My velvet escape travel tip: Leuven

My velvet escape travel tip” is a guest series about what the name ‘Velvet Escape’ evokes and what that would be in the hometown of the guest writer. With this series, I hope to uncover travel tips from places around the world to help visitors have a truly local experience.

Leuven Town Hall

Leuven Town Hall

When I got the question, what does Velvet Escape mean to you, my first reaction was escaping it all and unwinding at a beach somewhere. But when I had more time to think about it, my Velvet Escape equals enjoying my passion, which is travel. Experiencing the culture of a country, talking to the locals, … that’s what traveling is to me.

So where do I go in my own country, Belgium, to experience this? I would like to take you to the city I lived in for a couple of years when I was studying at college: Leuven. Leuven is located about 30 kilometers from Brussels (the capital of Belgium).

Here’s where Anheuser-Busch Inbev, the big brewing group is located, but also the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, the oldest Catholic university still in existence and at the same time the largest university in Belgium.

Leuven is a city of students, as most of the residents during the year are students. That’s what makes Leuven such a lively city! You can find students from all over the world, together with their culture. Of course, Leuven itself provides lots of opportunities to contribute to its reputation. The ‘Oude Markt’ (Old Market) is a big square with many bars, you just have to pick one to visit and have a delicious Belgian beer!

You can find beautiful old buildings here and the Town Hall is probably the most famous one. The University Library at the Ladeuzeplein is an historical building that’s also worth a visit.

Leuven cafes

Leuven cafes

When you walk through the city you can feel the bubbliness here. You should definitely take a stroll down the Muntstraat. It’s a pedestrian street filled with restaurants serving cuisines from around the world. Especially in the summer with all the tables outside, you’ll feel like you’re in Italy or Spain. Close to the Muntstraat, there is a special place. Well, I think so! It`s called ‘De Werf’ (which literally means construction site) and that’s how it looks. They left it like that on purpose. You can still see the brick wall and they serve bread in bread containers, just little details that make this a cozy place to have lunch or a dessert. I have to warn you, because they offer cheap meals, students love to come here and sometimes it’s difficult to find a free table. But if you get the chance, make a stop here (it’s located at the Hogeschoolsplein.)

And before you leave Leuven, there’s one more place you have to try: ‘Het Zoet Mondje’ (literally translated, it means Sweet Mouth), located at Diestsestraat 212. It’s a cute, little store that makes and sells chocolate. You are, after all, in Belgium, a chocolate paradise for many. This is probably my favorite place to buy chocolates. If you walk into the store, you’ll get an instant feeling of happiness as the fragrance of chocolate embraces you!

About this week’s guest writer
Isabelle Isabelle is a passionate traveler who built her own website, Isabelle’s Travel Guide, that’s filled with personal experiences, travel tips and information to help others create their own memorable vacation. There’s nothing more Isabelle loves than traveling the world, experiencing new adventures and discovering new destinations. With her website, Isabelle hopes to be an inspiration and help others in their ventures to explore the world. Follow IsabellesTravel on Twitter.

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11 Responses to “My velvet escape travel tip: Leuven”

  1. Sofie 22/11/2012 3:10 pm

    Nice post about Leuven, my hometown! And I must agree: ‘De Werf’ is a great place to grab a cheap bite! They have a wide selection of hot and cold dishes and the yummiest deserts!

  2. Stacy 23/09/2010 10:02 am

    You’re so right about Leuven. It really is a special place that everyone remembers fondly. The students really make it!

    The students are back as well as I wrote in this article:

    Make sure to visit Leuven if you’re nearby Brussels!

  3. Sonya 04/03/2010 9:53 pm

    Love your travel tips, Keith! Isabelle has inspired me to add Leuven to my list of destinations to visit.

  4. velvet 02/03/2010 11:57 pm

    Thanks for your comments. A spent a few days in Leuven last year and it’s a charming vibrant town. And only a 20 minute train ride from Brussels.


  5. waitinginthedark 02/03/2010 8:26 am

    Sounds like a lovely escape, Isabelle. I’ve been a couple of times in Brussels but never had the chance visiting the nearby awesome places. I will definitely have to come back!

  6. Kirsty Wilson 01/03/2010 10:23 am

    WOW! I’ve never heard of Leuven and look at that Town Hall! What an amazing piece of architecture. It’s when I see and read about places like this, that I wonder how many other treasures are around that world that I’m yet to learn of. Thanks Keith and thanks Isabelle for sharing your ‘velvet escape’.


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