We all know that feeling – it’s nearly the end of the month and payday isn’t coming soon enough, but you still have a burning desire to be out and about – it’s a real struggle. But rest assured that you are not alone, every now and again we all need to stick to a budget when it comes to our days out.

Luckily, we have the greatest city in the world (probably?) right on our doorstep, and Leeds is practically bursting with free and affordable activities that won’t burn a whole in your wallet. With this in mind, we set ourselves the challenge to see just how many activities we could cram into one fun-filled day, all while keeping to a budget of just £20.

So after scouring through all the various tourist attractions, entertainment venues, outdoor spaces, and affordable food and drink spots, we can finally present our guide to spending a day in Leeds for £20 or less. Pick and choose from the activities below to create your own itinerary, or simply try and tick off as many as you can in just 24 hours…

Wander the Halls of Leeds’ Famous Art Galleries

You might be surprised to hear that Leeds lays claim to the most extensive collection of modern and contemporary British art outside of London. With no entry fees required, Leeds’ art galleries make the perfect start to our budget guide – but donations are always welcome if you’re feeling generous!

Leeds Art Gallery is located right in the heart of the city centre, making it the perfect stop for day trippers and locals alike. First opened way back in 1888, this cultural hotspot is now over 130 years old and shows absolutely no signs of stopping. The permanent exhibitions show off some incredible works from the likes of Antony Gormley, Damien Hirst, and Barbara Hepworth, while rotating exhibitions offer the chance to see fresh works from artists from all over the world.

The Tetley is definitely not to be missed for anyone exploring Leeds’ South Bank, and being based in an art deco brewery headquarters, even the building it calls home is a work of art. While the gallery may be historic, its exhibitions are bursting with contemporary artworks from locals and legends alike. With a real focus on promoting local talent, and a jam-packed calendar of workshops and events, The Tetley is a real cultural landmark for the city.

Explore some of our city’s rich history at a museum…
Leeds City Museum & Royal Armouries.

It’s not just art that’s free to explore in the city centre, there’s also plenty of historical exhibits and artefacts just waiting to be discovered in one of the city’s museums. From archaeological treasures and extinct animals to ancient swords and armour, there’s bound to be something on show for everyone.

Leeds City Museum boasts multiple collections and exhibitions, each one exploring a different element of our past. The fascinating Life on Earth gallery showcases some of the most remarkable species and plants to ever walk the planet, while the Ancient Worlds gallery plays host to Leeds’ very own 3000-year-old mummy, Nesyamun, alongside a huge collection of artefacts and treasures. With so much going on, there’s only so much we can capture here, but you can be sure that there’ll be something to capture your imagination within the vast hallways of this museum.

Located down on the docks, The Royal Armouries Museum is the official home for the UK’s national collection of arms and armour, and it’s 100% free for the public to explore. Featuring a whopping five galleries filled to the very brim with the 4,500 objects on display, it’s well worth taking some time to discover all of the museum’s incredible exhibitions. With each and every item providing a fascinating insight into how arms and armour have shaped our past, some highlights include a complete set of elephant armour from the 16th century, Henry VIII’s very own suit of armour, and even the pulse rifle from the hit sci-fi film, ‘Aliens’.

Get outside and enjoy the city’s green space… Kirkstall Abbey & Roundhay Park

Is there a better way to spend a day than being out in nature, enjoying all that our city’s green spaces have to offer? Well, we guess that depends on the weather, but if the sun’s working in your favour then there’s no better time to grab a picnic blanket and hit the parks.

Just a short bus ride out from the city centre, you’ll find two impressive outdoor spaces, perfect to escape the buzz of the city centre. Jump on the number 34 bus towards Otley, and you’ll find yourself at the majestic Kirkstall Abbey, a Cistercian monastery founded over 800 years ago that’s still standing tall today. Take the chance to explore the historic ruins of the abbey and learn all about their history, while making the most of the luscious green park and woodland, lying just alongside the River Aire.

Or if it’s wide open spaces you’re after, grab one of the many buses that head out towards Roundhay Park – covering over 700 acres, it’s one of the largest urban parks in the world and attracts over a million people every year. It’s easy to see why it’s so popular, with everything from bright green lawns, shimmering boating lakes, and endless trails to explore.

Quench your thirst with a quick pint… Adelphi & Whitelocks

While our £20 budget may be small, we’re not going to let that stop us enjoying some of Leeds’ finest exports, so we’ll be saving a couple of coins to hit up one of our favourite pubs. The city has a vibrant craft beer and real ale scene, and with new bars and breweries popping up all over, there’s no lack of possible drinking destinations, and it’s the perfect way to round off an affordable day out.

After starting out as Tetley’s flagship pub in the late nineteenth century, The Adelphi has gone from strength to strength and remains a firm favourite in the city, sitting just across from the old brewery. Designed to imitate the opulent Victorian drinking palaces of its era, this building is impressive enough with its heavy wooden doors and ornate features, but it’s made even better by the vast array of craft ales and beers on tap. Welcoming to all, whether from near or far, on two legs or four, a quick stop at The Adelphi is bound to improve any day out.

First built back in 1715, the well-hidden Whitelocks Ale House takes the title of Leeds’ oldest pub, but it’s anything but outdated. Sitting just off from the hustle and bustle of Briggate, the pub has been a haven for locals since the sixteenth century, and still manages to attract huge crowds every Friday evening. Serving up a wide range of craft beers and ales, many of which hail from Yorkshire, Whitelocks is another great destination for your next day out in Leeds.

Wander through the city’s independent shopping arcades…

Independent shops are such a big part of Leeds’ culture that it’s hard to ignore them, even when we’re trying to look after our pockets. Luckily, that doesn’t stop us from browsing some of our favourite destinations, especially when so many of them are surrounded by such grand architecture. From the shopping arcades that weave their way between the city streets, lined with independent café’s, traders, and stores, to the Victorian elegance of the Corn Exchange, an iconic market building that’s truly not to be missed.

Stop off for an affordable bite to eat…

After so many excitement and activities, you’re bound to be working up an appetite, making this the perfect time to find yourself some great food on a budget. Thankfully, this isn’t a hard task, with independent kitchens all across the city offering up their wares for an affordable price. Many local favourites have special offers for those on the hunt for a low-cost lunch, such as Bundobust’s Lunch Express deal that offers you the chance to grab two of their massive dishes for just a meagre £8.50. Meanwhile, pizza legends Simpatico offer up their famous slices in Queens Arcade for just over a fiver, and the sandwich experts at Wapentake offer up a true taste of Yorkshire for less than the price of a train ticket.

Images: Leeds City Museum, The Tetley, Whitelocks