Antwerp, located in Belgium's northern part, sits on the Scheldt River, 55 miles from the North Sea. As Belgium's most populous city after Brussels, it boasts a population exceeding 500,000. Historically, Antwerp flourished as a significant port city during the late Middle Ages and early modern period, particularly in the diamond trade. By the 16th century, it had become the de facto capital of the Low Countries. Today, Antwerp's reputation as a port remains and it's renowned for diamonds, fashion and design. The city also stands as the capital of the province of Antwerp in the Flemish Region of Belgium.
- Where is Antwerp?
- What is the history of Antwerp?
- What are the best things to do in Antwerp?
- What are the best museums in Antwerp?
- What to do in Antwerp for a day?
- What are the top restaurants in Antwerp?
- What are the best bars and cafes in Antwerp?
- What are the best areas to stay in Antwerp?
- How to get to Antwerp?
- What are the markets in Antwerp?
- Are Christmas markets crowded in Antwerp?
- What are the best music festivals in Belgium?
- Is Antwerp expensive?
- Is Antwerp safe?
Antwerp's history traces back to the Middle Ages, originating as a modest settlement on the Scheldt River's banks. Its strategic location on the river enabled it to evolve into a pivotal trade and transport hub to the North Sea. By the 16th century, it had become one of northern Europe's largest cities, recognized for industry, banking and merchant trading. The city's prosperity was particularly tied to trading spices, silk, luxury items and later, diamonds. However, the Dutch Revolt against Spanish rule in the late 16th century led to the Scheldt River's blockade, impacting Antwerp's trade significance. Despite this setback, Antwerp persisted as a crucial port city. World War II saw its occupation and damage from bombing raids, but post-war efforts led to significant rebuilding and revitalization.
Dutch, specifically the Flemish variety, is the primary language spoken in Antwerp. The city, being the Flanders region's capital, predominantly speaks Dutch. Research shows that about 85% of the population speaks Dutch as their first language. Antwerp operates within the Central European Time Zone. Specifically, it observes Central European Standard Time (CET) during winter and Central European Summer Time (CEST) during summer months with daylight saving time. CET is 1 hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
Antwerp is globally recognized for its diamond traders and cutters. Historically, its strategic location on the Scheldt River made it a dominant commercial center. Even today, the city remains a global leader in the diamond industry, with over 84% of the world's rough diamonds and 50% of cut diamonds passing through it.
Some of Antwerp's top attractions include the Plantin Moretus Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage site, FOMU Antwerp (Photo Museum of Antwerp), ZOO Antwerp, Red Star Line Museum and Muhka, the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp.
A typical visit to Antwerp spans 2 days.
Antwerp offers a culinary journey reflecting Belgium's rich food culture. Local specialties include Belgian waffles, chocolates and beer. The city's diverse food scene encompasses fine dining restaurants, casual eateries and street food vendors.
Top hotels in Antwerp include Botanic Sanctuary Antwerp, Maison Nationale City Flats & Suites, YAYS Antwerp Opera, Boutique Hotel Maison Emile and Hotel NH Collection Antwerp Centre.
Antwerp is easily accessible by various means, including train, plane, car, or bus. Direct Eurostar trains from London's St Pancras International Station to Antwerp Central Station offer a swift route, taking around 3 hours.
Antwerp's Christmas markets, especially “Winter in Antwerp” on the Grote Markt, tend to be crowded, particularly during weekends and peak times. However, the festive atmosphere and attractions like food and drink stalls, an ice skating rink and a Ferris wheel make the experience worthwhile.
Where is Antwerp?
Antwerp is one of the cities in Belgium located in the northern part. It lies on the Scheldt River, 55 miles (88 km) from the North Sea. Antwerp, with a population of more than 500,000 people, is the most populous city in Belgium after the capital Brussels. Historically, Antwerp grew prosperous as a major port city during the late Middle Ages and early modern period. It was a centre of industry and trade, particularly the diamond trade. In the 16th century, Antwerp was even the de facto capital of the Low Countries. Today, Antwerp remains an important port and is known for diamonds, fashion and design. It also has a vibrant cultural scene with historical architecture, museums and events. Antwerp is the capital and most populous city of the province of Antwerp in the Flemish Region of Belgium. Geographically, it is located in the north of the country near the border with the Netherlands. Antwerp is a major city and port along the Scheldt River known for its history in trade and diamonds.
What is the history of Antwerp?
Antwerp has a long and rich history dating back to the Middle Ages. It originated as a small settlement on the banks of the Scheldt River and grew to become one of the most important commercial and cultural centres in Europe. In the 11th and 12th centuries, Antwerp was just a small trading post and port under the Duchy of Brabant. However, its location on the Scheldt River allowed it to become an important centre for trade and transport to the North Sea. As a result, Antwerp grew quickly during the late Middle Ages and became one of the largest cities in northern Europe by the 16th century. It was a major centre of industry, banking and merchant trading. Much of its wealth came from being the main trading port for spices, silk, luxury items and later diamonds. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Antwerp experienced its golden age and was arguably the most important trade centre north of the Alps. It attracted many Dutch, Portuguese, German, Italian and Spanish merchants.
The city also became a hub for arts and culture during this period. However, the city began to decline after the Scheldt River was blockaded during the Dutch Revolt against Spanish rule in the late 16th century. This damaged Antwerp's role as a trade centre. Although Antwerp no longer reached the same heights as before, it remained an important port city. Antwerp, in more recent history, during World War II, was occupied and damaged by bombing raids. Since then, Antwerp has undergone significant rebuilding and revitalisation efforts. Today it continues to function as a major port, focus of international trade, centre of fashion and design and destination for tourism. The evidence indicates Antwerp has a rich history and it became a major commercial centre during its golden age in the 16th and 17th centuries when it was a hub of industry and merchant trading.
What language is spoken in Antwerp?
