Students zipping pass on their bicycles, the streets come alive with the bustle of the after-University and work crowd. I stood in the heart of Leuven taking in the grandeur of the town hall architecture, the cafes and beer bars around me, I know I’m going to like this little picturesque city.

From beer and chocolate tasting to waffles, I had 48 hours to immerse myself in the Leuven culture and these are the 12 things you can do in Leuven in 48 hours.

Leuven town centre and the iconic Stadhuis, read more about what you can do in Leuven in 48 hours at www.whatsupcourtney.com #Leuven #travel #travelguide

1. Great for a weekend getaway

Getting to Leuven was a very simple affair. It’s an hour away from Newcastle with BMI Regional then another 20-minute train straight to sunny Leuven from Brussels airport. The city centre is around 15-minute walk down this street, you can join the locals and hire a bike but both are much faster than taking a taxi unless you have a lot of luggage.

War Memorial Monument outside of Leuven train station, read more about what you can do in Leuven in 48 hours at www.whatsupcourtney.com #Leuven #travel #travelguide

2. Visit the majestic & iconic Stadhuis (Townhall)

Within the heart of Leuven town centre, you can’t help but be in awe of Leuven’s most iconic building  – the town hall or Stadhuis as it is known. A fine example of gothic architecture with its stunning stonework, flags and surrounded by a total of 235 statues, honouring past residents of the city.

Stadhuis survived World War 1 and was very nearly destroyed during the Second World War where, fortunately, the bomb just missed its exterior. There are daily guided tours at 3 pm to explore the interior.

Stadhuis (Town hall) in the middle of Leuven city centre ,read more about what you can do in Leuven in 48 hours at www.whatsupcourtney.com #Leuven #travel #travelguide

Stadhuis - the iconic town hall located in the centre of Leuven with gothic architecture ,read more about what you can do in Leuven in 48 hours at www.whatsupcourtney.com #Leuven #travel #travelguide

3. Take a look at the Last Supper

A hop and skip away across the Stadhuis is The St Pieterskerk. Enter here to see the painting of the Last Supper.

Painting of The Last Supper in a church in the centre of Leuven, read more about what you can do in Leuven in 48 hours at www.whatsupcourtney.com #Leuven #travel #travelguide

4. Climb up to the top of Universiteitsbibliotheek

Or you can call it the University Library and bell tower. I wouldn’t have guessed this building was part of the University. You see, in the beginning of the First World War, Leuven was destroyed by the Germans including the University Library as well.

Sadly over three hundred thousand books were destroyed and this library was entirely rebuilt. The statues have meanings behind them if you notice one of the statues is an Eagle (middle) to represent the Americans who helped fund the construction of this new library, the snake (left) is to represent German and the lion (right) represents the Belgians.

Leuven University Bell tower, read more about what you can do in Leuven in 48 hours at www.whatsupcourtney.com #Leuven #travel #travelguide

Do venture in and explore the building but more importantly, get your exercise this holiday and climb up their spiral staircases to a balcony above and just take in the 360 degree view over Leuven.

See if you can spot the Stella Artois factory!

View from the top of the University Bell tower Leuven, read more about what you can do in Leuven in 48 hours at www.whatsupcourtney.com #Leuven #travel #travelguide

A hint did you say? It’s on the right side of this picture!

View from the top of Leuven University Bell tower and Stella Artois factory, read more about what you can do in Leuven in 48 hours at www.whatsupcourtney.com #Leuven #travel #travelguide

5. Put your shoes on and go for a walking tour

One of the best things to do in Leuven, a 3-hour walking tour guided by Leuven Leisure which covers everything you need to know about Leuven.

Jacob (our guide) took us all over the city in a story like manner introducing us to Leuven’s history and entertaining us with stories of the places we visited most of it featured in this guide. Starting at the University tower.

Leuven Leisure walking guided tour, read more about what you can do in Leuven in 48 hours at www.whatsupcourtney.com #Leuven #travel #travelguide

Walking around a city gives you a gorgeous view of the Stadhuis from a different angle.

A beautiful alleyway in Leuven with a view of the Stadhuis at the horizon, read more about what you can do in Leuven in 48 hours at www.whatsupcourtney.com #Leuven #travel #travelguide

Jacob has the best stories for us. Meet Fonske or formally known as Fons Sapientiae. He represents a student studying a book full of formulas whilst pouring water into his head at the same time. A symbol to the students in this University town to let remind them that having fun is a way of student life but also study! As you know, moderation is key!

The statue of Fonske in Leuven, read more about what you can do in Leuven in 48 hours at www.whatsupcourtney.com #Leuven #travel #travelguide

6. Stroll around the UNESCO site Groot Begijnhof 

Venture out of the Grote Markt (Grand Square) and explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Groot Begijnhof.

You will get the feel of what Leuven was like 300 years ago. Filled with houses, alleyway was and a church, it is fully restored historic quarter founded in the 13th century by the Beguines. Initially used to house women who promised not to marry as long as they lived in the beguinage and they have the choice to leave whenever they wanted.

Currently, the houses are being used as residential housing for the lucky students and professors of Leuven University.

UNESCO heritage site of Groot Begijnhof in Leuven, read more about what you can do in Leuven in 48 hours at www.whatsupcourtney.com #Leuven #travel #travelguide

Groot begijnhof walking tour Leuven - This picture depicts christ at a church and women's monastery in the heritage site, read more about what you can do in Leuven in 48 hours at www.whatsupcourtney.com #Leuven #travel #travelguide

7. Put your love lock on

For you romantic souls or a friendship you cherish, Leuven has their very own ‘Love Lock’ bridge in the middle of Groot Begijnhof. Try and find it while you’re here!

