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    Car hire in Leeds - Exploring the Heart of England

    Located in the heart of England, Leeds is a vibrant tourist destination with a great wealth of tourist attractions, not to mention some of the most breathtaking architecture in the whole of the UK. The city is bursting with historic houses, inspirational art galleries and dozens of magnificent museums, including the Royal Armouries Museum, home to the largest collection of arms, armour and artillery in the country. Leeds is also a city of parks and gardens, most notably Roundhay Park which covers more than 700 acres of lakes woods and parkland inside the city's perimeter.

    Boasting a thriving independent food scene, the town centre is very compact and ideal for exploring with a car hire in Leeds, making it the quintessential city break destination. Its unique urban landscape is enhanced with sculpture, award-winning architecture and innovative street art, while the famous Victorian arcades offer visitors a truly authentic walk down memory lane. Similarly, you won't want to miss Kirkgate Market, one of the largest indoor markets in Europe where visitors get the chance to savour street food from all over the world.

    There's much to see in the city's environs also, with many traces of Leeds' ancient history still in evidence today. The name Leeds derives from the Celtic settlement Leodis and it subsequently became an important strategic fortress for the Romans, eventually gaining its town charter from the King in 1207. Today, Leeds is one of the few places in England where you can drive straight from its bustling urban hub into the lush, green English countryside in just a few minutes, with the Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors and Peak District all within easy striking distance of the town centre. The list of other nearby destinations well worth visiting includes York, Sheffield and Manchester.

    One of the international car hire industry's leading companies, Auto Europe offers over 24,000 pick-up and drop-off locations in more than 180 different countries. Founded in 1954, it is also one of the world’s longest-established car rental brokers and has achieved success by working with all the top car hire companies, such as Alamo, Avis, Hertz, Alamo, Dollar, Enterprise, Europcar and Sixt. You can book your car rental in Leeds with a few clicks of the mouse through our state-of-the-art booking engine. Alternatively, you can make your reservation over the phone by calling our reservation specialists on +441233225114. Don't forget to visit our Leeds car hire reviews page to read the comments posted by previous Auto Europe customers in the city.

    How is the traffic in Leeds?

    Leeds' accessible location on the UK motorway network makes the city easily reachable by road. The M621 runs very close to the city and provides direct access to the M1 and M62 motorways, as well as the A1. You'll find that journey times and travelling distances are relatively short compared with many other cities in the UK, most notably London (3h30m, 194 miles), Edinburgh (4h10m, 219 miles), Manchester (1h, 44 miles), Sheffield (47m, 35 miles), Nottingham (1h21m, 72 miles), Liverpool (1h34m, 74 miles) and Birmingham (1h57m, 120 miles). For more information on driving in Leeds and elsewhere in England, please see our UK driving guide.

    Where can I park my car hire in Leeds?

    There are several council-run car parks in and around Leeds city centre. A good short-stay bet is the one on Castle Street located just five minutes from Park Square. For longer stays, opt for the open-air facility next to the Meadow Lane car park just a three-minute walk from Leeds Bridge. The large open-air car park at Quarry Hill is an excellent choice for visitors to both Kirkgate Market and the city's popular Victoria Gate Shopping Centre. Two efficient Park & Ride sites currently operate in Leeds, complete with electric vehicle charging points, thus permitting you to travel to the centre of Leeds by car, park for free in the Park & Ride car parks and complete your journey into the heart of the city by bus at a very reasonable cost.

    Leeds Airport

    Since opening in 1931, Leeds Bradford Airport is located just 7 miles from Leeds and 9 miles from the city of Bradford. At an elevation of 681 feet, it holds the distinction of being the highest airport in the whole of England. The airport has a single terminal and two air bridges with 24 aircraft stands capable of handling all sizes of aircraft up to the Boeing 757. In recent years, the number of annual passenger movements has grown significantly from 1.2 million in the late 1990s to around 4 million in 2019, with predictions that this number will rise to as much as 7 million by 2030. To cope with the increased traffic, future plans include more departure gates, extended seating areas, improved baggage reclaim facilities and, most importantly, a brand-new £150 million terminal due to open in the next few years.

    Leeds Airport (LBA)
    Telephone: +44 871 288 2288
    Address: Leeds Bradford Airport, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS19 7TU, England

    What to do in Leeds

    A pleasant city on the River Aire, Leeds has much to offer the visitor, especially in and around its historic centre where many of the main attractions exist. The hub of downtown Leeds is the Civic Quarter which revolves around the City Square pedestrian area where the main focus is the city's spectacular Town Hall, a building consecrated by Queen Victoria in 1858.

    • Briggate: Conveniently located in Leeds city centre, the Briggate quarter is famous for its old and very atmospheric shopping arcades, all of immense architectural significance. Don't miss the Grand Arcade which was constructed towards the end of the 19th century and today houses many of the city's most inviting boutique-style shops. Nearby, Thorntons Arcade also dates back to the late 19th century and is most notable for its clock with four life-size figures. The city's other popular arcades authentically reflecting the Victorian era are Queens Arcade and County Arcade, the latter featuring elegant iron domes, marble floors and intricate stonework.

