Leicester is the largest city in the East Midlands region of England, the capital of the traditional county of Leicestershire, with a population of some 330,000 in the city area and nearly 500,000 in the metropolitan area.
Leicester is one of the oldest English cities, having been founded by the Romans as Ratae Coritanorum in 50 CE. Presently, it is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the United Kingdom.
It is also Britain's first environment city.
Leicester has grown rapidly throughout the centuries and is now a cosmopolitan city with friendly people from all races, backgrounds and cultures creating a culturally diverse city.
Leicester is adjacent to the M1 Motorway, allowing speedy road access south to London and north to many other major English cities.
The M69 motorway provides good access from the south of the city at M1 junction 21 towards Birmingham, Coventry, Nuneaton and Hinkley.
As noted below, for non-motorised road users, there is good access to the city for cyclists, from all points of the compass.
First-time visitors to the city coming by car may find the inner ring road and associated one-way systems confusing and somewhat daunting. Plan your journey well in advance, be patient, and look for signposts for the many car-parks close to the city centre; or use the Park & Ride services (see below under 'Bus').
The city offers a Park and Ride service Meynells Gorse Park and Ride, see the National Park and Ride Directory 
Leicester is on the main London to Leeds rail route operated by East Midlands Trains  from St Pancras International station. There are up to four trains to and from the capital every hour. The journey takes up to 1:30h on slower trains. As with all British trains, an open return valid for one month bought on the day of travel is just marginally more expensive than a single ticket. Tickets bough in advance are often significantly cheaper.
Often cheaper, but also significantly longer time-wise travel from London can be done via Nuneaton, Warwickshire, with London Midland trains . In Nuneaton, change for a bus 48  or 158  both going to Leicester directly (very limited service in the evening and at the weekends). A bus station in Nuneaton is ten minutes walk from the railway station, buses to Leicester depart from platform C; the journey takes just over one hour and costs just over £3.00 single (December 2012). Also, there is a train from Nuneaton station to Leicester which costs about £10 single. Tickets specific to the London Midland services are cheapest (London to Nuneaton off-peak return £21.00, December 2012).
The suburban services to Syston, Sileby, Barrow-on-Soar, and Lougborough and via Nottingham to Lincoln are operated by East Midlands Trains; and towards Wigston and Narborough - Cross Country Trains.
Leicester station is five minutes walk from the very centre of the city and another five minutes - to the couch station (St Margaret).
Train passangers are entitled to discounts for local bus travel in many British cities , also in Leicester (£3.50 for a day ticket, January 2013); student railcards give access to even greater savings. A plusbus ticket can be purchased simultaneously with the train ticket online or at the station, incl. many vending ticket machines.
The city is close to East Midlands Airport situated in the county of Leicestershire and a drive should not take much longer than 30 minutes depending on the traffic situation. The airport is served by a 24/7 SkyLink bus from St Margaret's bus station in Leicester (timetable , £6.10 single, December 2012). Taxi is about £30 one way.
Birmingham International Airport is within a 45 minute to 1 hour drive from Leicester. It can be reached by train - a ticket to Birmingham is valid for the Birmingham airport as well  - or coach 
There are also a limited number of flights available from Coventry Airport about a 45 minute drive away.
Stansted and Luton airports are linked directly to Leicester by regular train services (see links to CrossCountry and East Midlands Trains above).
National Express couches arrive to St Margarets Bus station, a short walk to the city centre. There are regular services to and from London, Birmingham and Nottingham where connections are available to most of the UK, as well as Eurolines  services to continental Europe.
Megabus connects Leicester with London and from there - other British cities, as well as Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam. However, be aware that their bus stop is not in the city center.
There are also services operated by local companies which serve the Asian communities in West London (Southall), Bradford, and other areas. These services are not generally well advertised, they may be short-lived, but can be cheap, and get you to out-of-the-way areas.
All city centre locations are easily reachable within walking distance.
The city supports an extensive bus network. Services are operated mainly by First Leicester and Arriva. First Leicester services cover the more local (city) destinations, those operated by Arriva can also be useful for reaching areas just outside Leicester, as well as city destinations. First Services leave from a variety of points in the city centre; most Arriva services depart from St Margarets Bus Station. Be warned that First Leicester's bus services are notorious for being often late. It can be advisable to walk smaller distances or use arriva or other routes operated by other companies.
Stagecoach run a regular service (Route 48) from St Margarets to Hinckley and Coventry
There are services operated by other companies: some are one-route-only operators; you may find that a different company will run the same service on a Sunday (or during evenings) to the day-time operator.
You will generally be able to get advice on bus travel from St Margarets bus station.
You will find stops for most services in the City Centre streets. These stops can be confusing, even for locals!
