Welcome to the beer drinking, party loving, and history packed city of Leuven!No matter what kind of trip you’re planning to Belgium, Leuven is one city that’s worth a stop anyway. It’s basically the brewing capital of Belgium, so it’s a must if you love beer.
Plus, the city itself is super pretty. There’s actually tons of beautiful sights to see in Leuven, but Leuven has brains too. Leuven is home to the oldest Catholic university in the world. Yup, KU Leuven was founded in 1425. Leuven is in Flanders, so most people around here speak Dutch. But, since Leuven is a student city and we’re not too far from Brussels, Leuven has major international vibes. English, French and more are all spoken here so it’s easy to make new friends on your travels.
Lueven has an awesome party atmosphere. The nightlife livens up when the students are here to party! But Leuven has plenty of hangout spots in the day too. Tiensestraat is a major studenty street full of shops, restaurants and cafes, and many bars in the area are owned by the local student organisations. The skate park Stelplaats is also a popular hangout spot for students. Leuven is also a super fun festival town full of music, known for its music festivals in the summer.
For night time, the clubs in the city centre are also lively and not too big so you still get an intimate hang out experience with friends, but usually have a small entrance fee (around 3 to 4€). Drinks in the city centre clubs are pretty affordable. There are bigger clubs if you really want a party atmosphere just outside of the city, though their entrance fee is a few euros higher and drinks are more expensive!
Leuven might have a modern, studenty atmosphere but really it’s a city with a deep history. Step off the train and enter the city centre and you’ll be greeted by one of Belgium’s most stunning city halls. Leuven’s city hall has fancy towers and over 200+ statues. Now that’s architecture! Leuven has more beautiful buildings too. The city is home to one of Belgium’s UNESCO World Heritage sights, the Great Beguinage which is a classic Belgian piece of the town full of history, cobbled streets, and pretty houses. Still need more? Leuven has four abbeys to explore, including the pretty 12th century Park Abbey
Leuven is Belgium’s brewing centre. The city is home to major breweries, including the big beast Anheuser-Busch & Inbev. Hoegaarden, Stella, and Leffe dominate the bar scenes but you’ll find some smaller brands dotted around the bars.
As with most of Belgium’s cities, the market square (Oude Markt) looks amazing but many of the bars are tourist traps. There are 45 restaurants/bars in the Oude Markt, though, so you’ve got tons to choose from.
June and August have fairly good weather and aren’t quite as busy as other months.
Leuven is easily reached in the car as it’s connected to the E40 motorway from Brussels and the E314 from Limburg. From Brussels, Leuven is a 40 minute drive away and about 1 hour from Hasselt. Once you arrive, opt for the paid indoor parking lots as parking on the street is expensive.
One easy way to get to Leuven for international travellers is by plane. Leuven is just a 15 min direct train journey from Brussels Airport. There’s also a bus station in the airport and tons of taxis around. You can also land in Brussels South Charleroi Airport, which is used for a lot of low-cost flights, but it’s a longer journey to Leuven from there. From Brussels South airport, you can catch a bus to the station, then catch a train to Brussels and switch over to Leuven (the journey from Charleroi to Leuven takes around 1 hour 30 minutes).
Leuven is easily reached by car. Once you’ve arrived, follow the handy signs around the ring road to the big car parks. Try not to park on the streets as it’s quite expensive. Your best park & ride option is Parking Bodart - it’s free and you can park for a max of 10 hours. Car parks in the heart of the city usually offer 45 minutes of free parking which can be handy for a quick shopping trip, just keep an eye on the clock or you’ll get a parking ticket.
Leuven is very cyclist friendly! You’re sure to see the locals and students going around by bike everyday. There are many bike rentals in the city, though some only work on a reservation system such as Leuven Leisure. Leuven also has a Velo station right by the train station - prices vary depending on the time of year, but to rent a city bike for 1 day in Leuven you’re not looking at anything more than 10€.
Buses in Leuven are run by De Lijin. You probably won’t be using the bus too often to get around if you’re staying in the city, but some sights nearby do have a bus stop, including the pretty national forests of Heverleebos and Meerdaalwoud.
Address: Naamsestraat 3, 3000 Leuven
Telephone: +32 16 20 30 20
Email: [email protected]