    • Royal Armouries Museum: Arguably the top attraction in town, the Royal Armouries Museum is home to the largest collection of arms, armour and artillery in England. The museum's star exhibit is without doubt Henry VIII's original suit of armour, along with some rare pieces that once belonged to Emperor Maxmillian. Sourced from all over the world, the collectiion also includes rare experimental pistols and the only surviving elephant armour in the world.

    • Harewood House: Seat of the Earl of Harewood, Harewood House is an enchanting Georgian-style country manor that was finished in 1771 after 30 years of construction. Located a 15-minute drive north of Leeds city centre, its lavish interior is worth seeing for its fine wall and ceiling paintings by Angelika Kauffmann and furniture by the renowned English furniture maker, Thomas Chippendale. Other highlights include rare pieces of porcelain and several paintings by Gainsborough and El Greco. The gardens feature a large lake and the ruins of a 12th-century castle.

    • Leeds Industrial Museum: Just two miles west of Leeds lies one of the city's most fascinting attractions, the excellent Leeds Industrial Museum. Here, visitors can wander around one of the world's largest wool mills and learn all about the history of wool production in and around the Yorkshire area from the 18th century onwards.

    • Abbey House Museum: Located just 4 miles west of the city, about a 10-minute drive with your car hire in Leeds, the wonderful Abbey House Museum in the leafy Kirkstall district is located inside a magnificent Cistercian house built in the middle of the 12th century. Visitors can see the impressive roofless remains of the church with its narrow choir and imposing tower, along with the chapterhouse, refectory and kitchen, all of which are almost perfectly intact. Another section of the musuem features workshops, old stores and reproduction houses depicting local life throughout the centuries.

    • Leeds City Museum: With hundreds of amazing exhibits housed inside six impressive galleries, the Leeds City Museum illustrates thousands of years of the city's history, from the Egyptians to the Romans and beyond. This world-class museum has items you'll be talking about long after you've arrived back home, such as the famous Leeds Tiger in the Life on Earth Gallery and the mummy of Nesyammun in the Ancient Worlds Gallery.

    Best day trips with my car rental in Leeds

    Leeds provides the perfect base to explore the incredible landscapes of Yorkshire and its surrounding counties. The whole area is blessed with dozens of picturesque towns and villages, each with their own unique qualities and attractions.

    Yorkshire Dales

    Home to ancient castles, preserved abbeys and some of England's most outstanding natural scenery, the great Yorkshire Dales are worth a visit at any time of year. When you rent a car in Leeds, each part of the region has its own distinctive character; the Southern Dales being less remote but still wildly beautiful and the Northern Dales which are mostly covered with heather moorland and valleys full of hay meadows surrounded by stone walls. Most of the Dales are part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, a protected area established in 1954 that covers more than 800 square-miles.

    Peak District

    An hour's drive south-west from Leeds brings you to another of England's most prized landscapes, the Peak District National Park. Covering more than 550 squares-miles, it was the first national park to be established in Great Britain, having been founded in 1951. The park's highlights include the Heage Windmill (built in 1797 and today the only working example of a stone towered windmill in England), the famous Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Haddon Hall (several Harry Potter scenes were filmed there) and the amazing views across Hope Valley.


    Just 27 miles north-east of Leeds lies York, one of the loveliest cities in the north of England. Filled with interesting things to do, along with several attractions that portray the many chapters of its long history, York offers the perfect day-trip from Leeds, with the chance to stop at a typical country pub for lunch en route. Don't miss York Minster, the largest medieval church in England, and Clifford's Tower which was built in the 13th century and offers some of the best views of the city.


    A visit to the charming village of Haworth (20 miles west of Leeds) will fill your mind with the kind of scenery that inspired the Brontë sisters. This undisputed literary mecca attracts visitors from all around the world, who are drawn by its timeless appeal and landscapes that feature so prominently in Emily Brontë's most famous novel, Wuthering Heights.


    Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, Saltaire to the north-west of Leeds is a complete and very well-preserved industrial village dating from the second half of the 19th century. Its textile mills, public buildings and workers' houses are built in a harmonious style of high architectural standards, with the urban plan (which remains intact) provides a memorable impression of the Victorian era.

    How to get around Leeds

    The city has an excellent public transport system, which means that you won't always need your cheap car hire in Leeds to get you around town. From Leeds Train Station, most of the top tourist attractions can be reached by bus in just a few minutes. The city's main transport provider is First Leeds, while Arriva Yorkshire also runs services to the south of the city. Leeds Bus Station is located in Dyer Street and offers bus services to towns and cities all over Yorkshire, in additiona to a small number of local services in and around the city. The Leeds CityBus service is a cheap and popular choice for most visitors to the city due to the fact that it stops at various locations around the centre. Water taxis, likewise, are an excellent way to get around Leeds, especially during the warm summer months. For instance, from Granary Wharf next to Leeds Train Station you can take the water taxi to the Royal Armouries Museum at Leeds Dock at a specially reduced rate. Leeds also has one of the busiest railway stations in the UK and from Leeds Train Station (located in New Station Street) it is possible to catch West Yorkshire Metro trains operated by Northern to Leeds' suburbs and onwards to all parts of the greater Leeds area.

    Useful links

    Leeds Tourist Information