where to go in leuven via au pays des merveilles

After living in Leuven for five and a half years, I owed it to this tiny but lovely city to gather the best spots in town for a city guide.  Leuven might not be big, but it does have a lot to offer, whether you’re looking for modern or historical architecture, fashion, design, music, art or nature.  So pick a date for a visit and take this city guide along with you!  (As always there’s a helpful map at the end of this post and I’ll update this guide whenever I discover something new.)

where to get some culture

where to get some culture in leuven via au pays des merveilles

  1. Museum M for its contemporary art exhibitions and the beautiful building by Stéphane Beel.  (see blogpost here) leopold vanderkelenstraat 28
  2. Openbaar Entrepot voor de Kunsten or OPEK, for its intriguing location in an old customs building and its mission to be an artistic laboratory. vaartkom 4
  3. Ithaka for its informal way of presenting art, the chances they give to young artists and the ever changing interesting locations they inhabit each year.  (see blogposts here)
  4. STUK for its diverse program, filled with concerts, movie screenings, art exhibitions and dance performances.  Be sure to check out Artefact! naamsestraat 96
  5. Central Library for its breathtaking architecture, where I have spent many hours studying/gazing at the building’s impressive details.  monseigneur ladeuzeplein 21
  6. Klein Begijnhof for the tiny streets and houses, dating back to the 13th century.
  7. City Hall for its impressively detailed façade.  grote markt 9
  8. Existenz for the workshops, lectures and exhibitions they offer in different abandoned locations all over the city.  (see blogposts here)
where to eat and drink

where to eat and drink in leuven via au pays des merveilles

    1. Bar Stan for the beautiful interior, delicious food and friendly owners.  (see blogpost here) constantin meunierstraat 2
    2. Koffie & Staal for the surprising combination of tasty coffee and beautiful steel furniture. (see blogpost here) mechelsestraat 140A
    3. De Werf for its unique way of serving your food and super cosy atmosphere.  (see blogpost here) hogeschoolplein 5
    4. Koffie Onan for introducing quality coffee and tea in Leuven.  (see blogpost hereparijsstraat 28
    5. Commerce for a beer, a simple meal, an intimate concert or just to spend the afternoon on the terrace, watching people passing by. herbert hooverplein 16
    6. MOK for a splendid cup of coffee before you dive into the shopping streets of Leuven. (see blogpost here) diestsestraat 175
    7. Kaminsky for their wonderful terrace and their delicious food.  I lived a few houses down the street and spent many hours in this cosy place.  Léon Schreursvest 1, 3001 heverlee
    8. Würst for a haute dog by everyone’s favorite tv chef Jeroen Meus. margarethaplein 1
    9. STUKcafé  for STUKtaart on Sunday afternoon (with cake and a little bit of dancing), a cup of soup or a plate of chili, a coffee while doing some work (free wifi!) or while chatting with friends. naamsestraat 96
    10. Bar del Sol for a drink or a meal in a southern atmosphere.  schapenstraat 105
    11. Metafoor for a beer and a board game among Leuven’s locals.  (see blogpost here) parijsstraat 34
    12. Soup Away for fresh and delicious soup.   I used to come here almost daily for my vitamin boost whenever I was studying for my exams in the central library.  tiensestraat 29
    13. Noordoever for its delicious biological, local, vegetarian and even partially vegan buffet.  You take what you want and pay per gram.  vaartkom 17a
    14. Existenz for its café nights, organized in a different location in Leuven every time.  (see blogposts here)
    15. Thelma Coffee & design for beautiful fashion and design, accompanied by a cup of coffee.  (see blogpost here) vaartstraat 12
    16. Domus for a simple and affordable meal among locals.  tiensestraat 8
    17. Balls & Glory for their glorious meatballs, or their tasty vegetarian balls.  tiensestraat 31
    18. De Appel for one of their famous pasta dishes. ravenstraat 15
    19. ‘t Galetje for delicious ice cream.  You can recognize this place by the huge line, but it’s totally worth the wait. tiensestraat 44
    20. Oude markt, also known as the longest bar in the world.  On this square you’ll undoubtedly find a café to your liking, but if you don’t feel like exploring all forty of them: my personal favorites are Apéro, Allee and De Giraf.
where to chill

where to chill in leuven via au pays des merveilles

  1. Kruidtuin for its wonderful botanical variety (see blogpost here) kapucijnevoer 30
  2. Castle of Arenberg for a picnic with a view on the castle from the 16th century.   This is where the ateliers of the faculty of architecture are housed, so I’ve spent the majority of my studies in this building.  kardinaal mercierlaan 94, 3001 heverlee
  3. Abdij van Park for a walk (or a run) along the beautiful abbey.  abdij van park 7, 3001 heverlee
  4. Groot Begijnhof for a romantic walk along 13th century streets, gardens, squares and parks of the beguinage.
  5. Sint-Donatuspark or Stadspark,  to join the majority of the students on a sunny day for a beer or a game of frisbee.  This park might be crowded, but the ponds, hills and historical wall and tower (built in the 12th century) make for a beautiful backdrop.
where to dance

