Last week, I went to Leuven in Belgium to visit a friend who is studying in the city. This was my first time in Leuven, so I was very curious about the city. In this article I will share some hotspots from the city and some tips where to go when you are planning a trip to Leuven.
1. Drink a hot chocolate at chocolate bar Quetzal
Attention for all the chocolate lovers! In Leuven you can find a café that is all about chocolate: various types of chocolate milk combinations and a lot of delicious food (with of course chocolate). A real heaven in my opinion. I tried the white hot chocolate with marshmallows. The chocolate milk was made of real chocolate pieces, mixed with warm milk. A real nice treat! The café is located in the city center, but when you do not know where it is exactly located, it is hard to find. It is
located at the ‘Alfons Smetsplein’ and at the opposite of the square from the Thai House.
2. Visit the city hall and the Saint Peter’s Church
These two buildings are located in the heart of the center, at the Grote Markt (big market). They are standing next to each other at the square, so both are very easy to find. The city hall immediately got my attention, while it has a gorgeous architecture; so beautiful! I can imagine why it took three architects and thirty years to build it, while the building is very detailed. The building features 236 statues which all shows famous people from Leuven and biblical figures. Nowadays, the city hall has a ceremonial function and the tourist information center is situated on the side of the city hall. You can also visit the inside of the building every day at three p.m. and the entrance fee is € 4,-.The Saint Peter’s Church is the oldest church in Leuven. It was built in 986, but the church burnt down in 1176, so a new Romanesque church was built with a crypt, an extension, at the back of the choir. The inside of the church is free to enter for tourists and worth the visit if you have a thing for churches.
3. Pay a visit to the ‘Groot Begijnhof’ (Great Beguinage)
This little district of Leuven is easy to find in the heart of the center. Despite of the bustle in the center of the city, this district is very quiet and a perfect place to get some rest and relax. The place is part of the UNESCO world heritage list and dates from the 13th century. It is a very cute and cosy place with traditional houses, small alleys and beautiful gardens. The Great Beguinage is definitely worth the visit and is very photogenic. Nowadays, students, foreign guest professors and employees from the oldest catholic university in Europe are living in this place. The Great Beguinage is open for public without entrance fee.
4. Drink one of the many beers in the café The Capital
The Capital is located in the heart of the center at the Grote Markt (big market), near the city hall and the Saint Peter’s Church. At the photo above, the grey building on the right is the Capital. This café is well-known for its many beers. You can chose between a number of 2000 beers! The inside of the café is very cosy and there are always people enjoying a beer. A nice detail: when you look to the ground, you can find some ‘in-the-ground-windows’ where you can look into the basement and see all the beers. Very nice! Furthermore, the beers are going from the basement to the bar with a special beer-elevator. When you are planning a trip to Leuven, you should definitely try a typical Belgian beer at the Capital.
5. Have a beautiful view over the city in the tower of the library
Actually, I did not went into the library itself, but my friend was very enthusiastic about the view you can see if you go in the tower of the library. And seeing it from her photos, I can really imagine her feeling. I did see the library from the outside, which has a beautiful architecture, but unfortunately I did not have enough time to go into the tower. One small tip: it is a big climb upwards the tower, so be prepared! The library is located in the city center.
6. Try a Belgian waffle
Just try it, because Belgium is well-known for her waffles and they just look delicious! Anywhere in the city you can find bakeries where you can buy waffles, so no big search necessary.
Abbey Van Park
7. Visit the abbeys Van Vlierbeek and Van Park
Both the places are worth the visit if you love abbeys. The places are located a little outside the center and the best way to reach the places is by bike. Of course you can also go there by car, but walking is a little bit too long I think. The abbey Van Vlierbeek is located at a nice place where you can take a nice walk and drink something afterwards. The abbey itself is also a beautiful building, but unfortunately I did not have the chance to go inside, while the abbey was closed. You can visit it on Sundays from nine a.m. till six p.m. Also the cemetery next to the abbey is very impressive.
The abbey Van Park is even located at a more beautiful place where you can walk even better. While we were walking around the park, along the lake, we also saw a lot of people who were doing sports, which I think Van Park is a perfect place for it. The area around the abbey is really big, so you can take a long walk and on the way you can take some beautiful pictures of the abbey (like you can see here above). The abbey itself is also a beautiful and big building. Also at this place, we were not able to go inside the abbey, because it was closed. The opening hours differs per season and per day, so if you want to visit the abbey, just look beforehand at the website for the actual opening hours. In the area where the abbey is located, you can find a restaurant where you can eat or drink something.
8. Eat a cheap meal at ‘De Werf’
De werf is a eating house just a little out of the center of the city, but easy to walk to from the center (it is just a few minutes walking from the old market). It is focused on the students of Leuven, so the menu carte is very wide with a wide range of easy meals which do not cost a lot. The eating house (and pub) is a very cosy and fun place to eat. In the evening, the terrace is full of students who are having a fun night with their friends by eating or just drinking something. Furthermore, the decoration around the place is very nice. Outside you can find lampions hanging everywhere and in the evening, this light gives a nice atmosphere. You can find De Werf at the ‘Hogeschoolplein’.
Leuven is a beautiful city with buildings with beautiful architecture, nice people and a lot of great places. Leuven is well-known for the city where most of the residents are students. The city is definitely worth the visit and perfect to combine with Brussels, while these two cities are located close to each other (only fifteen minutes by train).
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