THE ULTIMATE WEEKEND GUIDE TO LEICESTER BY A LOCAL
Affiliate Links Disclosure: I may receive a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. This is at no cost to you. For further information, read our Disclosure Policy
Leicester is the city well known for the discovery of the last Plantagenet King, Richard III’s remains and now his last resting place, the underdogs of football who won the premiership league in 2016, the world class Leicester Tigers Rugby Club and not to mention it’s connection to many playwrights, most notable being Sue Townsend and Joe Orton and then there’s it’s links with the great David Attenborough!
Leicester, or the once Roman city of Ratae Corieltauvorum, well…. there really isn’t anywhere quite like it. The immersive mix of cultures, the food, the diversity and surroundings are simply like no other. It is a city that is completely captivating and inspiring and makes me so proud to call home being Leicester born and bred.
This weekend guide to Leicester by a local, provides you with a fine directory to plan a break in the city and surroundings with carefully curated abodes, activities, restaurants, cafes and much more. My passion is to support local and independent businesses in the city and therefore I share with you many of my favourite local businesses who I whole-heartedly support in the city.
There is so much to see and do in Leicester for everyone! You decide when!
I would recommend downloading the Leicester Google Map by signing up to the Be-Collective below as all the suggestions here have been added to the map and can be accessed on your smart phone in seconds. Click below to access:
How to Get to Leicester
- Air : East Midlands is the closed airport to Leicester, and is approximately a half an hour by car to the city.
- Train : Due to Leicester’s central location, it is served by a number of train lines including East Midlands Railways and is only 1 hour 3 mins to St. Pancras Station and also Cross-Country Trains with links to many of the airports.
- Car : Leicester can be accessed via the M1 (Junction 21) or the M69 from the north and south of the country.
- Bus : Leicester Coach Station is located right in the heart of the city with a frequent service run by National Express through England (direct and with connections). Megabus is also a great option if you have flexible travel times (also book train tickets through here)
Many hotels will be able to recommend parking options but here are some of city centre ones, which can be located on the Leicester Map Download.
Highcross Shopping Centre
NCP Dover Street
NCP Rutland Street
NCP Lee Circle
Where to Stay
A few popular choices in Leicester all accessible for the City Centre sights.
(click directly on hotel name for more Information and book)
Click on Pin to read A Review of The Novotel Leicester
Winstanley HouseA stunning Grade II listed Georgian house, now a stunning boutique hotel located just out of the city centre with 19 bedrooms and the famous Black Iron restaurant. Marriott HotelLocated just off the M1 with easy links in and out of the city, the hotel is modern with beautiful rooms and a cocktail bar and pool. Belmont HotelA boutique hotel found on the leafy, tree-lined pedestrian walkway known as New Walk, this boutique hotel dates back to the 1930’s. They also do a pretty good afternoon tea!
What to do
Leicester is most definitely a destination that has a lot to offer in terms of activities and things to do from historic places of interest and self-guided tours to outdoor activities as well as traditional entertainment. I’ve included my Top 12 things to do in and around Leicester.
Remember all locations are downloadable and on a handy Leicester Google Map.
History & Culture Vultures (click above) for a Local’s Historic Guide to Leicester, which covers the city’s past through the ages and must-visit prominent spots to sojourn during your stay. Includes Museums, Heritage sites and experiences.
Top 12 Things to do in Leicester A personally curated list of recommendations
If you love walks click on the Pin to find out all about my 5 Autumn Historical walks in Leicester.
They can be taken in any season by the way, however Autumn is my favourite time of year.
A self-guided Street Art walk would be one of my top picks. Click on the pin to read more about the Street Art scene in Leicester.
For more information contact Graffwerk
Entertainment List options to explore in the city in terms of activities, theatre, cinema and live music. This is by no means an exhaustive list.
- New Spots: Lane 7 Bowling Alley and games venue with street food truck
For those who may want to take some time out of the city centre environment and venture into the suburbs, how about seeing one of the other neighbourhoods in the city.
- Wistow Maze Explore one of the country’s largest Maze if you fancy a mind and body exercise. Also a great way to keep the kids entertained for a while!
- Belvoir Castle A fabulous day out on in the vale of Belvoir, have a peruse of the beautifully manicured gardens and stunning castle, the home of the Duke & Duchess of Rutland. One of the most stunning places you will visit in the area.
- Foxton Locks On the line of the Grand Union canal, this 10 lock canal consists of two staircase locks and is a great place to walk and discover the history of this system at the on site museum and a visit to the local watering hole.
Fancy something a little more adventurous to do in the Leicestershire countryside? Click on the pin to read all about Kayaking on the River Soar.
Bradgate Park A personal favourite for seasonal walks, this huge parkland in Newtown Linford provides acres of fresh green space, deer, peacocks and is pretty rich in history too!
