Mechelen is a historic city located in the center of Flanders, one of the three regions in Belgium. It lies about halfway between the major port city of Antwerp and Brussels, the capital of Belgium. Mechelen was briefly the capital of Low Countries (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxemburg) under Margaret of Austria from 1506 to 1530. In 1559, it became an archbishopric, demonstrating its importance at the time. Mechelen was also well-known for its wood carvings, lace making, and tapestry production during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Today, Mechelen combines trendy, modern elements with traditional Flemish architecture and sights. Mechelen has become a center for non-profit and non-governmental organizations in Flanders. Mechelen is very accessible, located on the railway line between Antwerp and Brussels and close to the E19 highway.
Mechelen hosts historic churches like St. Rumbold's Cathedral, numerous of museums, concerts, events, cafés and restaurants.
Listed below are the best places in Mechelen for breakfast, brunch or drinks.
- Sister Bean. Sister Bean is a popular local coffee shop, breakfast and lunch spot in Mechelen, Belgium known for its specialty coffee drinks, unique chocolate milkshakes, fluffy pancakes, farm-fresh eggs, and cozy, welcoming interior that promotes lingering over high quality coffee options.
- Kafee Zapoi. Kafee Zapoi is a cozy neighborhood bar in Mechelen, Belgium with a warm, inviting atmosphere, great selection of local Belgian beers on tap, full bar including cocktails, and limited comfort food menu that perfectly complements the drinks. The vintage, woody interior gives it a classic Belgian “brown cafe” vibe.
- Melbourne Coffee. Melbourne Coffee is a coffee shop chain with a location inside the Mechelen, Belgium train station that serves specialty coffee drinks, tea, juice, smoothies and an extensive food menu including croissants, salads, and poke bowls. It has great coffee, friendly staff, and a convenient, cozy atmosphere.
- Café Gourmand. Café Gourmand is a restaurant in Mechelen known for perfectly cooked biscuits, excellent rum, great coffee including the best cappuccino in Mechelen, and a nice atmosphere with well-trained, hardworking, wonderful staff. Locals call it the best coffee spot in Mechelen.
- Den Stillen Genieter. Den Stillen Genieter is a historic beer café in Mechelen with an extensive selection of over 300 Belgian beers, emphasizing local Mechelse brews and rare Trappist ales. Beer enthusiasts appreciate the relaxed, friendly setting to discover new brews along the Dijle River.
- Mimi. Mimi is a charming coffee shop in Mechelen Kruidtuin Botanical Gardens serving specialty coffee drinks, teas, lemonades and baked goods in a peaceful, verdant setting. It provides a welcoming respite during explorations of Mechelen.
- De Floeren Aap. De Floeren Aap is a cozy cafe and live music venue behind St. Rombouts Cathedral in Mechelen, with a great selection of Belgian craft and Trappist beers and enjoyable live music performances in a comfortable atmosphere.
- Yam Mie Yam Barista Latina. Yam Mie Yam Barista Latina is a cafe, bar and restaurant in Mechelen with a passion for Latin American cuisine, serving empanadas, ceviche, pupusas and more made fresh by the chef. It has a cozy, rustic vibe with exposed brick and outdoor seating.
- Café Het Maanlicht. Café Het Maanlicht is a cozy retro-style café near the Grote Markt in Mechelen serving specialty local coffee and beers that can be enjoyed while taking in views of the iconic St. Rumbold's Tower.
- Bakkerij 2800. Bakkerij 2800 is a beloved bakery and cafe in central Mechelen offering scrumptious breads, pastries, sandwiches and organic coffee drinks in a welcoming atmosphere. It's known for quality breakfasts and lunches using fresh, local ingredients.
