Leuven, Belgium Under €25 A Day

Leuven is a real university city. Last academic year more than 40.000 students roamed the streets of my hometown. A great plus about that is that a lot of ‘recreational’ businesses keep their prices decent to be affordable for those students.

Grand Beguinage
Grand Beguinage

 

You can easily have a great day visiting Leuven without spending more than €25 per person. Here’s how.

A morning walk through town

Let’s presume you’ve taken an early train and arrive in Leuven in the morning. Start your day with a walk through town.

Start at the Bondgenotenlaan. This street is located right in front of the station’s entrance. You can’t miss it.
Don’t walk all the way through it, though. The Bondgenotenlaan is a shopping street and although you’ll definitely find some things for less than €25, you do want your money to stretch a bit further, don’t you?

So just follow the Bondgenotenlaan until you reach the small Justus Lipsius square to your left. There you’ll see a street that goes upward to the right, the Koning Leopold I-straat, and takes you to the Laudeuze Square. At the Ladeuzeu Square you can see the beautiful University Library and a famous art work by the Belgian artist Jan Fabre. Yes, I’m talking about that huge bug stuck on the giant needle in the middle of the square.

From there you can cross the street to the Hoover Square and the entrance of the Saint Donatius Park, often referred to as the ‘city park’. The park is especially nice in summer when people go there to picnic, play music or play games.

Grand Place
Grand Place

 

Exit the park on the other side and head towards the Grand Beguinage. It’s so peaceful and quiet there at this Unesco World Heritage site. From there follow the Schapenstraat onto the Parijsstraat and turn left in the Minderbroerstraat. At the end of the street you’ll find the Botanical Garden, which free to enter.

[box size=”large” style=”rounded”]Morning walk: €0[/box]

A delicious lunch

I’m sure that all of this walking has gotten you pretty hungry, so let’s grab some lunch. We’ll cross the ‘Oude Markt’ or Old Market, famous as it’s considered to be the longest bar in Europe. Except for one all the buildings on this square are bars, restaurants or snack houses.

We won’t stop here for lunch, though. We’ll walk on until we reach the Hogeschoolplein, where you can find De Werf. De Werf serves amazing food and drinks for very reasonable prices. I recommend getting one of their wraps (I always go for the one with chicken and curry) and a cola or one of their teas. Their wraps are huge and will definitely keep you filled for the rest of the afternoon.

[box size=”large” style=”rounded”]Wrap: €5,5
Cola: about €1,8
Total: €7,30[/box]

A cultural afternoon

After lunch, continue your walk down the Naamsestraat in the direction of the Grote Markt (Grand Place). There you’ll find the beautiful gothic city hall and the Saint Peter’s Church.

St Peter church
St Peter church

 

Form the Grand Place you can get onto the Pieter De Somer Square. This square has recently been completely rebuilt and renamed to make room for an underground bike parking.

[box size=”large” style=”rounded”]After lunch walk: €0[/box]

Now walk onto the Bondgenotenlaan again and take the first street on your right. This is where you’ll find the M Museum. The normal entrance fee is €12, but if you’re younger than 26 you only pay €5.

If you still have some time left after that, you can head back to the Naamsestraat to art center STUK. They offer movies, theatre, dance performances… but also expositions which are usually free.

[box style=”rounded”]Art and culture: €0 – €12[/box]

Belgian fries for dinner

Belgian fries

Time for dinner! There are lots of dinner options in Leuven, but I think you can never go wrong with real Belgian fries. You can find ‘frietkoten’ (‘fry cabins’) all over Leuven and a bag of fries with sauce and a drink will set you back about €5.

[box size=”large” style=”rounded”]Dinner: €5[/box]

Leuven’s nightlife… on the cheap

You’ve crossed the Old Market earlier this day and now it’s time to go back. If you really want to experience Leuven’s nightlife, this is the place to be. At night all the bars turn into dancing bars and the entrance is always free. Of course you can get as many drinks as you like, but if you decide to have none or just one, that’s fine as well. What you can always do when you get thirsty – and it isn’t unusual to do this over here – is go to a night shop for a cheap can and then head back to the dance floor.

City hall
City Hall

 

For those of you who want to keep it calm there are the Open Mic nights at music center Het Depot, across the street from the station. These Open Mic nights feature new musical talent and are free.

