Reasons to visit Leuven, Belgium

Reasons to visit Leuven, Belgium at least once in your lifetime

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100 Reasons to Visit Leuven, Belgium: Discover the Charms of a Hidden Gem

Welcome to Leuven, Belgium – a hidden gem nestled in the heart of Europe. This vibrant city, known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and welcoming atmosphere, is a must-visit destination that will leave you breathless.

From picturesque landscapes to world-class gastronomy, Leuven has something to offer every traveler. Whether you are a history buff, a beer lover, or an art enthusiast, this captivating city will capture your heart and leave you longing for more. Get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey as we unveil the top 100 reasons why you should visit Leuven, Belgium.

Key Takeaways

  • Discover a hidden gem nestled in the heart of Europe
  • Experience Leuven’s rich history through stunning architecture
  • Indulge in world-class gastronomy and beer culture
  • Explore charming neighborhoods and vibrant cultural events
  • Engage in a variety of outdoor activities and enjoy stunning natural landscapes

Architectural Marvels

1. The Grand Beguinage: Step into the 13th-century and wander through the cobblestone streets of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its beautifully restored houses and tranquil gardens.

2. St. Peter’s Church: Marvel at the grandeur of this imposing Gothic church, adorned with stunning stained glass windows and intricate stone carvings.

3. Town Hall: Admire the remarkable Brabant Gothic architecture of Leuven’s Town Hall, a masterpiece that showcases the city’s rich history.

4. Groot Begijnhof: Explore the Groot Begijnhof, a beguinage dating back to the 13th century. This serene quarter, with its charming houses and tranquil courtyard, offers a glimpse into the past.

5. Church of St. Michael: Immerse yourself in the peaceful ambiance of this beautiful church, known for its stunning Baroque interior and breathtaking altarpiece.

6. St. Gertrude’s Church: Discover the beauty of this Romanesque church, with its impressive twin towers and serene atmosphere.

7. Vaartkom: Witness the transformation of an old industrial area into a vibrant neighborhood, boasting modern architecture and trendy restaurants.

8. Heilige Geestkerk: Visit this hidden gem and be captivated by its unique fusion of Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles.

9. The Faculty Club: Experience the grandeur of this former Jesuit College, now a unique venue for meetings and events, nestled in a green oasis.

10. Vlerick Business School: Marvel at the innovative architecture of this world-renowned business school, seamlessly blending historic and contemporary elements.

Gastronomic Delights

11. Craft Beers: Savor the rich flavors of Leuven’s famous craft beers, brewed according to centuries-old traditions. Don’t miss the opportunity to taste the world-renowned Stella Artois.

12. Belgian Chocolate: Indulge your sweet tooth with the finest Belgian chocolates, made by talented local chocolatiers who continue to perfect their craft.

13. Stoofvlees with Fries: Treat your taste buds to a traditional Flemish meal of succulent beef stew, slow-cooked to perfection and served with crispy Belgian fries.

14. Flanders’ Famous Waffles: Sink your teeth into a warm, crispy Belgian waffle, topped with whipped cream, fresh fruit, or decadent Belgian chocolate.

15. Flemish Artisanal Cheeses: Delight in a cheese tasting experience, where you can sample a wide variety of artisanal cheeses, from creamy Brie to tangy Gouda.

16. Moules-Frites: Indulge in a steaming pot of mussels, cooked in a flavorful broth and served with a side of golden Belgian fries.

17. Speculoos: Discover the unique flavor of speculoos cookies, known for their spiced and caramelized taste, often enjoyed with a cup of coffee.

18. Flemish Carbonade: Be transported to gastronomic heaven with this traditional Flemish stew, where tender beef is slow-cooked in a rich beer-based sauce.

19. Belgian Endive: Taste the versatility of Belgian endive, locally grown and enjoyed in a variety of dishes, from salads to gratins.

20. Leuven’s Michelin-Star Restaurants: Spoil yourself with an unforgettable dining experience at one of Leuven’s Michelin-star restaurants, where innovative chefs create culinary masterpieces.

Hidden Gems and Exciting Attractions

21. M – Museum Leuven: Immerse yourself in Leuven’s vibrant art scene and explore the diverse collection of contemporary and classical artworks housed in this stunning museum.

22. Arenberg Castle: Wander through the picturesque grounds of this 16th-century castle, surrounded by lush greenery and featuring a romantic moat.

23. Leuven Botanical Garden: Escape the bustling city and lose yourself in the tranquility of these beautiful gardens, home to a vast array of plant species.

24. Opek: Dive into the world of contemporary art and culture at Opek – a dynamic space that hosts exhibitions, performances, and cultural events.

