The historical Belgium city of Leuven is the capital of the province Flemish Brabant, and there is plenty for visitors to see and do. Although Leuven was badly damaged in the First World War, and again suffered some damage in the Second World War, many buildings were vigilantly restored or rebuilt, and the fabulous architecture of Leuven can still be appreciated today.
The city is renowned for its beer and is in fact home to the popular lager Stella Artois. It is also home to a world famous university which was founded almost six hundred years ago. The students of the university give the city a lively and cheerful atmosphere.
As well as the frequent markets there are a number of events that take place throughout the year in Leuven. In the summer, visitors can enjoy many outdoor events that take place on different dates including Beleuvenissen, a festival of music and culture, and Leuven Kermis, a carnival which is great fun for all the family. For a brief period in the winter, visitors can experience the fabulous Christmas market, great for gifts and souvenirs.
The Grote Markt in Leuven is a traditional market square with some beautiful gothic buildings, restaurants, cafes and bars. Within the Grote Markt visitors will find St. Peter’s Church with its impressive bell towers. The treasury of St. Peter’s Church features some fantastic art work by Dirk Bouts and is a must for any art enthusiast. Within Grote Markt you will also find the town hall, Stadhuis, a stunning building that has been much admired for its stonework and statues.
The Oude Markt is popular with students and tourists alike. The many bars are upbeat and energetic, giving Oude Markt a vibrant atmosphere.
The Beguinage of Leuven was founded in the 13th century and was a community for unmarried women who were religious but did not want to join a convent. Much of the buildings that you see today were built in the 17th century. The Beguinage is located by the river and has interesting cobbled streets. It is a site of historical interest and is definitely worth visiting.
Botanical Garden (Kruidtuin ‘Herb Garden’) – The beautiful botanical gardens in Leuven have many wonderful features such as the water garden and the orangery. There are a variety of plants including trees, shrubs, herbs, water plants, tropical plants and sub-tropical plants. The Botanical Gardens host a number of outdoor exhibitions in the summer.
Located south of the city, Haverlee Woods is a great place to go for walks, to cycle, or just to enjoy nature. The woodland environment offers both wildlife and relaxation.
Travelling to Leuven by Ferry
All three of the UK to Belgium ferries will get you within 90 miles of Leuven, then it’s an easy drive through Belgium that should take you less than 2 hours at most times of the day. There is actually five separate UK to Europe ferries that will get you within a 2 hour drive of Leuven and three more just an extra half hour drive away. Where ever you live the UK, driving to the Leuven should be easy with ferries available from Scotland, Newcastle, Hull, Harwich and Dover.