- 1. Sister Bean
- 2. Kafee Zapoi
- 3. Melbourne Coffee
- 4. Café Gourmand
- 5. Den Stillen Genieter
- 6. Mimi
- 7. De Floeren Aap
- 8. Yam Mie Yam Barista Latina
- 9. Café Het Maanlicht
- 10. Bakkerij 2800
1. Sister Bean
Sister Bean is a popular coffee shop, breakfast and lunch spot located right in the heart of Mechelen, Belgium at Vismarkt 26, 2800 Mechelen. Sister Bean cafe prepares specialty coffee beverages including lattes enhanced with flavors like caramel, hazelnut and white chocolate. Unique chocolate milk mixes are also handcrafted on-site. Sister Bean's cozy, welcoming interior promotes lingering over the cafe's high quality coffee options.
The breakfast menu boasts items like fluffy pancakes, farm-fresh eggs and Greek yogurt parfaits prepared with homemade granola. For lunch, choices include soups like organic tomato basil bisque alongside build-your-own salad bowls with ingredients sourced from neighborhood farms. Hearty sandwiches made with locally baked bread are available as well.
Sister Bean has developed into a favored local gathering place. Sister Bean on TripAdvisor consistently applaud the friendly service, comfortable ambiance and tasty food. Sister Bean is rated 4.1 out of 5 rating based on 527 reviews on Google Maps. The cafe comes highly recommended for the delicious coffee drinks, homemade breakfast and lunch dishes and charming atmosphere.
Visitors suggest visiting Sister Bean to enjoy the laid-back vibe and locally-sourced menu. The cafe's peaceful outdoor seating permits leisurely sipping specialty lattes.
Find additional information on Sister Bean's TripAdvisor page.
2. Kafee Zapoi
Kafee Zapoi is a cozy neighborhood bar located in the heart of Mechelen, Belgium. With its warm, inviting atmosphere, great selection of drinks and friendly service, this cafe has become a favorite local hangout spot. Kafee Zapoi can be found at Onze-Lieve-Vrouwestraat 117, 2800 Mechelen, Belgium.
Kafee Zapoi shines in its beer selection. Visitors enjoy a range of excellent local Belgian beers on tap, including the Maneblusser blond ale which is easy-drinking and perfect for warm days. People who prefer something stronger, the bar serves the higher alcohol Gouden Carolus Tripel at 9.5%. Beyond beer, Kafee Zapoi offers a full bar with cocktails, wine and coffee drinks. The bartenders can whip up custom cocktails or serve Belgian classics like the Monk's Elixir with Belgium's famous Trappist Rochefort beer. Coffee drinks highlight local roasts and provide a nice daytime option.
The food menu at Kafee Zapoi is limited and offers some affordable meals around €13 and high quality ingredients. Customers say the dishes perfectly complement the bar's selection of beer and cocktails. Meals range from burgers to meatballs to grilled sandwiches. Despite the compact menu, reviewers describe the food as well-executed comfort fare. In terms of ambiance, Kafee Zapoi nails the classic Belgian “brown cafe” vibe. The warm, woody interior with vintage elements gives the space a cosy, lived-in feel. Patrons relax at the bar or spread out at benches and tables across two floors. Live music events spice things up with local talent. The friendly, welcoming staff enhance the casual neighborhood bar atmosphere. Many visitors comment on the great “cosy” vibe.
Find additional information on Kafee Zapoi's TripAdvisor page.
3. Melbourne Coffee
Melbourne Coffee is an Australian-based coffee shop chain that has expanded to open locations in Belgium as well. One of their coffee bars is situated at Koning Albertplein, Station 2 in Mechelen, Belgium. This Melbourne Coffee outlet is conveniently located inside the Mechelen train station between platforms 8 and 9.
Melbourne Coffee Mechelen serves specialty coffee drinks like rich cappuccinos topped with artful foam designs, spiced chai lattes, and refreshing iced lattes. Customers can also enjoy hot chocolate, fresh mint tea, juice, and smoothies. The coffee bar has an extensive food menu that includes breakfast items like croissants and yoghurts, as well as lunch choices such as salads and poke bowls. Sweet snacks like brownies, carrot cake, and chocolate bread are available too. Melbourne Coffee sells coffee beans, reusable cups, and takeaway food and drink items.