The primary language spoken in Antwerp is Dutch. Specifically, most people in Antwerp speak the Flemish variety of Dutch. Flemish, sometimes called Flemish Dutch, belongs to the West Flemish dialect group of Dutch. It is native to the northern region of Belgium, including provinces like Antwerp and East and West Flanders. Flemish has over 6 million native speakers in Belgium and is recognised as one of the country's three official languages, alongside French and German. Antwerp, as the capital of the Flanders region, is a predominantly Dutch-speaking city.
Research indicates that approximately 85% of the population speaks Dutch as their mother tongue. The remainder of the population speaks other languages like French, English, Spanish, Arabic, Berber and Turkish. This language diversity reflects Antwerp's history as an international trading centre and port city that attracted many immigrants over the centuries. While the main language is Dutch, many Antwerp natives will also speak French and English as second languages. French is Belgium’s other official language and English is widely studied and used in international business. Signs, menus and documents in Antwerp will often be presented in Dutch, French and sometimes English to accommodate different language speakers.
Antwerp is pronounced AN-twerp, emphasising the first syllable “AN” and a silent “w”. The “A” sounds like the vowel in “cat” or “at”, the “N” is pronounced clearly, the “t” is soft like in “butter” and the “erp” rhymes with “curb” or “burp”. No “L” sound at the end. The local Flemish dialect puts more emphasis on the “r” sound, almost sounding like “ant-werrep”, but standard English keeps the “r” soft. The proper way to say Antwerp is by stressing the first syllable and leaving the “w” silent – “AN-twerp”.
What timezone is Antwerp on?
Antwerp, Belgium, falls within the Central European Time Zone or Central European. More specifically, Antwerp observes Central European Standard Time (CET) in the winter months and Central European Summer Time (CEST) during the summer months when daylight saving time is in effect. The Central European Time zone is 1 hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). When daylight saving time is not in effect, Antwerp's time zone is UTC +1. During daylight saving time between late March and late October, Antwerp switches to CEST, which is UTC +2. Antwerp is 1 or 2 hours ahead of UTC, depending on the time of year. Some major cities that also fall in the CET/CEST time zone include Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Paris and Vienna. So Antwerp shares the same standard time as most of Western Europe and mainland European countries. Antwerp is currently 6 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST) in North America. This time difference helps facilitate international business and travel.
How many people live in Antwerp?
According to recent estimates, the city of Antwerp in Belgium has a population of over 1 million people. More specifically, the population of the municipality of Antwerp is around 559,000 residents as of 2022. However, the metropolitan region that includes the greater Antwerp area has an estimated population of over 1 million residents. The current metropolitan area population of Antwerp in 2023 stands at 1,057,000 individuals. This figure represents a modest growth of 0.38% compared to the previous year, 2022, when the population was 1,053,000. Tracing back to 2021, the population was 1,048,000, marking a 0.48% increase from 2022 and a 0.58% increase from 2020.
The gender breakdown of Antwerp is fairly even, with women making up approximately 51% of the population and men around 49%. In terms of age, about 15% of the population is under 15 years old, while 18% are over the age of 65. The majority of the population, approximately 67%, falls between the ages of 15 and 65. Antwerp is a culturally diverse city with sizable immigrant communities adding to the population.
In addition to native Belgians, there are people of North African, Turkish, Eastern European, South Asian and East Asian descent living in Antwerp. The city attracts many foreign workers and students. Overall, Antwerp’s population continues to grow steadily each year. Its current metro area population is over 1.05 million in 2023, up from just over 1 million in 2010. Antwerp remains the second most populous metro area in Belgium, behind Brussels.
Around 1 million people reside in the greater Antwerp metropolitan area as of 2023, with an even gender split and diversity across age groups and cultural backgrounds.
What are the most interesting facts of Antwerp?
Listed below are the most interesting facts of Antwerp:
- Currency: The currency used in Antwerp and in the rest of Belgium is the Euro. As one of the facts of Belgium, the Euro plays a significant role in the European and global economy. Being part of the European Monetary Union, the Euro facilitates trade and economic integration across many European nations.
- Timezone: Antwerp operates under Central European Time, one hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+1). During the summer months, the city observes Daylight Saving Time and switches to Central European Summer Time (CEST, UTC+2). This alignment with most of Central Europe ensures synchronicity in regional business and social activities.
- Language: Dutch is the official language spoken in Antwerp, reflecting the Flemish heritage of the region. However, other languages such as French, English and German are also widely spoken due to their cosmopolitan nature and historical ties. This multilingualism adds to the city's rich cultural diversity and is one of the intriguing facts of Belgium.
- Power Plugs: In Antwerp, the power plugs and sockets used are of type C and E, with a standard voltage of 230 V and a standard frequency of 50 Hz. This is consistent with the electrical standards across much of Europe. Visitors should be aware of these specifications to ensure compatibility with their electronic devices, reflecting the practical aspects of life in one of Belgium's most vibrant cities.
What is Antwerp famous for?
Antwerp is famous for diamond traders and cutters. For much of its history, Antwerp served as an influential commercial centre due to its strategic location on the Scheldt River. Antwerp was a leader in global trade during the 16th and 17th centuries when Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian and Dutch merchants conducted business there. Much of the wealth and prominence Antwerp enjoyed during this golden age stemmed from it being the most important diamond market at the time. Even today, Antwerp remains a global leader in the diamond industry. Over 84% of the world's rough diamonds and 50% of cut diamonds pass through the city. Antwerp is home to diamond trading houses, brokers, cutters and polishers. Many monumental buildings and landmarks around the city also testify to Antwerp's prosperous history as a diamond capital. Beyond diamonds, Antwerp is also famous for its deep-rooted fashion scene. It nurtured famous fashion designers like the avant-garde Antwerp Six and cultivated new talent from its famed fashion academy. Antwerp has several museums spotlighting its artistic heritage, including works by native Peter Paul Rubens. The city boasts stunning Gothic architecture blended with vibrant cosmopolitan culture.
What are the best things to do in Antwerp?