Tickets are not interchangable between different companies; However, there is day tickets for all buses in the Leicester area called Flexi Day & Week. These can be bought on any bus in Leicester for £5.00 day and £19.00 week one Day tickets can offer significant savings over single, and even return, tickets: ask the driver for advice. Fares are expensive for very short journeys, but can be remarkable value if travelling to the suburbs or further.
There is one Park & Ride service that runs Monday-Saturday from Meynells Gorse that is, at Braunstone Cross Roads, just off the A47 Every 12 minutes and is run by Paul James Coaches. This service is well-signposted on the A47 and the M1 (leave at junction 21A). This serves the city centre with a reliable, regular, fast service from a large car park. There are Saturday only Park & Ride services from County Hall (A50 - Glenfield), and Oadby Leicester racecourse (A6 - Oadby). You MUST have to be a car user to use the Park & Ride services.
Cycling in and around Leicester is generally pleasant with there being a good road network and generally well-mannered car and bus drivers. Previous city council policies led to the development of well signposted, well designed cycle-tracks: some of these are now in need of repair and upkeep, but the network remains. Sustrans Route 6 bisects the city North/South, with Route 63 going north-west toward Charnwood Forest.
The city centre Bike Park provides a handy place to park your bike with complete security during the week, daytime. The Bike Park is situated to the right of the Town Hall (in Town Hall Square) right in the city centre. The friendly staff can help with repairs and local knowledge. There are changing facilities here if you require them.
Remember that Leicester is effectively in a 'bowl', so whichever way you enter the city (except along the river/canal) you are likely to have to climb to leave it! As a cyclist you may wish to avoid routes leading directly to the local M1 junctions (21, 21A, and 22)as these carry heavy and fast motor traffic.
There is free signposted motorcycle parking in the city centre: Abbey Street and behind the Town Hall.
St Nicholas church - the oldest (over 1200 years) place of Christian worship in Leicester. Open for visitor every Saturday, 2.00 pm - 4.00 pm, as well as for worship - see the website for details.
St. Mary de Castro - one of the most ancient buildings in Leicester (from the early 12th century). The name means "St Mary of the Castle". It stands on the grounds of Leicester Castle, from which it gets its name and of which it was once the chapel. Open: Monday to Friday 12.00 pm - 2.00 pm; Saturday 2.00 pm - 4.00 pm.
Leicester Guildhall - One of the best preserved timber framed halls in the country, dating back to the 14 century. Do not miss a prison cell on the ground floor. Currently offeres the King Richard III exhibition.
New Walk Museum and Art Gallery - a comparatively small, but exciting place. Its Dinosaur, German Expressionist and Picasso Ceramics galleries are well worth of seeing. The fine art gallery is due to re-open in March 2013. Free group tours take place every other Saturday at 2.00 pm - consult the website for the dates.
Newarke Houses Museum and Gardens - the best place to learn about the city's 20 century history. The garden is particularly beautiful. Take a walk along the
Abbey Park - an award winning public park owned and managed by Leicester City Council through which the River Soar flows. It contains the remains of the 12th century Leicester Abbey and the ruins of Cavendish House. It has formal gardens, a sensory garden, a boating lake and model boat lake, a miniature railway, visitor centre, cafe, children's play area with paddling pool, pets corner, tennis courts, a bowling green, and a bandstand.
The Golden Mile - a stretch of the Belgrave Road renowned for its authentic Indian restaurants, sari shops, and jewellers.
New Walk - a late 18th century urban public walk a street, it was a pedestrian street for over 200 years.
Those who wish to visit historic sights can visit the Jewry Wall museum located near the city centre, this is the 2000 year old remains of the Roman Bath House in the City and is the second largest such survival in the UK, the adjacent Mueseum tells Leicester's history since ancient times. The City had the roman name, Ratae Corieltauvorum.
The National Space Centre is also a popular tourist attraction with tourists visiting daily from all over the world. It is the nation's only Space Centre of its kind and features a space theatre.
Abbey park located near the Belgrave roundabout, is a large park with a pets corner, large sports fields, childrens play areas and beautiful gardens. The park features a 12th Century Abbey ruin and the ruins of Cavendish House, destroyed during the English Civil War and the seige of Leicester.
Bradgate Park located just northwest of the city, encompassing 850 acres of land. A good place to take a walk or a picnic, there is also a visitor's centre on site, the ruins of the former home of Lady Jane Grey (Queen for 9 days) Bradgate House, are within the park as is Old John, a hilltop folly in the shape of a beer tankard built in 1784. Both structures were built by the Grey family (Lady Jane's family) of Groby from the 15th Century onwards. The park is also a protective zone for many bird, deer and plant species.
