In 2009 I spent about 10 months living in Belgium. I split my time between a small town in Flemish Limburg, near the Dutch and German border, and the small university city of Leuven.
I was a very active member of couchsurfing at the time, and we always had international guests come through our home. Every guest we had, we would outfit with a map and some recommendations and would send them off to explore. I never thought to put together a walking tour.
So my apologies to all of my past couchsurfing guests. I have finally put together a walking tour of Leuven, but of course, I don’t live there anymore.
Start your walk at Kruidtuin, which although does not sound very pretty to anglophone ears, actually means Botanic Gardens. The Leuven botanic gardens are the oldest in Belgium and are a nice way to clear your mind and refresh your senses before heading off on your walking tour.
Your next stop will be the Leuven Grote Markt. Every Belgian town has it’s Grote Markt, or main square, and Leuven is no exception. The Leuven Grote Markt is not much when compared to the one in Brussels, but this open square is a great place to stop for a drink. The Leuven Grote Markt is lined with bar after bar after bar, and in the summer months, the square is filled with tables and umbrellas and people having a leisurely drink. Don’t have too much to drink though, cause our next stop is a unique little bar and brewery and one of my favourite stops in Leuven.
Stop for a snack or meal at Domus (Tiensestraat 8). This little bar brews their own beer, and it is only available here. You won’t find their products in any store, so if you like what you taste, you might want to get another glass before you go.
Our next stop is another city square, Ladeuzeplein. This nondescript concrete expanse is punctuated by Leuvens most interesting piece of public art. The “Totem” is an artwork by Jan Fabre which consists of a giant Thai jewel beetle stuck on a 75 foot high giant needle.
It’s a bit of a hike now until our next and final stop, the Groot Begijnhof. This UNESCO world heritage site from the 13th century. The Groot Begijnhof has the appearance of a small town in the city. It is a succession of streets, squares, gardens and parks, with tens of houses and convents in traditional brick and sandstone style. It is a great way to discover the architecture and planning to discover what a traditional Belgian community would have looked and been structured in the 13th century.
The walking tour is now complete! Wander back into the centre of Leuven to grab some dinner, or head back to the railway station and onward to your next destination.