[box size=”large” style=”rounded”]Night out: €0 – €5 (depending on what you what to drink and where) [/box]

And there you have it: a full day in Leuven for under €25! Looking at the numbers you could even grab a coffee and a breakfast pastry when you arrive in the morning. Those won’t cost you more than €3 in total.

Would you add Leuven to your bucket list?

 

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Sofie is a Belgian language lover and travel aficionada who combines a full-time job with a freelance writing career and a never-ending wanderlust. She uses her weekends, vacation days and public holidays to travel the world and share her experiences with you on wonderfulwanderings.com. Be sure to follow her on TwitterFacebook and Google+.

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37 Comments

  • Great to see you writing hear Sofie.

    Leuven looks like a beautiful place and your point about businesses keeping prices down to suit students sounds like a real plus for travellers.

    I think this helps show the contrast in Belgium. When I went to Brussels many years ago I was scared off by what appeared to be really high prices. I left within hours and settled in Antwerp which I loved and found to be a lot more reasonable on price.

    • A fry cabin or a fries shack is some sort of cabin (it’s not in a brick house) where they sell fries and specific meat snacks that go perfectly with fries.

    • Haha, I wouldn’t exactly call Leuven the Belgian countryside, but all is relative of course:-)

      And yes, the Stella Artois brewery is in Leuven! You can even visit it.

  • HI Sofie, I have heart after you & I came here to say that I’m from India and I’m really exited to visit that historical place that I never visited ever on foreign tour so at least once wanted to know about the food, drink, alcohol and society in my entire life. I’ll follow your post when I’ll go there. thanks

    • It’s true that Belgium isn’t cheap, but I think it’s pretty okay in comparison with other European countries like France, Italy and the UK.

      Glad you liked my suggestions!

  • Hi,
    Nice article about Leuven, a beautiful city I visit almost every week. I’m just not too happy with the encouraging people to enjoy the nightlife in the bars of Leuven without having a drink there. Getting your can at a nightshop is not only way more expensive than enjoying a pintje(beer) at a bar but not really supportive of the local horeca. That part of the article is a big no-no for me, even when you’re on a budget. Plenty of bars that offer a pintje for a reasonable price!

    • Hey Kevin,

      Thanks for the comment!

      I totally agree with you on supporting the local businesses and you’re right that I should have probably mentioned that in the post.

      However, as this post focused on staying within a certain budget for a day in Leuven, I felt that I had to mention that it happens that people go to night shops instead of buying drinks at the place where they are.
      I don’t think this happens that much at the Oude Markt, where some places indeed still offer drinks at very reasonable prices, but when I go out at Club Montreal in the Naamsestraat, for example, I often see people go out to get a drink and come back in again a little later.
      Of course this is bad for business, but it does happen.

      About the price of drinks: you talk about pintjes and indeed, a regular beer is usually what’s cheapest in most bars and a soft drink will often even cost more than a basic pint. Of course it also depends on where you go: the Giraf isn’t the same as Rodin’s, for example.

      About only drinking one thing or not nothing in the dance cafes: I mentioned that because when traveling abroad I’ve experienced that there are places that oblige you to get a certain number of consumptions.
      If you read that part of the post again you’ll see that I didn’t say “you should only get one drink or none”. I didn’t mean to encourage it, I just meant that it’s fine if that’s what you decide to do, as in: it’s not obliged to get more.

      I myself never drink a lot when I go out, but that’s because I’m dancing all the time and I don’t find it practical to dance with a glass in my hands:-)

    • Hey Aubrey,

      I really like living in Leuven. Before I always wanted to live in a big city and although I think I’d still like to give that a go as well, Leuven is so convenient.
      There’ enough to do, it’s pretty centrally located in Belgium and it doesn’t take a long drive to get somewhere green and quiet.
      We’ve been missing a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit, but I’e noticed the past two years that that’s starting to grow as well.

  • Never to made it to Leuven when I was in Brussels, but it definitely intrigued me for the next time I visit. And it’s always great to know money saving tips for Europe!

  • @Raja: It’s not a question of diet, I’m just stuffed after fries so I wouldn’t be able to have dinner anymore after I’d had fries in the afternoon.
    I think:p

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