Leicester is a city in the East Midlands of England and the county town of Leicestershire. With a population of just over 330,000 people, it is one of the largest cities in the UK. Leicester has a rich history and a multicultural population, which makes it a super interesting place to visit.
You’ll find museums dedicated to everything in Leicester, from ancient history and art at the New Walk Museum to science and technology at the National Space Centre, where you can immerse yourself in everything ‘space, science and everything rocket-propelled’ at this incredible science museum.
Then there are the many historical sites around the city, including the ruins of Leicester Abbey and the King Richard III visitor centre, where you’ll find the grave of the ancient king and learn all about his untimely death on the battlefield of Bosworth.
Grab a show at The Curve theatre, wander through an ancient battlefield at Bosworth, grab an award-winning curry, or pass a sunny afternoon at the Botanical gardens, you’re going to love every moment of your time spent in this incredible town.
Ready to discover the best things to do in Leicester? Let’s explore the best things to do and the top places to see in Leicester so you can leave with nothing but unforgettable memories.
The Rich History Of Leicester
The name Leicester is derived from the Old English word for “settlement by the legion”, and the origins of this ancient city date back to around AD 50, when the Romans established a garrison in the area.
Although there is little evidence of settlement in the immediate area prior to this, it is thought that there may have been an earlier Iron Age hillfort on the site.
Leicester soon became an important Roman town and remained so until the Roman Empire began to collapse in the 5th century.
In the years that followed, Leicester was subject to periodic invasions by the Saxons and Danes. It was not until the Norman Conquest in 1066 that Leicester began to enjoy a period of stability.
The town grew rapidly during the medieval period, and by the time of the Domesday Book in 1086, it was one of the largest settlements in England.
Despite its size and importance, Leicester was relatively slow to develop during the early modern period. It was not until the 18th century that industry began to arrive in earnest, drawn by improved transport links and the growth of nearby Nottingham as a manufacturing centre.
Since then, Leicester has continued to grow and prosper, becoming a thriving multi-cultural city with a rich history and heritage. Today, Leicester is widely known for its universities, museums and sports teams, as well as its diverse range of communities and cultures. It is an exciting place to live, work and visit, with something to offer everyone.
22 Best Things To Do In Leicester
1. Visit The King Richard III Visitor Centre
The King Richard III Visitor Centre in Leicester is a must-see for history buffs and those interested in England’s royal heritage. The Centre tells the story of the king’s life and times, from his early days as a duke to his untimely death at the Battle of Bosworth Field.
Visitors can learn about the politics and intrigue of the War of the Roses, and see how Richard III’s remains were discovered beneath a parking lot in 2012.
The Centre also houses a Museum which features artifacts from the king’s reign, as well as interactive exhibits that bring the period to life. There is also a cafe and gift shop, making it the perfect place to take a break from sightseeing.
Whether you’re a history buff or simply looking for a unique day out, the King Richard III Visitor Centre is well worth a visit.
2. Immerse Yourself At The National Space Centre
The National Space Centre is a world-class attraction that inspires people of all ages about space science and the universe. The centre includes two huge exhibition halls packed with interactive displays, a planetarium, and an outdoor Rocket Tower.
Upon arrival, visitors are greeted by a giant rocket sitting outside the main entrance. Inside, there are six interactive galleries to explore, as well as a planetarium and an observatory. The galleries cover topics such as the solar system, space exploration and the science of rockets
Visitors can learn about the history of space exploration, witness live demonstrations, and even take part in simulated space missions.
The National Space Centre is an accredited museum by the Museum Association, and its educational programmes have been recognised by the National Council for Excellence in Education. With its cutting-edge exhibits and engaging programmes, the National Space Centre is an unforgettable experience for anyone interested in the wonders of space, and one of the most popular places to see in Leicester.
3. Visit The New Walk Museum & Art Gallery
The New Walk Museum & Art Gallery is Leicester’s first public museum, founded in 1849. The museum houses a wide range of exhibits, from local history to art, and is particularly well-known for its fossils and dinosaurs.
