The Insider’s Guide to Leicester
Where to shop, strutt, scoff and hang out.
Leicester is a melting pot of culture tucked away within the East Midlands. The city lies on the River Soar and is brimming with diversity making it a fantastic place to soak up the incredible restaurants, fab indie shops, festivals, art, theatre and more.
Planning to visit soon? We’ve pounded the streets, hit up the best places and discovered a whole load of fun for you to enjoy during your stay. Let’s get started…
When it comes to food, you’ll be hard pushed to find a more diverse place to eat. The city’s Golden Mile is heaving with a fantastic range of curry houses, Indian cafes and dessert shops – veggie food is big here and you can eat a small feast here for a few quid.
Back in town, eclectic cafe, Kai recently opened up a pop-up restaurant called The Yellow Elephant serving English-Indian fusion food – something we’ve not really seen here before. Think tandoori fried chicken wings, naan burgers, masala battered fish and chips, paneer and jeera rice balls and of course curries but only open Fri and Sat evenings for dinner.
The Pantry is a brand new cafe that’s opened up in Loseby Lane and you can stop over for breakfast but if lunch is what you’re after, the daily-changing menu can serve anything from a falafel superfood salad to a tandoori wrap washed down with a turmeric smoothie – trust me it’s delicious!
Meanwhile, Wantons Bar is run by chef Kwoklyn Wan (big bro to fashion guru, Gok Wan) andn specialises in Hong Kong street food! Expect pot stickers, steamed dim, Szechuan spiced fries and more.
Quite possibly the most stylish restaurant in the city, Black Iron is the place for modern fine dining. Housed inside a Georgian Grade II listed building, inside it’s super swish with top-notch food and service.
Visit Canteen on the last Friday of every month at LCB Depot for an amazing variety of street food from burgers to Greek food, waffles to churros – but be prepared to queue for the food or come early to bag the best dishes before they run out!
On the plush and slightly pricey side, rooms at Winstanley House are elegant, spacious and inviting but definitely worth splashing out on if you’re in the city for a special event.
Previous Muddy Award winner, Horseshoe Cottage Farm is located 30 yards from Bradgate Park, and provides cosy accommodation in a beautiful 200-year old stone farmhouse in Charnwood Forest. While here you can take some beautiful walks through Swithland Woods.
You can easily cover the city in a weekend and there really are some treasures to discover here. From the King Richard III Visitor Centre where you can see exhibits on King Richard III’s life, death and grave discovery to the Guildhall – one of the best preserved timber framed halls in the country, dating back 600 years. Wygstons House was renovated last year into a pub and is the oldest standing building in the city and still has a lot of its original features.
A short drive away, the National Space Centre will take you on an adventure through time and space and art aficionados will appreciate the city’s impressive galleries including New Walk Museum where you can discover the dinosaur gallery, great if you’ve got the mudlets in tow.
For something different, join the Dead Leicester tours which guide you through medieval streets where you can hear stories and legends of foul beasts and dastardly deeds, of lost souls and fallen kings. During the last Sunday of the month, Heritage Sundays offer visitors can explore some of the city’s historic places free of charge including Castle Gardens and other beautiful and historical buildings.
45 West is an independent Bottle Shop and Bar situated in the heart of Leicester, a stone’s throw away from Leicester Cathedral. Enjoy signature G & T’s and an extensive cocktail menu.
The Orange Tree’s lovely private courtyard garden is a wonderful treat during the summer and more recently, Brick and Beam just opened in the city’s Cultural Quarter and features a great terrace bar. When it comes to good coffee, stop off at St Martin’s Tea and Coffee where the coffee is freshly roasted in their own roastery.
A treasure trove of beauty delight, you’ll find Amelia Nour in the classy Stoneygate area of the city. Inside the shelves are lined with beautiful vegan, vegetarian and eco-friendly products ranging from Oskia to Prismologie.
A few doors down is Nest, a gorgeous boutique shop selling an inspirational collection of gifts from jewellery to stationery.
Loseby Lane is full of pretty indie shops worth a visit – expect everything from interiors store to cool coffee shops and fashion boutiques to florists.
As well as the wonderful sights of the city, it’s totally worth visiting Bradgate Park for its gorgeous scenery. Set in 830 acres, with footpaths, a stream, kids playground, stone ruins, plus roaming peacocks and wild fallow deer – trust me even the kids will love it.
Abbey Pumping Station collects and displays the industrial, technological and scientific heritage of Leicester and is right next door to the Space Centre and features four working steam-powered beam engines and houses exhibits for transport, public health, light and optics, toys and more.
Don’t think there’s enough to do in the city with the kids? Think again! Flip Out is a relatively new trampoline park which gives burning energy a whole new meaning with things like a ninja obstacle course, gladiator pits, tumble tracks obstacle courses and more.
Abbey Park was opened in 1882 and includes flower gardens, a Chinese peace garden, walkways and green spaces. Why not hire a row boat or pedlo and enjoy the views from the boating lake beautiful on a warm summers day. A few minutes away, Leicester’s Outdoor Pursuits Centre, offers a range of adventurous outdoor activities from abseiling, air rifle shooting, kayaking, fencing and tonnes more.
Escape Asylum offers visitors the chance to choose from our three escape rooms to see if you have what it takes to get out in time – it will set your brain to work solving puzzles and mysteries.
The doughnuts in the new Doughnotts store in the Silver Arcade are made fresh early each morning in their own bakery and flavours include vegan vanilla caramel and strawberry crumble and our personal fave, thicka than a snicka.
Haymarket Theatre has just reopened after being closed for more than 10 years. It has had over 3 million pumped into the building and now features a remodelled lobby area and the revamped main auditorium seats 901 seats and is still the largest in the UK.
Ohh how we love Bottle Garden Bar, a beautiful botanical cocktail bar with an urban garden theme inside – think hanging plants, trees and herbs in pots and greenery dotted around the walls based in the heart of St. Martin’s Square – it’s great for drinks and on Sunday they have live jazz.
All-white minimalist interiors, coffee shop and breakfast and brunch cafe, CUE is a great meeting place for coffee connoisseurs, students and hot-desking if you’re looking for somewhere to perch with your lap-top.