25. Leuven City Park: Relax and unwind in this expansive park, perfect for picnics, leisurely walks, or simply enjoying the stunning views of Leuven’s skyline.

26. Ladeuzeplein: Visit the iconic square and admire the impressive scale model of the city, while immersing yourself in the lively atmosphere of cafes and restaurants.

27. Stella Artois Brewery: Take a tour of the historic Stella Artois Brewery and learn about the brewing process behind Belgium’s most famous beer.

28. Provinciaal Domein Kessel-Lo: Immerse yourself in nature at this vast provincial park, offering a range of activities such as hiking, cycling, and even a swimming pool.

29. Park Abbey: Step back in time and explore the ruins of this ancient abbey, surrounded by beautifully maintained gardens and woodlands.

30. Leuven City Hall Tower: Ascend the City Hall Tower for panoramic views of the city, offering a spectacular vantage point to admire the architectural wonders.

Rich History and Cultural Heritage

31. The Beguinages: Discover the unique world of beguines, independent women who lived in small communities and dedicated their lives to religious services.

32. Leuven Town Museum: Immerse yourself in Leuven’s history and art at this fascinating museum, located within the historic Tweebronnen building.

33. Perron: Learn about the historical significance of Leuven’s Perron, a symbol of Flemish autonomy and self-government.

34. The Great Market Square: Take a stroll through the heart of Leuven and experience its vibrant atmosphere, surrounded by picturesque facades and bustling cafes.

35. Mgr. Ladeuzeplein: Marvel at the beauty of this picturesque square, with its impressive university library and stunning statues.

36. Leuven City Archives: Dive into the city’s past at the City Archives, where historical documents and artifacts are preserved and available for research.

37. Leuven’s Liberation Monument: Pay homage to the brave soldiers who fought for Leuven’s liberation during World War II at this monumental sculpture.

38. Hortus Botanicus Lovaniensis: Explore one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world, dating back to 1738, and marvel at its magnificent collection of plant species.

39. Museum Park Abbey: Delve into the history of Park Abbey and discover ancient artifacts, art treasures, and architectural remnants.

40. Leuven University Library: Admire the architectural splendor of this iconic library, home to precious manuscripts and a breathtaking reading room.

Enchanting Festivals and Events

41. Leuven Christmas Market: Step into a winter wonderland as the city comes alive with festive lights, seasonal treats, and an enchanting ice skating rink.

42. Hapje-Tapje: Celebrate Leuven’s culinary delights at this gastronomic festival, where food and beer enthusiasts come together to indulge their taste buds.

43. Leuven Jazz Festival: Immerse yourself in the soulful rhythms of jazz as the city comes alive with performances by world-class musicians.

44. Leuven in Scène: Experience the city’s vibrant performing arts scene during this lively festival, featuring theater, dance, and music performances.

45. Marktrock: Dance the night away at one of Belgium’s largest music festivals, showcasing a diverse lineup of local and international artists.

46. Leuven Bierweekend: Raise your glass and celebrate the city’s beer culture during this lively event, where breweries showcase their finest brews.

47. Beleuvenissen: Enjoy the sounds of live music as Leuven’s streets and squares transform into stages for talented local and international artists.

48. International Short Film Festival Leuven: Immerse yourself in the world of cinema as Leuven hosts this renowned film festival, showcasing the best in short filmmaking.

49. Wereldfeest: Experience a vibrant celebration of different cultures through music, dance, workshops, and culinary delights from around the world.

50. Comedy Festival Leuven: Laughter awaits at this hilarious festival, as talented comedians from across the globe take the stage to entertain audiences.

Nature and Outdoor Adventures

51. Abbey Park: Embrace the tranquility of Abbey Park, with its lush green lawns, enchanting ponds, and picturesque walking paths.

52. Meerdaalwoud: Embark on a scenic hike or bike ride through the expansive forests of Meerdaalwoud, a nature lover’s paradise.

53. Boetfort Castle: Experience the serenity of this beautifully preserved castle, surrounded by a vast park and a soothing moat.

54. Horst Castle: Discover the timeless charm of Horst Castle, nestled amidst stunning green surroundings and offering guided tours.

55. Leuven Lakes: Unwind in the peaceful ambiance of the nearby lakes, where you can go for a swim, picnic, or leisurely stroll.

56. Arboretum Heverleebos: Explore the diverse flora and fauna of this enchanting arboretum, ideal for nature walks and peaceful contemplation.

57. Cycling in Leuven: Rent a bike and explore the city and its surroundings at your own pace, as Leuven boasts an extensive network of cycling paths.

