If you haven’t been to Antwerp before, let this beginners guide help you know everything before you go. Antwerp is a port city on Belgium’s River Scheldt, with history dating to the Middle Ages. It’s main form of trading is known to be diamond traders, cutters and polishers that dates back to the 17th century.
A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO ANTWERP // WHAT TO SEE, DO AND EAT
WHAT TO EXPECT IN ANTWERP
Antwerp is a huge shopping haven filled with hundreds of shops, perfect if you want to do some shopping. Once you leave the train station there is a strip of restaurants and cafes. After that you’ll reach another strip of clothing, technology and beauty shops all before you reach the main Markt. Antwerp is known for being a port city, it’s where boats and cargo ships come in and out daily dropping off their cargo.
Antwerp’s Grote Markt (Great Market) is just like any other across Belgium, featuring the traditional crow-stepped gable roof design and golden statues on the buildings. It’s one of the main attractions in the heart of the old city. The Cathedral of Our Lady Antwerp and the City Hall are also popular attractions in Antwerp that tourists love to visit.
There was so much that I’m gutted we couldn’t see but I’m hoping I can go back soon and tick it off my bucket list for Belgium.
READ MORE: A Beginners Guide To Brugge
HOW TO GET TO ANTWERP
Getting to Antwerp is very easy when travelling from Brussels. The journey from Brussels Midi to Antwerp Central Station took around 50 minutes and cost about €7.40 which is about £6.50 when buying your ticket at the ticket booth (Prices accurate as at April 2019). Antwerp Central Station is gorgeous and features this amazing golden clock at the end of the station before you exit through the main doors. When you arrive into the station, you can see from your train window rows and rows of bikes that are left at the station in their padlocked stands. It is such a surreal sight and amazing to see how many people cycle around Belgium’s cities.
NAVIGATE YOUR WAY AROUND ANTWERP…
Open this map on your phone when you arrive in Antwerp to help navigate you around the city and find my recommended spots to see.
THINGS TO DO IN ANTWERP
- • Shop til you drop
- • Visit Cathedral of Our Lady Antwerp
- • Go to the viewpoint at Museum aan de Stroom
- • Check out the Port of Antwerp
- • Take in the architecture of Grote Markt
- • Visit the Antwerp Zoo (if you have children, or like zoo’s)
- • Find somewhere hidden like the Vlaeykensgang alleyways
HIGHLIGHTS OF ANTWERP
Museum aan de Stroom Viewpoint
If you want to get a great view of Antwerp then head to Museum aan de Stroom viewpoint for 360 degree views. Take the escalators up to Floor 10 for amazing views of the city from the port area to the central market. Entering the viewpoint is FREE and is so easy to get to. Within the Museum is also an exhibition featuring certain themed artwork inside which you will need to pay to enter but it’s something you’re interested in then it’s worth a visit. Around the museum there are plenty of restaurants to eat at and relax by the waterfront so it’s great for relaxing there too.
Take in the architecture of the Grobe Markt
If you’re into architecture or are curious about it in another country then explore the Grobe Markt. The architecture is beautiful in Antwerp with so many different shaped and coloured buildings, either with art murals over the walls or beautiful golden statues on the roofs.
Find somewhere hidden that isn’t obvious or on a tourists map. Me and my friend Amy came across these adorable hidden alleyways off the main road. These alleyways house a very cute restaurant hidden behind metal gates. The alleyways were home to the poorest paid citizens, the shoemakers. They were in charge of ringing the cathedral bells to raise the alarm. Around the alleyways there so many antique shops and art studios for you to explore.
Check out the Port of Antwerp
If you are into boats or not, it’s definitely worth checking out the Port of Antwerp. It’s the perfect place to chill and watch the world go by. Whilst watching the boats come in and out of the port. The design of the Port building is really interesting too. Shaped almost like a fish or a boat completely covered in reflective windows so you can see from lots of different angles the reflections. You can also go inside the port building on certain days to see how it all works – check out their website here for more information.
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