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Antwerp (Dutch: Antwerpen, French: Anvers) is a large city and the capital of the eponymous province in the region of Flanders in Belgium. At a population of just over half a million people, it is the second largest city in Belgium (after Brussels), and it has a major European port. Due to its long and culturally rich history, the city of Antwerp houses many interesting historical buildings from different historical periods, as well as a lot of interesting museums. Antwerp is also known as the global diamond trade hub - more than 70% of all diamonds are traded in Antwerp.
Antwerp has grown to become a trendy city, attracting many Flemish and foreign artists, writers, intellectuals, and actors. This is reflected in the city's many trendy bars and shops. Antwerp is a city with many faces. While it may not be as historically preserved as Bruges or Ghent, it is a very dynamic city, offering a perfect mix of history and present-day modern life. The overwhelming friendliness of the people of Antwerp and their innate penchant for good food and good living, combined with their low stress lifestyle, makes it a desirable and relaxing place to visit.
|TIME ZONE :||• Time zone CET (UTC+1)|
• Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
|LANGUAGE :||Dutch (official) , French (official) , German (official)|
|AREA :||204.51 km2 (78.96 sq mi)|
|COORDINATES :||51°13′N 04°24′E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 49,1%|
• Female: 50,9%
|AREA CODE :||03|
|POSTAL CODE :||2000–2660|
|DIALING CODE :||+32 3|
|WEBSITE :||Official Website|
- Antwerp Zoo was founded in 1843, and is home to more than 6,000 animals (about 769 species). One of the oldest zoos in the world, it is renowned for its high level of research and conservation.
- Antwerp City Hall dates from 1565, and is a Belfry in Renaissance style
- Central Station is a railway station designed by Louis Delacenserie that was completed in 1905. It has two monumental neo-baroque façades, a large metal and glass dome (60m/197 ft) and a gilt and marbleinterior
- Cathedral of Our Lady. This church was begun in the 14th century and finished in 1518. The church has four works by Rubens, viz. "The Descent from the Cross", "The Elevation of the Cross", "The Resurrection of Christ" and "The Assumption"
- St. James' Church, is more ornate than the cathedral. It contains the tomb of Rubens
- The Church of St. Paul has a beautiful baroque interior. It is a few hundred yards north of the Grote Markt
- Museum Vleeshuis (Butchers' Hall) is a fine Gothic brick-built building sited a short distance to the North-West of the Grote Markt. Originally used as a home for the Butchers Guild these days it holds a musical instrument collection (including some original Ruckers harpsichords) and is home to occasional concerts.
- Plantin-Moretus Museum preserves the house of the printer Christoffel Plantijn and his successor Jan Moretus
- The Saint-Boniface Church is anAnglican church and headseat of the archdeanery North-West Europe.
- Boerentoren (Farmers' Tower) or KBC Tower, a 26-storey building built in 1932, is the oldest skyscraper in Europe
- Royal Museum of Fine Arts, close to the southern quays, has a collection of old masters (Rubens, Van Dyck, Titian) and the leading Dutch masters.
- Rubenshuis is the former home and studio of Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) in Antwerp. It is now a museum.
- Exchange or Bourse. The current building was built in 1872.
- Law Courts, designed by the Richard Rogers Partnership, Arup and VK Studio, and opened by King Albert in April 2006. This building is the antithesis of the heavy, dark court building designed by Joseph Poelaert that dominates the skyline of Brussels. The courtrooms sit on top of six fingers that radiate from an airy central hall, and are surmounted by spires which provide north light and resemble oast houses or the sails of barges on the nearby River Scheldt. It is built on the site of the old Zuid ("South") station, at the end of a magnificent 1.5 kilometres (1 mile) perspective at the southern end of Amerikalei. The road neatly disappears into an underpass under ovalBolivarplaats to join the motorway ring. This leaves peaceful surface access by foot, bicycle or tram (route 12). The building's highest 'sail' is 51 m (167 ft) high, has a floor area of 77,000 m2 (830,000 sq ft), and cost €130 million.
- Zurenborg, a late 19th century belle époque neighbourhood on the border of Antwerp and Berchem with many art nouveau architectural elements. The area counts as one of the most original belle époque urban expansion areas in Europe. Though the houses in the neighbourhood are listed as national heritage, they suffer severely from vibration and pollution caused by heavy city bus traffic through its streets, especially through the famous Cogels Osylei.
- Museum aan de Stroom The MAS is 60 metres high, and was designed by Neutelings Riedijk Architects. The façade is made of Indian red sandstone and curved glass panel construction. The MAS house 470,000 objects, most of which are kept in storage.
