Since it was founded in the second century BC, Leicester has been a Saxon stronghold, a Roman garrison, and the city that supplied the coal that fired the Industrial Revolution. Today, it's a top tourist destination known for its sports teams, its friendly locals, and the National Space Centre. Plus, it's the last resting places of one of Britain's most infamous kings.
Leicester City FC is one of the country's most successful soccer teams. If you're not able to get tickets for a game, take a tour of the King Power Stadium instead.
Learn more about the king that Shakespeare labelled a ruthless opportunist at the King Richard III Visitor Centre or see his new tomb at 11th-century Leicester Cathedral.
See the largest piece of masonry from Roman times in the UK and discover what the city was like during its days as a garrison town at the Jewry Wall Museum. Or, spend the day at the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery among dinosaur bones, Egyptian mummies, and ceramics by Picasso.
Visit Abbey Park, a leafy space divided in two by the River Soar. Highlights include the ruins of the 12th-century abbey, a boating lake, beautiful gardens, and play areas.
The part of Belgrave Road known as the Golden Mile celebrates the city's cultural diversity. Visit the city in August for the Belgrave Mela or Leicester Caribbean Carnival.
In 2012, academics made an incredible discovery underneath a Leicester car park when they unearthed the remains of King Richard III. Made famous by Shakespeare (who portrayed Richard in an unflattering light), the king defeated at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 has now been given a royal setting where visitors can discover everything about his life and times. Filled with tales of murder and war, the Visitor Centre offers a unique window into England's turbulent past and one of its most controversial rulers.
After visiting the Richard III Visitor Centre, head to the Cathedral, where the legendary king was reburied in 2015, and stay to see one of England's most beautiful churches. Highlights include the solemn East Window, which remembers the dead of World War I, the stone statues of saints crowning the Vaughan Porch, and the tower, which contains 13 bells that ring on Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings (as well as the king's tomb, of course).
Located in the northern part of the city by the River Soar, the National Space Centre offers something completely different from long-dead kings. The UK's premier space museum allows visitors to cruise the surfaces of Venus, explore the origins of the universe, inhabit a module of the International Space Station, or stare up at the Thor Able rocket in the 42 meter tall Rocket Tower. Everything here is geared towards the needs of youngsters, with plenty of hands-on installations and even the chance to try on space suits, so any budding astronauts young or old will adore it.
Located just south of the city center, the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery has hosted a superb collection of scientific and artistic exhibits since 1849. From fully reconstructed skeletons of plesiosaurs to one of the world's oldest fossils, it houses one of the finest natural history collections around. You'll also find a marvelous collection of German Expressionist art, and four eerie Egyptian mummies as well. Admission is free, making it an affordable yet unmissable Leicester attraction.
A couple of hundred meters south of the Cathedral, Newark Houses Museum is a quirky, varied, and fun museum of Leicester's history. Find out about larger-than-life figures like Daniel Lambert (once Britain's largest man), see an enchanting collection of toys that stretch back to Tudor times, and experience what life was like in the First World War trenches, where local soldiers fought and often died. A neat complement to the Richard III exhibits, this child-friendly museum is a fascinating testament to the city's history.
The best time to visit Leicester is during the summer months from May to September for seasonal attractions like the Carnival and the Mela. Soccer and rugby lovers might prefer to visit during the winter months when the season is well underway.
The closest airport to Leicester is East Midlands Airport (EMA). Take the Skylink bus from the airport to St. Margaret's Bus Station in the city center or make the journey by taxi for £30 - £40.
The city is on the main route from London to Leeds. The railway station is 10 minutes from the heart of the city and a five-minute walk from St. Margaret's Bus Station.
Leicester is right next to the M1 motorway if you're coming from London and the south. Those traveling from other parts of the Midlands like Coventry or Birmingham can take the M69 and connect to the M1 at Junction 21.
There are regular services to Leicester from London and other major cities. Operators include National Express and Megabus.
Try the Mercure Leicester Grand Hotel in the city center or pick a designer hotel like the Maiyango Hotel. Budget-friendly alternatives include the Croft Hotel.
City Center - the city's commercial and retail center. Attractions include Leicester Cathedral, the National Space Centre, and the Curve center for performing arts.
Belgrave - the district to the north of the city center is known for its restaurants, sari stores, and jewelry shops.
Clarendon Park/Knighton - home to the city's two prestigious universities, the University of Leicester and De Montfort University Leicester, plus a large student population.
Local buses cover Leicester and neighboring towns. Arriva buses depart from St. Margaret's Bus Station while First buses can be boarded at stops all over the city center. Day tickets are available but they are not interchangeable.
Taxis are readily available in all parts of the town. A typical five-mile journey will cost £8.
Many people choose to rent a car since the city is within driving distance of some of the most beautiful parts of the United Kingdom. Leading brands like Enterprise and Budget can be found at East Midlands Airport.
Visit 700-year-old Leicester Market, the oldest covered market in Europe, for a vast assortment of clothing, foods, and accessories. If you prefer a more upmarket setting, you'll find leading brands and designer names in the Gold Award-winning Highcross shopping mall.
Pick up food, toiletries, and other essentials from supermarket chains like Morrison's, Tesco, and Waitrose. You'll pay 75p for a quart of milk and £2.03 for a dozen large eggs.
Head for the Golden Mile area of Belgrave Road for the best curries in the city. For a more upmarket version of the UK's most popular food, try the Maiyango Hotel and Restaurant. A simple lunch will cost from £5-8 while dinner for two with wine at a smart restaurant will be £45 - £70.