Leuven is a typical Belgian university city that is full of students, but feels a bit like a ghost city when all the students go home for the weekend. Nevertheless, this is the perfect time to pay a visit to this beautiful historic city just right next to Brussels. If you like culture, cobblestoned streets, creativity, and Belgian beers, this is your perfect day trip!
Leuven is a small city near Brussels of about 100, 000 inhabitants. It’s mostly known for its university. The Catholic University of Leuven is the oldest of the Low Countries and the oldest Catholic University still existing. Because of this, Leuven is home to a gazillion of national and international students. Therefore, taking a look at the ancient Central Library of the university at the square ‘Ladeuzeplein’ is a must! It was a gift from the USA after the First World War during which the Germans burned down the original building. Aside from that, it feels a bit like Harry Potter’s Hogwarts. The Campus of Social Sciences is also worth passing by, with the huge poem covering the whole front side of the building.
Neglected by many, the Botanical Garden of Leuven is actually a hidden treasure. It’s a lovely place for reading a book, or, like many students do, studying on one of the many benches or picnick tables, surrounded by butterflies, bumblebees, and colorful flowers.
Anyone who visits Leuven, should not fail to visit the ’Large Beguinage‘, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It feels like a small village in the middle of the city, with cobblestoned streets, lovely small houses, a church and the river floating through it. Nowadays, it’s owned by the university and almost completely inhabited by University (PhD) students and special guests.
Being a university city, Leuven is always full of life, young spirits and creativity, which makes the city always blooming with new things, small colorful details, and, like in the rest of the Low Countries, a lot of bicycles.
Last but certainly not least, Leuven is also known for its amusing nightlife — not so surprising if you take into account that Leuven is home to the world largest brewer’s group. Make sure you take a look in The Capital, the bar with the biggest beer selection in the world! A night at the square the Old Market, also known as “the longest bar in the world,” will definitely succeed to fulfill your expectations. Heaps of bars and cafes on a really cozy and authentic square — what more do you need?