On Google Maps, Melbourne Coffee in Mechelen, Belgium currently holds a high rating of 4.7 out of 5 from 62 reviews. Visitors mention the “very good coffee”, “friendly staff,” “cosy atmosphere,” and “good service” at this coffee bar. The location, inside the Mechelen train station, is considered convenient and also draws positive remarks. One customer says Melbourne Coffee serves “excellent coffee that you would never expect to find in a train station”.
Find additional information on Melbourne Coffee's TripAdvisor page.
4. Café Gourmand
Café Gourmand is a restaurant located at Keizerstraat 21, 2800 Mechelen, Belgium. The café is popular for serving perfectly cooked biscuits and excellent rum. The menu offers great coffee as well. The specialty drinks at Café Gourmand seem to include rum and coffee. Visitors recommended trying the rum collection, where another visitor highlighted the “best coffee and certainly the best cappuccino in Mechelen” served at Café Gourmand. The menu at Café Gourmand offers dishes like biscuits and coffee. Café Gourmand has a Google rating of 4.9 out of 5, according to 35 of the reviews on Google Maps. People describe Café Gourmand as a “great bar” with a nice atmosphere. The “well-trained staff” is highlighted for “working hard” and being “wonderful.” Locals call it it the best coffee in Mechelen and a great place to visit after a long work week.
Find additional information on Café Gourmand's TripAdvisor page.
5. Den Stillen Genieter
Den Stillen Genieter is a historic beer café located at 21 Korenmarkt, 2800 Mechelen. Den Stillen Genieter is an charming place is known for its extensive selection of over 300 Belgian beers and lagers, including rare and exclusive varieties. The specialty drinks at Den Stillen Genieter are the numerous Belgian beers, with a particular emphasis on local Mechelse brews and hard-to-find Trappist ales.
Visitors can choose from a wide-ranging draft and bottled beer menu organized neatly by style, brewery, ABV percentage, and other categories. Beer enthusiasts will appreciate the cafe's attention to detail in curating an impressive list of Belgian beer. Discover new brews to try in a relaxed, friendly setting along the picturesque Dijle River. Den Stillen Genieter offers pleasant views of the river just beyond its outdoor seating area.
The interior of Den Stillen Genieter is warm and welcoming and the prices are reasonable, given the premium beer selections available. The owner receives consistent praise for his knowledge and hospitality. Travelers appreciate the relaxing, nostalgic atmosphere, ideal for savoring Belgian beers.
Den Stillen Genieter has a rating of 4.8 out of 5 on Google Maps, with travelers calling it a top destination for beer lovers.
Find additional information on Den Stillen Genieter's TripAdvisor page.
Mimi is a charming little coffee shop tucked away in Mechelen Kruidtuin Botanical Gardens, at Bruul 131, 2800 Mechelen, Belgium. Mimi is the perfect spot to stop for a quick coffee and pastry, or to unwind for a bit in the midst of exploring Mechelen.
Mimi serves a selection of specialty coffee drinks, loose leaf teas, refreshing homemade lemonades and baked treats, with a purpose to provide customers with “hugs in a cup” through its warm and welcoming atmosphere. The friendly owner, Stephanie, greets every guest with a smile, and visitors consistently remark on Mimi's excellent coffee, first-rate service, and ability to brighten your day.
The Mimi Cafe is small in size, its location adjacent to the scenic Mechelen Kruidtuin, which allows customers to enjoy a peaceful verdant view along with their beverages. Mimi's charming arches make an ideal setting for slowing down and savoring the moment, by either sipping an iced latte on a sunny day with the gardens in sight, or cradling a steamy cinnamon dolce latte as fallen leaves swirl past in the autumn breeze.
Mimi offers classic coffeehouse drinks like espressos, cappuccinos, and caffe lattes. The menu also features specialty options like vanilla and caramel lattes, Spanish lattes with condensed milk, and salted caramel and honey-cinnamon flavored coffees. Tea enthusiasts can select from a range of black, green, and herbal teas, while those seeking something cool and fruity can opt for Mimi's homemade lemonades in flavors like lemon-ginger and strawberry-basil. The bakery case of Mimi offers freshly baked treats including muffins, scones, cinnamon rolls, cookies, and more, to satisfy sugar cravings.
