Visiting De Kruidtuin Leuven: Belgium’s Oldest Botanical Garden

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).

stone fountain of face of satyr against a terracotta wall at leuven botanical garden

De Kruidtuin Leuven is the oldest botanical garden in Belgium

The Leuven Botanical Garden was founded in 1738. 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.

map of botanical garden leuven

Highlights of Leuven Botanical Garden, Belgium

Here’s what to expect during a visit to De Kruidtuin Leuven. 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.

sculpture of a women sitting on a chair in front of a greenhouse
still pond with reflections and statue

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.

reflection of weeping willow in pond

Watch the bees at work

At the far end of the garden, bees keep busy making their honey.

wooden bee hive

Fabulous flowers

There was no shortage of flowers during my visit in April, from stately tulips lined up like soldiers on parade to sweetly fragrant camellias.

a pink camellia at De Kruidtuin Leuven belgium
orange and yellow tulips

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).

pink cherry blossom against a blue sky

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.

greenhouse at leuven botanical garden with aquatic and hanging plants
greenhouse with ferns

This greenhouse complex at Leuven Botanical Garden covers an area of 450 square meters and showcases several tropical, sub-tropical and aquatic plants. During the warmer months of the year, it is the setting for contemporary art exhibitions

Plan Your Visit to Leuven Botanical Garden

leuven botanical garden 15

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.

The garden’s address is Kapijcijnenvoer 30 3000 Leuven. It is a 10-minute walk from Leuven’s Grote Markt. View it on Google Maps here.

Leuven is an easy day trip from Brussels. The journey by direct train takes 25 minutes.

yellow and white flowers

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.

Looking for another gorgeous garden in Belgium? Then visit the Japanese Garden of Hasselt, which is the largest of its kind in Europe. This under-the-radar city is also home to a museum dedicated to jenever, Belgium’s favourite tipple.

If you need more help planning your trip to Belgium, take a look at my guide to spending a day in Brussels or this Ghent self-guided walking tour. For something a little sweeter, check out my favourite chocolate in Bruges.

Happy travels!

bridget coleman the flashpacker 2

About Bridget

Bridget Coleman has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.

Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.

To get in touch, email her at hello@theflashpacker.net or follow her on social media.