Expect to find plenty of natural history, archaeology, ethnography and fine art. There are also temporary exhibitions which have included works by Matisse, Picasso and Warhol.
The gallery has a strong emphasis on education, with a wide range of classes and activities for children and adults.
In addition to its exhibitions, the New Walk Museum & Art Gallery also hosts a number of events throughout the year, such as talks, workshops, and family days, so check before arriving if this is something you would like to get involved with.
Whether you’re a fan of history or art, or simply looking for a fun day out, the New Walk Museum & Art Gallery is definitely worth a visit.
4. Wander Around Leicester Cathedral
The first thing that strikes you about Leicester Cathedral is its size. The imposing Gothic building towers over the city, and its soaring spires can be seen for miles around.
Step inside, and you’re immediately enveloped by the peaceful atmosphere. The light streams in through the stained glass windows, casting a warm glow over the sombre stone walls.
Despite its grandeur, the cathedral has a surprisingly intimate feel. The small side chapels are perfect for a moment of reflection, and the beautifully carved choir stalls invite you to sit and soak up the peace and quiet.
Leicester Cathedral is a truly stunning place, and well worth a visit if you’re ever in the area.
5. Visit The Leicester Guidhall
Leicester Guildhall is an imposing yet elegant Grade I listed building located in the heart of the city centre. The striking building dates back to the 14th century and was once used as a courthouse, town hall and government offices.
The imposing building is made of local limestone, and its facade is adorned with intricate carvings. Inside, the Guildhall houses a number of important civic treasures, including the city’s mace and sword, as well as a portrait of Queen Elizabeth I.
The building also features a grand staircase, which leads up to the main hall – a large room which is now used for a variety of events, from concerts and dances to conferences and receptions.
The Guildhall has an extensive history, as it is rumoured that Shakespeare appeared here in the 16th century. In addition, records indicate that Cromwell used the building during the English Civil War in the mid-17th century.
The Guildhall is one of Leicester’s most iconic buildings, and it continues to play an important role in the life of the city. Whether you’re looking for a romantic setting for your wedding, a grand venue for your next corporate event, or an afternoon appreciating the building’s grand beauty, Leicester Guildhall is sure to impress, and should definitely make it onto your top things to see in Leicester during your stay.
6. Try Your Hand At Bouldering / Rock Climbing
Fancy climbing up vertical walls, only in a safe environment and indoors away from the elements? Then get down to Social Climbing – a fun place to try bouldering for beginners.
It’s super easy to get started. Just rock up (sorry – couldn’t help myself) in comfy clothing and hop in an introductory class where you will ‘learn the ropes’ (I’m on fire today…).
You can hire footwear and chalk for your hands when you’re there, so don’t worry about bringing anything else with you unless you already have them.
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7. Eat Your Way Along The Golden Mile
Leicester’s Golden Mile is a stretch of road that is home to a large number of ethnic minority-owned businesses and a celebration of its Indian Community. It is considered to be the heart of Leicester’s Asian community, and it is a popular destination for both residents and visitors.
The golden mile is filled with incredible Indian restaurants, including the award-winning Curry Fever restaurant, but it is also home to a variety of other businesses, including, grocery stores, spice shops and clothes shops.
You’ll even find temples and mosques as you wander along the Golden Mile – a lively and vibrant area that is a great place to experience Leicester’s diverse culture.
8. Watch Leicester FC At The King Power Stadium
The King Power Stadium is the home of Leicester City Football Club, and it is one of the most atmospheric stadiums in the country. On match days, the stadium is filled with supporters decked out in blue, and the noise level is deafening.
The atmosphere is electric, and it’s not uncommon for hairs to stand on end when the crowd gets going. Even if you’re to around for match day, you can still grab a stadium tour where you’ll get behind the scenes around the trophy cabinet rooms and changing rooms.
The stadium itself is impressive, with a capacity of over 32,000. It has been modernised in recent years, and now features state-of-the-art facilities. The pitch is immaculate, and the view from the stands is superb.
