When people think of Leicester, chances are that the first things to come to mind will probably be either Richard III’s remains being found in a car park in the city, or Leicester City Football Club’s extraordinary Premier League title win in the 2015-16 season. Scratch at the surface, though, and you’ll find much more to the place. With a history spanning over 2,000 years, including being a stronghold for the Parliamentarians during the English Civil War, the city’s past is intriguing, and well worth visiting to discover more about it.
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Leicester’s location in the Midlands makes it accessible to a lot of the country, with direct trains from London St Pancras in the south and Sheffield in the north. There are also direct services from Birmingham, which is a major hub for long-distance connections outside of London. For anyone coming from further afield, East Midlands Airport can be found several miles north-west of the city, with a bus service connecting to East Midlands Parkway station for access into Leicester itself.
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· Walk/cycle. The relatively compact size of Leicester city centre makes it easy to get around. It’s a great option if you’re on a more restricted budget or are happy to get some exercise on your break away. Cycling can also be a great option for getting around Leicester and the surrounding area, with further information HERE.
· Bus. There are many bus routes and operators in Leicester, with routes in and out of the city from multiple directions. Further details on the extensive bus network in Leicester can be found HERE.
· Taxi. There are multiple taxi operators in Leicester. These can be a good option for persons with restricted mobility or for anyone who has a large amount of luggage. It should be noted, however, that the cost of taxis can add up if they are used on multiple occasions.
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So what is there to do in Leicester? Well, read on and find out.
If you want to investigate sport in Leicester, then the two biggest ones are arguably football and rugby union. With regard to football, Leicester City FC achieved international fame in 2016 when they won the Premier League on odds of 5,000-1 at the beginning of the season. They went on to reach the quarterfinals of the following season’s UEFA Champions League, where they faced off against teams including Porto, Sevilla, and Atlético Madrid. Their other recent success was lifting the FA Cup in 2021 for the very first time. If you’d like to go on a tour of the King Power Stadium, located to the south-west of the city centre, then further information can be found HERE. The city’s main rugby club, Leicester Tigers, play at Welford Road to the south of the city centre. They have won more Premiership Rugby titles than any other team since the league was founded in 1987, and are one of only three original teams to never have been relegated (the others being Bath and Gloucester). For information on tours of Welford Road, please visit the website HERE. Other sports with a presence in the city include basketball, motorcycle speedway, rugby league, and many more.
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Leicester, as is the case with many other cities, has a number of museums where you can explore the history of the city and other related things. Perhaps one of the most well-known is the National Space Centre on Exploration Drive to the north of the city, and on the banks of the River Soar. There are a wide variety of exhibits, including the Sir Patrick Moore Planetarium, galleries & exhibitions on the history of space exploration, and collections of exhibits relating to space travel. The Jewry Wall Museum on St Nicholas Walk to the west of the city centre has been closed for a substantial refurbishment, and is due to reopen in 2024. When it does reopen, you can expect to see exhibits from Leicester’s past, dating back to the Iron Age, the Roman period, and also from medieval times. This includes the Jewry Wall itself, which is an example of Roman masonry from the 2nd Century. Also of note is the Leicester Museum & Art Gallery on New Walk to the south-west of the station, with exhibits on Ancient Egypt, Dinosaurs, and an internationally-renowned German Expressionism collection. One of the more recent openings is the Richard III Visitor Centre on St Martins in the west of the city centre, built on the site where King Richard III’s remains were found in 2012 – his remains have now been reinterred nearby in Leicester Cathedral. The museum showcases Richard III’s life and the story of his remains being discovered, exhumed, and reburied.
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In addition to the museums, there are other bits of Leicester’s past worth visiting. This includes Leicester Cathedral to the west of the city centre, which was built in the Gothic style over many centuries, finishing in 1886, with it finally becoming a cathedral in 1927. The cathedral contains the remains of King Richard III, who was discovered nearby in 2012. Also worth mentioning is Leicester Castle on Castle View to the south-west of the city centre. The castle has history dating back to 1070, was a royal residence up to the 15th century, and was even used for court hearings until Leicester Law Courts were completed in 1981. One of the most important people to have roots in Leicester is John Wycliffe, who lived in the 1300s. He’s very well-known for being responsible for translating at least some parts of the Bible into Middle English, and has been cited as an important predecessor of Protestantism. He died in Lutterworth (several miles to the south of Leicester) in 1384, and his legacy is such that a number of institutions across the world share his name.
