Things to do in Antwerp, Belgium

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    Grote Markt: The historic city center

    Photo courtesy of jan kranendonk/iStock

Get Your Bearings in Antwerp

By Dave Stamboulis
Antwerp Expert

Stay
Eat
See & Do
Party
Shop

Where to Stay

When it comes to accommodations in Antwerp, pretty much everything is central. Most hotels are concentrated between the Central Rail Station, the Diamond District and the Grote Markt central market area. Here you can find top hotels like the Reubens, Leopold and Radisson Blue Astrid Antwerp, all known for their excellent amenities, facilities and service.

Caution:

The area around the Central Station is not the most savory at night, so it's best to avoid at that time.

What to Eat

You have to sample the famed Belgian frites (fries) while in Antwerp, but don't forget to try some other things. The fries come with horsemeat, a Flemish specialty at De Peerdestal, and they also serve up some of the delicious mussels that Antwerp is noted for. The number of restaurants in Antwerp is staggering, and in addition to local cuisine, the city is also noted for its wide array of excellent international cuisine, from Thai to Lebanese to Vietnamese and more. De Keyserlei Street near the Central Station is a good place to hunt down ethnic spots.

Be Sure to Sample:

Frites (Belgian fries)

Things to See

From its baroque Central Rail Station to the old and well stocked zoo, you could spend ages wandering through all of the attractions in Antwerp. Most visitors will want to make time to visit the extensive museums that are in Antwerp, such as the Plantin Moretus Printing and Bookbinding Museum, the Provincial Diamond Museum, and the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten (National Fine Arts) which houses a huge collection of Flemish masters. Other attractions include the Grote Markt Market Square, the Vleeshuis meat market and an impressive number of old churches and cathedrals.

Take It or Leave It:

Most of central Antwerp is navigable and enjoyable to cover on foot, but you can also get prepaid cards to use the excellent and extensive tram and bus lines.

Places to Party

You will never be lacking for nightlife in Antwerp, as the city has the greatest per capita number of pubs in the world, many of which are open all night! At pubs like Kulminator (the oldest beer pub in the city), there are over 500 beers available. In the City Hall and Grot Markt (Market Square) center of the old town, you will find Den Engel, one of Antwerp's most famous cafés with great food, Belgian beers and people-watching around the Brabo Fountain.

Caution:

If driving or bicycling, make sure to lock everything up and down in Antwerp, it has a very high petty crime rate, meaning unsecured bikes (use a U lock) will be stolen as will anything left visible in a vehicle.

Where to Shop

Shopping in Antwerp is all about fashion. Some of Europe's top designers and fashions are here, and people even come from Brussels to purchase the latest creations. Along the Meir, Antwerp's most famous shopping street, you will find many boutiques and malls here and in nearby Kammenstraat and Hopland, where you can buy men's and women's lines from local celebrity designers Ann Demeulemeester and Dries Van Noten and others. Diamonds are also a big draw in Antwerp, as 80% of the world's unpolished diamonds are sold here, and in places like Diamondland you can buy straight from their workshop.

Best Local Souvenir:

Diamonds, designer clothing.

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