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Die Liebfrauenkathedrale in Antwerpen, Bild: Mistervlad / shutterstock

Antwerp – diamonds, fashion and culture

Cosmopolitan flair and maritime charm are the trademarks of Antwerp. The Belgian metropolis is equally cool and classic, hip and historic, trendy and traditional. The fjord-like Scheldt flows through the middle of the port city. The second largest seaport in Europe is located here. The city is of great importance worldwide due to the diamond trade.

Important artists such as Rubens have worked here. In 1993, Antwerp was the European Capital of Culture. Several UNESCO World Heritage Sites await you here, such as the Cathedral of Our Lady, the Maison Guiette and the Plantin-Moretus Printing Museum. Due to the diverse fashion, art and designer scene, the city is ideal for shopping. Antwerp is the perfect destination for all culture and fashion enthusiasts. Other highlights include the beach and the famous zoo.

Architecture and sights in Antwerp

Brabo Fountain on the Grote Mark
The Brabo Fountain on the Grote Markt, Image: Mistervlad / shutterstock

Antwerp impresses with its almost completely preserved old town and a variety of architectural highlights. In 15. and In the 16th century, Antwerp was one of the largest world and trade metropolises in Europe. In the historic town centre, you will find small winding alleys, the guild houses on the Grote Markt market square, the Brabo fountain and the historic town hall.

The Hendrik Conscienceplein with the Jesuit church of Sint-Carolus-Borromaeus is also worth a visit. One of the most striking points of the skyline is the tower of the Cathedral of Our Lady (Unesco World Heritage Site), the highest church tower in Belgium. From the roof of the MAS – Museum aan de Stroom, you can enjoy a fantastic view of the city from a height of 60 meters. The Boerentoren is considered the first Art Deco skyscraper in Europe. Another highlight is the Antwerp Zoo with the Egyptian Elephant House from 1856.

The city even has a beach to offer: Sint-Anneke on the left bank of the Scheldt. From the Kattendijkdok-Zuidkaai you can start the big harbour tour and watch the big ships from all over the world. In the Sint-Jacobskerk is the burial chapel of the Rubens family. Other interesting churches are: Sint-Andrieskerk, Sint-Pauluskerk and the Carolus Borromeuskerk. A worthwhile destination in the area is the Marnix Sainte Allegonde Castle, which is one of the oldest moated castles in Belgium.

Art and culture

Statue of Rubens, Antwerp
Statue of Rubens, Image: Bert Beckers / shutterstock

The Rubens House provides information about the life and work of the world-famous painter Peter Paul Rubens. The Royal Museums of Fine Arts present works from the Old Masters to contemporary artists in six solo exhibitions.

The MAS – Museum aan de Stroom impresses with its eye-catching architecture and shows a lot of interesting facts about the port and the history of Antwerp. Other interesting museums are the Diamond Museum, Royal Museum, Plantin-Moretus Museum, Middelheim Museum, Silver Museum in Sterckshof Castle, Maritime Museum Het Steen and the MoMu Fashion Museum. At the Zomer van Antwerpen cultural festival in July and August, you can celebrate the summer with cultural events in various places in the city.

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Shopping

Tip: The Antwerp City Card offers you free admission to numerous museums and sights during your city trip, as well as free travel on public transport.
Since the early 1980s, the avant-garde fashion collective Antwerpener Sechs has been turning the city into a first-class fashion mecca. Since then, new talents have continued to emerge from the fashion academy. In the fashion city of Antwerp, you are guaranteed to find what you are looking for when shopping.

Many internationally renowned designers have their own flagship stores here: including Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten, Christian Wijnants, A.F. Vandevorst. There are also numerous trendy boutiques, large fashion houses, small shops and innovative concept stores. Meir Street is the main shopping boulevard in Antwerp. Here you can shop in special buildings, such as the stately palace and the gilded city ballroom. In the Kloosterstraat there are many vintage shops, antique dealers and second-hand shops. The Schuttershofstraat is home to numerous shops of major brands: Jimmy Choo, Hermès, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Delvaux and many more. The revolutionary concept stores not only inspire fashionistas, but also bookworms, design fans and foodies, such as Moose in the city, The Recollection, Atelier Solarshop and Your.

