Travellers can avail a special First day ticket, when travelling towards the city centre from the suburbs or travelling across Leeds. Priced at 4 Pounds, it allows travel in any of the First Leed buses within the city’s boundaries. Special bus services also run during the week, connecting the city’s important places like the Leeds University, the city railway station, major market areas and bus stations. The fare is a flat 50p. Most routes have buses running at a frequency of 10 minutes.
There is a free city bus service that provides complimentary travel around the city centre, running between the bus and train stations and the universities, business and shopping districts.
First is the largest bus operator in Leeds.
2. Exploring Leeds by Train:
The city has a limited suburban train service, which connects some of the major centres and landmarks in the city. It is a mode of travel preferred to make longer journeys both within and outwards of the city. Detailed information regarding time-tables, routes, arrival and departure timings and train stations can be accessed at wymetro.com/TrainTravel/ or nationalrail.co.uk . The train serviced by 24 lines, providing connectivity to destinations within and outside the city. Tourists are recommended a trip on the Settle Carlisle railway line to experience its beautiful sights. The train network is hence a great way to explore the city’s best sights. However, if your destinations do not lie on the train route, taxis are to be hailed!
3. Hailing a Cab in Leeds:
As mentioned previously, taxis are the best way to explore Leeds if your destination isn’t covered by the city’s excellent public transportation network. Leeds has many different taxi services catering to people and their commuting needs. The traditional taxis in the city are painted black and white, much like other major cities in the country. Apart from them, Leeds has a plethora of private taxi operators, which create an embarrassment of riches when it comes to making a choice. As compared to the traditional taxis, they have modern facilities. All these options, however, make it difficult to judge the best operator!
Since they are a swift way to get around the city, taxis in Leeds, just like in every major city in the world, are expensive. The traditional black and white cabs are quite expensive. Private operators have cheaper fares and can be pre-booked.
Tourists and visitors are requested to only hail the traditional taxis and avoid getting into the private ones. The traditional taxis are licensed and are hence better monitored and a safe bet. Taxis in Leeds can be hailed on the street and they are always available near the city’s most important spots.
As is recommended everywhere, passengers must have a concrete idea of their fare beforehand to avoid being overcharged.
Following is some important information about hailing cabs in Leeds:
Amber Taxis (advance booking only, +44 113 231 1366) are available near Leeds City centre. Getting around the city centre costs between 3-7 Pounds. Another taxi service available here is Apollo (+44 113 243 3333)
Royal Park cabs (+44 113 230 5000) provide services around the Headingley and Hyde Park area. Local Cars (+44 113 252 8258) provide service in South Leeds. A journey of a mile costs less than 3 Pounds.
4. Exploring Leeds on Foot:
Walking around Leeds is a good option if you plan to explore the City Centre and its nearby areas. Surprisingly compact for a city of such size, walking around is quite easy. Tourists are advised to procure a map of the city before setting off on your walk. Maps can be downloaded either from the city council’s website or can be obtained from the various tourist information centres in the city, and also from a number of tourist attractions. Being pedestrianised, the central areas of the city are easily explorable by foot. Almost all major attractions here are located near to each other, making walking across an easy option.
Visitors can also use the Walkit App to generate walking routes of the city and for other information regarding your walking journey. It allows you to create routes specifically according to the places you want to visit.
5. Driving Around in Leeds:
Driving around Leeds isn’t advisable since the city has a robust public transport network. Traffic congestions and common traffic issues affect the city like any other metropolis around the world. While the City Centre has good access to the motorways, the city centre loop proves confusing to visitors. Since it is a one-way loop, you will have to drive around the loop if you miss a destination. Visitors are hence requested to park their car on arrival , and use the public transportation system.