After four years of studying Literature and Linguistics in Leuven, I moved to Antwerp to do an extra master in Cultural Management. I had this great little studio on the Paardenmarkt, just a five-minute walk to class and really close to lots of other cool places as well, like the Godefriduskaai, where the MAS (Museum by the Stream) opened in May 2011.
Now, the center of Antwerp isn’t that big. You can even cross it by bike. I had this third hand (that’s right) crappy bike without accelerations and with tires that always got flat, but it got me to where I needed to be. I didn’t always arrive that fresh as when I’d left my studio because of the hard pedal work I needed to do to move forward, but I got there.
Art, shopping and nightlife
That bike took me to ‘‘t Zuid’, the southern part of the city where you find the Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Antwerp, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Antwerp (MuKHA), party and salsa club Café Local and lots of great bars and restaurants.
Way too often it also took me to the Meir, Antwerp’s main mid range shopping street with chain stores like H&M, Zara, Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters. I gave into temptation a lot that year, stopping on the Meir when I just needed to cross it to go somewhere else or ‘just having a look’ in a couple of shops when I needed a break from writing papers.
Entirely deserved, Antwerp is known as a fashion city. It’s not often you see badly dressed people roaming the streets there. And with fashion comes… shopping! Antwerp is a true shopping paradise. There’s the already mentioned Meir, but you can also empty your wallet in the Nationalestraat with all its designer boutiques, the Kammenstraat with more alternative shops and ‘De Wilde Zee’ (‘The Wild Sea’), a collection of small streets with a wide variety of stores.
Ready for a night out? In the evenings there’s always a show to catch somewhere. Antwerp is home to lots – and I do mean lots – of entertainment venues like the Bourla, the City Theater, the Arenberg Theater, and music center Trix. Wether you’re into theater, music, or dance, you’ll always find something to your liking. Oh and too important not to mention: Art Centre deSingel, just outside the city center.
Best time to go?
Probably the best time to visit Antwerp is in summer. During summer vacation the festival Summer of Antwerp takes place. Those two months theater groups, musicians and other artists take over and perform in the streets, on squares and in parks. There’s even a beach along side the Schelde (Scheldt)! The Summer of Antwerp is not only about passive participation, though. Visitors also get the chance to take dance classes and theater workshops. They can read a book in the Summer Library or got to one of the many parties. And best of all: most of the events are for free!
Where to stay in Antwerp
Check Booking.com for an extensive list of options for all budgets and needs.
If you’re looking for an apartment rather than a hotel, I recommend checking airbnb. Sign up through my link and get a discount on your first stay!
Get a free walking itinerary through Antwerp
I’ve put together a complete walk through Antwerp, including sights, activities and delicious spots to take a break at. And it’s all yours!
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The Red Star Line Museum, memories of Europen migration
Brilliant bagels at Barnini
The PhotoMuseum Antwerp
Vintage coffee at Cafématic
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