- English Heritage Properties (click opposite to view more English Heritage sites)
- Ashby de la Zouch Castle A short drive out of Leicester in Ashby, this former manor house ruins makes for a perfect day out and even provides you with an audio guide to give you a real feel for the place.
- Kirby Muxloe Castle A gorgeous castle surrounded by a moat, complete with a turret or two. Spend some time at leisure checking out the area with a picnic.
Belgrave Road was an ancient Roman link road now known for its Indian fashion, spice bazaars, jewellery shops and of course for hosting the biggest Diwali celebrations each year outside of India.
- Clarendon Park This leafy suburb is not only where I grew up but also has a lovely local shopping road called Queens Road. It’s packed full of lovely restaurants, bars, gift shops, coffee hangouts and is a lovely chilled area to take in the local scenes. It’s around a 20-30 minute walk from the city via Victoria Park and New Walk.
- Stoneygate Shopping Another of Leicester’s suburbs, Stoneygate is within easy reach of the city centre and has some lovely coffee and cake stops as well as gift shops, bars, a yoga centre, great brunch spots, beauty salons and much more!
Being a complete coffee feind, I can totally confirm, Leicester has a fab coffee shop culture with lots of fantastic independent shops in and around the city. Click the above to check out Independent Coffee & cake hangouts in LE1
To read about more cafes in and around Leicester, click here
Over the past few years, Leicester has excelled in its Brunching options from pancakes to continental to full English to boozy! Check out my trusty list below. To read more about Brunch spots in Leicester Click here
You can easily locate and access all these options by downloading my Leicester Google Map by signing up to The Be-Collective below
Leicester Bars & Pubs
So whether you love a real ale or fancy cocktails or even mocktails, there are options to suite everybody! Here are some fantastic independent Bar & Pub options around the city. Your complete Guide to Independent Pubs & Bars in Leicester
New Spots: Audrey Bar Swanky new bar, favourite with the Instagrammers & Kiith (dry bar serving food)
Click on the Pin to read about my Top Espresso Martini haunts in Leicester (also features many of the best bars in Leicester)
Leicester truly is a melting pot of cultures and flavours and has many independent cuisines so please note this is by no means an exhaustive list and by all means research is key if there is a particular kind of cuisine you wish to try.
New Spots: That’s Amore (Family owned Italian restaurant), Sonrisa Bar & Restaurant (Argentinian Restaurant) PAI (Pizza Restaurant). The Pickled Mushroom at King Richard III Pub (American & World Street Food)
For all your bread and cake lovers, here are a few bakeries for you to tuck into freshly made treats. If you love sourdough especially, I recommend popping into Skylark and picking up a loaf supplied by Bisbrooke Artisans and sipping on some tea and cakes whilst you’re there!
Leicester Dessert Spots
If you like your desserts, then fear not there are some specialist stores that will cater for your sweet needs!
There are a fine mix of independent stores in Leicester, selling clothing, to gifts to interiors and there’s even a chocolatier, Cocoa Amore, where you can pre-book workshops. Why not have a little mooch around the shops and help support local?
Click on the Pin to read all about Leicesters Famous Market, it’s history, produce and it’s connections to suffragette, Alice Hawkins
A Sporting City
Sporting fans will be aware that Leicester is well known for it’s sport including football , Rugby, Basketball and Cricket.
Club locations (Leicester City Football Club, Leicester Tigers, Grace Road Cricket Club & Leicester Riders) Football have been added to the downloadable Leicester Google Map
Leicester has many beautiful open spaces to walk around and get some fresh air. They are well maintained and some are stunningly landscaped. Pick as many as you like from the line-up below…
Abbey Park, Victoria Park, Leicester Botanical Gardens, The Oval (New Walk), Castle Gardens, Knighton Park, Bradgate Park, Swithland Woods, Beacon Hill.
Find out more about Leicester Parks
Some useful links, which will provide you with further resources to plan your visit…
- Cool as Leicester A website that serves as a directory with a whole host of things to do, where to eat and drink, upcoming news, local interviews, weekly events, entertainment and music guides.
- Discover Leicester Head over to their Instagram account, which details all the fun things to do in Leicester including outdoor adventures, latest offers at certain establishments and much more.
- Visit Leicester Information collated by Leicester City Council to help you make the most of your visit to the city, including an events calendar.
- Story of Leicester One of my favourite websites, which brings the story of the city alive through buildings, history and key people of relevance. There are boards displayed all around the city signifying the presence of points of interest.
- Be-lavie Keep checking back as the ‘Leicester Life’ sections is always being update as well as lots of other lifestyle and sustainability matters
To sign up and have access to this FREE map, click below
Leicester: A Local’s Weekend Guide
If you’ve managed to get this far, I’m pretty sure you’ve noted down a few reasons why you want to visit the city and what experiences you have your eye on.
All that’s left for me to say is I hope you love your visit to my home city and adore it as much as I do for its rich past, friendly locals, culture-filled presents and exciting future as a destination not just made famous by King Richard III but he definitely helped!