Climate and best time to visit Antwerp

Antwerp, Port
The port of Antwerp, Image: mihaiulia / shutterstock

Antwerp has a mild, maritime climate. The best time to travel is from May to September. From autumn to spring, the weather is often unstable with lots of rain and occasional snow. Festivals and events in Antwerp take place mainly in the summer months.

Food and Drink

Antwerp also has a lot to offer in terms of cuisine. The palette ranges from delicious Belgian fries to excellent gourmet restaurants. You can also try the famous Belgian waffles and delicious beer. During a stroll through the city you can discover numerous cafés, restaurants and bars. Antwerp also has a varied nightlife. Every year in June, the Beer Passion Weekend takes place, where more than 200 types of beer and live music are presented.

Museums

Antwerp, a city with a rich history and culture, offers a variety of museums that explore art, history, and the diamond trade. Here are some of the most famous museums:

  • MAS (Museum aan de Stroom): An impressive museum that sheds light on the history of the city and its connections to the world. The building itself is an architectural highlight. Address: Hanzestedenplaats 1, 2000 Antwerp.
  • Rubenshuis: The former home and studio of the famous Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens. Today it is a museum that displays an important collection of his works. Address: Wapper 9-11, 2000 Antwerp.
  • Museum Mayer van den Bergh: A small but fine museum with an impressive collection of medieval and early modern art. Address: Lange Gasthuisstraat 19, 2000 Antwerp.
  • ModeMuseum (MoMu): The ModeMuseum presents changing exhibitions on Belgian and international fashion. Address: Nationalestraat 28, 2000 Antwerp.
  • Red Star Line Museum: A museum that tells the story of the Red Star Line and emigration to America. Address: Montevideostraat 3, 2000 Antwerp.
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Restaurants

Antwerp is known for its culinary diversity. Here are some of the best restaurants in town:

  • The Jane: An upscale restaurant in a converted chapel known for its creative cuisine and stunning atmosphere. Address: Paradeplein 1, 2018 Antwerp.
  • Graanmarkt 13: A stylish restaurant serving innovative and seasonal dishes. Address: Graanmarkt 13, 2000 Antwerp.
  • Het Pomphuis: An elegant restaurant in an old pump house overlooking the harbour. Address: Siberiastraat Z/N, 2030 Antwerp.
  • De Peerdestal: A traditional Belgian restaurant, known for its meat dishes and cozy atmosphere. Address: Pelgrimsstraat 3, 2000 Antwerp.
  • Chez Fred: A charming bistro that offers classic Belgian cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere. Address: Kasteelpleinstraat 71, 2000 Antwerp.

Well-known hotels

Antwerp offers a variety of accommodation options, from luxurious hotels to cozy boutique hotels:

  • Hotel Julien: A stylish boutique hotel in the heart of the city, known for its modern design and relaxed atmosphere. Address: Korte Nieuwstraat 24, 2000 Antwerp.
  • De Witte Lelie: A luxurious and charming hotel in a historic building that offers personal service and exquisite rooms. Address: Keizerstraat 16, 2000 Antwerp.
  • Hotel ‘t Sandt: An elegant hotel in a restored 16th century building, close to the historic centre. Address: Zand 13-19, 2000 Antwerp.
  • Hotel Rubens-Grote Markt: A comfortable hotel in the immediate vicinity of the Grote Markt, ideal for sightseeing in the city. Address: Oude Beurs 29, 2000 Antwerp.
  • Radisson Blu Astrid Hotel: A modern hotel right next to the main train station, ideal for business travellers and tourists. Address: Koningin Astridplein 7, 2018 Antwerp.

How to get there

Antwerp is well connected to the transport network and easily accessible:

  • Plane:
    • Antwerp International Airport (ANR): About 5 km from the city center, offers mainly regional and European connections.
    • Brussels Airport (BRU): The largest airport in Belgium, about 45 km from Antwerp. Regular train services take travelers to Antwerp in about 30 minutes.
  • Train:
    • Antwerpen-Centraal: One of the most beautiful train stations in Europe with connections to numerous national and international destinations. Direct trains run to Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris and other cities.
  • Car: Good road connections via the E19 (Brussels-Amsterdam) and E17 (Ghent-Antwerp) motorways.
  • Bus: Long-distance buses from FlixBus and Eurolines connect Antwerp with many European cities.