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
Click here for an extensive list of hotel options for all budgets and needs.
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.
Click here for train options and prices.
Michael Welch says
Thanks for the post! I just found out that my ancestors came over from Leuven, so I’ve been thinking about making a trip one day in the near future!
Sofie Couwenbergh says
That’s so cool!
You should definitely come and visit. A day trip would be perfect:)
Zijn er naast shoppen ook nog andere leuke dingen te doen in Leuven?
Er zijn het kunstencentrum STuK (tentoonstellingen, theater, dans, zang), Cinema Zed (alternatievere films), de stadsschouwburg, het cultuurcentrum, de Oude Markt a.k.a. de langste toog van Europa (een plein met zo goed als enkel bars en eetgelegenheden), het Begijnhof (Unesco erfgoed) en ga zo maar door.
Misschien moet ik eens wat uitgebreider over men thuisstad gaan schrijven:-)
louise beattie says
Thanks, will have a wee look at your other blogs. Heading to Leuven next week for 6 days, hoping to get to Bruges and Ghent atleast as well as have a good wander around Leuven. My son was there last year with his friends and recommended it. Really looking forward to visiting.
And the weather is just getting better!:)
Be sure to check out my Leuven Guide. I has tons of info on the city.
Hi thanks for this useful post just 2 quick questions: I would like to use this city as a base-to-stay during my holiday , just to visit/travel by train Brussels City, Ghent and Brugges … is it a good choice, I mean, is easy to travel around Belgium?! And the closest airport is the one called Zentrum?! Thanks! :)
1. It’s very easy to travel around Belgium by train. Leuven is a small but very cozy city with direct trains to most major cities. You can always check timetables at http://www.nmbs.be, the official site of the national railroad company.
2. “Zentrum” sounds very German :) There are two main international airports in Belgium: Brussels International Airport, which is where you’ll most likely fly to, and Charleroi Airport, deceivingly called “Brussels South”, where you might fly to if you’re using Ryanair or Wizzair. From Brussels International Airport there are direct trains both to Brussels City Center and Leuven. Be aware that if you take a train to Brussels, there are three main train stations: North, which is kind of at the edge of the center, Central, which is smack in the middle of all the sights, and South, which is where you can take the Eurostar and Thalys. A train ticket will always just be to “Brussels” as it’s the same price to get to all of these three.
Hope that helps!
Oh my bad it’s called Zaventem not Zentrum! Aww thanks for all the information, yep I will def stay in Leuven because hotels are much cheaper probably I will stay at the Ibis budget over the train station so will be easy to travel to and fro Brussels and all the little villages. I’m planning my holiday during October I guess weather should be fine. :) I’ll check all the links very lucky to have found your website and tips! :)
Haha yes that’s it:) Zaventem is the name of the town where Brussels International Airport is located. That’s the one you need:)
Leuven is very walkable. Even if you take a hotel in the center, it will take you max 20 mins by foot to get to the train station.
About the weather: you can never really know here. The weather is one of Belgium’s weak points. It could be sunny and soft, or it can be cold and rain. Be sure to come prepared. Think layers and definitely pack an umbrella or a rain jacket.
Happy to be able to help :-)