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We’ve already mentioned aspects of Leicester’s history which can be considered as part of its culture. This can also be extended to include the arts. Two of Leicester’s most well-known theatrical venues are the De Montfort Hall on Granville Road to the south-east of the station, and the Curve Theatre on Rutland Street to the east of the city centre. In terms of music, three of the most high-profile acts with roots in Leicester include Engelbert Humperdinck, Cornershop, and Kasabian. For fans of comedy, there’s the Leicester Comedy Festival, which takes place in August of every year, and is also one of the largest comedy festivals in the UK. Since the middle of the 20th century, Leicester has been known for being a multicultural city. The Caribbean Carnival and Parade is stated to be the largest of its kind outside London, and the city’s Diwali celebrations are purported to be the largest outside India.
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When trying to find somewhere to eat in Leicester, it’s probable that many people will consider Indian cuisine of some description. While it’s the case that there are a good number of Indian restaurants in the city, there is more variety than may be first thought of, both in terms of price range and variety of cuisine.
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Address: 159 London Road, Leicester LE2 1EG
Situated to the south-east of the station near to De Montfort Hall and Victoria Park, Nawaaz is also within walking distance of the main campus of the University of Leicester. Nawaaz's menu may be simple, but there is enough variety on their to suit anyone. The available appetisers include a popadom basket, vegetable or meat samosas, and chips with a variety of spiced toppings. Main courses involve classics such as the lamb bhuna, the chicken jalfrezi, and the vegetable biryani. If you're dining in a group, then it's worth considering the tawa meals for two or four people, which include a wide variety of dishes, including rice, naan, and chips. There's also a vegetarian tawa meal with a similar mix of dishes, which is ideal for people who don't eat meat or want to try something a bit different.
Address: 42 Belvoir Street, Leicester LE1 6QL
Found towards the south of the city centre and west of the station, Maurizio's does simple Italian food, with menu options being plentiful to suit a variety of tastes. The selection of starters is small, but does have a variety of bruschetta for two people, as well as some Italian cold cuts served with focaccia. For pizzas, there are options such as the classic margherita, the diavola (tomato sauce, mozzarella, spicy pepperoni), and the vegetariana (tomato sauce, mozzarella, grilled vegetables, spinach, mushrooms, and seasonal vegetables). If pasta's what you fancy, then there are plenty to choose from - choices here include carbonara (bacon, eggs, pecorino cheese, black pepper), strozzapretti with cream and Italian sausage, and aglio e olio (garlic, olive oil, chilli). For dessert, why not choose the Italian classic tiramisu, cannoli (tube-shaped fried pastry with ricotta cheese filling, topped with chocolate and pistachio), or the baba (Neapolitan rum-soaked sponge cake)?
Address: 40 Almond Road, Freemans Common, Leicester LE2 7LH
Sited south of the city centre and within close proximity to both Welford Road and the King Power Stadiums, the Counting House is conveniently located for anyone attending events at either of those places. It's also a short walk from Victoria Park and the main campus of the University of Leicester. The pub is run by Greene King, one of the largest pub chains in the UK, so it can also be a solid option for those who may want something a bit more familiar. In terms of food, there aren't really starters as such, but they do serve what's termed as 'beer food'. This includes a cheesy topped nacho sharer (nachos topped with nacho cheese sauce, melted cheese, salsa, sour cream, jalapeños), a kilogram of chicken wings, and crispy Louisiana-style chicken strips. For mains, there are many dishes available to choose from, including the all-day breakfast (bacon, sausage, fried eggs, chips, tomato, baked beans, toast, butter), hunter's chicken (chicken fillets, streaky bacon, BBQ sauce, melted cheese, chips, onion rings, peas), and mac & cheese (served with garlic bread and a dressed side salad). There are also steaks available to choose from if you wish. For dessert, you can choose from an applie pie slive (vegan option available), a chocolate fudge cake, and two choices of ice cream cake (salted caramel or strawberries & cream).