Mimi is rated with a smashing 4.8 out of 5 rating on Google Maps and multiple enthusiastic visitors praise Mini's amazing coffee, extremely friendly service, and Mimi's ability to brighten your day.
Whether you're a coffee aficionado or just in need of a sunny respite during your explorations of historic Mechelen, Mimi is certainly worth adding to your itinerary. Stop by this charming cafe for your own “hug in a cup” and see what the buzz is about.
7. De Floeren Aap
De Floeren Aap is a cozy cafe and live music venue situated behind the St. Rombouts Cathedral in Mechelen. De Floeren Aap is found at Nieuwwerk 7, 2800 Mechelen, and boasts a view of the courtyard behind the historic cathedral.
De Floeren Aap serves an extensive selection of Belgian beers and their specialty drinks include the craft beers and Trappist beers from Belgium. The menu features mostly draft beers, lambics and sour beers, American craft beers, and non-alcoholic options.
The cafe has a rating 4.5 out of 5 on Google Maps and visitors mention the great beer selection and enjoyable live music performances in the cozy atmosphere. De Floeren Aap offers a nice selection of beers and live entertainment in a comfortable setting behind St. Rombouts Cathedral. Travelers also note that it's a wonderful spot for live music and appreciates the quality Belgian beers on tap.
Find additional information on De Floeren Aap's TripAdvisor page.
8. Yam Mie Yam Barista Latina
Yam Mie Yam Barista Latina is a cafe, bar and restaurant located in the heart of Mechelen, with a passion for Latin American cuisine. Yam Mie Yam brings the flavors of South America to the streets of Mechelen, a Flemish city in Belgium. The eatery can be found at Veemarkt 13-15, 2800 Mechelen, Belgium.
Visitors to Yam Mie Yam Barista Latina should try a variety of Latin inspired dishes, with the chef preparing fresh homemade meals like empanadas, ceviche, and pupusas, as well as weekly specials putting seasonal produce into the spotlight. In addition to the Latin fare, the cafe also serves up classic bar food like fries, croques monsieurs, and pastas.
Yam Mie Yam Barista Latina also offers a range of specialty cocktails, beers, and wines. The cozy and rustic interior provides a comfortable place to enjoy the cuisine. The walls are decorated with exposed brick, dark wood furnishing, and dim lighting, the vibe is relaxed yet lively. The outdoor terrace expands the seating during warmer months.
On Google Maps, the restaurant holds an impressive 4.6 out of 5 star rating based on 134 reviews. Many visitors highlight the quality and skill put into the food, saying the chef caters well to different tastes and dietary needs.
9. Café Het Maanlicht
Café Het Maanlicht is a cozy retro-style café located in Frederik de Merodestraat 59, 2800 Mechelen, conveniently placed near the Grote Markt and the historic St. Rumbold's Tower in the heart of Mechelen. Two of the specialty drinks served at Café Het Maanlicht are the ‘kaffe van de beus', a local specialty Mechelen coffee that is carefully brewed by hand, and the highly regarded Gouden Carolus Single Malt beer from the acclaimed Anker brewery in Mechelen. Visitors enjoy these specialty drinks in the warm, retro ambiance while listening to a range of music genres.
The location of Café Het Maanlicht allows visitors to take in views of the iconic St. Rumbold's Tower, one of Mechelen's most famous landmarks. The tower was constructed in the 13th century and stands proud near the café at over 97 meters tall. It is visible from the windows and outdoor seating area of the café. The menu at Café Het Maanlicht consists of a small selection of snacks and finger foods, with the specific offerings changing based on availability. Some food of the menu include sandwiches, soups, cheeses, and sweets. The focus is on providing high quality pairings for their wide range of specialty beers and other drinks. Café Het Maanlicht is rated 4.6 out of 5 on Google Maps from 174 visitors.