Listed below are the best things to do in Antwerp:
- Plantin Moretus Museum: Plantin Moretus Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage site, celebrates the history of printing and publishing in Antwerp. Visitors can explore the original printing presses, rare manuscripts and beautifully preserved interiors of this Renaissance-era treasure. With its rich collection and historical significance, Plantin Moretus Museum offers a captivating glimpse into the world of literature, technology and intellectual life.
- FOMU Antwerp (Photo Museum of Antwerp): FOMU Antwerp is a leading institution dedicated to photography, showcasing both contemporary and historical works. With diverse exhibitions and a vast collection, the museum offers a thought-provoking exploration of photography as an art form and a medium of expression. FOMU Antwerp is a must-visit destination for photography enthusiasts and anyone interested in visual arts and culture.
- ZOO Antwerp: ZOO Antwerp, also known as Dierentuin, is one of the oldest zoos in the world and a beloved attraction in Antwerp. With a wide variety of animals from around the globe, beautifully landscaped gardens and conservation efforts, it offers an engaging and educational experience for visitors of all ages. Whether exploring the exotic animal exhibits or enjoying a leisurely stroll through the gardens, ZOO Antwerp provides a delightful day out for families and nature enthusiasts.
- Red Star Line Museum: Red Star Line Museum tells the poignant story of the millions of European emigrants who sailed to America with the Red Star Line. Through personal testimonies, artefacts and interactive exhibits, the museum brings to life the hopes, dreams and challenges faced by those seeking a new life. Red Star Line Museum offers a moving and insightful experience that resonates with the universal themes of migration and identity.
- Muhka: Muhka, the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp, is a vibrant hub for contemporary visual arts. With its ever-changing exhibitions, the museum showcases cutting-edge works by local and international artists. Among the things to do in Antwerp is visiting Muhka which provides a platform for artistic experimentation and dialogue, making it a stimulating destination for art lovers seeking to explore the latest trends and ideas in contemporary art.
What are the best museums in Antwerp?
Listed below are the best museums in Antwerp:
- The Plantin Moretus Museum: The Plantin Moretus Museum is a fascinating tribute to the printing world. Housed in a 16th-century building that was once the Plantin Moretus Antwerp printing company, it showcases old books, maps and printing tools. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it holds the two oldest printing presses in the world and offers a unique insight into the history of printing. The museum's architecture and garden are also worth exploring.
- FOMU Antwerp (Photo Museum of Antwerp): FOMU Antwerp is a renowned photography museum that celebrated its 50th birthday in 2015. It hosts various exhibitions, including works by famous photographers and a collection of photographs, photography equipment and books. From contemporary art to historical pieces, FOMU offers photography enthusiasts a diverse and engaging experience.
- The Red Star Line Museum: The Red Star Line Museum tells the poignant story of over 2.5 million Europeans who migrated to North America between 1873 and 1934. Housed in the original Red Star Line company buildings, the museum offers a comprehensive view of the migration process, including medical checks, personal stories and the transformation of migration ships. It's considered one of the best museums in Antwerp, providing a deep and thoughtful exploration of migration history.
- Muhka (Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp): Muhka is Belgium's Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp, offering a diverse range of contemporary visual art exhibitions, lectures, cinema and workshops. With over 32,000 books, catalogues and magazines, it's a hub for contemporary art research and appreciation. Whether you're a fan of contemporary art or just curious, Muhka provides an intriguing and multifaceted experience.
- The Rubens Museum (Rubenshuis): The Rubens Museum, also known as Rubenshuis, is dedicated to the life and work of the legendary Belgian artist Peter Paul Rubens. Located in Rubens' former home, it showcases his artwork and offers a glimpse into his daily life through various objects and architectural designs. The museum's collection includes works by Rubens' peers, making it one of the best museums in Antwerp with unique art.
What to do in Antwerp for a day?
Listed below are things to do in Antwerp in a day:
- Museum Vleeshuis: Museum Vleeshuis is a fascinating destination that delves into the musical history of Antwerp. Housed in a stunning Gothic building, the museum showcases a wide array of musical instruments and explores the city's musical heritage. Visitors can learn about the region's music evolution and even experience live performances. Museum Vleeshuis offers an engaging and melodious journey that appeals to music lovers and history enthusiasts alike.
- Museum aan de Stroom: Museum aan de Stroom, also known as MAS, is a striking modern museum focusing on the city's culture, history and art. With its innovative architecture and interactive exhibits, MAS provides a comprehensive insight into Antwerp's identity. The museum's rooftop offers breathtaking city views, adding to the unique experience. Museum aan de Stroom is a must-visit for those looking to understand the essence of Antwerp.
- Museum Mayer van den Bergh: Museum Mayer van den Bergh is a hidden gem that houses an impressive collection of art, including works by renowned artists like Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The museum's intimate setting allows visitors to explore the art in a peaceful and contemplative environment. With its rich collection and personal touch, Museum Mayer van den Bergh offers an inspiring and enriching experience for art enthusiasts.
- FOMU Antwerp (Photo Museum of Antwerp): FOMU Antwerp is a leading museum showcasing contemporary and historical photography. With rotating exhibitions and a vast collection, the museum offers a diverse and thought-provoking exploration of the medium. From artistic expressions to social commentaries, FOMU Antwerp provides a visual feast that challenges and inspires. It's a must-visit for photography enthusiasts and anyone interested in visual arts.
What is the ideal visit duration for a Antwerp visit?
The ideal visit duration for a trip to Antwerp is typically 2 days. This time frame allows visitors to explore the city's rich cultural heritage and arts scene and taste tge local cuisine. In 2 days, one can comfortably visit key attractions such as the Cathedral of Our Lady, the Antwerp Zoo and the Museum aan de Stroom. It also provides ample time to stroll through the historic streets, shop for famous Belgian chocolates and diamonds and even enjoy a leisurely cruise on the River Scheldt. While a longer stay would certainly enable a more in-depth exploration, 2 days in Antwerp offers a well-rounded experience, capturing the city's essence and providing a glimpse into the unique blend of tradition and modernity that defines this Belgian gem. With 2 full days, tourists can sufficiently explore Antwerp's major attractions like the Grote Markt, Cathedral of Our Lady, riverfront castle Het Steen, Rubens House museum and the fashion district. Two days provide opportunities to shop for Belgian chocolates, fashion and antiques in between sightseeing. Staying overnight enables trying more restaurants, bars and cafes while also experiencing Antwerp's nightlife. An overnight stay also avoids rushing or cramming activities into one hectic day.