where to dance in leuven via au pays des merveilles

  1. STUK for its jazz performances in the café on Sunday nights, monthly CLUBstuk nights, alternative concerts and STUKstart, the festive start of the season and one of the best parties Leuven has to offer all year round.  naamsestraat 96
  2. Existenz for its Bauhouse parties and the yearly Cocktail Party and Bauhouse Maximum, both in an unexpected location and sold out in minutes, year after year.   (see blogposts here)
  3. Rumba for something else than the typical student parties (if you keep an eye on the agenda at least, I’d avoid any event with “TD” in the name).  Most of the Bauhouse parties by Existenz are hosted here.  kiekenstraat 16
  4. Het Depot for their diverse concert program.  Keep an eye out for the Laat Open nights, they are my personal favorite. martelarenplein 12
  5. Apéro for good music on Leuven’s most famous square.  If you keep an eye on the agenda, you might encounter pretty impressive dj’s in a laidback atmosphere.  oude markt 52
  6. Leuven Jazz, an open minded Jazz festival taking place in several locations around the city, from small cafés to the city theater.
where to shop

where to shop in leuven via au pays des merveilles

  1. Animaux Spéciaux for its wonderful collection of taxidermy by lovely owner Jeroen Lemaitre and the beautiful shop interior.  (see blogpost here) mechelsestraat 73
  2. LIV for brands such as Samsoe&Samsoe, The Kooples and Anine Bing, in a beautiful black and white store.  mechelsestraat 16 (see blogpost here)
  3. Giraffe for all kinds of streetwear from brands such as Vans, Komono, Kling and Herschel. (see blogpost here) bondgenoten laan 128 & diestsestraat 215
  4. Thelma Coffee & design for beautiful fashion and design, accompanied by a cup of coffee.  (see blogpost here) vaartstraat 12
  5. Mixte for brands such as Sessun, Object and American vintage.  mechelsestraat 39
  6. Belva for brands by Belgian women, Annelies Timmermans being my favorite.  parijsstraat 13
  7. Pakjeshuis for its gifts and gadgets that always make it hard to come out empty handed! mechelsestraat 30
  8. De Kapbar for a new haircut by the lovely Lisa and a drink while you’re waiting.  naamsestraat 55
  9. HIPPO!Royale for its vintage inspired collection of clothes and accessories.  parijsstraat 44
  10. Think Twice for second hand clothing.  Be sure to stop by during their discount days, when everything in store is discounted and the discounts get better every day.  During the final day, everything costs only one euro.  diestsestraat 255
  11. Wear for their selection of clothing, accessories and shoes.  (see blogpost here) van benedenstraat 5
  12. Bilbo Records for their wide variety of (alternative) cd’s and vinyl.  mgr. ladeuzeplein 2
  13. Lasso juwelen for beautiful jewelry and interesting expos.  parijsstraat 10
  14. Living Lounge for their selection of vintage inspired gifts and home deco.  parijsstraat 42
  15. De Filoloog for affordable books.  tiensestraat 6



  1. Elisa February 10, 2016

    Superfijn, dit! De aantal keren dat ik Leuven bezocht heb zijn op één hand te tellen en hebben me telkens naar dezelfde plaatsen geleid. Binnenkort een tripje naar Leuven dus mét dit lijstje ;)

  2. Elisse February 10, 2016

    Wat een tof gidsje! Ik sla het op voor mijn volgende bezoekje aan de stad!

  3. Cathelijne February 10, 2016

    Wauw. Zo goed als volledig lijstje.
    Al mis ik zeker nog “luz de lux” in het lijstje shops. barbara is de Best help ever!
    En super combi van duur en wat goedkoper.
    En Valerie van Pure is top-kapster!
    Voila :-)

    • Hannelore Veelaert February 10, 2016

      Die kende ik niet, ik ga er zeker eens langs bij mijn volgende bezoek in Leuven!

  4. Cathelijne February 10, 2016

    Oh en nog vergeten: juwelen bij Lasso in de Mechelsestraat! Must visit! :-)

    • Hannelore Veelaert February 10, 2016

      Die was ik zelf ook vergeten, ik voeg em toe!

  5. pannecoucke enya February 11, 2016

    ik ken Leuven nauwelijks maar dit nodigt wel uit
    gaan we samen eens dagtrippen?

  6. Anne February 14, 2016

    Meer van dit! Superleuk! Ik heb directzin om alles te gaan ontdekken, ik wist niet dat Leuven zo leuk kon zijn :)

  7. Living Lounge February 25, 2016

    Ontdek deze post nu maar pas, Jeej! Bedankt voor de vermelding, heel Leuke blogpost!

  8. […] tip ik deze blogpost boordevol tips van local Hannelore Veelaert. Mocht je nog meer over Leuven willen […]


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