Leuven and Mechelen

TRAIN:
Bruxelles-Midi (Brussels) to Leuven
Travel Time: 30 minutes
Total: €5,50

Leuven is a Flemish university town not too far outside of Brussels. After receiving extremely precise directions from a kind man who saw me wandering around lost, I reached the University Library and Bell Tower of Leuven. I climbed all the way to the top and was rewarded with a great view of Leuven.

TIP #1:
Library Bell Tower Entrance Fee: €7
300 steps

university
UNIVERSITY LIBRARY AND BELL TOWER
leuven
VIEW FROM THE TOP OF THE BELL TOWER

It’s a really quaint town that I think should be a pit stop on everyone’s list! It only took roughly 2-3 hours to explore the town and get my fill. The Stadhuis Leuven (City Hall), located in the Grote Markt (Grand Square) is also a very impressive Gothic structure with very intricate detailing. Can you imagine tying the knot at a place like this? I had heard the halls and terraces were amazing so the tour is definitely worth it!

TIP #2:
City Hall Guided Tour: €4
Town Hall Cellar Entrance Fee: Free

city-hall
CITY HALL
close-up
CLOSE-UP OF CITY HALL

TRAIN:
Leuven to Mechelen
Travel Time: 30 minutes
Total: €4,50

Mechelen, on the other hand, is a vibrant town that doesn’t draw the tourism that many other Belgium cities do, so I found it to be a perfect place to visit in Belgium. A Flemish city like Leuven, there is a lot to do in this Flanders locale. I only stayed for a few hours so I didn’t get a chance to explore as much as I wanted to. I wanted to squeeze in Mons on the same day and to be honest, I should have skipped Mons to spend a little more time in Mechelen. Ijzerenleen (city center) almost looks like a medieval town and it was really cool since the castle-like flags.

mechelen
STREETS OF MECHELEN

I went to climb the Belfry Tower at Sint-Romboutskathedraal (St. Rumbold’s Cathedral) to see the city view. Entrance to the Cathedral is free but you do need to purchase a ticket to climb up the tower, which is a little over 500 steps. Final entrance to the tower is at 16:30.

TIP #3:
Belfry Tower Entrance Fee: €7

To eat classic Flemish or Belgian cuisine, the best place to find a restaurant is at the Grote Markt, which is a large market area. However, Vismarkt is probably the most dynamic area in the city and has a younger, trendier crowd. It is a great alternative to the more classic Grote Markt. There are pretty awesome hole-in-the-wall pubs, stylish lounge bars and trendy restaurants in the area. I think spending half a day in Mechelen is more than sufficient and it has so many cozy cafes and shops to browse and eat through.

mechelen-2
MECHELEN

OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS FOR MECHELEN:

  • Dijlepad is a nice walkway by the River Dijle where you can see characteristic points of Mechelen
  • Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-over-de-Dijlekerk is a great example of a Gothic cathedral

TRAIN:
Mechelen to Bruxelles-Midi (Brussels)
Travel Time: 30 minutes
Total: €4,50

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