What is Antwerp city's contribution to Belgium tourism?
Antwerp significantly contributes to the country's tourism industry. Antwerp is a popular tourist destination and the second latest city of Belgium. It attracts both domestic and international visitors throughout the year. In 2022, it is estimated over 11.6 million day tourists visited Antwerp, representing a 56% increase from 2021. The city also recorded over 2 million overnight hotel stays during the first 10 months of 2022, returning to pre-pandemic levels seen in 2019.
Annually, Antwerp attracts millions of leisure and business travellers who visit its historic sites, vibrant culture, restaurants, events and shopping. Some of Antwerp's major tourist draws include architectural landmarks like the Gothic Antwerp Cathedral, the mediaeval castle Het Steen and the opulent train station. The city also has a celebrated fashion and design scene, numerous art museums featuring works by Rubens and other Flemish painters and Belgium's largest port. Antwerp's reputation as the “diamond capital” adds to its appeal. In addition to traditional sightseeing, Antwerp offers trendy cafés, Michelin-star dining, Belgian beers and sweets, Christmas markets, music festivals and high-end shopping. Many tourists make Antwerp a day trip from Brussels, but it has abundant hotels to accommodate overnight guests.
As a culturally-rich destination with diversity, history and modern amenities, Antwerp significantly boosts tourism revenue and appeal for Belgium. The evidence indicates Antwerp is an increasingly popular tourist destination that draws millions of domestic and foreign visitors yearly to its historic landmarks, museums, restaurants, events and shopping. This makes the city a vital contributor to Belgium's tourism industry.
What are the top restaurants in Antwerp?
Listed below are the top restaurants in Antwerp:
- The Jane: The Jane is a Michelin-starred restaurant located in a historic military chapel from the early 1900s. Chef Nick Bril serves innovative modern European cuisine using seasonal ingredients and complex flavours.
- Zilte: Zilte specialises in seafood with a menu featuring oysters, lobster, turbot and other fresh catches in a sophisticated setting. This Michelin-starred restaurant offers seaboard delights paired with an extensive wine list.
- Sir Anthony Van Dijck: Sir Anthony Van Dijck is among the best restaurants in Antwerp and overlooks the river in the museum district, serving refined Belgian cuisine like smoked eel, grilled sole and premium steaks. The dining room evokes old-world elegance with velvet chairs and chandeliers.
What to eat in Antwerp?
In Antwerp, one can enjoy a delightful culinary experience that reflects the rich food culture in Belgium. Visitors can try both traditional Belgian dishes and international cuisine. One must not miss trying local specialities like Belgian waffles, chocolate and beer. Seafood lovers can enjoy fresh mussels, while those looking for comfort food can opt for stoemp, a mashed vegetable dish. The city's vibrant food scene also includes fine dining restaurants, casual eateries and street food vendors, ensuring something for every palate and budget. Whether it's a quick snack or a lavish meal, the food in Belgium, particularly in Antwerp, promises a gastronomic adventure that satisfies both the taste buds and the soul.
What are the best bars and cafes in Antwerp?
Listed below are the best bars and cafés in Antwerp.
- Dogma: Dogma is a renowned cocktail bar in Antwerp known for its creative and expertly crafted drinks. The interior exudes a vintage charm, with dim lighting and classic decor that creates an intimate and sophisticated atmosphere. The bartenders at Dogma are true artisans, using premium ingredients and innovative techniques to create unique and memorable cocktails. Whether a seasoned cocktail enthusiast or a curious newcomer, Dogma offers an exceptional experience that leaves a lasting impression.
- Jones & Co: Jones & Co is a trendy coffee bar and eatery in the heart of Antwerp. Focusing on quality and sustainability, they serve freshly brewed coffee from carefully selected beans, delicious pastries and light meals. The ambience at Jones & Co is relaxed and welcoming, making it a favourite spot for locals and visitors alike to enjoy a leisurely breakfast or afternoon break. The friendly staff and commitment to excellence make Jones & Co a must-visit destination for coffee lovers.
- Beerlovers Bar: Beerlovers Bar is a haven for beer enthusiasts in Antwerp, offering an extensive selection of local and international craft beers. The knowledgeable staff are passionate about beer and always ready to guide guests through the impressive menu. With a laid-back vibe and communal seating, Beerlovers Bar encourages socialising and exploring new flavours. Whether a craft beer aficionado or a curious taster, Beerlovers Bar provides a delightful and educational experience that celebrates the rich beer culture of Belgium.
What is the nightlife in Antwerp?
Antwerp has a lively nightlife scene with a diverse range of bars, pubs, dance clubs, live music venues and late-night eateries. The nightlife in Antwerp reflects Antwerp's multicultural makeup and youthful creative energy. While Antwerp may not be as renowned as some European party cities, it still offers fun nights out for all tastes.
The historic centre around the Grote Markt provides a classic backdrop for Antwerp's nightlife. Grand ornate buildings house traditional pubs and bars where locals and tourists unwind over Belgian beers, wines and gin. Trendy cocktail lounges can also be found in this area. For dancing, head to clubs near Groenplaats playing electronic, hip-hop, rock and pop music into the night. The university district brings a youthful vibe with inexpensive bars and cafés that get lively late at night. Live jazz, blues and rock music are on tap at venues like De Muze.
