Leuven is a gorgeous Belgium city. I always wanted to say small cute city, probably because it was so cozy and friendly and I felt very welcomed there.
In fact, Leuven is the capital of the province of Flemish Brabant and the eighth largest city in Belgium with a population of more than 100,244 people.
The city is the perfect blending of remarkable medieval buildings, impressive architecture, Gothic churches and modern bars and restaurants.
Leuven is the brewing capital of Belgium and the headquarters of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest beer brewer, famous for Stella Artois beers .
The city has a rich beer culture where you can try wide variety of local and international beers.
Also, I should say it is a students’ city, because Leuven is home to one of Europe’s oldest Catholic university (KU Leuven). It is the largest university in Belgium, founded in 1425. The KU Leuven has two campuses in the city, with more than 45,000 students. Some fortunate ones live in the 13th-century stone Béguinage, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
How to get to Leuven:
Belgium is a very compact country with great transportation service, which makes life more comfortable. All cities are very close and you don’t have to spend lots of time on the road.
The most convenient and fast way to come to be in Leuven from Brussels is by train by Belgian Railways. Train departure from Brux. -Nord or Brux-Central directly to Leuven. It takes only 25 minutes to get there and will cost € 10 – 11 for a round trip.
The most economical way to get there is by bus, operated by the public transport company De Lijn. It cost € 3-4 , but traveling time is 50 min -1 hour.
Another option to get to Leuven from the Brussels Airport is a public bus, operated by the regional company De Lijn. You can take buses 651, 652 which connects Brussels Airport to Leuven. The stopping point for the bus is just below the arrivals hall, at level 0. You can buy tickets at the GO vending machines or directly from the driver. Traveling time 55 min -1 hour. Cost: € 3.
European route E40 (A3) passes and includes a stop at Leuven, the European route E 314 connects Leuven with the city of Aachen, Germany.
In addition, Leuven is pedestrian and bicycle-friendly city. You can easily explore it on foot or rent a bike at the Blue – Bike. Bike rent station located on the Leuven railway station. Cost: €15 per the first 24 hours.
Also, you can check some information about train and hotel ideas on my post here.
What to see and do in Leuven:
Lovely Fonske statue created by the Belgium artist Jef Claerhout. It was given to the city in 1975 in honor of the 550th anniversary of the University of Leuven and established in the heart of the city. Fonske represents the student’s life in Leuven.
Fonske’s full name is Fons Sapientiae, translates to “Fountain of Wisdom.” The statue depicts: the student pours water from the mug into his open-top head while he is reading the book. It symbolizes that knowledge and wisdom flowing into his brain. The math formula in his book forms the Dutch word “happiness.”
Fonske well knew and has been loved by the residents and students of the city. Like Manneken Pis in Brussels, Fonske dressed up in costumes for some events.
This is one of my favorite statues in Belgium. I really like it.
The Town Hall is a fascinating building located on the Grote Markt (Grand Square) and was built between 1439 and 1463 in a Brabantian late-Gothic style. It is famous for gorgeous architecture, crafted in lace-like details. In the 19th century, 236 magnificent statues were added to the exterior. Each statue represents biblical figures, brilliant scholars, noble citizens, talented artists, judges and dukes of Brabant.
Absolutely gorgeous and breathtaking building.
Saint Peter’s Church
Roman Catholic Saint Peter’s Church was built in the 15th century in the Brabantine Gothic style. It is located on the Grote Markt.
The church was created in an absolutely remarkable and unique style and shape and has a magnificent art collection of sculptures, paintings and metalwork including the masterpieces The Last Supper and The Martyrdom of Saint Erasmus painted by Dirk Bouts.
In addition, you will see an outstanding 17th century art work by the Flemish sculptor Jacques Bergé: an oak Baroque pulpit with lots of details and a life-size depiction of Norbert of Xanten falling from a horse. Norbert of Xanten, also known as Norbert Gennep, was a bishop of the Catholic Church.
Inside the chapels is the tomb of Duke Henry I of Brabant (d. 1235) who was a member of the House of Reginar and first duke of Brabant from 1183 until his death.
The Oude Markt or Old Market square located in the center of Leuven.
Oude Markt features 33 bars and restaurants with terraces and is called the “longest bar in Europe.” This dynamic social scene an ideal spot to talk and chill, especially in the summer. The centre piece of the Oude Markt is a statue of De Kotmadam or The Landlady resting on a bench.
It is impossible to go to Leuven and don’t visit Oude!
Groot Begijnhof of Leuven.
Another historical and impressive place to explore is Groot Begijnhof of Leuven.
The Groot Begijnhof is a beguinage, which initially was a home for unmarried semi-religious women in the 13th century. The majority of the houses were built in the period of 1630-1670. They were constructed from red bricks and sandstone in the traditional architecture with baroque elements. The beguinage includes a dozen streets, squares, gardens and parks, with 300 apartments in almost 100 houses.
Presently the beguinage is owned by the University of Leuven and used as a campus. About 28,000 students live there.
In 1998, it was officially recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
De Valck restaurant
And of course, you can’t leave the Leuven without trying mussels cooked in a white wine, with fresh garlic, herbs and cream.
After spending this beautiful day in Leuven, De Valck restaurant will be the perfect place to complete your little trip.
De Valck restaurant was founded in 1987 by Clement De Vos and since then the business has been run by the second generation.
We stopped at this restaurant for the dinner and had the delicious mussels and steak. We appreciated the food and really enjoyed the atmosphere there. I can recommend this restaurant.
The De Valck restaurant locates not far from the Town Hall.
Leuven is a wonderful, friendly city where you can explore things without rushing, enjoy architecture, art and relax in the park. There are lots of stores for shopping lovers. You can take a break and try famous Belgian beer or good coffee with delicious chocolate.
I think Leuven is the perfect city for a short trip.