Address: 96 Granby Street, Leicester LE1 1DJ
Found to the south-east of the city centre and a short walk north-west of the station, Herb is also a few minutes south of the Curve Theatre, and so can be a good option if you're attending an event there. One thing which marks Herb out is its focus on vegetarian and vegan-friendly dishes, with a number of these dishes also being gluten-free and nut-free. There are a number of starters available, including idli (gently steamed rice and lentil cake served with sambal and chutney), paneer pepper fry (Kerala-style stir-fried Indian cottage cheese cubes, pepper, onion, chilli sauce), and a 'herb mix vegetable platter' (a variety of marinated and grilled vegetables, served with grilled onion & chickpea fritters and chutneys). The main courses have a good amount of variety in them, including the masala dosa (rice & lentil pancake with a traditional filling of seasoned potatoes, onion, and peas), the 'mix uthappam' (uthappam is essentially a bit like a pizza, and this one is served with a selection of mixed seasoned vegetables), and the 'herbal parippu' (lentils in a thick garlic sauce with tomato, curry leaves, mustard seeds, and asafoetida). There are also a few Herb specials available to choose from, including the 'pidiyum kurumayum/kadalayum' (rice dumplings and paneer cooked in coconut milk, flavoured with cumin and curry leaves, served with vegetable korma or chickpea curry). Desserts include gulab jamun (milk-based dumplings fried and preserved in sugar syrup), carrot halwa with ice-cream, and kulfi (smooth Indian ice-cream flavoured with either mango, pistachio, or malai).
Address: 6 St Martins Square, Leicester LE1 5DF
For somewhere a bit more central, Bodega Cantina - near both the King Richard III Visitor Centre and Leicester Cathedral - is a great option. The focus is on food from Mexico and Latin America, with plenty of variety to suit anyone. Choices from the Mexican street food section include nachos, quesadillas, burritos, and enchiladas, with a variety of fillings or toppings. The tacos use blue corn tortillas and have fillings including slow-roasted Dr Pepper marinated pork (topped with pickled pink onions on pickled shredded red cabbage), slow-roasted chipotle beef (with shredded pickled cabbage, topped with pomegranate seeds and aioli), and sweet potato & mushrooms (in a rich mole sauce topped with sliced avocado). Other available dishes include a Mexican-spiced half chicken (marinated in Mexican spices, topped with pineapple salsa and served with one of three side dishes), an Argentinian rump steak (served with chimichurri, house-seasoned skin-on fries, and Baja smoky slaw), and a vegetable Xim Xim curry (potato, leeks, peppers, onions, cooked in a peanut butter & coconut sauce with chilli, garlic, and lemon juice, served with spicy rice). There are also a number of smaller plates with the idea that 2-3 dishes between two people is ideal - these include Mexican cola wings and patatas bravas (diced potatoes in a spicy ranchero tomato sauce with sugar snap peas). A separate vegan menu is available, and there's also a dedicated halal menu, which is ideal for anyone who keeps to the Islamic dietary laws.
