View Map

Overview

Leuven is Belgium’s student town par excellence, the tangle of narrow streets and canals that cut through its center not only easy on the eye, but lively too, with a host of bustling, youthful bars that pulse with life into the small hours, particularly on the busy square of Oude Markt. It’s also an easy day-trip from Brussels or Antwerp. The history of the town’s University – Belgium’s most prestigious – is a long and distinguished one, dating back to the fifteenth century, when the cartographer Mercator was a student here, as was the 16th-century philosopher Erasmus. These days it’s a hotbed of Flemish nationalism, to the extent that a ...

Leuven is Belgium’s student town par excellence, the tangle of narrow streets and canals that cut through its center not only easy on the eye, but lively too, with a host of bustling, youthful bars that pulse with life into the small hours, particularly on the busy square of Oude Markt. It’s also an easy day-trip from Brussels or Antwerp. The history of the town’s University – Belgium’s most prestigious – is a long and distinguished one, dating back to the fifteenth century, when the cartographer Mercator was a student here, as was the 16th-century philosopher Erasmus. These days it’s a hotbed of Flemish nationalism, to the extent that a Francophone alternative was founded – Louvain-la-Neuve, in 1970 – and is an extremely influential political institution. You wouldn’t know this from wandering around its city center buildings, but you should definitely check out the original buildings on the university just off the central Grote Markt, and the witty statue of a student being brainwashed nearby, before looking in on the town’s most impressive monument, the Gothic St. Pieterskerk, whose treasury holds some wonderful paintings by the Flemish masters Dieric Bouts and Rogier van der Weyden.

Martin Dunford
About the Expert

Martin Dunford is the author or coauthor of eight Rough Guides: Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Brussels, Belgium & Luxembourg, Italy, Rome, Naples & the Amalfi Coast, and New York City.

view full overview

Martin Dunford for Triporati

Must See, Do

Save It for Next Time

info

If time is short, save these attractions for a second visit.

Compare Flight, Car Rental, and Hotel Rates

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Located in northeastern Belgium, approximately 20 miles from Brussels.
  • Language: Flemish and French
  • Currency: Euro
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Spring, summer, early fall