Things to do in Leuven

About Leuven

The best Leuven tours include guided walks through the historic city center, exploring the rich tapestry of Leuven’s breweries, and immersive audio tours that reveal the secrets of the University Library and other cultural landmarks.
The most prominent museums are the M-Museum Leuven for its art exhibitions, the STUK for its avant-garde performing arts, and the Tafelrond, which combines history, architecture, and culinary delights in one experience.
Rainy days are perfect for exploring Leuven's indoor attractions like the M-Museum Leuven, taking a brewery tour at Stella Artois for beer enthusiasts, or enjoying a concert at the music complex, Het Depot.
Leuven is known for its splendid Gothic Town Hall, University Library with its panoramic tower view, and the M-Museum Leuven which showcases modern and contemporary art. The Great Beguinage is also a tranquil must-see UNESCO World Heritage site.
Families with children can enjoy the Botanical Garden Kruidtuin, interact with exhibits at the M-Museum’s family-friendly workshops, and have fun in the engaging setting of Sportoase Philipssite, with its pools and slides.
Outdoor enthusiasts can explore the Abbey of Park, enjoy the bustling Friday Market, and cycle through the city or along the Dijle River pathways, experiencing the scenic views and fresh air of Leuven's countryside.
Indoor activity highlights include taking a self-guided tour of the University Library, experiencing the innovative exhibitions at M-Museum Leuven, and savoring the flavors of local craftsmanship with a brewery tour at Stella Artois.
Short timeframe visitors can enjoy concise guided tours of the Old Market Square, quick strolls through botanical gardens, or attend a brief but rich visit to the University Hall, each offering a memorable snapshot of Leuven's essence.

Best Things to Do In Leuven

Embark on a journey through the quintessential attractions that make Leuven a beloved travel destination.

Leuven: University Library & Tower

What is it?
An iconic landmark combining rich history with academic prestige and breathtaking views.
Why you should go?
The University Library and Tower stand as testimonies to Leuven's resilience and dedication to knowledge. Reconstructed after WWI, its architecture and the panoramic views from the top are a must-see. With an impressive collection of manuscripts and books, the library is a sanctuary for historians and book lovers. The climb up the tower is rewarded with an aerial perspective of the city, making it one of the essential things to do in Leuven for captivating sightseeing and photography opportunities.

Leuven: M-Museum Leuven

What is it?
A contemporary museum melding modern art with an innovative architectural space.
Why you should go?
M-Museum Leuven stands out as a beacon of contemporary art, presenting a dynamic roster of exhibitions and a striking architectural design. It is a place where the medieval and the modern converge, offering visitors an immersive cultural experience. The museum's airy spaces and innovative curation pose thought-provoking narratives, securing its place among the most compelling Leuven activities for art aficionados and those intrigued by modernity's intersection with history.

Leuven: Abbey of Park

What is it?
A historical abbey providing a peaceful sanctuary with lush green surroundings.
Why you should go?
Abbey of Park is a soul-soothing retreat from the brisk pace of the city. This well-preserved monastic site, with its serene ponds and century-old buildings, tells the story of religious and social life spanning hundreds of years. With its art collection, library, and idyllic landscape, the Abbey invites contemplation and exploration. Visitors searching for peace or a reflective walk often list this as one of the best Leuven excursions.

Leuven: Stella Artois Brewery

What is it?
A world-renowned brewery offering a deep dive into the tradition of Belgian beer-making.
Why you should go?
The Stella Artois Brewery is synonymous with Leuven, representing a storied tradition in beer crafting. Touring this brewery uncovers the secrets of Belgian beer production and ends with a refreshing tasting session. The brewery's blend of rich history and modern technology fascinates visitors, establishing it among the top things to see in Leuven. Beer enthusiasts and curious travelers alike find the tour engaging and informative.

Leuven: Town Hall and Grote Markt

What is it?
The ornate town hall and the bustling Grote Markt are the historical and civic heart of Leuven.
Why you should go?
Grote Markt, dominated by the flamboyant gothic Town Hall, is essential for understanding Leuven's civic pride and architectural brilliance. Visitors are often awe-struck by the hall's intricate facades adorned with hundreds of statues. The surrounding area is alive with cafes and eateries, offering a taste of local life and delicacies. Engaging in this center of daily life presents an opportunity to grasp what to see in Leuven, especially for architecture buffs and those keen on socializing.