The city centre of Leicester has a vibrant and friendly atmosphere along with many department stores and a large shopping centre called Highcross (formerly 'The Shires', High Street. Shoppers can expect to find the majority of items and services offered within a main city in the UK.
The Haymarket centre has also recently undergone changes and has improved within the last 10 years.
Leicester also has some interesting independent shops around the 'Lanes' area leading from Loseby Lane. The St Martins area also has interesting small boutiques, delicatessans and cookware shops. The Shires has recently undergone a transformation and expansion, changing its name to Highcross. Highcross opened in September 2008 and features many new shops and restaurants including John Lewis, Topman, Levis, Superdrug and Hugo Boss amongst others.
Kayal (153 Granby Street) , an Indian restaurant, it has received a number of awards and renowned for its fish and seafood dishes, as well traditional meat and vegetarian ones.
Chutney Ivy (41 Halford Street) , an Indian restaurant in the heart of the cultural quarter.
Barceloneta (54 Queen's Road, Clarendon Park) , a Spanish tapas restaurant: a very lively venue equally popular with couples and large parties. The next door Dos Hermanos bar (affiliated to Barceloneta) serves fantastic British breakfast/brunch. The whole area of Queen's Road is full of small independently run bars, cafes, restaurants, shops and delis well worth of exploring.
Sapori (40 Standon Road, Anstey) , probably the best Italian restaurant Leicester - or its vicinity, to be precise - has. It serves imaginative modern interpretations of traditional Italian cuisine; the menu reflects seasonal availability of ingredients. The staff are knowledgable, so it makes sense to allow being guided for drinks and food if unsure. Cheaper set menu is available at lunch and early evening - check the website.
With two universities Leicester boasts a good number of bars, pubs, and clubs offering a wide variety of alcoholic drinking experiences, offering everything from traditional pubs to champagne and vodka bars.
Leicester also has a small number of bars and a nightclub catering for the lesbian/gay communities.
For those that prefer their drink without alcohol there are also a good number of coffee shops in the city centre, but these usually tend to only open during shopping hours.
There is a Travelodge very close to the City centre on Vaughan Way, close to the High Street. 5 minutes from Vaugan Way, near the train station, there is a budget Leicester hotel ibis Leicester City Hotel(http://www.accorhotels.com/gb/hotel-3061-ibis-leicester-city/index.shtml) on St. George's Way.
There is a Campanile Hotel close to the city centre, and very handy for the Golden Mile, and Abbey Park. (This is on the edge of the once notorious St Matthew's Estate, visitors should not be put off by the electronic access via huge gates: it's perfectly safe and secure.)
More upmarket is the Holiday Inn at St Nicholas Circle, just at the end of High Street; there is another Holiday Inn, to the south of the city, on Narborough Road, closer to the M1 junction 21. The Mercure Leicester City Hotel hotel is situated right in the city centre, as is the Comfort Inn, which is atop the Abbey Street car park. A further very popular hotel is the Belmont Hotel just off London Road.
Ibis Budget Leicester (previously Etap Hotel), Leicester North Services A6/A46, Junction, Birstall, ☎ (+44)0116 267 4904, . Ibis budget Hotel Leicester is a low-cost hotel situated about 6km outside of central Leicester. edit
Ibis Leicester City, ☎ Tel. (+44)116/2487200, . Ibis Leicester is a economy hotel, a short drive from the M1, M6 and M69 motorways. Just 5 minutes walk from Leicester city centre and Leicester railway station. edit
There is no shortage of overnight accommodation in Leicester at almost all budget ranges: the tourist information people can help.
There is also available house sitting at Leicester House Sitter
The city is quite safe other than the usual beggars with false stories about being robbed and those drunkards looking for trouble.
The inner city areas of St Matthews and Highfields should be avoided at night. New Walk,leading from the city centre up to Victoria Park, is a very attractive footpath during the day, but should not be used after dark due to the presence of prostitutes, drunks and beggars towards the upper end of it.
Likewise, Victoria Park should be completely avoided after dark as it is well known for muggings.
Rutland Water, a reservoir located 20 miles east of Leicester is a popular location for fishing, picnics and watersports such as sailing and jetskiing.
As noted above, Bradgate Park is close to the city, and very popular with locals for a breath of country air - it can, however get crowded on Bank Holidays.
The canal / River Soar is a popular green artery running both north and south of the city. North through Abbey Park towards Birstall is a pleasant walk, and return by bus from Birstall is possible; going south through the Aylestone Country Park, to Aylestone, Blaby and beyond will quickly get you into open country, with the option of returning either by bus or walking back along the Great Central Way (part of the Sustrans National Cycleroute).