58. Dijlepad: Follow the scenic Dijle River as it winds its way through Leuven, offering picturesque views and a charming walking route.

59. Vlierbeek Abbey: Discover the peaceful grounds surrounding Vlierbeek Abbey, a serene spot perfect for a tranquil retreat.

60. Zonnienwoud: Immerse yourself in nature at Zonnienwoud, a beautiful forest where you can enjoy picnics, hikes, and bike rides.

Quaint Neighborhoods and Charming Streets

61. Mechelsestraat: Stroll down this vibrant street and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of boutiques, cafes, and charming storefronts.

62. Tiensestraat: Shop ’til you drop along Tiensestraat, where trendy fashion boutiques, vintage stores, and hip restaurants await.

63. Parijsstraat: Wander through Parijsstraat and discover a hidden world of specialty shops, delightful patisseries, and cozy bookstores.

64. Charles Deberiotstraat: Explore the artistic side of Leuven in Charles Deberiotstraat, home to galleries, creative studios, and quirky shops.

65. Schrijnmakersstraat: Get lost in the narrow streets of Schrijnmakersstraat, lined with charming houses and picturesque facades.

66. Lange Gasthuisstraat: Take a leisurely stroll along Lange Gasthuisstraat, and discover a kaleidoscope of antique shops, inspiring galleries, and cozy cafes.

67. Muntstraat: Indulge in a culinary adventure along Muntstraat, known as “Restaurant Street,” where a wide range of international cuisines awaits.

68. Vaartstraat: Wander down Vaartstraat and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of trendy boutiques, coffee shops, and stylish concept stores.

69. Schapenstraat: Step into a world of traditional charm in Schapenstraat, a small street filled with quaint shops and local craftsmanship.

70. Vismarkt and Hogeschoolplein: Unwind in the lively ambiance of Vismarkt and Hogeschoolplein, where cafes and terraces invite you to sit back and relax.

Enthralling Day Trips

71. Brussels: Explore the vibrant capital city of Belgium, just a short train ride away from Leuven, famous for its picturesque squares, world-class museums, and iconic landmarks.

72. Bruges: Step back in time and wander through the fairy-tale streets of Bruges, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its medieval architecture and charming canals.

73. Ghent: Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of Ghent, where medieval charm meets contemporary creativity, boasting stunning architecture and vibrant cultural events.

74. Antwerp: Dive into the bustling metropolis of Antwerp, known for its fashion scene, artistic heritage, and vibrant nightlife, offering a mix of historic landmarks and modern architecture.

75. Waterloo: Travel back in time to the famous Battle of Waterloo site, where Napoleon Bonaparte met his decisive defeat, and immerse yourself in history at the interactive visitor center.

76. Aarschot: Discover the historical gems of Aarschot, a charming city with a medieval character, offering picturesque streets, a beautiful beguinage, and lively cultural events.

77. Diest: Lose yourself in the enchanting streets of Diest, a picturesque city with a rich history, boasting a beautiful beguinage, stunning churches, and a fortress.

78. Leuvense Vaart: Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and relax along the scenic Leuvense Vaart, a canal that stretches from Leuven to Mechelen, perfect for cycling and boating.

79. Mechelen: Immerse yourself in the history and culture of Mechelen, a charming city with beautifully preserved buildings, picturesque squares, and fascinating museums.

80. The Flemish Ardennes: Venture into the rolling hills and picturesque villages of the Flemish Ardennes, a paradise for cyclists, hikers, and nature lovers.

Bespoke Experiences for Every Traveler

81. Craft Workshops: Dive into the world of craftsmanship and participate in workshops where you can learn traditional skills such as brewing beer, making chocolate, or crafting ceramics.

82. Walking Tours: Embark on a guided walking tour and discover the hidden corners and captivating stories of Leuven, led by knowledgeable guides who bring the city’s history to life.

83. Beer Tastings: Indulge in a beer tasting experience where knowledgeable experts guide you through the diverse flavors and aromas of Belgian beers.

84. Art and Architecture Tours: Immerse yourself in Leuven’s artistic heritage with specialized tours that take you through the city’s stunning architecture and world-class art collections.

85. Foodie Experiences: Engage your senses with food tours that showcase the best of Leuven’s culinary scene, from traditional Belgian dishes to innovative gastronomy.

86. Music Festivals: Immerse yourself in Leuven’s vibrant music scene by attending one of the many music festivals that take place throughout the year, covering a wide range of genres and styles.

87. Photography Walks: Capture the beauty of Leuven through a photography walk, guided by a professional photographer who will help you uncover unique perspectives and hidden gems.

