Jobbatical City Guides: Top Things to Do in Leuven, Belgium

by Maria June 21, 2017

Europe’s longest bar, the world’s best beer, and the ideal mix of nature, culture, history and shopping—welcome to Leuven! Your tour guides for the day will be our friends Karlijn and Pieter from team DataCamp.

The Fonske Fountain in Leuven’s Main Square

At Jobbatical, we love highlighting the coolest teams hiring in our favourite cities. Based in the historic Belgian university town of Leuven, DataCamp is an online data science school that teaches core R programming and data science skills. They’re hiring now, so we had to ask: Why should people want to move to Leuven?

Short answer: All good things come from Leuven: Justus Lipsius, Stella Artois, KU Leuven… and DataCamp!

For the longer answer, here’s team DataCamp’s breakdown of the best their home city has to offer:

If I only have 24 hours to spend in Leuven, what do I absolutely HAVE to do?

  • See the Fonske fountain (Fons Sapientiae — “the source of wisdom” in Fochplein/Rector de Somerplein).
  • Visit Groot Begijnhof and Klein Begijnhof, two beautiful historical areas of Leuven.
  • Also visit “the longest bar in Europe”—that’s the nickname of the Oude Markt, a square surrounded almost exclusively by bars. It’s very cosy and a must-see in Leuven.
  • It’s also very nice to just walk around because the beautiful historic buildings are spread across the city—as a relatively small city, Leuven is wonderfully walkable.

In Leuven, all roads lead to the Oude Markt

Someone new is coming to your city. What do you show them first?

The Heverlee forest

The best bars:

All bars in Oude Markt (Eclips has a happy hour from 11am 10pm when the beer is extra cheap!). Thursday is student night.

The best places nearby for a long weekend trip:

Brussels, Mechelen, Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges, Liège, Dinant… All cities in Belgium, really. Ghent gets a special mention for its proximity to Leuven, its extraordinarily beautiful city centre, and an abundance of relaxing spots next to the Leie river.

London, Amsterdam, and Paris (and other famous European cities) are also close by.

The fairy tale architecture of Ghent is just an hour away

The best events:

  • The Beleuvenissen summer music festival is a must-visit. Every Friday in July, almost every square in the city hosts free music performances. Walking from square to square is a very pleasant and relaxed event.
  • The Kerstmarkt (Christmas Market) has arguably retained more of its authentic charm than its more famous equivalents in Brussels or Antwerp.
  • The inauguration of the new academic year at the end of September is also worth a visit.

The best lunch spots close to work:

Team DataCamp mostly lunches together in the office, but nearby Kosmopol has a particularly good price/quality ratio. Other faves include Sakura and Frituur St. Maartensdal.

The best café to work from:


The hottest nightlife:

Mattiz, De Professor (for reasonably priced cocktails), and De Werf. As a rule, if you want to party in Leuven, you just go to the Oude Markt. It can be hard to predict which party will be good on any given night, but you can just go from bar to bar to catch the best action.

Must-have Belgian food and where to get it:

  • Belgian fries: Most Belgian cities have multiple places for fries and almost all of them are good. In Leuven, a team DataCamp favourite is Villa de Frit.

Moules-frites, a Belgian staple of mussels and fries.
  • Belgian beer: Every bar has a good selection of beers. The best and/or most popular ones include: Stella Artois, Witte van Hoegaarden, Duvel, La Chouffe, Tripel Karmeliet, Blauwe Chimay, Lupulus, Westvleteren (often cited as one of the world’s best beers).
  • Beef stew: Leuven’s best stew is served at De Werf, a restaurant aimed at students.
  • Other must-try foods include Belgian chocolate (of course), koninginnenhapje (chicken fricassee), and tomate crevette (prawn-filled tomatoes).

Now that you know you wouldn’t mind moving to Leuven, all you need to do is find a job there. Easy-peasy: DataCamp has a good handful of tech and design jobs waiting for you:

💙 if you love all things Leuven!

Massive thanks to Karlijn and Pieter for their time and invaluable advice!

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