Find additional information on Café Het Maanlicht's TripAdvisor page.
10. Bakkerij 2800
Bakkerij 2800 is a beloved bakery and cafe located right in the heart of Mechelen's historic city center on Sint-Katelijnestraat. Bakkerij 2800, Serving the locals since 1998, has become a staple in the community for its scrumptious breads, pastries, sandwiches, and beverages using high quality and often organic ingredients.
Visitors rave about starting their day off with one of Bakkerij 2800's hearty yet refined breakfast options. Choices range from spiegelei to roerei, with extras like charcuterie, veggies, and cheeses to craft the perfect morning sandwich. Their omelettes impress as well, stuffed with options like salmon, tomato, mushrooms – the works. All breakfast items are served with a side salad, olives, and spreadable cheese.
For those popping in a bit later in the day, an array of salads, sandwiches, wraps, quiches, and snacks make for quick and tasty lunches and in-between bites. Bakkerij 2800 offers both classic and more unique takes on traditional recipes, like their popular chicken curry or martino sandwiches served on freshly baked bread. Vegan and vegetarian options are plentiful as well.
Bakkerij 2800 is known for its homemade pastries and cakes in flavors from chocolate to fruit to javanais and miserable. Custom cakes can also be ordered. Locals praise the coffee cakes or koffiekoeken as excellent pairings with the bakery's organic fair trade coffee drinks. In addition to coffee, Bakkerij 2800 whips up refreshing options like iced coffees, milkshakes, freshly squeezed orange juices often accented with fruits like mango and strawberry, and even virgin mojitos to quench your thirst. Special pancake meals are available for the kids who visit the shop.
With an average Google rating of 4.5 stars based on 176 reviews, it's easy to see why residents and tourists alike make Bakkerij 2800 a must-visit cafe when in Mechelen. The welcoming staff, quality ingredients, cozy atmosphere, and delicious offerings keep guests coming back again and again. Multiple reviewers call out Bakkerij 2800's pistolets and paninis as some of the best they've tried. With options for all tastes and friendly service, Bakkerij 2800 is an authentic local favorite worth experiencing when visiting charming Mechelen.
What are the best restaurants to eat in Mechelen?
Listed below are the best restaurants to eat in Mechelen.
- Numerus Clausus. Numerus Clausus is a charming restaurant located in the heart of Mechelen, a city rich in history and culture. Known for its cosy and welcoming atmosphere, the establishment provides an inviting backdrop for both lunch and dinner. Upon entering, one is greeted by tasteful decor that strikes a balance between traditional Belgian influences and modern design elements. When it comes to the culinary offerings, Numerus Clausus excels in delivering traditional Belgian cuisine, albeit with a contemporary twist. The menu is a carefully curated selection of dishes that pay homage to local ingredients and culinary traditions. Whether one opts for a hearty stew or a lighter salad, the emphasis is on flavour and quality. The restaurant frequently updates its offerings to reflect seasonal ingredients, ensuring that diners always have something new and exciting to try. Service at Numerus Clausus is attentive without being intrusive, adding to the overall dining experience. The staff are well-versed in the nuances of the menu, often offering insightful recommendations tailored to individual preferences. This makes the restaurant particularly accessible for those unfamiliar with Belgian cuisine. Reservations are generally advised, especially for dinner and during weekends. The restaurant's popularity among locals and tourists alike means that tables are often booked well in advance. Therefore, planning ahead is recommended to secure a spot at this beloved Mechelen establishment. Numerus Clausus offers a delightful dining experience, catering to a variety of palates. Whether one is looking for a leisurely lunch or a sumptuous dinner, this restaurant is a standout choice. However, due to its popularity, making a reservation is considered prudent to ensure availability.