The hipster Zuid neighbourhood also draws those looking for alternative and underground nightlife. Many restaurants, gastropubs and brasseries throughout Antwerp stay open until 1 or 2 am. After dark, Antwerp offers entertainment hubs where one can dance the night away at a club, enjoy craft beers at a classic pub, listen to live bands, or simply relax over cocktails and conversation. The diversity and culture of Antwerp is reflected in its moderate but captivating nightlife scene.
What are the best areas to stay in Antwerp?
Listed below are the neighbourhoods stay in Antwerp
- ‘t Zuid: ‘t Zuid is an upscale residential neighbourhood south of the city centre, known for its elegant accommodations along stately boulevards. The area is home to the Antwerp Zoo and Central Station, offering a sophisticated ambience with beautiful architecture. Art galleries, upscale dining options and proximity to key attractions make ‘t Zuid a refined and convenient place to stay.
- Central Station Area: Central Station Area is a bustling part of Antwerp, centred around the city's main railway station. It's a convenient base for exploring the city with a wide range of hotels, restaurants and shops. The Central Station Area's excellent transport links and vibrant atmosphere make it a popular choice for tourists and business travellers.
- Meir and “Wilde Zee: Meir and “Wilde Zee” is the main shopping district in Antwerp, known for its pedestrian boulevard filled with stores and restaurants. The area can be busy and lively, offering various shopping opportunities from high-end brands to local boutiques. Meir and “Wilde Zee” are perfect for those who enjoy being in the heart of the action and want easy access to dining and entertainment options.
- Grote Markt: Grote Markt is the historic heart of Antwerp, home to the city's stunning Cathedral and iconic square. With a high concentration of hotels, restaurants and nightlife, it's ideal for sightseeing and exploring the city's rich history. Grote Markt's cobblestone streets, historic buildings and lively atmosphere make it a must-visit area for tourists wanting a classic Antwerp experience.
- Quartier Latin: Quartier Latin is a trendy and artistic neighbourhood in Antwerp, filled with bars, cafes and boutique shops. Known for its bohemian vibe and cultural richness, it's a great place to explore the city's creative side. Quartier Latin's unique character, vibrant street life and proximity to cultural attractions make it a favourite among young and creative travellers.
What are the best hotels in Antwerp?
Listed below are the best hotels in Antwerp:
- Botanic Sanctuary Antwerp: Botanic Sanctuary Antwerp is renowned for its luxurious accommodations and top-notch service. The hotel offers a serene retreat in the city's heart, with beautifully designed rooms and lush gardens. Guests can indulge in the hotel's spa and wellness facilities, dine in its exquisite restaurant for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and make reservations to ensure a special culinary experience. The personalised attention of the staff adds to the hotel's appeal, making it ideal for those seeking elegance and tranquillity in a bustling city.
- Maison Nationale City Flats & Suites: Maison Nationale City Flats & Suites offers a modern design and comfort blend, providing a unique and stylish stay in Antwerp. The hotel features spacious suites with contemporary furnishings and all the amenities needed for a comfortable stay. Its central location makes exploring the city's attractions convenient and guests can find delightful places to eat nearby, including breakfast, lunch, or dinner options. The attentive staff ensures a pleasant experience and can help with reservations at local restaurants.
- YAYS Antwerp Opera: YAYS Antwerp Opera is located near the famous Antwerp Opera House and offers a chic and sophisticated stay. The hotel's elegant rooms are designed with attention to detail, providing a luxurious experience. Guests can enjoy the city's vibrant cultural scene and have lunch or dinner at the nearby theatres, museums and galleries. Reservations for special dining experiences can be made through the hotel's friendly staff and the excellent service makes it popular among travellers seeking culture and elegance.
- Boutique Hotel Maison Emile: Boutique Hotel Maison Emile is one of the best hotels in Antwerp and it is a charming hotel that exudes warmth and character. Situated in a historic building, the hotel offers uniquely decorated rooms that reflect the artistic spirit of Antwerp. Guests can enjoy a delicious breakfast in the cosy dining area and explore nearby boutiques and cafés for lunch or dinner. The hotel's intimate atmosphere, personalised service, recommendations and reservations for local dining make it a perfect choice for a boutique experience.
- Hotel NH Collection Antwerp Centre: Hotel NH Collection Antwerp Centre is part of the renowned NH Collection and offers a luxurious stay in the heart of Antwerp. With modern and spacious rooms, top-tier amenities and a convenient location near major attractions, it's a favourite among business and leisure travellers. The hotel's restaurant serves delectable cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner and reservations are accepted for special dining experiences. The fitness centre allows guests to maintain their routine while away from home and the professional staff and excellent facilities ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay.
How to get to Antwerp?
Antwerp is easily accessible by train, plane, car or bus from major European cities, including London. There are multiple transportation options for reaching Antwerp, depending on departure point and preferences. The most direct option from London is taking the Eurostar train from St Pancras International Station directly to Antwerp Central Station. This high-speed route takes around 3 hours. Alternatively, travellers can take a Eurostar to Brussels then transfer to a local train or bus for the roughly 45-minute journey between Brussels and Antwerp. Regular flights from London airports like Heathrow and London City to Brussels Airport also exist. From there, trains to Antwerp are quick and frequent. Some budget airlines like RyanAir also offer direct flights from London Stansted Airport to Antwerp Airport. Driving to Antwerp from London takes 8–9 hours to cover the roughly 500 km (310.69 miles) distance. Travellers can take ferry crossings from southern England to France or Belgium. Another option is the direct Eurolines bus between London and Antwerp which takes around 8.5 hours. Train and air travel provides the fastest and most direct routes for getting to Antwerp from London or other cities. The well-connected transportation network makes Antwerp very accessible for European travellers.
Is there an airport in Antwerp?
