What to see in Leuven, the most university city in Flanders


Leuven or Leuven in Dutch, is the most university city in all of Flanders and possibly one of the world capitals of beer, so you can imagine that you can find yourself in this beautiful city of northern belgium. You can ask yourself what to see in Leuven, you may not even know it, but we anticipate that it is a city that can be visited in one day or one morning. It is small, very nice and above all it can be a perfect setting for a getaway from Brussels being barely 30 min from downtown or 15 from the airport.

Do you know anything about Leuven? We tell you

A bit of Leuven or Leuven

Leuven is known for hosting thousands of university students from September and for being the capital of beer and why not, of Flanders gastronomy. Leuven is barely 27km from Brussels, making it an ideal destination to go for a weekend. Leuven is famous for having one of the most famous breweries in the world, the one of Stella Artois and for receiving at the time Erasmo de Rotterdam.

In Leuven are all advantages. It has many pedestrian streets and the best, you can ride a bike, like virtually all of Belgium. Being a small city it is very cozy, and when the night comes the number of bars and restaurants makes highlight that gene so university that it has.

Leuven Center

Part of a perfect trip through Flanders

Belgium and especially the Flanders region It is perfect to meet her on a week-long trip or on Holy Week. It can also be very comfortable to visit its cities on a weekend getaway, since the airport is perfectly connected to Leuven, Ghent, Antwerp, Bruges or Brussels by train, leaving you in the center to not miss a minute traveling.

Flanders Map

For example, if you have a weekend you just have to take a plane to Brussels and from the same airport you can be in just 30 min in the main cities of Flanders. There are many things to see in Leuven, but any of the cities that make up Flanders can be firm candidates for a perfect trip or weekend.

See cheap flights to Brussels / Leuven

It's funny, but many of us have the mania to look for cheap flights to the capitals of Europe and then we look at what is in those cities, but few people look at what is around. Flights to Brussels are usually cheap, but not only Brussels is worth it, if not the cities that are next to it and that are so well connected from the airport.


Our tour of Leuven

Although we visited Leuven in one morning, we could see the main tourist spots except the brewery. We arrived soon, at about 9am, from the Brussels airport. In the same airport we take a train for just over € 15 to Leuven leaving this on the main street of the city, the Bondgenotenlaan. From there we start our walk until we reach the grandiose Grote Markt, heart of the city.

Groot Begijnhof, Leuven

Next to Grote Markt is the Town Hall and the Church of San Pedro, two of the points to see in Leuven if or if. After having a leisurely breakfast in this fantastic square we take a southern direction to walk between parks and the university city until we reach our favorite place,Groot Begijnhof, a small town in Leuven with a fascinating history. Seen the great Beguinage we return to Grote Markt passing through the Baroque church of San Miguel, How much it reminded us of Spain !, and the University library. Right there, being a Christmas season we found a huge Christmas market where having a beer was the obligatory souvenir.

If you want to download the route we leave you in Google Maps link.

Our walk through Leuven

8 places you have to see in Leuven

Having seen our walk through the city, now it's time to see the main points to see in Leuven.

1 Grote Markt, the most lively square in the city

Without a doubt it is the heart of Leuven. The square is a pleasant pedestrian zone where there are many summer terraces and number of cultural events throughout the year. Next to the square is the famous town hall and the Church of San Pedro, two unmistakable icons of the city.

Grote Markt, Leuven

Between town hall and the St. Peter's Church we have the singular “American House”, one of the few houses that did not succumb to the Nazi attacks in World War II. At the beginning of this, the Nazis went house by house setting them on fire except this one, since they thought it belonged to the Americans when they had not yet declared war on Germany.

The American House

2 Leuven City Hall

Leuven City Hall is one of the most famous gothic buildings with a municipal use in the world. It began its construction in the XV century and stands out on any building for its 236 statues that cover its facade. Among these statues we can see kings of the Spanish monarchy as Carlos V, since let's not forget that much of Flanders was Spanish territory in the sixteenth century.

