While Leicester has always been a city with lots of history, just like other cities across Britain, until 2010 the city was primarily known for Walkers Crisps and ex-footballer and TV personality Gary Lineker. This East Midlands city was thrown into the spotlight twice in four years. Firstly in 2012 when the long lost and forgotten grave of King Richard III was discovered in a car park. Secondly, in 2016 when Premier League underdogs Leicester won the league.
Since then, the city has undergone cultural regeneration. Areas of the city centre have been renovated to make them more accessible for pedestrians, and more of its incredible 2000 year history has been put on the map. Many parts of the city are considered ancient, with historical buildings, ruins and battlefields dating back to Roman times. The city perfectly embodies a modern British city, dotted with history around every corner. A visit to Leicester offers a little something for everyone, be it history, shopping or family fun. Here are 20 things to do in Leicester to get you started.
- 20 Things To Do In Leicester
- 1- Visit The National Space Centre
- 2- Explore The Golden Mile
- 3- See A Game At King Power Stadium
- 4- Visit Leicester Cathedral
- 5- King Richard III Visitor Centre
- 6- Grand Union Canal
- 7- Bradgate Park
- 8- Church of St Mary de Castro
- 9- Abbey Park
- 10- #lastfriday at LCB Depot
- 11- Phoenix Cinema
- 12- Great Central Railway
- 13- Gate 38
- 14- University of Leicester Botanic Garden and Attenborough Arboretum
- 15- Bosworth Battlefield
- 16- St Martins Square
- 17- Leicester Museum and Art Gallery
- 18- Abbey Pumping Station
- 19- Leicester Guildhall
- 20- Belgrave Hall
- 20 Things To Do In Leicester
20 Things To Do In Leicester
1- Visit The National Space Centre
The National Space Centre is an incredible science museum to visit in Leicester, with six interactive galleries and the UK’s largest planetarium.
It also features a 42m (137.8ft) tall rocket tower that houses an upright rocket.
Among its many objects displayed are the Soyuz 7K-OK Spacecraft and the impressive Organ DMA EVA Spacesuit.
Zvezda made the suit in 1987 for the Soviet space program, and it was in use until 1989 for thermal vacuum testing.
It later was sent to the United States for further testing at NASA.
Inside the rocket tower is Thor Able, an American two-stage rocket used as a test rocket and was first flown in 1958.
National Space Centre is at Exploration Drive, Leicester, LE4 5NS.
2- Explore The Golden Mile
Leicester’s Golden Mile is a celebration of its Indian community.
The mile is filled with incredible Indian restaurants, including the award-winning Curry Fever.
Aside from a wide range of must-visit restaurants, numerous shops sell authentic clothing, spices, and other goods.
In November, the Golden Mile hosts the largest Diwali celebration outside India.
Golden Mile is at Belgrave Road, Leicester, LE4 6AS.
3- See A Game At King Power Stadium
Since 2002, King Power Stadium has been the home ground of Premier League football club Leicester City.
Currently, King Power Stadium can hold 32,261 people and there are plans to develop it to hold 40,000 with further plans to develop the area surrounding the stadium.
Stadium tours show visitors a range of memorabilia from the Foxes history, including their historic trophy from their 2015/2016 Premier League win.
Sadly, on 27th October 2018, a devastating helicopter crash killed the club’s chairman, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, along with two staff members and two pilots.
Such was the love felt by the fans and the club for the chairman and the positive changes he instated, that a memorial garden was built in his honour.
It opened inside the grounds one year after the tragedy.
The garden provides a peaceful place for supporters to pay their respects.
King Power Stadium is at Filbert Way, Leicester, LE2 7FL.
4- Visit Leicester Cathedral
Leicester Cathedral or The Cathedral Church of Saint Martin is the seat of the Bishop of Leicester.
The cathedral is one of six in the United Kingdom mentioned in the Domesday Book, which dates from 1086.
It is unclear when exactly building works began on the cathedral, but elements continued to be added to the structure over the centuries, the last in 1867.
The Victorian additions to the cathedral include the tower and 220ft (67m) spire. Raphael Brandon designed these additions.
King Richard III’s remains, which were rediscovered in the foundations of the lost Greyfriars Chapel, are now buried in the cathedral.
The cathedral is undergoing internal and external renovations and will reopen in Autumn 2023.
Leicester Cathedral is at St Martin’s House, 7 Peacock Lane, Leicester, LE1 5PZ.
