HomePlaces To GoKirkstall Abbey
Kirkstall Abbey Monastery ruins during afternoon sunset.
West Yorkshire
Yorkshire and the Humber
United Kingdom
West Yorkshire
Yorkshire and the Humber
United Kingdom

Kirkstall Abbey

Please be aware of government guidelines before setting off.

Government Guidelines
  • Visit Kirkstall Abbey Park, in Leeds, West Yorkshire, for a great family day out exploring on the best-preserved Cistercian Abbeys in Britain.
  • Don't miss out on the events regularly held at this glorious historic Yorkshire site, like a market, festival, film screenings, open-air theatre and more.
  • Check out the nature trails and surrounding parkland area to explore this historic site while the kids enjoy the play area.
  • Uncover the history of one of the best-preserved medieval Cistercian abbeys in Britain, a family favourite trip in Yorkshire.

Visitors of all ages will enjoy the stunning and iconic architectural ruins of this award-winning Park and interactive visitor centre. Kirkstall Abbey Museum is a unique example of exquisite early Christian architecture; it's one of the most complete remaining Cistercian monasteries in Britain, so the structure is a marvel to behold with its dramatic, imposing, architecture. Delight in the majestic nature of the church and the peacefulness of the cloisters, while revelling in this exploring this exemplary Leeds landmark.

Families and visitors can explore the fascinating story of the abbey and the communities that have lived in the monastery in the Visitor Centre. Discover how Cistercian monks lived for 400 years when Kirkstall Abbey was founded over 800 years ago in 1152, in this impressive architectural structure set amid wildlife and greenery haven. Kids will love exploring the abbey's gorgeous parkland, which is located next to the River Aire. From here, take a lovely stroll along the river, maybe even enjoy a picnic in the spacious grounds to recharge. Plus, when your little ones want to do some more running around, there is a small playground for them to let off some steam, situated near to the car park.

Everyone from history buffs, artists and more flock to Kirkstall to experience this Grade I listed building and Scheduled Ancient Monument, a haven for its visitors, frequenting the site often. Step back in time as you stroll through the tranquil grounds, surrounded by stunning tree-filled parkland on the banks of the River Aire. Step back in time with your family and learn about life about the site through the interactive visitor centre, which is always great fun for the little ones, keeping them engaged. The centre contains a unique catalogue of images of the abbey from the 18th century to the present day. Here you can wander Victorian streets lined with shops and services featuring the shop fittings of the original stores. The visitor centre sits on the site of the Reredorter, which is the name that was given to the toilets used by the lay-brothers who carried out manual tasks and agricultural tasks.

Delve into the fascinating medieval history of Leeds and Kirkstall at this historic monastery and explore secret passages, where your little ones can see for themselves where the monks would pray. Here they can immerse themselves in the history of the site, picturing what the halls looked like over 400 years ago. Be sure to read up on the interesting stories of the things that happened in this place, like why Henry VIII destroyed it! For more history and historic site days out, check out Harewood House in West Yorkshire, for tours, festive events, afternoon tea and more for the family to enjoy.

Kirkstall Abbey is situated in a fabulous location, surrounded by a 24-hectare riverside park, which is great fun for a relaxing family stroll, perfect for connecting with nature. Be sure to remember a frisbee or bring a ball to play with the kids in the lush parkland, grasslands, and enjoy a meal outdoors with the stunning view of the river and historic site. Enjoy a leisurely walk around the grounds and along the river to learn about the site; some nature trails and riverside paths run through the grounds if you want to explore further. And don't forget to be on the lookout for a wide variety of events that are held throughout the year, there's always something to tickle your fancy. This is a fantastic way to spend quality time with the family and enjoy the day together.

Don't miss out on Kirkstall Abbey Market where you can join others at the magnificent outdoor market that is set within the stunning Cistercian abbey grounds. The market features quirky makers and producers from Leeds and the surrounding areas in Yorkshire, selling goods and memorabilia to complete your trip. The market runs on the last weekend from March until November and includes over 40 stalls that offer glorious hand-made crafts and local produce from across Yorkshire and Leeds. The little ones and grown-ups alike have a blast as shopping in a Cistercian Monastery isn't your everyday shopping experience. You can browse in a stunning, bustling setting, or pick up a gift, sample some great food, and support local businesses.

Bring your dogs, which can be off lead here, so the whole family wander the historic, pretty paths around the outside of the Abbey. Please note, though, that for a closer look of the ruins, there is a fenced-off area where dogs must be kept on a lead, which is via the small visitor centre. For more historic, Grade I listed buildings, check out Stockeld Park which has magical activities and events on for kids to do all throughout the year.

Don't miss out on the Kirkstall Abbey event that run regularly, from half term fun to mindfulness sessions, like you're a monk! Plus, along with the market, there is the Kirkstall Abbey Festival, film screenings, fascinating talks, and even open-air theatre! The ruins of this beautiful monastery and abbey provide a breath-taking backdrop to these events, which make for unforgettable experiences. It makes sense why many people use this setting for their wedding photography, blessings, vow renewals, baby naming ceremonies and more. If you're a photography fanatic, you should definitely remember to bring your camera with you as the monastery ruins make for perfect composition of any photoshoot. Plus, Kirkstall Abbey is directly across the road from Abbey House Museum, so check that out, too, for the full experience.

What to know before you go

  • Kirkstall Abbey opening times are 10:00 to 16:00, except Mondays when the Abbey is closed.
  • When you're feeling peckish, Kirkstall Abbey Café serves delicious food, snacks and drinks.
  • There are toilets, baby changing facilities and accessible toilets on site.
  • There is a wheelchair available to borrow from the visitor centre. Unfortunately, there is no assistant provided around the abbey for wheelchair users.
  • The main entrance to Kirkstall Abbey's visitor centre has level access.

Getting there

  • Kirkstall Abbey is located at Abbey Road, Kirkstall, Leeds, West Yorkshire.
  • If travelling via public transport, the closest train stations are Kirkstall Forge and Headingley, which are both one mile away. From there, you can either walk for 25 minutes, or get a cab for 4 minutes, or the 34 bus towards Leeds City Centre to Abbey Walk/Abbey Road, again for 4 minutes. Alternatively, you can catch a bus from Leeds.
  • If travelling by car, from Leeds you can get to Kirkstall Abbey via the A65. From York, take via the A64. From Manchester, via the M62.
  • For Kirkstall abbey parking, there is a large free car park that is located adjacent to Abbey House on Abbey Walk. This includes parking for visitors with access needs. There is an additional disabled access parking space right outside the museum entrance. Alternatively, look here for NCP parking nearby.

Please follow the latest government guidelines if travelling by public transport.

Government Guidelines


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