Put simply, the King Power Stadium is a fantastic place to watch football, and if you’re a fan of the sport, it would be rude not to grab a ticket if the home side are playing on match day!
9. Pass An Afternoon At Abbey Park
Abbey Park hugs the banks of Leicester’s River Soar and is a beautiful green space to relax, enjoy the scenery, and admire the city’s riverside views set across 90 acres of green space.
There’s plenty on offer for outdoor lovers and heritage enthusiasts alike. A stroll around Leicester Abbey — founded by the second Earl of Leicester, Robert le Bossu in the 12th century — and the ruins of Cavendish House, a 17th-century mansion, is perfect for history lovers.
On a sunny day, those that love the outdoors can relax and pedal their way around the picturesque boating lake while enjoying sweeping views of the tranquil green space all around.
The park has plenty of sporting facilities for visitors to enjoy as well, like a bowling green, hard surface tennis courts, orienteering courses, a lavender maze, and table tennis tables.
Not forgetting the Pets Corner as well, where you can meet and greet all kinds of different animals and birds, and there is even a miniature railway which runs at the weekends
There are plenty of things to do and see at Abbey Park, so add it to your list of the best things to do in Leicester during your visit here.
10. Visit The Church Of St Mary De Castro
The Church of St Mary de Castro is a beautiful example of Gothic architecture, located in the heart of Leicester. The exterior of the church is adorned with intricate stone carvings, and the interior features stained glass windows and soaring ceilings.
The church is also home to a number of historical artefacts, including a 12th-century font and a 14th-century tomb.
Visitors to the church can explore the building at their own pace, or join one of the regular guided tours. Regardless of how you choose to experience it, the Church of St Mary de Castro is sure to leave a lasting impression and is well worth a visit when exploring Leicester.
11. Explore The Great Central Railway
The Great Central Railway in Leicester is a heritage railway that runs for 9 miles through the Leicestershire countryside.
The line was originally built in 1899 to connect London with Yorkshire, but it closed in 1966. In 1973, a group of volunteers started to restore the line, and it reopened to passengers in 1976.
Today, the Great Central Railway is a popular tourist attraction, hosting a number of special events throughout the year, and it is the only line in the world where you’ll see full-sized steam locomotives passing one another.
The line is open every weekend, as well as bank holidays and certain weekdays during the school summer holidays, and its visitors can ride on vintage trains, visit the locomotive workshop, and explore the restored stations.
The Great Central Railway is a great day out and is definitely one of the fun things to do in Leicester for adults, kids and the whole family.
12. Visit The University Of Leicester Botanical Garden
The University of Leicester’s botanical gardens is home to a wide variety of plant life, from exotic flowers to towering trees. The gardens are well-maintained and provide a peaceful oasis for students and staff alike.
The botanical gardens are open all year round, where visitors can stroll along the carefully tended paths, stopping to admire the different plants and flowers.
The gardens are also home to a number of sculptures and fountains, adding to the overall atmosphere of tranquillity.
In addition to being a beautiful place to relax, the botanical gardens offer a unique educational opportunity which is run by the genetics department of the university, serving up over 16 acres of neatly manicured formal parterres, lawns, sculptures, ponds, pergolas and glasshouses.
The gardens are open to the public and students often give guided tours, explaining the different plant species and their care requirements. As a result, the gardens serve as both a delightful place to spend time and an important learning resource.
13. Explore The Bosworth Battlefield
The Battle of Bosworth was the last significant battle of the Wars of the Roses, the civil war between the Houses of Lancaster and York that raged across England in the late 15th century.
Fought on August 22, 1485, the battle saw the army of King Richard III defeated by the forces of Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond. In the aftermath of the battle, Henry Tudor was crowned King Henry VII, marking the beginning of the Tudor dynasty.
Although relatively little is known about the battle itself, its significance cannot be overstated; had Richard III been victorious, the course of English history would have been very different.