Address: 2-6 St Martins Walk, St Martin's Coffee Shop in St Martin's Square, Leicester LE1 5DG
Sited just to the west of the city centre and near the King Richard III Visitor Centre and Leicester Cathedral, Crafty Burger is a pop-up burger restaurant which operates three days a week (Thursday, Friday, Saturday). The beef used in its burgers comes from March House Farm in Great Dalby, a few miles south of Melton Mowbray and a few miles north-east of Leicester itself, which is great for any fans of using local produce. The lighter bites to snack on and share before the main course include crunchy chicken wings, pigcorn poppers (overnight-cooked pork belly, coated in panko breadcrumbs and fried), and southern-fried cauliflower with a variety of sauces to choose from. The burgers themselves are varied, and include the 'Crafty Cheese' (March House Farm beef patty, double American cheese, caramelised onions, Crafty burger sauce, pickles, lettuce), the 'Dragon Chicken' (buttermilk fried chicken breast, Korean glaze, pickled chilli slaw, sesame, aioli, pickles, lettuce), and the 'Smokin 'Shroom' (panko-crusted flat mushroom, American and Monterey Jack cheese, Crafty burger sauce, onions, pickles, lettuce). Most of the vegetarian burgers can also be made vegan-friendly on request. The burgers come with skin-on fried as standard, but can have extra toppings added to make them a bit more interesting. These variations include 'Texas Fries' (melty cheese, bacon bits, bbq, spring onion, jalapeño), 'Sloppy Fries' (spiced burger mince, melty cheese, pickles, Crafty sauce), and 'Garlic Parm Fries' (tossed in garlic butter, with fresh herbs, parmesan, and Caesar drizzle).
Address: Stable Block, Winstanley House, Hinckley Road, Leicester LE3 1HX
To the south-west of the city centre in Braunstone Park lies Black Iron Restaurant, part of the grade II-listed Winstanley House Hotel, with the building dating back to the Georgian era. The centrepiece of the kitchen is the charcoal-fired oven, and ensure that as much as possible of the produce used is local, with the meat being sourced from Aubrey Allen in Leamington Spa. Light bites while you wait include a bread board with flavoured butters and chutney (adaptable for vegan or gluten-free diets), pork belly bites with sour apple sauce, and cheese fritters with red onion jam. The available starters include mushrooms on toast (garlic, sherry, tarragon - adaptable for vegan or gluten-free diets), beef croquettes (mushroom ketchup, pickled onions, root vegetable crisps), and charcoal-roasted scallops (samphire, hollandaise sauce). There are a variety of steaks on offer, from the rump and the sirloin to the chateaubriand and the porterhouse. Other main dishes are covered by the mushroom and chestnut pie (winter greens, onion gravy), bacon-wrapped turkey (herby mashed potato, roasted carrots, swede, confit shallots), and fish of the day (burnt lemon, hollandaise, house salad). There are many sides available, too, with most of them being either vegan-friendly or gluten-free, or being adaptable so that they are vegan-friendly or gluten-free. These include chilli and ginger fried greens, Red Leicester mashed potato, and maple roasted root vegetables. It would also be worth considering some of the other menus, such as afternoon tea, brunch, and the Sunday lunch menu. In addition, it would be remiss of us to not mention the sizeable wine list, with bottles taken from across the globe.
Address: 139-141 Loughborough Road, Mountsorrel, Leicestershire LE12 7AR
A few miles north of Leicester in the village of Mountsorrel and within the complex of Stonehurst Farm lies John's House, which is the only restaurant in Leicestershire that also has a Michelin star. It's also not too far from Rothley station on the Great Central Railway, which can make it a convenient option for their lunch menu. The lunch menu itself varies with the seasons, and has produce taken directly from the accompanying farm - you can't get much more local than that! Options on the lunch menu include Tamworth ham hock (with heritage tomatoes and chilled tomato soup), Cornish cod (with courgettes, mint, and salted lemon), and strawberry trifle. There are also five-course and seven-course tasting menus, which can include raw Cornish mackerel (with gooseberry, oyster, horseradish), Stonehurst Leicester Longwool (with burnt tomato ketchup, feta, and vegetables from the farm), and English raspberries (with verbena and meadow hay). Each of the three mentioned menus has vegetarian and pescatarian versions, and also an optional wine pairing for all variations, with the two tasting menus also having the option of a fine wine pairing. You can also make a choice from the extensive wine list.