5- King Richard III Visitor Centre
King Richard III was for a long time famous for Shakespeare’s play Richard III, and for his remains being lost to the annals of history.
In August 2012, the local council purchased an old school building and discovered the body of the King in the carpark, which was built on the site of the long-lost Greyfriars church in the centre of Leicester’s Old Town.
To protect the gravesite of the King and the history tied to it, the council purchased the old schoolhouse and set about renovating the 150-year-old building into a visitor centre.
Visitors can explore the life of King Richard III through numerous displays and interactive exhibitions.
King Richard III Visitor Centre is at 4A St Martins, Leicester, LE1 5DB.
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6- Grand Union Canal
The Grand Union Canal stretches for 137 miles (220 kilometres) from London to Birmingham and features 166 locks.
The Leicester branch of the canal covers 41.2 miles (66 km) with 41 locks.
Spend a relaxing day down by the canal strolling along its banks, or head to Foxton Locks.
The locks here are dotted with colourful narrowboats navigating the waterways.
There are many family and dog-friendly pubs and cafes along this stretch of the canal to extend your day out.
Grand Union Canal is at Abbey Meadows, Leicester, LE4 5FP.
7- Bradgate Park
Bradgate Park’s most famous residents are its wild herds of Red and Fallow deer, which number more than 400 and roam the park freely.
The park is the only fully enclosed deer park that dates back to medieval times.
Within the park are the ruins of the birthplace of Lady Jane Grey, the 16th century Queen of England.
Explore the ruins surrounded by 500-year-old oak trees, ancient rocks and numerous historical memorials.
Bradgate Park is open year-round.
Bradgate Park is at Bradgate Road, Newton Linford. Leicester, LE6 0HE.
8- Church of St Mary de Castro
Robert de Beaumont established the Church of St Mary de Castro in 1107 on the site of an earlier Saxon church.
The catholic church was founded alongside a college of a dean and twelve secular cannons.
Aisles were added during the 14th century to allow the church to function as a place of worship within a parish.
Church of St Mary de Castro is at Castle View, Leicester LE1 5WH.
9- Abbey Park
Abbey Park sits along the banks of the River Soar in the north of the city.
The park offers a welcome break from the noise and bustle of the city just beyond its boundaries.
Within the park is a boating lake offering boats and pedalo’s for hire.
There are also numerous sporting activities available, including orienteering, tennis and a lavender maze.
Leicester Abbey and the ruins of Cavendish House are also within the park.
The abbey closed in 1538 during the dissolution of the monasteries.
Be sure to stop by Pets Corner, a favourite for children and adults alike that offers an opportunity to interact with domesticated animals, including exotic birds, rabbits and pygmy goats.
Abbey Park is at Abbey Park Road, Leicester, LE4 5AQ.
10- #lastfriday at LCB Depot
For incredible street food, art, culture and good vibes look no further than #lastfriday at LCB Depot.
#lastfriday at LCB Depot is a social gathering held on the last Friday of every month at LCB Depot.
The event is managed by a group of local and independent businesses who aim to bring food, culture, music and arts to the city in creative ways.
#lastfriday at LCB Depot is held on the last Friday of every month from 5 to 10pm.
#lastfriday at LCB Depot is at LCB Depot, 31 Rutland Street, Leicester, LE1 1RE.
11- Phoenix Cinema
Phoenix Cinema is Leicester’s home of independent cinema, arts and culture.
On the cinema’s two screens films from small independents to the latest blockbusters from Hollywood are shown.
The cinema is heavily involved with the local community and offers a regularly changing arts program with work presented by local and international artists.
They also offer educational work to introduce film and arts to those interested in creating their own pieces of work.
The cinema’s Cafe Bar serves freshly cooked food and drinks that can be enjoyed at the bar or in the cinema itself.
Phoenix Cinema is at 4 Midland Street, Leicester, LE1 1TG.
12- Great Central Railway
Great Central Railway is the United Kingdom’s only double track mainline heritage railway.
Today, the railway stretches from the north of Leicester to Loughborough over 8.25 miles (13.28 km).
The trains running on the railway are steam trains.
The trains run every weekend throughout the year, with special services during the week available in the summer.
The First Class restaurant car also offers freshly prepared five-course meals for a more luxurious journey through the countryside surrounded by old-world charm.
Great Central Railway is at Great Central Road, Loughborough, LE11 1RW.
13- Gate 38
For those looking for a unique place to stop for a drink, go no further than Gate 38.
