Antwerp Clock Tower
Clock tower close-up (Photo credit: Viola)

Antwerp Travel Guide

QUICK FACTS

  • Largest municipality in both Flanders and Belgium, with a population of ~500,000.
  • Located on the Eastern bank of river Scheldt, linked to the North Sea.
  • The city’s rich history attracts a lot of artists, intellectuals, writers, tourists – anyone interested in exploring the unique Flemish culture.
  • Nicknames: the inhabitants of Antwerp are nicknamed Sinjoren.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

  • Currency: Euro (EUR).
  • Spoken languages: Flemish (Belgian Dutch) is the official language. French is also widely spoken.
  • Best time to visit: May to September.
  • Getting there: the airport is 7 km away from the city center. Bus line 14 is the connection between Antwerp Airport and the Central Station. A taxi will cost around EUR 20.00 to the Antwerp city center (approximately a 15 minute ride).

WHERE TO STAY

Anywhere in the old town, around Central station, diamond district or the Grote Markt would be a good choice. Hotel Postiljon, situated just opposite the Cathedral, is a great budget option (conveniently located in the heart of the old town).

GETTING AROUND

  • Antwerp is a small metropolis and can be easily navigated on foot. The historical center is a pedestrian zone.
  • Trams operated by the Flemish region’s De Lijn are the most popular mode of transport. Buses and metro can also be used. A single ticket costs EUR 1.50. A day pass is available for EUR 6.00, while a 3-day pass is available at EUR 12.00.
  • Taxis can be booked by calling +32 3 238 38 38, +32 3 366 66 66, +32 3 231 61 42, +32 3 828 25 25. Taxis are efficient and affordable in Antwerp – look for licensed taxis (with a red sign).

ANTWERP NIGHTLIFE

  • Drinking age is 16, last call is 2.00 AM.
  • Hip/local scene: The bars and cafes in the small and interesting old town.
  • Trendy scene: The city’s nightlife revolves around the cafes and pubs just around the Cathedral area in the Old Town. Den Engel is one of Antwerp’s most famous cafes.
  • College crowd: Café Capital located in Stadspark, Café d’Anvers in Verversrui, and Club Zappa in August Leyweg are great clubbing options for young electro music lovers.

UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT

  • Cathedral of our lady – this is the historical heart of Antwerp. The Cathedral is one of the most impressive Gothic cathedrals of Northern Europe, and houses some of the greatest paintings of the Flemish painter Sir Peter Paul Rubens.
  • Rubenhuis is the former home of Rubens, now a museum showcasing the famous painter’s life and work. There is an entrance fee of EUR 6.00.
  • The Antwerp Zoo. Located next to the Antwerpen-Centraal station, this is the oldest and one of the best known zoos in Europe.
  • Centraal Station. Constructed between 1895 and 1905, this is regarded as the finest example of railway architecture in Belgium. Both the exterior and interior are brilliantly designed in the traditional baroque style. 
  • Stadhuis  this Gothic and early Renaissance style town hall is one of the most recognized buildings in Antwerp. Tours to the town hall can be arranged at the tourist office. The town hall is located in the historic center of the city.
  • Diamond Museum. Antwerp is known all around the world for its diamonds – 70 percent of the world trade in diamonds takes place in this Flemish city. A visit to the diamond museum in Antwerp is a must for anyone fascinated by this precious stone. 
  • Het Steen, a small medieval fortress built on the bank of the river Scheldt. Dating back to the year 645, the castle underwent reconstruction in 1520 (under Charles V). At one time a prison, it now houses the National Maritime Museum.

INTERESTING WALKS

  • Stroll around the historic center of Antwerp, starting from the Cathedral. Take in the lively Flemish culture of this charming historical city. The old town square has a delightful mix of historical architecture, building, bistros, chocolate boutiques, and designer shops.
  • Stroll around Meirstraat in the older part of the town – the area is bordered by brilliant baroque style buildings (and some very classy stores).
  • Explore the street South of Meir – you will find high-end boutiques set inside 16th and 17th century buildings.
  • Go for a walk to the train station and the block on either side of De Keyserlei (right by the train station). The area is lined with diamond shops!

LOCAL WISDOM

  • Antwerp is a relaxed multicultural city with warm and welcoming Flemish locals. Though Dutch is the local language, one can easily navigate around the town with just English.
  • Belgium chocolate is world famous – don’t forget to sample and bring some home! The local chocolate Antwerpse handjes (“Little hands from Antwerp”) is a traditional specialty of the city. Chocolates can be sampled at most locations.
  • Where to find good cheap eats: the fritokens in the city sell classic Belgian fries. The moules-frites and waffles can make a nice cheap Belgium lunch. The restaurants in Groete Markt are quite affordable for traditional Flemish food and beer. There are also several bistros, pubs and restaurants in the old town square which offer a variety of traditional Flemish food. A meal there will cost around EUR 20.00-25.00, inclusive of drinks.
  • Dangerous areas: while Antwerp is a generally calm city, areas best avoided at night include Coninckplein, the streets leading to it from it from the central station, the station itself, as well as any parks.

RECOMMENDED ANTWERP GUIDE BOOKS

Recommended trip duration: 1-2 days


SEE ALSO:
Antwerp Travel Guide was last modified: September 28th, 2016 by Nick
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