Specialty establishments with a touch of history

In the shopping streets of Leuven you will find a great mix of large shops and small boutiques, selling everything from trendy gear to respectable classics. New pop-ups take their place comfortably alongside the big names, and there are also a number of shops that have resolutely withstood the test of time. These shops have been a permanent fixture in Leuven’s shopping streets for more than 30 years. We would like to introduce you to some of these ‘Pearls of commerce’.

18 October 2023

From the fear of the millennium bug and the introduction of the euro, via the rise of social media and the banking crisis, to the corona crisis and rising inflation: establishments that have been around for more than 30 years have gone through a lot. The shops and restaurants in Leuven that have survived so long have adapted resiliently, without losing their individuality. All of them are local speciality establishments that continue to attract visitors with their unique offerings and they are more than worth a visit.


Topolino is a carnival and fancy dress shop that has occupied a permanent place on Parijsstraat since 1987. The shop is filled to the brim with fun outfits for young and old, and is also the right place to go for party supplies. A visit to Topolino is a real experience, even for those who don’t much like the carnival.

Topolino, Parijsstraat 15, 3000 Leuven


Fabric speciality shop Pauli was founded in 1957 by the Pauli brothers and has become a real classic in the Leuven shopping scene. Here you can find everything you need if you are handy with a needle and thread. But even if sewing is not your thing, the shop is still worth a visit: the shelves full of rolls of fabric create their own universe.

Pauli Stoffen, Mechelsestraat 14, 3000 Leuven


For music lovers, Sax is heaven on earth. This record shop has been a fixture in Parijsstraat since 1986. At Sax, there is an extensive choice of world music, folk, jazz and blues, as well as classical music. Looking for something specific? Owner Jos is happy to assist you while his dog observes the proceedings from his familiar spot.

Sax, Parijsstraat 31, 3000 Leuven

Besides these shops, there are also a number of restaurants and cafés that have been part of the landscape in Leuven for years.


Brasserie Gambrinus is the oldest establishment on this list, and the beautiful interior bears witness to this. Gambrinus has kept its place on the corner of the Grote Markt since 1896 and it still exudes the grandeur of yesteryear. Here you can eat, drink and also feast your eyes!

Brasserie Gambrinus, Grote Markt 13, 3000 Leuven

De Nachtuil

De Nachtuil has been a popular haven since 1982 for those who enjoy nightlife. Hungry when all the restaurants are already closed? You can enjoy a full meal prepared by Joost and his team until 1 a.m.

De Nachtuil, Krakenstraat 8, 3000 Leuven


Among the restaurants in Muntstraat you will find café Libertad. For more than 40 years, this popular café has bustled with activity every evening. Since its opening in 1981, good music and a cosy ambiance have been the main ingredients of the café’s success.

Café De Libertad, Muntstraat 28, 3000 Leuven

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