Today, we are taking a walk in the lovely city of Leuven, Belgium. Although it’s mostly a university city, Leuven has a lot to offer to curious travellers who want to discover more of the country.
Check out what Sofie, travel blogger at Wonderful Wanderings, share about Leuven and what are her reasons for you to visit:
Q1: Please, introduce yourself and the city you live in!
Hi there! I’m Sofie and I’ve been living in the university city of Leuven for six years now. Before that, I studied here for four years, with a short break in between when I lived in Antwerp for a year. Although I didn’t grow up in Leuven, it’s a city I frequently visited both with friends and family for shopping, the movies and events.
Leuven is also where I work, as I’m a full-time blogger and whenever I’m in the country, I work from the apartment I share with my boyfriend. We live just a bike ride from the city center, but also right next to the forest.
Q2: What do you love the most about Leuven?
That it’s so walkable. I love big cities like London, but they often make you lose a lot of time on public transportation. In Leuven, you can easily cross the city on foot or by bike and especially all the shops and cultural institutes are walking distance from each other, as are most of the bars and restaurants.
Photo: Stadspark, Leuven
Q3: What are your favorite local meals?
Aside from special chocolates in the shape of a little man called Fonske, a bit of the city’s mascotte, we don’t have a typical local meal. Unless you count beer as a meal, that is. The international brewing company AB Inbev is located in Leuven and the famous Stella Artois beer was born here.
I’m not a beer drinker, though, so I’ll go with fries from one of the many fries shacks, something you can only find in Belgium!
Q4: What’s the best place to have breakfast?
That’s a tough one! I like breakfast at De Werf in summer because they have a huge terrace so you can eat outside. Food isn’t expensive here either and they have a wide range of teas and juices. The only downside is that they’re closed on the weekend.
Photo: De Werf, Leuven
Q5: What’s the best place to have dinner in Leuven?
I like the Entreprise (Naamsestraat) because it has a wide selection and portions are big. It’s also always cozy inside. I do have to say it’s been a while since I last dined out in Leuven. I should definitely try some new places soon!
Q6: What are the top three attractions in Leuven?
If you’re into UNESCO sites, the Big and Small Beguinage are certainly worth a visit. In winter, they light up the Big Beguinage with candles for just one night. It’s really cool.
Aside from that, City hall with its many statues is a must-see and the M Museum always has some interesting exhibitions on. The building itself is cool too, especially if you like modern architecture.
Photo: M Museum, Leuven
Q7: Where can you get the best view of Leuven?
From the top of the university library’s belfry!
Q8: Your favorite cultural attractions or activities?
While we do have a theater and several smaller cultural venues, I still prefer the outdoor festivals that mostly take place in spring and summer. It doesn’t really matter what’s going on, it’s just fun to be able to walk around, listening to live music and sitting on a bench or in the park with a drink or an ice cream.
If you’re looking for something indoors, than it’s always worth checking out what’s going on at STuK, Leuven’s cultural and art center. There ‘s a movie theater, a big cafe where you can play board games, a theater where they host dance performances and plays, as well as a general area where they put up exhibitions.
Photo: St. Peters Chyrch, Leuven
Q9: Are there any possibilities for exciting day trips from Leuven? Where to?
Plenty! Belgium is so small that for most people coming from a broad, anywhere is an option for a day trip, really. From Leuven, you can get a direct train to Brussels but also to Ghent and Antwerp. You can even drive straight through to the coast but be warned: on a hot day that’s what everyone will be doing and the trains will be packed.
Are you going to Belgium soon? What place do you want to see the most?
In 2012, Sofie launched her travel blog WonderfulWanderings.com as a passion project. Since then, she’s turned it into her full-time job and has successfully collaborated with over 80 brands and destinations worldwide. All while wearing sneakers, of course.
She writes practical travel stories with a personal touch, helps travelers plan their itineraries and is a regular contributor for Expedia and Discover Benelux. Traveling the world, crafting articles or taking a dance class when she’s home, Sofie loves it all… as long as she can have a cup of tea first.
Check out the other interviews with locals from Amsterdam, Lisbon, Mostar, London, Sarajevo, Sofia, Riga, Dublin,Moscow, Oxford and Barcelona. If you want to participate in “Holiday like a local in…” series, send an email to: [email protected] with the city you live in.