- Den Botaniek The botanic Garen located in the city centre at the Leopoldstraat created in 1825 with and covers almost 1 hectare. Before becoming a hortus botanicus it was a planteerden voor the Ecole Centrale and after that the herbal garden and later the vegetable garden for the Sint-Elisabethgasthuis. The garden is a protected landmark since 1950 and has a collection of 2.000 plants. It is open daily, the greenhouse is closed on Sundays. Admission is free.
Origin of the name
According to folklore, notably celebrated by a statue in front of the town hall, the city got its name from a legend about a giant called Antigoon who lived near the Scheldt river. He exacted a toll from passing boatmen, and for those who refused, he severed one of their hands and threw it into the river. Eventually the giant was killed by a young hero named Silvius Brabo, who cut off the giant's own hand and flung it into the river. Hence the name Antwerpen, from Dutch hand werpen, akin to Old English hand and wearpan (to throw), which has evolved to today's warp.
A longstanding theory is that the name originated in the Gallo-Roman period and comes from the Latin antverpia. Antverpia would come from Ante (before) Verpia(deposition, sedimentation), indicating land that forms by deposition in the inside curve of a river (which is in fact the same origin as Germanic waerpen). Note that the river Scheldt, before a transition period between 600 and 750, followed a different track. This must have coincided roughly with the current ringway south of the city, situating the city within a former curve of the river. However, many historians think it unlikely that there was a large settlement which would be named 'Antverpia', but more something like an outpost with a river crossing.
However, John Lothrop Motley argues, and so do a lot of Dutch etymologists and historians, that Antwerp's name derives from an 't werf (on the wharf, in the same meaning as the current English wharf). Aan 't werp (at the warp) is also possible. This "warp" (thrown ground) is a man-made hill or a river deposit, high enough to remain dry at high tide, whereupon a construction could be built that would remain dry. Another word for werp is pol (dyke) hence polders (the dry land behind a dyke, that was no longer flooded by the tide).
Historical Antwerp allegedly had its origins in a Gallo-Roman vicus. Excavations carried out in the oldest section near the Scheldt, 1952–1961 (ref. Princeton), produced pottery shards and fragments of glass from mid-2nd century to the end of the 3rd century. The earliest mention of Antwerp dates from the 4th century.
In the 4th century, Antwerp was first named, having been settled by the Germanic Franks. The name was reputed to have been derived from "anda" (at) and"werpum" (wharf).
The Merovingian Antwerp was evangelized by Saint Amand in the 7th century. At the end of the 10th century, the Scheldt became the boundary of the Holy Roman Empire. Antwerp became a margraviate in 980, by the German emperor Otto I, a border province facing the County of Flanders.
In the 11th century Godfrey of Bouillon was for some years known as the marquis of Antwerp. In the 12th century, Norbert of Xanten established a community of his Premonstratensian canons at St. Michael's Abbey at Caloes. Antwerp was also the headquarters of Edward III during his early negotiations with Jacob van Artevelde, and his son Lionel, the Duke of Clarence, was born there in 1338.
After the silting up of the Zwin and the consequent decline of Bruges, the city of Antwerp, then part of the Duchy of Brabant, grew in importance. At the end of the 15th century the foreign trading houses were transferred from Bruges to Antwerp, and the building assigned to the English nation is specifically mentioned in 1510. Antwerp became the sugar capital of Europe, importing the raw commodity from Portuguese and Spanish plantations. The city attracted Italian and German sugar refiners by 1550, and shipped their refined product to Germany, especially Cologne. Moneylenders and financiers did a large business lending money to the English government in 1544–1574. London bankers were too small to operate on that scale, and Antwerp had a highly efficient bourse that itself attracted rich bankers from around Europe. After the 1570s the city's banking business declined: England ended its borrowing in Antwerp in 1574.
Fernand Braudel states that Antwerp became "the centre of the entireinternational economy, something Bruges had never been even at its height." Antwerp was the richest city in Europe at this time. Antwerp's golden age is tightly linked to the "Age of Exploration". During the first half of the 16th century Antwerp grew to become the second-largest European city north of theAlps. Many foreign merchants were resident in the city. Francesco Guicciardini, the Venetian envoy, stated that hundreds of ships would pass in a day, and 2,000 carts entered the city each week. Portuguese ships laden with pepper and cinnamon would unload their cargo. According to Luc-Normand Tellier "It is estimated that the port of Antwerp was earning the Spanish crown seven times more revenues than the Americas."