Today, the battlefield is a popular tourist destination, and visitors can explore the extensive remains of the battle site. The Visitor Centre also houses a Museum which tells the story of the battle and its significance in English history.
As it stands, Bosworth was a watershed moment that ushered in a new era of stability and prosperity after years of war and turmoil. With its beautiful setting and fascinating history, Bosworth Battlefield is an essential visit for anyone interested in British heritage.
14. Visit The Abbey Pumping Station
Leicester’s abbey pumping station is an entertaining and educational attraction that tells the story of the city’s water supply. The pumping station was built in the 19th century to pump clean water from the River Soar into Leicester, and it continued to operate until the 1960s.
Today, the Victorian pumping station has been turned into a working museum that houses a collection of historic pumps and engines. It features a variety of interactive exhibits that show how water has been sourced and treated for use by the city’s residents.
Visitors can also learn about the engineering innovations that made Leicester’s water supply one of the most advanced in the world.
The Abbey Pumping Station is an important part of Leicester’s history, and it provides a fascinating insight into the city’s past.
15. Explore Bradgate Park
Bradgate Park is located just on the outskirts of Leicester and covers about 850 acres of rocky moorland. The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including red deer, fallow deer, and wild boar.
In addition to its scenic beauty, Bradgate Park is also rich in history. The ruins of Bradgate House, which was once the home of Lady Jane Grey, can be found in the park, as well as the remains of medieval hunting lodges and an Iron Age hillfort.
The park is open to the public for free and offers many amenities such as walking trails, playgrounds, a café, and a gift shop.
With its picturesque setting and abundance of wildlife, Bradgate Park is a great place to enjoy a day out in nature.
16. Wander Through Leicester Market
If you’re looking for a bustling market with a great selection of produce, then Leicester Market is the place for you. Located in the heart of the city, the market is open six days a week, Monday through Saturday (9:00 – 17:00), offering fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and seafood, baked goods, and much more.
There’s also a variety of non-food items on offer, including flowers, plants, and household goods.
The neo-Baroque Leicester Corn Exchange built in 1850 lies at the centre of the market and now contains a pub and restaurant.
Whether you’re looking to do your weekly grocery shopping or just pick up a few items, Leicester Market is definitely worth a visit.
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17. Play The Craziest Crazy Golf At Caddyshackers
Caddyshackers is an 18-hole crazy golf course in Leicester that offers a fun and challenging game on a very crazy course.
So whether you’re looking to spice up a first date, planning an office party or organizing a stag or hen party, crazy golf at Caddyshackers is the perfect activity.
The licensed bar has plenty of craft beer, wine and cocktails for those who are drinking, as well as mocktails for those who aren’t (or the unfortunate delegated driver).
This over-18s spot is one of the best things to do in Leicester for adults at night, with guaranteed fun and laughter alongside this crazy 18-hole course.
18. More Putting Fun At Treetop Adventure Golf
Treetop Adventure Golf is an indoor 18-hole crazy golf course, located in Leicester. The course is made up of three 9-hole courses, each with a different theme; Jungle, Ancient Egypt and the Mayan Temple.
Themed props and decorations are used throughout the course to make it feel like you’re in the jungle or exploring an ancient temple. The holes vary in difficulty, so there’s something for everyone, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced crazy golfer.
At the Jungle Buzz Cafe, you can enjoy coffee and snacks, while The Thirsty Toucan bar offers beer, wine, cocktails and mocktails. You can also grab some tasty food at Pizza Cabana.
It’s a great way to have some fun with your besties, and a great spot to visit in Leicester for a fun night out with friends and family.
19. Take A Cocktail Masterclass At Manhatten 34
Ever fancied becoming a mixologist yourself? I know I can’t get enough of my favourite Margarita, so perhaps this is one for me!
Now you can learn how to make amazing cocktails in Leicester at Manhatten 34. In this masterclass, you’ll discover the rich history of prohibition and how it led to the creation of some of today’s most iconic cocktails.