Yes, there is a small regional airport located in Antwerp called Antwerp International Airport. However, it is not a major airport and only handles some commercial passenger flights as well as general aviation traffic. Antwerp Airport is located 5 km (3.1 miles) southeast of the city centre in the district of Deurne. It has one passenger terminal, aircraft stands, freight facilities and a flight school. The single runway is only 600 metres ( 0.37 miles) long, allowing it to accommodate small passenger aircraft. There are no regular long-haul or intercontinental flights to and from Antwerp Airport. It mainly handles domestic routes and flights to select European cities operated by smaller budget airlines like CityJet. Major airlines fly into Brussels Airport instead, which is the largest international airport serving the Antwerp region. Regarding passenger traffic, Antwerp Airport served around 250,000 passengers in 2019 before the pandemic. This is quite modest compared to the major airports. Still, Antwerp does have its own airport within city limits, even if it is small-scale and connects mostly to domestic destinations and a handful of European hubs. Travellers coming from further abroad will need to fly into Brussels and take ground transport to Antwerp.
How to get from Antwerp to Brussels?
Listed below are the steps someone needs to follow in order to get from Antwerp to Brussels.
- Firstly, one must determine the preferred mode of transport. Options include train, car, bus, taxi, or bicycle. Factors such as travel time, cost and convenience should be considered to choose the best option for the journey from Antwerp to Brussels.
- Secondly, one should head to Antwerp's central train station if choosing the train. A ticket to Brussels must be purchased from a ticket machine or the ticket counter. After checking the schedule and waiting for the next available train, one can board the train and enjoy a comfortable ride. The journey typically takes around 40-50 minutes.
- Thirdly, one can rent a car or use a personal vehicle if opting to drive. Following the E19 motorway from Antwerp to Brussels and using a GPS or map for guidance if needed, the drive usually takes 45 minutes to an hour. The distance between Antwerp and Brussels is 45 km (28 miles) by road.
- Fourthly, for bus travel, one must find a bus station in Antwerp that offers services to Brussels. A ticket can be purchased online or at the station and the bus ride may take around 1-2 hours, depending on traffic and stops.
- Fifthly, If choosing a taxi or ride-sharing service, one can book a ride using a taxi service or app like Uber. The destination must be provided as Brussels and the ride may take 45 minutes to an hour.
- Lastly, upon arrival in Brussels, one should use local transportation, such as trams, buses, or the metro, to reach the specific destination in Brussels. Maps or locals can be consulted for directions if needed.
Is the Antwerp City Pass worth it?
Yes, Antwerp City Pass is definitely worth it. The Antwerp City Pass is the official tourist pass for the city of Antwerp in Belgium. It offers free or discounted admission to museums, attractions, public transportation and other services in Antwerp. It can save money for visitors planning to see multiple sights and use public transit during their stay. The Antwerp City Pass costs €29 (£25, $30) for 24 hours, €40 (£34, $43) for 48 hours and €48 (£41, $51) for 72 hours. The pass is activated when used for the first time, not when purchased.
There are three options to buy the Antwerp City Pass. These are, online through the Visit Antwerp website, the visitor centers in Antwerp and at the FOMU Photo Museum shop. The two visitor centers where people can buy the Antwerp City Pass. The first one is at Grote Markt 13, which is open daily 10am-5pm. The second visitor center is at Antwerp Central Station and is open daily 9am-5pm.
The Antwerp City Pass offers free admission to over 15 museums and attractions including Rubens House, Museum aan de Stroom (MAS), Plantin-Moretus Museum, Cathedral of Our Lady, De Ruien, St. Paul's Church.
It also offers free public transportation on trams and buses operated by De Lijn. Discounts of 10-25% on additional attractions like the Antwerp zoo, boat tours, Segway tours and more. Buyers will also get a voucher booklet for discounts at shops and restaurants across Antwerp.
What are the markets in Antwerp?
Antwerp has several weekly, monthly, seasonal and annual markets. The weekly markets are Vogelenmarkt, Exotic market, Friday market, Antiques market, Bio market. The monthly or seasonal markets in Antwerp are the Boekenplein market, the Lambermontmartre, the Brocantwerpen and the Grote Markt. The yearly markets in Antwerp are the Rubens market and the famous Antwerp Christmas market.
Listed below are the markets in Antwerp.
- Rubens market. Rubens is a market that takes place yearly, in Grote Markt on August 15 from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. At the Rubens market, all merchants are dressed like 17th-century merchants and their stands are decorated in that way as well. At the end of the market day, the best-dressed merchant with the best-decorated stand is chosen. The items being sold are of this age, though, which might be a good thing if you're looking to buy some produce.
- Antwerp Christmas market. Every year the city of Antwerp organizes the Antwerp Christmas market with lots of food and drink stands but also stands selling seasonal products, an ice skating rink and even a Ferris wheel. It's a good place to do some Christmas shopping.
- Boekenplein market (“Books Square”). Boekenplein market is more than just a books market. There are always some musicians playing and there are stands where you can grab a bite or a drink. To be consumed while reading your newly bought book, of course. Boekenplein market is taking place every third Sunday of the months March to October, in De Coninckplein, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Lambermontmartre market. Lambermontmartre market is a square where (mostly graphic) artists display their work and often there's also someone drawing portraits of people. Lambermontmartre wants to recreate the same ambiance in the south neighborhood (“‘t Zuid”) of Antwerp, but also includes acoustic concerts. It is considered similar to Montmartre in Paris. It is taking place every last Sunday, from May to September, from 12 p.m. to 5 pm.
- Brocantwerpen. Brocantwerpen is a flea-market where you can also find some vintage and antiques. People can buy furniture, dolls, film posters, clothing, handbags, matchboxes, vinyl records, stamps and much more. Most things are unique. It is taking place about 6 times a year at the Grote Markt. People should check more information on the Brocantwerpen website for dates and hours to visit.
- Vogelenmarkt (“Birds market”). The Vogelenmarkt is one of my favorite markets in Antwerp as it's so diverse and definitely not a typical farmers market. The stands at the Vogelenmarkt sell flowers, fabrics, antiques, jewelry and more. You can even find small animals, like hamsters, here. It is taking place every Sunday from 8am to 1pm, at the Oudevaartplaats, Theaterplein and surrounding streets.