Leuven: St. Peter's Church

What is it?
A stunning example of Brabant Gothic architecture and home to impressive artistic heritage.
Why you should go?
The majestic St. Peter's Church is not only an architectural gem but also houses the famous 'Last Supper' by Dirk Bouts, an essential sight for art enthusiasts. As one of the top towers in Leuven, it forms part of the city’s skyline. Visitors can delve into centuries of history while admiring the church’s ornate interior, intricate wood carvings, and vibrant stained glass, making it an unmissable stop for anyone exploring the spiritual and historic heart of Leuven.

Leuven: Old Market Square

What is it?
The bustling epicenter of the city's nightlife and social scene, lined with numerous cafes and bars.
Why you should go?
Old Market Square, often referred to as the 'longest bar in the world', encapsulates the vibrant spirit of Leuven. By day, the square is a picturesque spot for a stroll or a coffee, surrounded by historical buildings. By night, it transforms into a lively hub where locals and tourists mingle, making it one of the fun things to do in Leuven. For anyone interested in cultural immersion and experiencing the local way of life, this spot is definitely a highlight of Leuven excursions.

Leuven: Botanical Garden Kruidtuin

What is it?
The oldest botanical garden in Belgium, offering a tranquil retreat with a rich collection of fauna and flora.
Why you should go?
Places to visit in Leuven should undoubtedly include the serene Botanical Garden Kruidtuin. It provides a peaceful escape from the urban environment and an educational experience for nature lovers. With its well-curated plant collections, medicinal herbs, and tropical greenhouse, visitors can relax and rejuvenate among nature's beauty. The garden's ever-changing seasonal landscapes make it a compelling destination to visit any time of the year and one of the best Leuven tours for those appreciating botanical wonders.

Leuven: The Great Beguinage

What is it?
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this historical quarter is a striking example of medieval urban design.
Why you should go?
Exploring The Great Beguinage is like stepping back in time, offering insight into the lives of the beguines, communities of lay religious women. Its quaint cobbled lanes, charming houses, and tranquil courtyards represent one of the places to visit in Leuven that visitors should not miss. The Beguinage is not only a treat for historians but also for those seeking quietude and a picturesque environment, capturing the essence of Leuven's rich cultural fabric.

Leuven: Oude Markt

What is it?
A historical site and social hub, often referred to as 'the longest bar in the world'.
Why you should go?
Oude Markt is the beating heart of Leuven's social scene, where the city's vibrant energy is palpable. Encircled by a legion of establishments, each with its unique charm, the square offers an unforgettable atmosphere. Whether it's for sampling Belgian beer, a fine dining experience, or simply soaking up the jovial vibes, the Oude Markt presents a kaleidoscope of options making it one of the best things to do in Leuven for locals and tourists alike.

TOP-5 tours in Leuven for first time visitors

  • Discover the historic marvels and things to see in Leuven with a stroll around the age-old University Library and its soaring tower, offering panoramic views.
  • Dive into the world of innovation with a visit to the M-Museum, featuring contemporary art pieces—perfect for those pondering what to do in Leuven for a modern twist.
  • For those seeking spiritual tranquility and things to do in Leuven, the peaceful haven of the Abbey of Park presents a serene outing amidst verdant landscapes.
  • Join the ranks of ale aficionados by exploring the city's storied breweries, one of the best things to do in Leuven, and savor a taste of local brewing expertise.
  • Explore the beguiling City Hall and Grote Markt square; these Leuven activities offer a blend of gothic architecture and vibrant city life.

Fun things to do in Leuven with kids

When planning a family itinerary, exploring Leuven presents an array of delightful opportunities for young adventurers. First on the list is the Leuven Botanical Garden, also known as the Kruidtuin. This lush oasis invites families to enjoy a leisurely stroll among vibrant flower beds, ancient trees, and educational plant collections. Kids can playfully learn about biodiversity, engage in a botanical scavenging hunt, or simply revel in the open-air playground. For a dynamic immersion in science and creativity, the University Library provides interactive tours that captivate curious minds. Children can marvel at the architectural beauty and historical significance, followed by the excitement of climbing the library tower to gaze across the city's rooftops. And no family visit to Leuven would be complete without experiencing the M-Museum Leuven. Tailored specially towards younger audiences, the museum offers workshops and guided tours that make contemporary art accessible and exciting for children, nurturing their creative expression while providing an enriching educational experience for all ages.

