It having been my hometown for many years, I'm well-acquainted with the Leuven shopping hotspots. Want to know which streets you can't miss? Check out this list of where to go shopping in Leuven.
Where to go shopping in Leuven
Leuven doesn’t have the same shopping reputation as Antwerp, Brussels or maybe even Ghent, but you can still visit Leuven and easily spend an entire day wandering in and out of shops here.
Let’s say you arrive in Leuven by train. You exit the station and find yourself on the Martelarenplein. That is, if you got out at the right side of the station, otherwise you’ll find yourself on the Martelarenlaan in Kessel-Lo and you’ll need to turn back.
So, you’re on the Martelarenplein facing away from the station (after you’ve taken a picture of the recently renovated station, of course). Right in front of you, you’ll see a big street. This is the Bondgenotenlaan and where you'll find well-known retail shops in Leuven, such as H&M, Zara and Mexx but also Tommy Hilfiger, Bell Rose and Essentiel.
At the end of the Bondgenotenlaan you’ll find the brand new Foch – excuse me – Rector De Somerplein. The Rector De Somerplein used to be the Ferdinand Fochplein (and will still be called ‘t Foch’ for years to come, I believe) until the city decided to renew the square and the name with it, so that it wouldn’t be named after a ‘war criminal' anymore.
Anyways, the works on the square were first delayed because of an archeological discovery, but are now finished.
The Grand Market area
Cross the De Somerplein. That way you’ll get to the Grote Markt (Grand Market) with the city hall and the St.-Pieters Church. Cross the Grote Markt to get to the Brusselsestraat. There’s a bank on the right corner and a clothing store on the left corner, you can't miss it. Have a look around and then take the first street on your right. Cross the street, past the Matthieu De Layensplein and onto the Mechelsestraat. You’ll find some nice, smaller boutiques here and the amazing toy store The Grasshopper.
Once you’re done here, go back to the De Layensplein. From there take the road that goes left from the church (when facing it) and turn left right before you get back to the De Somerplein. You’re now in the Diestsestraat. You can shop all this street through and at the end you’ll be back at the station.
Voila! You've just gone shopping in Leuven.
Of course, I know that you’ll get hungry and thirsty along the way, but believe me, you’ll come across plenty of nice cafes and restaurants where you can put your shopping bags down for a while and re-energize.
Where to stay in Leuven
If you're looking for an apartment rather than a hotel, I recommend checking Airbnb.
How to get to Leuven
Leuven can easily be reached by train from other cities as well as from Brussels Airport, which is the best airport to fly to if you plan on visiting Leuven.