Leuven, located about 16 miles to the east of Brussels, Belgium, is a charming town with a lot to offer its visitors. Leuven self-defines itself as the “Place to Beer”, and we couldn’t have described it better. This charming Flemish city is a must-see if you’re visiting Brussels or driving through Belgium. Here are our tips if you only have 1 day to spend in Leuven.
Morning: Arrive at Brussels Zaventem International Airport and catch the train to Leuven station. It’s only about a 20 minute ride. From the Leuven train station, the city center is only a short 10 minute walk away.
Brunch: Once you’ve reached the city center, it’s time to get something tasty to eat for a late breakfast or brunch. Head over to Nosh (Naamsestraat 14) for a homemade bagel or the delicious french toast with warm apples and cinnamon toppings.
Early afternoon: Now that your stomach is filled, it’s time to explore! Head out of Nosh and turn left down Naamsestraat to the tourist information office at the Leuven Town Hall, right in the Grote Markt square and across from Saint Peter’s Church. The Leuven Town Hall is one of the most widely admired Gothic town halls in the world. You can go into the main entrance and take a look around, or book a ticket for the daily tours at 3pm. At the tourism office, you can also book your ticket for a Stella Artois Brewery Tour which are held on Saturday and Sundays at 1pm until 2:30pm. (Tip: tours are limited to 30 people per group, so booking online in advance is also a good idea)
Now that you’ve seen the Town Hall, it’s time to check out more of the Grote Markt square. If you happen to be visiting Leuven on a Saturday, you can wander the area’s open air market, full of fruit and vegetable stands and gourmet stands with street food and of course, Belgian waffles and chocolate.
Afternoon: follow the signs around Leuven to get to the Stella Artois brewery for your 1pm tour. Enjoy the history of the brewery which is now part of InBev, the worldest largest brewery group in the world. After the tour is over, you can enjoy a beer draughting course and pour your own Stella (or two).
Lunch: After you’ve quenched your thirst with Stella, it’s time for lunch and the chance to visit yet another one of Leuven’s famous breweries. Walk back towards the town hall and head to the Domus Brewery (Tiensestraat 8) for lunch and of course one of the home-brewed beers; Nostra Domus, an amber beer or the Con Domus, an unfiltered lager. During winter visitors can sample the Nen Engel, a dark Christmas ale. (Tip: ask for the Taster Rack, a selection of three beers.)
Early evening: After the Domus Brewery, head back to the Grote Markt square and visit The Capital (Oude Markt 14) for a drink. The Capital holds the Guinness record for the largest selection of beers in the world, with more than 2000 to choose from! Grab a seat facing the bar and watch the beers get delivered from the cellar or cozy up in the “library” by the fireplace.
Evening: Now that you’ve had your fair share of beer, it’s time for something sweet. Head up Tiensestraat to the ice cream shoppe ‘t Galetje. There’s no way you can miss it because there will most likely be a line outside of ice cream lovers looking to try one of the creamery’s homemade creations. Try the speculoos flavor for a real Flemish treat!
Night: If you’re not too tired you can check out one of the many bars in Leuven or if you’re still hungry, wander down Muntstraat, a quaint road known as “Restaurant Street”.
Want to find out more about what to do, what to see and where to beer in Leuven? Check out the Leuven official website.