Things to do in Leuven with family

Leuven is a treasure trove of family-friendly activities. A must-visit is the renowned M-Museum Leuven, where art is made accessible and enjoyable for all ages. Families can delve into the world of contemporary art with tailored tours that both educate and inspire young minds. Interactive elements and creative workshops in this cutting-edge museum promise a day of cultural enrichment. Next, the Leuven Botanical Garden, or Kruidtuin, offers a sensory feast for families. As the oldest botanical garden in Belgium, it's a tranquil setting where children can discover plant species from around the world and enjoy outdoor play areas set amidst the greenery. Whether picnicking, exploring the themed gardens, or participating in educational activities, the Kruidtuin is a delightful natural haven. Lastly, Sportoase Philipssite beckons families with its state-of-the-art swimming facilities. From kid-friendly pools to exhilarating slides, it provides a splash-filled escape for family members of all ages. Whether seeking relaxation or aquatic adventure, this venue guarantees an enjoyable and active day out in Leuven.

Free things to do in Leuven

Leuven mesmerizes visitors with attractions that are rich in culture and history, many of which can be enjoyed for free. A stroll through the Old Market Square, known as Oude Markt, is an essential experience. This bustling square, surrounded by historical buildings, is the social heart of the city, perfect for people-watching and soaking up the local atmosphere. Another remarkable site is the grand University Library, which is not only an architectural wonder but also a symbol of Leuven's scholarly heritage. Visitors can admire its impressive facade and explore the surrounding university precinct with its inspiring academic ambiance at no cost. For a tranquil retreat, the Abbey of Park is a sublime destination. This beautifully preserved piece of Leuven's history, set among picturesque ponds and green spaces, provides peaceful walking paths and an insight into the city's monastic past. Families, history buffs, and nature lovers alike will find serenity within its ancient walls without spending a dime.

Cheap things to do in Leuven

For budget-conscious travelers, Leuven offers a wealth of affordable attractions without compromising on experience. One of the most popular is the Leuven Market. Held on Fridays in the city center, it's a vibrant marketplace where visitors can sample local flavors and discover unique crafts at low prices, offering a genuine taste of local life. Art and history enthusiasts can revel in the treasure trove of exhibits at the University Library, where entry fees are minimal. The library not only boasts an impressive collection of scholarly works but also offers a historical exhibit about the university's rich heritage. Finally, the M-Museum Leuven presents an enticing option for those looking for an economical cultural outing. With a modest admission fee, visitors can access a world-class collection of modern and contemporary art, including temporary exhibitions that highlight both Belgian and international artists. Its engaging art programs provide an enriching experience that is friendly on the wallet.

Things to do in Leuven for couples

Leuven beckons couples with its romantic allure and charming attractions. Begin with the breathtaking beauty of the Botanical Garden Kruidtuin, an ideal venue for a romantic stroll among fragrant blooms and verdant greenery. The garden's tranquil atmosphere lends itself to intimate conversations and picturesque picnics. For those infatuated with culture, M-Museum Leuven offers an unforgettable outing. Couples can wander hand in hand through provocative contemporary art exhibitions, fostering meaningful discussions and shared aesthetic experiences. The museum's striking architecture and thoughtful curations make it a stimulating and intimate destination. End the day at the Old Market Square, known locally as Oude Markt. As evening falls, this cobblestoned square transforms into the perfect backdrop for romance, with its lively array of cafe terraces and ambient lighting. Sip on a fine Belgian brew or indulge in the local cuisine while enjoying the vibrant energy of this iconic Leuven meeting spot.

Things to do in Leuven at night

The city of Leuven transforms as the sun sets, offering a vibrant night scene for nocturnal explorers. A must-visit is the famed Oude Markt, renowned as Belgium's longest bar. Couples and groups alike can enjoy the convivial atmosphere, sipping on local Leuven beers and engaging with the lively crowd, making it a social highlight for any night out. For a more serene evening, the University Library remains lit by night, with its arresting architecture creating a dramatic backdrop for evening strolls. The beauty of this historical monument under the night sky is both romantic and awe-inspiring, embedding itself in the memories of those who witness it. Cinema enthusiasts can catch a late-night showing at Cinema ZED, the city's premier arthouse theater. Screening a range of international and indie films, it is a cozy spot for culture buffs searching for things to do in Leuven when the stars come out, providing entertainment and a warm refuge.