- Exotic market. The exotic market is – as you could have guessed – a very multicultural market where you can buy and taste all kinds of Mediterranean specialties. It's a great place to find Turkish and Moroccan food. It is taking place every Saturday (except on public holidays) from 8am to 4pm, at the Oudevaartplaats, Theaterplein and surrounding streets.
- Friday market. On Fridays, old furniture and small antiques are auctioned at the Friday Market. It's always a lively event and fun to attend, even if you just go to watch. It is taking place every Friday from 9am to 1pm at the Vrijdagmarkt.
- Antiques market. At the Antiques market people can find antiques and other old/second-hand stuff at the antique market on Saturday and Sunday. This market is aimed more at “casual” buyers than the Friday market. It is open on Saturdays at Lijnwaadmarkt from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (except on public holidays). Also on Sundays Sint-Jansvliet from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (also on public holidays)
- Bio market. Bio is hip, also in Antwerp. At the Sunday bio market, only products with a bio quality label are being sold. It is taking place every Sunday from 8am to 4pm at Falconplein.
Are Christmas markets crowded in Antwerp?
Yes, Antwerp's Christmas markets do tend to get quite crowded, especially on weekends and during peak times. However, the lively atmosphere is part of the appeal. The Antwerp Christmas market is taking place yearly and attracts locals and tourists to their festive stalls. The biggest is the “Winter in Antwerp” market running for over a month on the Grote Markt main square and adjacent streets. With over 200 stalls, this bustling market attracts crowds browsing gifts, ornaments, food and drinks. The historic centre also hosts an intimate, authentic Christmas market at the wharf, bringing seasonal cheer with carols, crafts and local cuisine. The zoological gardens hold a family-friendly Santa's Village market as well. During evenings and weekends, these markets overflow with visitors soaking up the Christmas spirit, meaning congested foot traffic and queues are common. However, the cheerful ambience and twinkling lights help offset the crowds. Visiting on weekdays or mornings provides a more relaxed experience. The extended duration of Antwerp's Christmas markets also spreads out attendance. Lively crowds are integral to enjoying the festive atmosphere that makes Antwerp's Christmas markets so popular yet worth braving the masses.
Is there music in Christmas markets in Belgium?
Yes, live musical performances are central to the festive atmosphere at many Christmas markets throughout Belgium, including in cities like Bruges, Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent. The markets often have special stages for live music and carol singers. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, holiday music fills the air at Belgium's Christmas markets. Shoppers can listen to choirs singing traditional carols or bands playing upbeat festive tunes as they browse the stalls. Some markets have pianists or organists playing Christmas songs as well. Daily music schedules in Bruges, Brussels and Antwerp feature local school and church choirs and professional musicians. Brass bands and other ensembles may provide live entertainment too. The music adds to the seasonal spirit and provides warmth during the cold winter nights. The sound of classic Christmas carols sung by choir groups as shoppers sip warm mulled wine and gather around food stalls is an integral part of the traditional European Christmas market. The evidence indicates live musical performances from choirs, singers, bands and other musicians are commonly incorporated into Christmas markets throughout Belgium to provide a festive holiday atmosphere.
What are the best music festivals in Belgium?
Listed below are the best music festivals in Belgium:
- Tomorrowland: One of the most popular Belgium music festivals, Tomorrowland is held in Boom, near Antwerp. It attracts music lovers from all over the world, featuring a wide array of electronic music genres. The festival is known for its elaborate stage designs and top-notch production.
- Rock Werchter: Rock Werchter is a Belgium music festival located near Leuven that offers a diverse lineup of rock, pop and electronic music. It has been a staple in the Belgian music scene for decades and continues to draw large crowds. The festival's commitment to quality and variety has earned it numerous awards.
- Pukkelpop: Pukkelpop is a Belgium music festival held in Hasselt, known for its eclectic mix of genres. From indie rock to hip-hop, the festival caters to a wide audience. Its innovative approach to programming and emphasis on emerging talent make it a favourite among music enthusiasts.
- Gent Jazz Festival: The Gent Jazz Festival is a celebration of jazz music in Ghent, Belgium. It showcases both local and international jazz talents. As one of the premier Belgium festivals for jazz lovers, it offers a rich and diverse program that appeals to both purists and newcomers.
What is the weather like in Antwerp?
Antwerp has a maritime temperate climate with mild winters and summers. According to the weather data, Antwerp's warmest month is July when average high temperatures reach 23°C (73°F) and nighttime lows average 12°C (54°F). The weather is mostly comfortable in July with some humid days. Antwerp's coldest month is January when daytime highs average only 5.9°C (43°F) and lows drop to 0.3°C (33°F) so winter weather is very cold. The best months for pleasant weather in Antwerp are June, August and September. In June, Antwerp enjoys warm daytime highs of 20.2°C (69°F) and mild nights of 10.5°C (51°F). August brings high temperatures of 22.7°C (73°F) and evenings are comfortable with lows of 12°C (54°F). Antwerp weather in September remains warm with average highs of 19.1°C (66°F).
In terms of rainfall, November is Antwerp's wettest month with precipitation averaging 81mm over 12 days. October also brings substantial rainfall while December, January and May each average 60-70mm of precipitation per month. April is Antwerp's driest month when rainfall decreases to just 40mm over 7 wet days. Summertime weather is more settled with July averaging only 35mm of rain. Antwerp's prevailing winds come from the west and south between September and February bringing wet and stormy weather off the North Sea. Northerly winds are more common in late spring.
Antwerp's warmest weather comes in July but June to September offer mild temperatures and lower rainfall. Winters are cold and wet. November sees the most precipitation while April is the driest month. Antwerp's weather is changeable year-round due to its maritime location.
Is Antwerp worth visiting?
