A guide to the best bars in Leeds
Wanting to find out where all the best bars in Leeds are?
Well, there’ no denying, Leeds is a great night out. The city is bursting at the seams with watering holes to suit all kinds of evenings – from underground jazz bars to hipster pubs and sleek rooftop terraces. But sometimes a lot of choice can be a little overwhelming when you’re not sure where you want to go. So if you’re planning a weekend away in Leeds and want to explore its nightlife, this guide will tell you all you need to know about the best bars in Leeds, split into the areas you’ll find them in.
Merrion Street area
Tucked away behind the weary Merrion Centre, this area is a real hidden treasure trove of places to go after hours. Merrion Street itself, now mostly pedestrianised, is made up entirely of an eclectic collection of bars. On evenings and weekends, their tables and chairs collectively spill out onto the pavements, making it the perfect spot for drinks on warmer nights. In particular, Mojo and Manahatta are both great for their drinks and music, yet Roxy’s is the most unique, where you can also play table tennis alongside a drink or two. Just round the corner, you’ll find two
of the best bars in Leeds: Belgrave and Domino. The former is the place to go for casual drinks, slices homemade pizza and sometimes DJ nights. Whilst the latter is one of Leeds’ best-kept secrets – an underground jazz bar (yep the one I mentioned earlier) with a secret entrance and a mean spirits menu.
Greek Street area
Greek Street is one of the city’s newest go to areas for an evening out. The bars here a generally slightly more sophisticated – think creative cocktail and cosy wine bars that are laid back as opposed to loud. The Alchemist (which is way bigger than the one in Trinity Centre by the way), The Liquorist and Decanter are great examples of this and are all good options if you’re heading to this area. Like Merrion Street, Greek Street itself is part-time pedestrianised, so you can also enjoy drinks outside the front on sunny weekends.
Call Lane area
Call Lane is probably the place you’ll end up if you want to stay out until the early hours – most bars on this street are open until 3 am and some are open until 6 am at weekends. Call Lane Social and Jake’s Bar are the most popular bars but can get super busy at times. Whilst Neon Cactus (my favourite) is the one for cocktails and late night DJ sessions. Just be mindful though that the door policies are a little stricter here, with smart clothes and mixed-sex groups preferred.
South Bank area
The gentrification of South Bank is well underway and people are catching on. Following the opening of the new train station entrance, this area of the city has seen an influx of new bar openings and a wider discovery of existing ones. The best one, in my opinion, is Water Lane Boathouse. Set right on the canal edge, it’s pretty string lights and outdoor area, make it enticing from across the water. And once inside, their selection of craft beers and ales and gins will tempt you for sure. Other than that, The Hop and the LIVIN’Italy are both cosy little places. Each one set under the railway arches, so you can hear the trains go overhead whilst you drink.
Trinity/The Headrow area
Although this area of town is great for shopping, it’s certainly overshadowed when it comes to places to drink. That
being said, you’ll still find a fair few gems here. In Trinity Centre, there’s Angelica, which although can get a little
overcrowded at weekends, has a great rooftop terrace and a sense of class. There’s also The Botanist, which, as its name indicates focuses on nature-inspired drink concepts in a relaxed setting. Whilst over on The Headrow, there’s no place better to go than Headrow House. Sprawling over 3 floors, it’s home to both a beer hall, a cocktail bar and two rooftop terraces. Or if you fancy soaking up some of Leeds’ history alongside your drink, head to Whitelock’s near to Trinity. This is the oldest pub in Leeds, around since 1715 and is still as traditional as ever inside.
You can’t talk about drinking in Headingley without mentioning the Otley Run pub crawl. This long-standing Leeds tradition includes stops off at some of the oldest and renowned pubs in the city. It starts at Woodies and ends variably depending on who you ask, with at least 18 pubs in between. If you can’t hit them all, then the good ones include The Original Oak, The Skyrack and Hyde Park Pub. These pubs can get pretty crazy on a weekend though, so if you’re looking for somewhere a little more low key, go for Arcadia or Head of Steam instead. Each has a slightly alternative feel to them, with plenty of local and craft beers and ales on tap to try.
This isn’t, by all means, an extensive list of all the best bars in Leeds, or even all the areas you’ll find them in. But it
certainly covers off a lot of the best ones I’ve discovered in my 7 years of living here. Which do you think are the best bars in Leeds? Let me know in the comments?
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