- Centpourcent. Centpourcent is a Michelin-starred restaurant located on the scenic outskirts of Mechelen, offering an unparalleled dining experience that combines culinary artistry with impeccable service. The establishment exudes a sense of sophistication, evident from the moment one steps through the door. The modern, minimalist interior serves as a canvas upon which the vibrant dishes are showcased, making it an ideal setting for both lunch and dinner. In the realm of gastronomy, Centpourcent stands out for its innovative approach to cuisine. The restaurant offers a selection of gourmet options, carefully designed to titillate the senses and elevate the dining experience. Each dish is a testament to the chef's commitment to quality, featuring a blend of locally sourced ingredients and international flavours. Whether one opts for a multi-course tasting menu or à la carte options, the offerings are bound to satisfy even the most discerning palate. The menu changes seasonally, ensuring that frequent visitors always find something new to savour. Given its Michelin-star status, reservations at Centpourcent are essential as the restaurant is a popular choice for special occasions, business lunches, and romantic dinners alike. Therefore, it is advisable to book well in advance, particularly for weekend dining or during the holiday season. Centpourcent offers an exceptional experience, ideal for those looking to indulge in a sumptuous lunch or dinner.
- Nuance. Nuance, a Michelin-starred restaurant located not far from the centre of Mechelen, epitomises the pinnacle of fine dining. With an ambience that radiates luxury and sophistication, the establishment is designed to provide an unparalleled gastronomic experience. The interior decor is tastefully executed, blending contemporary elegance with subtle nods to traditional design. The restaurant is known for its intricate and visually stunning dishes that are as much a feast for the eyes as they are for the palate. Employing a blend of classic techniques and avant-garde innovation, the chefs craft meals that are nothing short of works of art. The menu is subject to seasonal changes, ensuring that regular patrons always have something new and intriguing to explore. Service at Nuance is executed with a level of professionalism that one would expect from a Michelin-starred establishment. The staff are highly trained and knowledgeable, adept at anticipating the needs of diners and offering personalised recommendations. Given the restaurant's high-profile status and limited seating capacity, guests are advised to make reservations. Nuance offers an extraordinary dining experience that goes beyond mere eating. Whether one is seeking a lavish lunch or a decadent dinner, this Michelin-starred restaurant sets the standard for culinary excellence in Mechelen.
- The Chick Mechelen. The Chick Mechelen provides a refreshing contrast to Mechelen's more traditional dining establishments. The restaurant is a haven for those seeking a more casual yet still memorable dining experience. With a modern, laid-back atmosphere, The Chick Mechelen proves to be a versatile space, equally suited for a relaxed lunch or a lively dinner with friends or family. The Chick Mechelen specialises in poultry dishes, particularly chicken, served in a variety of preparations and styles. Whether one fancies a classic roast chicken or is in the mood for something with a bit more spice, the menu offers a diverse range of options to satisfy all tastes. The restaurant sources high-quality, locally-raised poultry, ensuring that each dish is both flavourful and ethically sourced. When it comes to reservations, The Chick Mechelen tends to be quite busy during peak dining hours and over the weekend. While walk-ins are often possible, especially for lunch, making a reservation is advisable to avoid any disappointment, particularly if one plans to visit for dinner. The Chick Mechelen offers a delightful and somewhat unconventional dining experience in Mechelen.
- Lesco Mechelen. Lesco Mechelen, located in a charming part of Mechelen, offers a distinctive dining experience that combines the best of local and international cuisine. The restaurant's interior design exudes a rustic charm, tastefully adorned with vintage decor and warm lighting, which adds to the overall sense of comfort and intimacy. Lesco Mechelen showcases a menu that is both diverse and thoughtfully curated. The restaurant prides itself on using high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients, which are then transformed into memorable meals by a skilled kitchen team. The menu also has the flexibility to cater to various dietary requirements, making it a suitable choice for a wide range of diners for both lunch and dinner. The staff are well trained and knowledgeable about the menu, offering insightful recommendations based on individual preferences and dietary needs. Reservations at Lesco Mechelen are generally a good idea, particularly for dinner or during weekends when the restaurant tends to be busier. Although it is possible to chance a walk-in, especially for lunch, booking a table in advance ensures that one won't miss out on experiencing this local gem. Lesco Mechelen offers an appealing blend of traditional and modern culinary delights, making it an excellent choice for both lunch and dinner.
