Leuven – a city to fall in love with

The beguinage in Leuven

From Brussels city centre to Leuven it is only a few kilometres. The student city is therefore perfect for a day trip – best in good weather. Leuven in the province of Flemish Brabant turns out to be a real eye-catcher in spring!

At the beginning of April, I took advantage of the good weather at the weekend to get to know the Brussels area better. Besides Antwerp and Ghent, Leuven (in German: Löwen, French: Louvain) is at the top of my list. So far I’ve heard only good things about it and the proximity to the Belgian capital makes it easy to get there – whether by car, train or bus. It is only about 20 minutes by car (depending on the traffic situation). From the train station in Brussels you can get fast to Leuven and with about 5 Euro per ticket (one way) quite cheap. Even cheaper (3 Euro), but a little longer is the bus ride with the Flemish provider De Lijn.

At 10:30 I’m in town, thinking to myself, “Wow, it’s nice and quiet here.” Leuven shows a chilly small town atmosphere right from the start, which I literally suck up in the sunshine. I stroll through the city centre, past the richly forgiveable town hall and through the pedestrian zone. There are many spacious, cobbled squares with cafés and pubs. At first many people outside enjoy their coffee in the sun, a little later I see more and more beer and wine glasses on the tables. Enjoyment and love of life are written in capital letters here. 😉

All cleaned up

Walking through the city, I quickly notice a difference to Brussels: It’s incredibly clean. I can’t find any garbage on the streets. It just looks very tidy. Of course, this makes the old buildings look much more magnificent. The old market squares and the town hall are the showpieces of Flemish architecture. From 1439 the imposing town hall was built.

Beautiful buildings in Leuven. On the left the university library; in the middle and on the right the venerable and beautifully decorated town hall

Beautiful buildings in Leuven. On the left the university library; in the middle and on the right the venerable and beautifully decorated town hall

Beguinage of Leuven

Along with twelve other Flemish beguinage places, The “Grote Begijnhof” in Leuven was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998. The mystical-religious tradition goes back to the Middle Ages. The Beguines were widows or unmarried women who chose an independent but solidary life in the service of God. They have not taken a monastic vow. Today students and professors live here. The winding, narrow alleys with their beautiful trees and plants make a walk here a must.

A walk through the "Groot Begijnhof" of Leuven is balm for the soul

A walk through the “Groot Begijnhof” of Leuven is like balm for the soul

Pub culture

Leuven can be described as a city of students and beer. Many students chill here and sit in the numerous pubs. Especially at the “Oude Markt” the bars and restaurants are already full at noon. Leuven is also home to the large brewery group Anheuser-Busch InBev. These include numerous beer brands – from Stella Artois to Corona, Leffe and Beck’s. The history of Stella Artois in Leuven goes back to 1366. A visit to the brewery is possible on weekends.

The Belgian friendly small town with approx. 100,000 inhabitants is, in my opinion, a must visit! It reminds me of Buxtehude, Lüneburg or Minden. Enjoy a cool drink on the numerous terraces of the cafés and pubs in good weather.


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