Antwerp, a city bursting from unique architecture, excellent tasting beer, and diamonds, among other great things the beautiful Flemish town has to offer.
Antwerp is just 30 minutes away by train from Belgium’s capital, Brussels, yet once you get there, you honestly feel like you are in an entirely different country. Besides the noticeable language difference, this Belgian city offers a wholly different atmosphere, architecture, food, and fashion.
I have spent quite a good amount of time in Antwerp as well as different cities in Belgium and Antwerp has ranked one of my favorite cities in Europe for various reasons.
I have compiled a list of the best things to do in Antwerp, based on my own experiences:
Antwerp Central Station:
If you come to Antwerp by train, the first thing you will notice is the beautiful and artistic architecture of the Central Station. It is a lovely work of art, and it is pointed to be one of the most beautiful train stations in the world, I endorse the fact.
Whether you visit the city by train or any other means of transportation, make sure to stop by the Central Station and be amazed by the beauty and the details of this piece of architecture.
The construction was completed in 1905; it comprises of three levels of tracks and a shopping center which includes a diamond gallery with more than thirty diamond shops.
Full of historic architecture and prestigious character, walking through this beautiful street feels like something extraordinary. Meir is the main shopping street in the
This street is full of restored old buildings, including an old palace which is now a chocolatier. It offers a great atmosphere, you will find great boutique stores like Chanel and Hermes and other big brands such as H&M and Uniqlo.
You can also visit Meir street for a pleasant walk, go people-watching, and hear live street performers, they are an important addition to the place’s atmosphere!
Museum Aan de Stroom or Museum by the River. MAS Museum has been an architectural icon in the area since its opening in 2011. This beautiful museum displays the history of Antwerp and provides visitors with a behind-the-scenes look at the museum’s collections.
But maybe you are not into museum exhibitions, no worries. Perhaps you would enjoy the idea of going up to a high building and having a 360-degree view of such a beautiful city such as Antwerp! The MAS Museum has a roof-top observation deck which offers an incredible panoramic view of Antwerp. Best of all? You don’t have to pay a dime to go up!
Grote Markt is the main square of the city located in the historical center of Antwerp. The square is surrounded by typical medieval houses and Antwerp’s City Hall.
Cafes and restaurants also surround the square. When visiting Grote Markt, I sincerely recommend you visit one of the cafe terraces in the area; it’s a great place to wind down, have a Belgian beer, and breath in on the charming atmosphere of this lovely square.
In the center of the square is the statue of the great Silvius Brabo, the story of Bravo is said to have been a Roman soldier who killed a giant who asked money from people who wanted to pass the bridge over the river Scheldt. When they didn’t want to or couldn’t pay, he cut off their hand and threw it in the river.
Indulge yourself in Belgian food (and beer):
If you are a foodie like me, you are going to love eating out in Antwerp! You are going to drop dead when you try those Belgian fries, waffles, beef stew, and of course their beer!
Belgium is famous for their great-tasting beer (Stella Artois anyone?). When in Antwerp, you have to try their very own De Koninck, it’s the beer of Antwerp, and they are very proud of it. Head over into any restaurant, pub, or café in the city center and enjoy a nice Antwerpen brew.
Cathedral of our Lady or Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal:
The Cathedral of our Lady is the tallest building in Antwerp and the most iconic in my opinion; it’s also the most prominent gothic structure in the Benelux region.
Inside you will find some beautiful paintings and the interior architecture is stunning! There is a €5 EUR entry for adults and kids 12 and under are given free admittance.
Visit the historic Antwerp Zoo:
The Antwerp Zoo is not just any zoo; it is one of the oldest and most renowned zoological parks in Europe.
It’s located right next to Central Station so it could be the last stop before you leave Antwerp if you are there for just a day. Before entering the zoo, there is an entrance garden where you can go and relax after a long day of sightseeing.
If you go only to the garden area which is before the main entry, there will be no fee to enter this area, and it is also a sweet spot to take some photos of the garden and the neighboring buildings such as the Antwerpen-Centraal railway station.
Entrance to Antwerp Zoo costs € 24,50 per adult, children 12-17 costs € 23,00, and kids under 3 are free.
Port of Antwerp:
The Port of Antwerp is the second biggest seaport in Europe, after Rotterdam. There are several trails throughout the area, with excellent views of the river and it is also a great spot to take some sweet looking pictures.
I really loved this area of the city, as it feels a bit quieter than the historic center and the vibe feels different as well. Buildings start to get a bit more modern around here, and it is a more open area.
I recommend renting a bike and riding through this area, the breeze plus the magnificent views of the Scheldt river, will make this one of the best biking rides you ever had.
Cross the river and explore the left bank
Linkeroever, as they call it, it’s the other part of the city across the Scheldt river. It’s absolutely worth exploring if you are looking to get away from the crowd and you will also notice a fantastic view of Antwerp’s skyline from the other side.
To get there, it’s quite an experience on itself, since you have to cross the Sint-Annatunnel tunnel which passes under the Scheldt river.
If you are not yet totally convinced of visiting the beautiful Flemish city of Antwerp!
Check out this pretty cool video I did for you all:
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