- De Partage. De Partage, located in a quaint corner of Mechelen, offers a dining experience steeped in the concept of sharing and community. With an interior that is both modern and cosy, the restaurant creates an atmosphere that encourages conviviality, making it an excellent choice for both intimate lunches and communal dinners. De Partage stands out for its unique approach to dining. The menu is designed around the concept of shared plates, allowing diners to experience a variety of flavours and textures in a single sitting. From tapas-style appetisers to more substantial main courses, each dish is crafted to be a communal experience. This makes the restaurant particularly appealing for groups or couples who enjoy exploring a diverse range of dishes. Whether one visits for lunch or dinner, the emphasis is on high-quality, locally sourced ingredients prepared with skill and creativity. The staff are highly knowledgeable about the menu and are adept at recommending combinations of dishes that work well together, enhancing the overall dining experience. Given the restaurant's unique approach to dining and its popularity, reservations are highly recommended. This is particularly true for dinner and weekends, when De Partage tends to attract a larger crowd. De Partage offers a unique and enriching culinary experience in Mechelen, ideal for those who appreciate the joys of communal dining. Whether one is interested in a leisurely lunch or a more festive dinner, the restaurant provides an array of shared plates that are as delightful to look at as they are to eat.
What are the best bars to drink in Mechelen?
Listed below are the best bars to drink in Mechelen.
- De Gouden Vis. De Gouden Vis is an art nouveau style brown cafe overlooking the Dijle river on Mechelen's trendy Vismarkt square. The eclectic decor features flea market chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and mismatched thrift store furniture, creating a rakish charm. Original 1930s beer posters adorn the walls alongside the many gilt frames. De Gouden Vis has a lively atmosphere, especially on weekend nights when locals and tourists pack into the bar. In warm months, guests can enjoy their beers and cocktails on the rickety outdoor terrace overlooking the water. With a prime location on Vismarkt square, De Gouden Vis is a Mechelen staple known for its wide selection of Belgian beers on tap and vintage ambiance.
- ‘t Ankertje aan de Dijle. ‘t Ankertje aan de Dijle is Het Anker Brewery's city centre pub, located on the Vismarkt square. ‘t Ankertje aan de Dijle serves the full range of beers from Mechelen's Het Anker Brewery, including the city's famed Gouden Carolus, in an 18th century building on Vismarkt square. As Het Anker's city centre pub, ‘t Ankertje aan de Dijle offers a cozy atmosphere in which to sample beers brewed just around the corner at the brewery. Visitors can choose from the classic Gouden Carolus bruin, tripel, or whisky-infused Cuvée van de Keizer. With its prime Vismarkt location, the pub sees a mix of tourists and locals who come to taste these locally brewed beers. ‘t Ankertje aan de Dijle also has a bottle shop for taking beers to go.
- Café Hanekeef. Café Hanekeef is Mechelen's oldest pub, dating back to the 1880s. Café Hanekeef provides a glimpse into historic Mechelen with its traditional brown cafe interior dating back to the 1950s. Since the 1880s, this pub in a former chicken market has been drawing older regulars who come to chat over beers and peruse the newspaper. The beamed ceiling, patterned tile floors, and dark wood paneling hark back to its past. Amidst the rooster motifs, extensive list of bottled beers, and no-frills ambiance, Café Hanekeef stands out as a relaxed neighborhood spot to enjoy Belgian beers. Its longevity as Mechelen's oldest pub has earned Hanekeef recognition as an iconic city watering hole.
- Bar Botanica. Bar Botanica is a trendy cocktail bar on the Vismarkt square. One of Mechelen's most popular nightlife spots is Bar Botanica, a vibrant Spanish-inspired cocktail bar on Vismarkt square. Known for its delicious rum cocktails and gin and tonics, Bar Botanica creates a festive atmosphere with its tropical drinks like mojitos and caipirinhas. The bar gets especially lively on weekends when locals pack the indoor seats or outdoor terrace overlooking the Dijle river. Young crowds flock to Bar Botanica for its cocktails, tapas plates, and happening energy in a prime Vismarkt location.
