With its magnificent Stadhuis and UNESCO-listed library, the lovely Belgian city of Leuven is a perfect day trip from Brussels. But did you know that it has a wonderful botanical garden on the outskirts of town?
Discover why it’s worth taking the time to stroll through the Leuven Botanical Garden (De Kruidtuin Leuven in Dutch).
A Brief History of De Kruidtuin Leuven
Founded in 1738, the Leuven Botanical Garden, or Hortus Botanicus Lovaniensis, is the oldest of its kind in Belgium. It started life as a collection of herbs for students of medicine at the University of Leuven before ownership was transferred to the city of Leuven in 1835. The literal translation of kruidtuin is “herb garden.”
Today’s garden covers an area of over two hectares and its inventory has expanded to include a wide variety of trees, plants, flowers and shrubs.
Visiting Leuven Botanical Garden, Belgium
Let’s take a look at what to expect during a visit to De Kruidtuin Leuven with some words and images. Just add the scent of blossom and birdsong.
Take your time to explore this peaceful oasis. There are lots of nooks and crannies that are easy to miss.
The sunken garden and pond
When you enter, make your way past the sculpture of a lady having a rest on a chair outside the Orangery to the sunken garden and pond at the rear of the garden.
One of the wonderful things about this garden is that there are lots of benches on which to soak up your surroundings. I loved the reflection of this graceful willow tree in the still water of the pond.
Watch the bees at work
At the far end of the garden, bees keep busy making their honey.
There was no shortage of flowers during my visit in April, from stately tulips lined up like soldiers on parade to sweetly fragrant camellias.
Sadly, I was a little too early for the wisteria that blooms on the wall of the Orangery (expect this to burst into life at the end of April / early May).
But I timed it just right for the cherry blossoms (these are usually in full flush in the first half of April).
If you visit in early Spring, expect to be greeted by the nodding heads of daffodils framing the garden’s lawns.
Leuven Botanical Garden’s greenhouse complex
As its name suggests, the Neoclassical Orangery was originally where the garden’s orange trees were nurtured. Today, it’s home to the more delicate plants in the winter months.
This greenhouse complex at Leuven Botanical Garden covers an area of 450 square meters and showcases a number of tropical, sub-tropical and aquatic plants. During the warmer months of the year, it is the setting for contemporary art exhibitions
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Plan Your Visit to Leuven Botanical Garden
Kapijcijnenvoer 30 3000 Leuven. View on Google Maps here.
Leuven is an easy day trip if you are staying in Brussels. The journey by direct train takes 25 minutes.
The Botanical Garden is a 10-minute walk from Leuven’s Grote Markt.
The Botanical Garden of Leuven is open from 8 am until 8 pm from May to (Sundays from 9 am). From October to April its opening hours are 8 am to 6 pm (Sundays from 9 am).
It is free to visit Leuven’s Botanical Garden. There is no need to book ahead.
Apart from assistance and therapy dogs, dogs are not allowed into the botanical garden.
Why You Should Visit the Botanical Garden in Leuven
Travel can be hard work at times. Flitting from sight to sight, trying to cram as much into your day as possible.
It is easy to forget to take time out, and where better to do this than in a beautiful garden? It’s a worthy addition to your Belgium itinerary.
If you are looking for another gorgeous garden in Belgium, visit the Japanese Garden of Hasselt, which is the largest of its kind in Europe.