Yes, Antwerp is absolutely worth visiting. As Belgium's second-largest city, Antwerp has a wide variety of historic sites, museums, architecture, shopping, food and nightlife, making it an engaging destination for tourists. The beautiful mediaeval centre is filled with guild houses, the impressive Gothic Cathedral of Our Lady and stunning architecture dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries. Antwerp also has popular art museums like the Royal Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum Mayer Van Den Bergh with significant collections. The famed Antwerp Central train station, built in 1905, is a sight. For shopping, Antwerp is the world capital of diamond trading and cutting and has an array of boutiques and markets. The dining scene is excellent, with Belgian specialities like waffles, chocolate, fries and beer. Antwerp has trendy fashion and design districts and lively nightlife venues. The port area along the river is also of interest. Easy to navigate and relatively compact, Antwerp can be seen in a couple days or provide enough museums, historic sites, restaurants and cafés to occupy many more days. To sum up, Antwerp makes for a rewarding and memorable urban getaway with something for all interests.
Is Antwerp expensive?
No, Antwerp is generally not considered an expensive city compared to other major European destinations. The cost of living and travelling in Antwerp and Belgium is moderately priced. Basic goods like milk, cigarettes, water and beer are reasonably priced. For example, a pint of beer at a pub in Antwerp costs around €2-4, comparable to other cities like Brussels. Hotel rooms, restaurant meals, groceries and public transportation also tend to cost slightly less than in other major cities like London, Paris, or Amsterdam. However, prices are higher compared to more budget-friendly destinations in Eastern Europe. The average cost of a basic breakfast in Antwerp is €8-12 and dinner for two is around €40-60. While Antwerp has some pricier luxury hotels and dining, budget options are widely available. Rental accommodation, food from markets and supermarkets and free attractions help keep travel costs low. Summing up, the cost of living and travelling in Antwerp and Belgium is relatively affordable compared to other Western European countries. Moderate prices in Belgium on most goods and services make it a reasonable destination for travellers looking to stretch their budgets further.
Is Antwerp safe?
Yes, Antwerp is generally considered a safe city to visit and live in. Antwerp has relatively low crime rates compared to other major cities in Europe. Violent crime rates are minimal and petty crimes like pickpocketing or theft are more common. However, violent incidents are rare and most visits to Antwerp are trouble-free. As with any large tourist city, visitors should take normal safety precautions like being aware of their surroundings, securing valuables and avoiding isolated areas at night. Areas like the red light district can attract more petty crimes, but increased police patrols have improved safety in recent years. Antwerp is as safe as most European cities and its compact, walkable layout makes it easy to stay in safe, populated areas. If visitors exercise basic street smarts and caution, they are highly unlikely to encounter any issues regarding criminality or theft while travelling in Antwerp, Belgium. The city has strong law enforcement and low crime levels compared to many other destinations. For these reasons, Antwerp can be considered a very safe place to visit.
Is Antwerp easy to visit with kids?
Yes, Antwerp is easy to visit with children. Antwerp has many family-friendly attractions and activities, making it an enjoyable destination for kids and toddlers. The Antwerp Zoo is a top attraction, housing over 9000 animals in a beautiful park setting. The Aquatopia indoor water park is next to the zoo, with slides, pools and play areas for all ages. The calm canals with boat tours and cruises provide a unique way to see the city. Kid-focused museums like the Museum aan de Stroom (MAS) and the Museum of Diamonds have interactive exhibits and programs. Antwerp also has great public parks like Nachtegaalplaats Park with playgrounds and the beautiful 19th century Central Station with its main hall, zoo mosaic floor and train watching. Sweet treats like Belgian waffles and chocolate shops also delight young ones. The compact city centre makes it walkable for families, plus there is a large number of family-oriented attractions. Also, most attractions are accessible via public transport. Visiting Antwerp with kids and toddlers is easy and recommended.
Are there any beaches near Antwerp?
Yes, there are a few beaches located not too far from the city of Antwerp in Belgium. However, Antwerp has no beaches directly, as it is inland and along the Scheldt River. The nearest beach town to Antwerp would be Blankenberge, which has a long stretch of sandy beach along the North Sea. Blankenberge is about 30 km (18.6 miles) or a 30-minute from Antwerp. Other beach towns within an hour's drive of Antwerp include Knokke-Heist to the northeast and De Haan to the west. The coastline of Belgium is not very extensive, but these beach resort towns offer some nice options for swimming, sunbathing and enjoying the sand and sea breezes during the summer months. They provide a nice seaside getaway without travelling too far from Antwerp. While Antwerp city does not have beaches, the Belgium beaches near the city can provide enjoyable beach days for those looking to visit the coast while based in Antwerp.
What are the UNESCO world heritage sights in Belgium?
Listed below are the UNESCO world heritage sights in Belgium:
- The Grand Place in Brussels: The Grand Place in Brussels, with ornate mediaeval guildhalls, town hall and vibrant commercial atmosphere, was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1998. The Grand Place testifies to the vitality of the commercial role and the importance of the municipal institutions of the historic cities of Belgium. It is an outstanding example of a historical public square.
- The Flemish Béguinages: The Flemish Béguinage consists of 13 béguinages across Flanders, including those in Bruges, Antwerp and Ghent, which were added to the UNESCO list in 1998 as well. These architectural complexes originated in the Middle Ages when they housed lay religious women called Beguines. They are exceptional examples of the traditional architecture of Western Europe.
- The Four Lifts on the old Canal du Centre: The Four Lifts on the Old Canal du Centre and their Environs in La Louvière and Le Roeulx were inscribed in 1998 and 1999. They are hydraulic boat lifts on the historic Canal du Centre. They are an exceptional example of a late 19th-century industrial landscape in good condition.
- The historic centre of Bruges: The historic centre of Bruges, whose public and commercial buildings date from the 12th to the 15th centuries, was added to the UNESCO list in 2000. Bruges has managed to preserve its historic fabric, including mediaeval buildings, remarkably well. It is an outstanding example of an architectural and cultural ensemble.
- The Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes: The Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes covers over 100 hectares and were inscribed in 2000. They constitute the largest and earliest concentration of ancient mines in Europe, dating back over 6000 years. They provided high-quality flint across the continent for thousands of years.
Find below the most important pages about Antwerp.
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