- Bar Popular. Bar Popular is a cozy pub with brightly colored walls located right on Vismarkt square. It offers a wide range of Belgian beers on tap alongside wines, spirits, and cocktails. In the evenings, Bar Popular gets quite lively as a mix of tourists and Mechelaars stop in for drinks after work and on weekends. The bar's prime location provides views of the surrounding streets and Dijle river. Bar Popular's relaxed vibe, ample seating, and central Vismarkt spot make it a convenient go-to bar in Mechelen's cafe district.
What are the best sights to visit in Mechelen in a day?
Listed below are the best things to do in Mechelen in a day:
- Visit St. Rumbold's Cathedral: St. Rumbold's Cathedral is an excellent starting point for the day. This architectural marvel is a prime example of the Brabantine Gothic style. The cathedral houses an impressive carillon and offers panoramic views of Mechelen from its tower, which stands approximately 97 metres (318 feet) tall. It's a must-visit for history enthusiasts and those who appreciate architectural beauty.
- Explore Mechelen Toy Museum: The Mechelen Toy Museum is the next stop. This museum takes one on a nostalgic journey through the history of toys and games. It's a fantastic place for families or anyone who wishes to relive their childhood. The museum is both educational and entertaining, making it a must-see.
- Take a Boat Tour on the Dijle River: A boat tour on the Dijle River offers a unique way to explore Mechelen. These tours typically last around 45 minutes and provide informative commentary about the city's history and landmarks. It's a relaxing and educational way to see the city, suitable for both adults and children.
- Visit Kazerne Dossin: Kazerne Dossin is a museum and documentation centre that focuses on the Holocaust and human rights. It serves as a poignant memorial and offers deep insights into the mechanisms of mass violence and discrimination. The museum is both a sombre and educational experience, warranting a couple of hours for a thorough visit.
- Enjoy Local Cuisine: Local Cuisine in Mechelen should not be missed before the day concludes. The city offers a plethora of dining options, ranging from traditional Belgian dishes to international cuisine. Whether it's indulging in Belgian waffles or sipping on a locally brewed beer, the culinary scene in Mechelen is a treat for the senses.
What is the nighlife in Mechelen?
Mechelen has a good selection of bars, pubs, and nightclubs, mostly located around the train station, Vismarkt, and Korenmarkt areas. Some popular spots include De Gouden Vis, De Peton, Bar Makadam, and Kuub. De Gouden Vis is one of the most well-known bars in the Vismarkt area, known for its 1920s art nouveau style interior. It gets quite lively on weekend nights. Nearby Café Pilchard is also popular among students. The Vismarkt district in general is considered the trendy nightlife hub, with DJs and live music on offer at various bars and clubs on weekends. It has a lively, vibrant scene.
Kuub is a club located near the Cultuurplein that hosts eclectic events from jazz to hip hop and techno and usually attracts younger crowd. Mechelen also hosts many traditional “brown cafés” (brown pubs) throughout the city center, which offer good beer selections and a more relaxed, local vibe. These include De Hanekeef, one of the oldest pubs in Mechelen. For a more upscale cocktail bar, ‘t Late Uur on the Korenmarkt is a nice option. The Irish pub O'Malleys offers live music too.
Mechelen has a good mix of nightlife to suit different tastes, from lively clubs and bars for dancing and partying late into the night, to mellow pubs and terraces for casual drinks.
What are the “brown cafés” in Mechelen and Belgium?
Brown cafés (also sometimes called “bruine kroegen”) are a type of traditional pub found in Belgium and the Netherlands. Brown cafés get their name from their typical dark wood interior decor and furnishings, which over time take on a brownish hue from smoke and age. Brown cafés are casual and relaxed places to enjoy good conversation over Belgian beers in a classic old-school pub environment. The cafés are an iconic part of the bar culture in Belgium.
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