Must see hidden gems in Leuven

Leuven is well known for its main attractions like the historic Town Hall, St. Peter's Church, the University Library and the Oude Markt. But what about those hidden corners and less traveled paths that few know about? The hidden gems in Leuven are plentiful, so we highlighted 5 of the best ones. Check these out the next time you’re in Leuven!
By
Leen Tyrions
19 September 2022

1. Hal 5

Once an abandoned railway station, Hal 5 has been turned into a vibrant hub. From the outside it looks like a large warehouse, but inside there is a thriving environment with a bakery, small market, multiple restaurants, and a bar. Hal 5 has great outdoor seating, perfect for eating sourdough pizza from Antico or a Falafel from Falafel Habibi and sipping on a local Leuven beer from the Hal 5 bar.

If you’re looking to shop at a fun flea market, Hal 5 hosts the Camping Flamingo once a month which features 40 passionate creators. Check the Hal 5 calendar for other upcoming events when you plan your trip to Leuven. Getting there is super easy, it’s just a 5 minute walk from the Leuven train station. This part of town is becoming a vibrant neighborhood with hip shops and coffee spots, it’s highly worth visiting!

2. Sint-Donatus Park

The beloved municipal park is the perfect place to have a picnic lunch, relax on a bench, and enjoy the surrounding nature. Tall trees provide a great amount of shade, the pond is filled with curious quacking ducks, and it’s right in the city center making it extremely accessible. This park even features a part of history from the 12th century. In the center of the park, you’ll find a brick structure that once was a part of the city walls of Leuven.

3. Museum of Zoology

Leuven is home to the university KU Leuven, but many people don’t know that the college has a Museum of Zoology near Sint-Donatus Park. Here, visitors can see a wide variety of animal species that students have used to assist in their studies since 1850. Some of the animals in the museum have even gone extinct. Yet, one of the grandest pieces is the full skeleton of a whale. This museum is a true hidden gem of Leuven. The Leuven Museum of Zoology can be visited for free 8AM-5PM on working days.

4. Street Art

Scattered all throughout Leuven, you’ll find multiple works of art in the most unusual of places: on buildings! These art pieces may not always be in plain sight, but with the proper tools, you’ll be able to find them. Check out this Leuven street art map, or download the app Street Art Cities on your phone. It’s a helpful guide to finding the location of the art and provides information about the artists and their work. Grab your walking shoes, or a bike if you wish to go further, and go on a street art hunt!

On your art walk, see if you can spot the unique pieces of Bisser, a local Leuven artist. ‘Bisser’ is a term used for someone who did not complete their first year of school and had to retake it. The artist Bisser had to do just that, but it was during that time they truly discovered their art style. And now we get to enjoy the beautiful artwork of Bisser all around Leuven!

5. Keizersberg Abbey

Many Abbeys surround the city of Leuven, but one of the lesser known ones is the Keizersberg Abbey. This is a wonderful place to enjoy a peaceful moment in nature and a hill top view of the city of Leuven. We recommend grabbing a bike and seeing all the different Abbey’s in Leuven with this handy bike map.

Where to stay in Leuven

To ensure you can visit all of these hidden gems in Leuven, we recommend booking a hotel or a B&B for a few nights. Check out these great accommodations for your next trip to Leuven. We hope to see you soon!

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