88. Boating on the Dijle River: Set sail on a boating adventure along the picturesque Dijle River, where you can enjoy stunning views of Leuven’s landmarks from a different perspective.

89. Cultural Workshops: Immerse yourself in the local culture by joining workshops that introduce you to traditional dance, music, or arts and crafts.

90. Shopping and Fashion: Explore Leuven’s vibrant shopping scene and discover unique boutiques, independent designers, and concept stores that reflect the city’s fashion-forward spirit.

Charming Accommodation Options

91. Boutique Hotels: Indulge in the luxury and personalized service of Leuven’s boutique hotels, which offer elegant rooms and charming atmospheres.

92. Bed and Breakfasts: Experience the warmth of Belgian hospitality by staying in one of Leuven’s cozy bed and breakfasts, where you’ll be treated like family.

93. Historic Inns: Immerse yourself in the city’s history by staying in a historic inn, where you can enjoy a unique blend of traditional charm and modern comfort.

94. Apartments and Guesthouses: Opt for a self-catering option by staying in an apartment or guesthouse, giving you the freedom to explore Leuven at your own pace.

95. Eco-Friendly Accommodation: Choose from a range of eco-friendly hotels and guesthouses that prioritize sustainability and offer a green stay experience.

96. Hostels: Budget-conscious travelers can find comfortable and sociable accommodations in Leuven’s hostels, perfect for meeting fellow explorers.

97. Glamping: Experience the best of both worlds by glamping in Leuven, where you can enjoy the beauty of nature without sacrificing comfort.

98. Farm Stays: Immerse yourself in rural life by staying on a working farm, where you can experience traditional Belgian farming practices and enjoy farm-fresh produce.

99. Unique Airbnb Experiences: Create lasting memories by booking unique Airbnb experiences in Leuven, from cooking classes with local chefs to personalized city tours.

100. Student Housing: Experience the vibrant atmosphere of Leuven’s student life by staying in student housing, perfectly suited for budget travelers and those looking to connect with locals.

Leuven is a city that effortlessly blends past and present, offering a captivating mix of history, culture, and gastronomy. With its stunning architecture, world-renowned beers, and vibrant cultural scene, it is no wonder that Leuven is gaining recognition as a top travel destination.

From exploring medieval beguinages to indulging in mouthwatering Belgian chocolates, Leuven has something to offer every traveler. Whether you’re a history buff, a beer aficionado, an art enthusiast, or simply seeking an unforgettable experience, Leuven is ready to welcome you with open arms. Come and discover the charms of this hidden gem – you won’t be disappointed.

Why go to Leuven, Belgium?

You must visit Leuven, Belgium, at least once in your lifetime because the city of Leuven has several faces. It has a long history: the university and botanic garden are both among the country’s oldest, as is Gothic-style architecture. It’s a great destination for beer lovers. Still, there are many other great reasons to go, such as its proximity to historical monuments and a fantastic gastronomic scene away from many more popular towns.

Places to go in Leuven, Belgium:

  1. Arenberg Castle
  2. Baracca
  3. Barboek
  4. Botanical Garden Kruidtuin
  5. De Kotmadam
  6. Fons Sapientiae
  7. Groot Begijnhof
  8. Jan Fabre’s Beetle Totem
  9. Leuven Town Hall
  10. M Leuven
  11. Oude Markt
  12. Park Abbey
  13. Provinciedomein Kessel-Lo
  14. Saint Anthony’s Chapel
  15. Saint Peter’s Church
  16. Shopping in Leuven
  17. Small Beguinage (Klein Begijnhof)
  18. The Balloon of Friendship
  19. Try a local brew
  20. University Library

What is Leuven, Belgium, famous for?

Leuven, Belgium, is famous for being Belgium’s brewing capital, which is no minor achievement in a country that produces hundreds of beautiful types. Inbev, the world’s second-largest brewer, is headquartered in Leuven. Stella Artois is one of the company’s best-known products.

Why visit Leuven, Belgium

Fun Facts about Leuven, Belgium 

  • The city hall’s famous facade stood empty for most of its history.
  • The Big Bang idea was established by Belgian physicist Georges Lemaître at Leuven.
  • Leuven had a population of 100,244 people in 2016.
  • There’s a vacancy in the city hall!
  • You’ll be OK if you drink beer first, but if you drink wine first, you’ll have a panic attack.

How big is Leuven, Belgium?

Leuven, Belgium, is about 57 square km or 22 square miles in size.

When is the best time to visit Leuven, Belgium?

The best time to visit Leuven, Belgium, is the months of August and September.