Love lock on a bridge of a small river at the Unesco heritage site, Groot Begijnhof - read more about what you can do in Leuven in 48 hours at www.whatsupcourtney.com #Leuven #travel #travelguide

8. Indulge in a Beer and Chocolate tasting

From a Unesco heritage site to a different kind of culture. Beer and chocolate tasting! This is quite possibly one of the most life-changing moments in my existence. Here’s the deal, you are provided with a beer and an accompanying chocolate from Bittersweet Chocolate. Take a sip of the beer, don’t spit out…just gulp it down then take a bite of the chocolate pairing. And savour the taste.

I’m not a huge fan of beer and this seriously converted me. It’s completely mandatory now to take Belgian chocolates with me every time I go for a drink, right?

Belgian beer and Belgian chocolate tasting session, read more about what you can do in Leuven in 48 hours at www.whatsupcourtney.com #Leuven #travel #travelguide

This combination was to die for! One of the best pairings, in my opinion, the beer intensifies the passionfruit chocolate. Mindblowing!

Passionfruit chocolate and beer tasting in Leuven, read more about what you can do in Leuven in 48 hours at www.whatsupcourtney.com #Leuven #travel #travelguide

The yellow lego block is a rice pudding chocolate with Earl Grey chocolates on the right -a pairing which reminds me of childhood days or an English afternoon tea perhaps?

Rice pudding and earl grey chocolate leuven, read more about what you can do in Leuven in 48 hours at www.whatsupcourtney.com #Leuven #travel #travelguide

9. Eat Belgian Waffles

What else can I say, when in Belgium, you have got to try their waffles. It’s so delicious plain but if you can’t resist like me, go for all the toppings. Mine was topped with whipped cream, a generous slather of Nutella and a sprinkling of speculoos crumbs. Please excuse me, I need a moment to myself.

Tip! Get them before 6 pm – they sell out fast!

Belgium waffle topped with nutella and whipped cream with speculoos sprinkles, read more about what you can do in Leuven in 48 hours at www.whatsupcourtney.com #Leuven #travel #travelguide

10.  Sample all the Belgian Chocolates

Walking along the cobbled streets, you can find a chocolate shop almost at every corner. The whiff of chocolate as you enter the store. Willy Wonka had better watch out. This is serious competition! From hedgehogs, autumnal chocolate to sophisticated flavours, they have it all.

An array of Belgian chocolates in a traditional chocolate shop in Leuven, read more about what you can do in Leuven in 48 hours at www.whatsupcourtney.com #Leuven #travel #travelguide

Rows of authentic and unique chocolates from the Bittersweet chocolate shop in Leuven, read more about what you can do in Leuven in 48 hours at www.whatsupcourtney.com #Leuven #travel #travelguide

11. Drink Beer and visit a local brewery!

Guess what! Leuven is home to Stella Artois, one of the most famous beers in the world! Their name is literally printed everywhere in the city. You can visit their factory, book online a couple of days prior.

OR! do what I did and visit a local brewery like Hof Ten Darmaal, which is a family brewery just outside of Leuven, and experience a more homely, personal and authentic brewery experience. You can see and touch the Hop plants and learn the process how they make the beer in this charming country cottage.

An independent Belgian brewery in the outskirts of Leuven, read more about what you can do in Leuven in 48 hours at www.whatsupcourtney.com #Leuven #travel #travelguide

A real hop plant! I have never seen one till now. Hops are a vital ingredient to make beer!

A Hop plant grown on the fields at the independent brewery in Leuven, read more about what you can do in Leuven in 48 hours at www.whatsupcourtney.com #Leuven #travel #travelguide

Hof Beer brewery tour Leuven, read more about what you can do in Leuven in 48 hours at www.whatsupcourtney.com #Leuven #travel #travelguide

And of course, you have to taste their beer. This was the chocolate and raspberry beer. I’m definitely a convert now.

Hof brewery tour in Leuven - tasting the chocolate beer, read more about what you can do in Leuven in 48 hours at www.whatsupcourtney.com #Leuven #travel #travelguide

12. Take in the nightlife at Europe’s Longest bar – Oude Markt

A huge square all lined with bars and clubs with outdoor seating! Coming here during the day is certainly nothing in comparison to evening especially on a Thursday when it is student night! Beers are reasonably priced and you can order food too! Can’t think of a better way to immerse in a culture than a drink with the locals!

Europe Longest bar Leuven called the Oude Markt, read more about what you can do in Leuven in 48 hours at www.whatsupcourtney.com #Leuven #travel #travelguide

Oout Markt Leuven, read more about what you can do in Leuven in 48 hours at www.whatsupcourtney.com #Leuven #travel #travelguide

And don’t forget to say hello to De Kotmadam. My new friend is a lady who rents out rooms in her house to students so they can stay during the week to attend their classes and go back home in the weekend. Hence that is why Thursday is a student night and you will see students and their suitcases heading to the train on Friday!

De Kotmadam statue in Leuven's Oude Markt (the longest bar in Europe), read more about what you can do in Leuven in 48 hours at www.whatsupcourtney.com #Leuven #travel #travelguide

Leuven is very much known for their University, one of the oldest in Europe and a place where students go to for their Erasmus. It’s a very atmospheric town away from the bustle of Brussels.  The people here are so lovely and friendly also amused with our crazy picture taking and the ‘ooh ahhing’ at the sight of the chocolates.

Since I have 2 hours before my flight back, plenty of time to enjoy a last cold glass of Stella. Cheers!

I was hosted by VisitFlanders  and VisitLeuven to visit Leuven and BMIRegional as well and opinions are all my own.

How would you spend your 48 hours?

Courtney xx

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12 Things to do in Leuven in 48 hours, read more about what you can do Leuven at www.whatsupcourtney.com #Leuven #travel #travelguide