Living and studying in the United Kingdom is a great opportunity to meet new people and explore new cities. London has so much to offer, but sometimes it’s nice to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Major train lines, linking the biggest cities and quaintest villages, make it easy to move around the UK. Plus, you can get good student discounts with a train card, making it comfortable and affordable to travel.
I recently spent a weekend visiting the Northern cities of Leeds and York. A good friend of mine is doing her PhD Leeds so I went to see her. Both cities are worth the trip. Keep reading for reasons to visit each city and I hope you feel inspired to get to know more of the UK!
London to Leeds…
A little over two hours away from London by train, Leeds is the perfect destination for anyone who likes delicious food, enjoys history and loves to shop. The train station is conveniently located within walking distance from the city centre and everyone is super friendly.
Fuel-up at a local cafe. I stopped in one called, Laynes, and had the most delicious brunch. In the evening, head to the Granary Wharf area which offers a variety of fun bars and restaurants, popular amongst the locals. We ate a The Lock, which has a relaxed, pub-like atmosphere with yummy burgers and fries.
Even if history isn’t your thing, a visit to the Royal Armouries Museum is a must. I was so impressed with the collection of wartime arms and armour. Admission is free, so there’s no excuse not to go!
Finally, browse the Victoria Arcade, Leeds Corn Exchange and Leeds Kirkgate Market. All within walking distance of each other, you’ll find local vendors as well as more well-known clothing chains and also get some great photos.
Next stop, York!
York is beautiful and perfect for a weekend getaway. Only twenty minutes away from Leeds by train, it’s easy to combine the two cities, but if you only have time for one, I’d recommend York. I went at Christmas time, so I got to experience the famous York Christmas market. However, there were so many people it was like being at Disneyworld, so going to another time of year may be better if you want to take your time exploring the city. However, the Christmas market was awesome. There were tons of local artists and vendors and yummy winter-time drinks and treats.
York is very picturesque- you’ll get awesome photos to update your Instagram. The first great photo opportunity is at the York Minister. You can climb to the top of the Central Tower if you’re feeling ambitious, but even just a walk around outside the cathedral will leave you in awe.
Walk along the old city walls that were once part of the ancient Roman fortifications of the city and indulge your sweet tooth and discover York’s famous chocolate. The locals are pros at making sweets. Their CV boasts over 300 years of experience in the industry and is home to brands including the Rowntree and Terry families.
Finally, the National Railway Museum in York is the world’s largest museum of its kind. If you love trains and rail travel, this is the place for you.
Happy and safe travels! If you’ve visited or visiting Leeds and/or York, share what you loved most about each city!