This uniquely designed bar is themed around aeroplanes, with actual life aeroplane seats and fuselage.
Adding to the air travel theme are the airport and travel signs all around the bar and the worldwide travel themed cocktails.
The bar is open from 9pm to 3.30am.
Gate 38 is at 38b Belvoir Street, Leicester, LE1 6QH.
14- University of Leicester Botanic Garden and Attenborough Arboretum
The University of Leicester’s Botanic Gardens is a hidden gem that focuses on global biodiversity to encourage education around plants.
Assisted by the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society, the gardens were founded in 1921.
The gardens are on the grounds of four houses which are now a residency for students studying on the garden education program.
There is a herb garden, woodland, rock gardens, and a water garden within the gardens.
Inside the glasshouse are numerous succulents and tropical plants.
The gardens are open all year round.
University of Leicester Botanic Garden and Attenborough Arboretum is at Glebe Road, Oadby, Leicester, LE2 2NE.
15- Bosworth Battlefield
The famous Bosworth Battlefield is not far from the centre of the city and the battleground of the last significant battle during the War of the Roses in the latter half of the 15th century.
The 1485 war was between the Houses of Lancaster and York, and following the war, Henry Tudor of the House of York won the battle and claimed the throne.
At the Battle of Bosworth Field, King Richard III lost his life.
He was the last English monarch to fight in battle.
The King’s body was removed of its crown, which was given immediately to Henry Tudor.
The King’s body was stripped and thrown over the back of a horse and paraded through Leicester to prove to the people he was dead.
Following his death, the location of his gravesite was lost for centuries.
Bosworth Battlefield is at Bosworth Battlefield Visitor Centre, Ambion Lane, Sutton Cheney, CV13 0AD.
16- St Martins Square
St Martins Square is the food centre of Leicester, with a mix of independent restaurants, bars, cafes and shops.
The square makes a pleasant escape from the usual high street stores in this quiet corner of the city.
Be sure to stop by Gelato Village, an award-winning Italian Gelateria serving fresh Italian gelato and Italian treats year-round.
St Martins Square is at Leicester, LE1 5DG.
17- Leicester Museum and Art Gallery
Formerly known as New Walk, Leicester Museum and Art Gallery, which opened in 1849, was one of the UK’s first public museums.
It has permanent exhibitions displaying Egyptian artefacts, stuffed animals from all over the world and fossils.
The most famous fossil is the Rutland dinosaur, which has been named ‘George’ by locals.
The museum also houses the Attenborough Collection and the internationally renowned German Expressionism collection.
Leicester Museum and Art Gallery is free to enter at 53 New Walk, Leicester, LE1 7EA.
18- Abbey Pumping Station
Abbey Pumping Station was built during the Industrial Revolution to supply Leicester with sewage disposal and clean water.
The pumping station features a 150ft (46m) chimney which powered the station.
Now decommissioned, the pumping day offers an interactive and educational day out for the family.
It features steam engines in full-steaming action, a sensory garden and a children’s play area.
Why not split your day and call here following a visit to the National Space Centre, which is just across the street?
Abbey Pumping Station is at Corporation Road, Leicester, LE4 5PX.
19- Leicester Guildhall
The Guild of Corpus Christi built Leicester Guildhall in 1390 as a meeting place and banquet hall.
For the next 600 years, the guildhall served as an important location for celebrations, including when Queen Elizabeth I’s navy defeated the Spanish in 1588.
Leicester Guildhall is not only the oldest civic building in the city but is also perhaps the most haunted building in Leicester.
Thanks to its long history, it is believed that the hall is home to five ghosts, including a dog and a cat.
Today the Guildhall is home to many entertainment activities, including concerts, plays, comedy gigs and haunted evening tours.
Leicester Guildhall is at Guildhall Lane, Leicester, LE1 5FQ.
20- Belgrave Hall
Edmund Craddock, a hosiery merchant, commissioned Belgrave Hall during the early 1700s.
The house was built between 1709 and 1713 in blue and red bricks.
The house has passed through many influential people, including William Vann, the Leicestershire High Sheriff, and John Ellis, a businessman and MP. He became instrumental in bringing the railway to Leicester in 1833.
The house is open during Heritage Open Days, however, the gardens are open more frequently.
Within the beautifully designed gardens are yew trees and wisteria planted by Ellis and his family.
The house is open every Wednesday and the first full weekend of every month from April to September.
Belgrave Hall is at Church Road, Belgrave, Leicester, LE4 5PE.