Leuven Town Hall
Christmas market next to the Town Hall

3 The Church of San Pedro

This Gothic church began its construction in the fifteenth century, but due to the poor state of the land the entire project was never completed, leaving its towers unfinished. For us the most interesting is seen from outside, highlighting the bell tower and the spectacular clock.

St. Peter's Church, Leuven
St. Peter's Church, Leuven
St. Peter's Church from the Town Hall, Leuven

4 Stella Artois, six centuries of beer tradition

In it you can learn the secrets of the process of making one of the most famous beers in the world. The visit is long, so unless you are going to be more than one day, schedule or not this appointment.

By the way, in Grote Markt there is a bar called The Capital with thousands of types of beer ... Indispensable for lovers of good beer.

Streets of Leuven

5 Groot Begijnhof, from the best of Leuven

The great beguine of Begijnhof is undoubtedly the prettiest place and interesting from all over Leuven. How much history awaits this place! Begijnhof is an authentic oasis of tranquility. Here they came to live until the middle of the 20th century hundreds of single women in a succession of picturesque streets, small squares and beautiful gardens. Today it is Unesco World Heritage and is a TO-DO of the things to see in Leuven.

Groot Begijnhof, Leuven

6 Universiteiits-Bilbiotheek, the University Library

This library has an authentic cultural tragedy if we talk about history. It burned more than 300,000 books during a fire in the First World War. Later in the WWII another 900,000 disappeared, leaving almost in ruins this impressive library.

Nowadays it is possible to access it and climb the five-story tower, where you can get one of the best panoramic views of the entire city.

Universiteiits-Bilbiotheek Source: Shutterstock

7 Oude Markt

It is the famous square of the cafes and restaurants, the square with more life, in summer, of all Leuven. It is worth stopping to enjoy a good beer in this busy square.

Oude Markt

8 The Leuven Museum

If you have time in this museum you can see works of the 19th century and the best Temporary exhibitions from the city. The building has just been remodeled by one of the most famous Belgian architects, so at least from the outside it is worth the visit.

Leuven Museum

Practical data

When to go?

Any time of the year is good to visit Leuven, but if we have to highlight an ideal time to meet it it would be with:

  • Leuven beer festival, where you can eat more than 500 varieties on the last weekend of April
  • In summer, to enjoy the terraces and the musical and gastronomic events
  • In winter, where christmas markets fill the streets with hundreds of stalls full of color

How to get?

Having to see in Leuven, we have to see how to get there. The main entrance to Belgium or Flanders is by Brussels airport. From the airport itself you can arrive in just 20 minutes by train, but if you come from the center of Brussels it will take just over 30 min. You can buy tickets from the official Belgian Rail page.

Flanders - Leuven

Where to eat or dine?

Two recommendations that treat those who have a good stomach and palate well.

  • Domus. It is a small brewery in the heart of the city. In fact, the first Stella beer was made in Domus. You have to book in advance.
  • Kokoon, small restaurant of local food. Be careful with the quantity, the dishes are huge 🙂
  • The Capital, one of the most varied breweries in all of Leuven

Where to sleep?

Here are our recommendations for sleeping in Leuven.

Low price - medium

  • Cube Hostel, for only € 50 in the city center
  • Ibis Leuven, classic simple hotels from € 48 a night
  • Pentahotel Leuven, modern and very special hotel from € 90

High price

  • Hotel Pastorij, one of the best rated hotels in the city. From € 120
  • Your House Apartments, luxury apartments with two bedrooms. From 180 €

Travel insurance

For a trip like this it is best to take out insurance. Iati offers us a offer for followers Travel for free. Traveling does not exempt you from having an accident, needing a doctor, a transfer or medication. Do not play it. Check the travel insurance by clicking on the banner and you will have a 5% in your insurance for being a reader of Travel for free. If you want more information click here.