Address: 40 Stadon Road, Anstey, Leicestershire LE7 7AY
To the north-west of Leicester in the village of Anstey lies Sapori, an Italian restaurant which also features in the Michelin guide. There are a number of menus from which to choose, with the signature one arguably being the tasting menu. This includes a take on the classic aubergine parmigiana, a dish of brixham wild sea bass (with 'crazy water' sauce reduction, pickled shallots, and Amalfi lemon), and 'Mont blanc' (milk chocolate ganache, chestnut mousse, Madagascan vanilla gelato). As is often the case with tasting menus, there is an optional wine pairing to go alongside each course. The à la carte menu has a variety of antipasti (including a sharing platter), a linguini dish with clams and monkfish, pork cooked four ways (pan-fried tenderloin, slow-cooked cheek, crispy belly, and shoulder ragout raviolo, served with parsnip purée and a sherry jus), and an apple crumble tartlet served with salted caramel gelato. A three-course set menu is available on selected weekday evenings and Saturday lunchtimes, which can be ideal for those on a more restricted budget. There's also a pizza bar menu, which includes the classic margherita (crushed peeled tomatoes, fior di latte cheese, extra-virgin olive oil, basil), the 'Nduja ('Nduja, grilled courgettes, burrata cheese, crushed peeled tomatoes, fior di latte cheese, extra-virgin olive oil, basil), and the caprino (white base, goat cheese, caramelised onions, fior di latte cheese, spinach, extra-virgin olive oil). The wine list is very much worth considering as well, with a particular focus on bottles from Italy, which is arguably befitting of a restaurant that focuses on cuisine from that country.
There are other things to do in Leicester as well, of course. For those who want to indulge themselves in a bit of retail therapy, there are two shopping centres - Highcross in the north-west, and Haymarket in the north-east. There are also a number of parks in the city if you want a bit of green space, with Victoria Park to the south-east, Abbey Park to the north (which is on the other side of the River Soar to the ruins of Leicester Abbey), and Nelson Mandela Park to the south. If you fancy something a bit more rural, then Bradgate Park to the north-west of the city could be an attractive option - the now-ruined Bradgate House in the park is believed to be the birthplace of Lady Jane Grey. If you enjoy heritage railways, then the Great Central Railway is worth visiting, with trains departing from Leicester North station near Birstall up to the railway's main base in Loughborough.
We very much hope that we have managed to convince you to book a city break to Leicester. If we have, then fantastic! Our website is on hand to help you book the best-value train tickets for your journey. If you have any questions about your booking, then please get in touch with our customer service team, who will be more than happy to assist you.
Getting the best-value rail tickets possible is something that we at Trainsplit are sure many people want to do. This can include booking in advance, using a Railcard if you have one, travelling outside peak times, and – of course – splitting tickets via our website. If you’d like further information on any of these, please get in touch, and we’ll do what we can to assist you. We do have a comprehensive guide here at Trainsplit on the booking process, which we hope will be very useful, and we’ve covered some of the main points below.
If you know when you are planning to travel, booking early can save you money on your train tickets. With Advance fares becoming available up to 12 weeks ahead, this is a great way to save on your rail travel.
Teamed up with a railcard, you can get up to a third off the cost, saving you more money on your train tickets. If you make a lot of train journeys, a railcard will pay for itself in no time.
With Trainsplit’s unique journey planner, we search for the best-priced train tickets for your journey. You can easily discover the best split ticketing combinations that maximize your savings on train tickets, and best of all, Trainsplit will do all the work for you and doesn’t charge a booking fee.
If you don't need to travel early in the morning, consider traveling off-peak to save money on more expensive train tickets. Trains are also likely to be quieter during off-peak hours, which usually start from around 09:30 onwards.
Take a look at Group Save train tickets. These are a great way to get discounted train fares for groups of people traveling together.
If you are not traveling from London, why not consider a route that doesn't go via London? Cross Country trains operate routes to Leicester that avoid London, providing a great way to reduce train travel costs. Using Trainsplit’s journey planner, you can search for cheaper routes to Leicester, potentially saving you money on your train tickets.
If your journey is delayed, you may be entitled to delay compensation on your train tickets.
By following these tips, along with using Trainsplit’s unique journey planner to find the best train ticket deals, now is the perfect time to explore new destinations.
Remember, if you have any questions about train travel or need assistance, feel free to reach out to our team. We're here to help you plan a memorable journey.