In August and September, the average temperature in Leuven is 59°F, making this a great time to visit the city. Despite mild humidity, the weather is ideal for a day out in the sun. This is perhaps the most significant time to go to Leuven, yet it’s also the busiest time for tourists.

How many days do you need to see Leuven, Belgium?

The city of Leuven can easily be explored in one or two days. It is just a twenty-minute train ride from Brussels, making it an ideal day trip from the Belgian capital.

What is the cheapest time to go to Leuven, Belgium?

The low season (flights) to visit Leuven, Belgium, is in the months of March and November.

Booking and traveling at the most advantageous periods is a terrific way to receive the most excellent rates. The cost of flying to Leuven (BRU) varies depending on the season. You’ll find the cheapest round-trip tickets to BRU in March and November.

Early November is often the most affordable time of year to visit Leuven.

Is Leuven, Belgium an expensive city to visit?

The average daily cost of a holiday in Leuven is €142 ($150), based on other tourists’ expenses.

There are no free refills for coffee, tea, or soft drinks, which cost roughly 2.50-3.50 euros for a small cup.

How to save money when visiting Leuven, Belgium?

The best ways to save money when visiting Leuven, Belgium, are:

  • Walking is the ideal alternative for conserving money and convenience since much of the city’s center is now pedestrianized.
  • An excellent museum for learning about the history of Leuven is the M-Museum, which is reasonably priced for a European city.
  • Riding a bike in Leuven is a blast. Take a bike ride through the city’s downtown area if you have the time.
  • Oude Markt is the spot for students and tourists who couldn’t find a cheap beer in the first plaza.

What food (and drinks) is Leuven, Belgium, known for?

Things you need to eat in Leuven, Belgium  before you die:

  • Vlaams-Brabantse Tafeldruif
  • Brussels grondwitloof
  • Fruit Lambic
  • Gueuze

Visit Leuven Belgium at least once in your lifetime

Is Leuven, Belgium, safe to visit?

As a precautionary measure, the Belgian government has put in place measures that will keep COVID-19 from spreading and allow the country’s healthcare system to respond to cases of the virus.

The crime rate in Leuven is meager, making it a very safe and clean city. You should not avoid the city in general because there are no places to avoid. Even at night, the streets are safe, but public gardens should be avoided.

What is the best way to get around in Leuven, Belgium?

The best way to get around in Leuven, Belgium are:

  • Bike
  • Tram and metro
  • Train

What are the neighborhoods or areas I should stay in when I visit Leuven, Belgium?

The best areas you should stay in when visiting Leuven, Belgium, are:

  • pentahotel Leuven
  • Hostel Blauwput Leuven
  • Leuven City Hostel
  • Your House Apartments

What are the best neighborhoods or areas for food?

The best areas for food and drinks when visiting Leuven, Belgium, are:

  • Dewerf
  • Casa del Popolo

What are the best neighborhoods or areas for shopping?

The best areas for shopping when visiting Leuven, Belgium  are:

  • Grote Markt
  • Diestsestraat
  • De Kringwinkel Vites Heverlee
  • Parijsstraat

What should I do on my first trip to Leuven, Belgium?

If you are visiting Leuven, Belgium, for the first time, here’s what to anticipate. Belgians speak a variety of languages and dialects. To get about, you don’t need to tell any of the three official languages, Dutch, French, or German. While Flanders is a Dutch-speaking region, English is extensively spoken in Leuven.

Is Leuven, Belgium a good place for solo travel?

When traveling solo, you can see the Belgian art scene. In Leuven alone, there is the 15th-century Dirk Bouts masterwork, The Last Supper. Because of renovations to the church treasury, some art, like a painting by Bouts, has to be shown in the central part of St. Peter’s Church until 2019.

Is Leuven, Belgium a good place to visit for a family with kids?

When visiting Leuven, Belgium as a family with kids, you’ll find water parks, theme parks, and playgrounds abound in Leuven. Making it the perfect destination for families with young children. They’ll learn new things, eat well, and not get bored waiting in lengthy lines.

Is Leuven, Belgium a good place for couples?

When visiting Bruges, Belgium, you should visit Old Market Square with your loved one as a couple. In the heart of Leuven’s bustling city center, you can have a drink on one of the many patios during the day. After a long day, the perfect location to unwind is a restaurant or bar in the evening.

Consider a place in the square where you can sit back and enjoy the sights and sounds of the city while looking at old buildings and people walking by.

What are the best annual events in Leuven, Belgium?

The best annual events in Leuven, Belgium  that you cannot miss are

  • Zinneke Parade in May
  • Dour Festival in July
  • Carnival of Binche in February
  • Pukkelpop in August
  • Tomorrowland in July

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