In the first two rounds, you’re going to sit back and let the professionals make your drink. After that, it’ll be your turn to join them behind the bar and whip up a cocktail of your own during round three.
You can book in with one of their masterclasses on their official website. And if you just wanted to enjoy the drinks without the mixology lesson, you can head there anytime in the evening to have a dance, let your hair down, and enjoy a few of your favourite cocktails to tantalise your taste buds!
20. Explore Belgrave Hall
Belgrave Hall is a stunning country house located in the heart of Leicester. The house dates back to the 17th century, and it has been beautifully preserved over the years.
The hall is set on extensive grounds, and it is surrounded by mature trees and formal gardens. The interior of the house is just as impressive as the exterior, with intricate wooden floors, beautiful fireplaces and ornate ceiling plasterwork.
The house has belonged to many people of influence, like William Vann, the Leicestershire High Sheriff, and John Ellis, a businessman and MP, whose plans brought the railway to Leicester in 1833.
You can tour the house every Wednesday and the first full weekend of April, May, June, July, August, and September, and it is also available to hire for events such as weddings and corporate functions.
Whether you are looking to learn about local history or simply enjoy a day out in beautiful surroundings, Belgrave Hall is well worth a visit when in town.
21. Grab A Drink At The Aircraft-Themed Gate 38
With so many bars in Leicester, it’s tough to make any stand out. Gate 38 on Belvoir Street uses a unique theme – an aeroplane – to pull the punters in.
They have seats that are designed to look like you’re sitting on a plane (right down to the small windows), which really gives the bar a real immersive experience.
Gate 38 has a fun, youthful atmosphere with its location near to De Montfort University. If you’re in the area, stop by and get your photo taken while sitting in one of their fake aeroplanes!
It’s a super unique thing to do in Leicester and a nice little experience that’s definitely worth the photo opportunity.
22. Wander Along The Grand Union Canal
The Grand Union Canal in Leicester is a beautiful stretch of waterway that winds its way through the city. The canal is lined with trees and flowers, and the towpath is a great place to take a leisurely walk or cycle.
The canal is also popular with boaters, and there are several moorings along the route. The water is always moving, and there are often ducks and other wildlife to be seen.
In the summer, the canal is a popular spot for picnics, and in the winter, it’s a lovely place to go for a walk.
Whether you’re looking for a peaceful spot to read a book or a place to take your dog for a walk and escape into some green space, the Grand Union Canal in Leicester is sure to please.
22 Fun Things To Do In Leicester, Leicestershire
- King Richard III Visitor Centre
- National Space Centre
- New Walk Museum & Art Gallery
- Leicester Cathedral
- Leicester Guildhall
- Bouldering at Social Climbing
- Eat a Curry at Golden Mile
- King Power Stadium (Leicester FC)
- Abbey Park
- Church of St Mary de Castro
- Great Central Railway
- University of Leicester Botanical Gardens
- Bosworth Battlefield
- Abbey Pumping Station
- Bradgate Park
- Leicester Market
- Crazy Golf at Caddyshackers
- Treetop Adventure Golf
- Cocktail Masterclass at Manhatten 34
- Belgrave Hall
- Drink at Gate 38
- Grand Union Canal
What is Leicester best known for?
Leicester is best known for being the home of the remains of King Richard III, its diverse culture and community, and its football team, Leicester City FC.
What should I do in Leicester on a rainy day?
On a rainy day in Leicester, consider visiting one of the city’s museums such as The National Space Centre or New Walk Museum and Art Gallery. Alternatively, catch a movie at the Phoenix Cinema or do some shopping at the Highcross Leicester shopping centre.
What are some free things to do in Leicester?
Some free things to do in Leicester include visiting the City Market, exploring Belgrave Hall and its gardens, walking along the Grand Union Canal, and checking out the street art in areas like The Creative Quarter.
What activities are there for families in Leicester?
Families can enjoy things such as visiting Twycross Zoo, seeing a show at Curve Theatre, checking out the interactive exhibits at the National Space Centre, and exploring Abbey Park.