Without a long-distance merchant fleet, and governed by an oligarchy of banker-aristocrats forbidden to engage in trade, the economy of Antwerp was foreigner-controlled, which made the city very cosmopolitan, with merchants and traders from Venice, Ragusa, Spain and Portugal. Antwerp had a policy of toleration, which attracted a large Orthodox Jewish community.
Antwerp experienced three booms during its golden age: the first based on the pepper market, a second launched by American silver coming from Seville (ending with the bankruptcy of Spain in 1557), and a third boom, after the stabilising Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis in 1559, based on the textiles industry. At the beginning of the 16th century Antwerp accounted for 40% of world trade. The boom-and-bust cycles and inflationary cost-of-living squeezed less-skilled workers. In the century after 1541, however, the city's economy and population declined dramatically, while rival Amsterdam experienced massive growth.
The religious revolution of the Reformation erupted in violent riots in August 1566, as in other parts of the Low Countries. The regent Margaret, Duchess of Parma, was swept aside when Philip II sent the Duke of Alba at the head of an army the following summer. When the Eighty Years' War broke out in 1568, commercial trading between Antwerp and the Spanish port of Bilbao collapsed and became impossible. On 4 November 1576, Spanish soldiers sacked the city during the so-called Spanish Fury: 7,000 citizens were massacred, 800 houses were burnt down, and over £2 million sterling of damage was done.
Subsequently, the city joined the Union of Utrecht in 1579 and became the capital of the Dutch revolt. In 1585, Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma and Piacenza, captured it after a long siege and as part of the terms of surrender its Protestantcitizens were given two years to settle their affairs before quitting the city. Most went to the United Provinces in the north, starting the Dutch Golden Age. Antwerp's banking was controlled for a generation by Genoa, and Amsterdam became the new trading centre.
The recognition of the independence of the United Provinces by the Treaty of Münster in 1648 stipulated that the Scheldt should be closed to navigation, which destroyed Antwerp's trading activities. This impediment remained in force until 1863, although the provisions were relaxed during French rule from 1795 to 1814, and also during the time Belgium formed part of the Kingdom of the United Netherlands (1815 to 1830). Antwerp had reached the lowest point in its fortunes in 1800, and its population had sunk to under 40,000, when Napoleon, realizing its strategic importance, assigned funds to enlarge the harbour by constructing a new dock (still named the Bonaparte Dock) and an access- lock and mole and deepening the Scheldt to allow for larger ships to approach Antwerp. Napoleon hoped that by making Antwerp's harbour the finest in Europe he would be able to counter the Port of London and hamper British growth. However, he was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo before he could see the plan through.
In 1830, the city was captured by the Belgian insurgents, but the citadel continued to be held by a Dutch garrison under General David Hendrik Chassé. For a time Chassé subjected the town to periodic bombardment which inflicted much damage, and at the end of 1832 the citadel itself was besieged by the French Northern Army commanded by Marechal Gerard. During this attack the town was further damaged. In December 1832, after a gallant defence, Chassé made an honourable surrender, ending the Siege of Antwerp (1832).
Later that century, a double ring of Brialmont Fortresses was constructed some 10 km (6 mi) from the city centre, as Antwerp was considered vital for the survival of the young Belgian state. And in the last decade Antwerp presented itself to the world via a World's Fair attended by 3 million.
Antwerp was the first city to host the World Gymnastics Championships, in 1903. During World War I, the city became the fallback point of the Belgian Army after the defeat at Liège. The Siege of Antwerp lasted for 11 days, but the city was taken after heavy fighting by the German Army, and the Belgians were forced to retreat westwards. Antwerp remained under German occupation until the Armistice.
Antwerp hosted the 1920 Summer Olympics. During World War II, the city was an important strategic target because of its port. It was occupied by Germany in May 1940 and liberated by the British 11th Armoured Division on 4 September 1944. After this, the Germans attempted to destroy the Port of Antwerp, which was used by the Allies to bring new material ashore. Thousands of Rheinbote, V-1 and V-2 missiles were fired (more V-2s than used on all other targets during the entire war combined), causing severe damage to the city but failed to destroy the port due to poor accuracy. After the war, Antwerp, which had already had a sizeable Jewish population before the war, once again became a major European centre of Haredi (and particularly Hasidic) Orthodox Judaism.
A Ten-Year Plan for the port of Antwerp (1956–1965) expanded and modernized the port's infrastructure with national funding to build a set of canal docks. The broader aim was to facilitate the growth of the north-eastern Antwerp metropolitan region, which attracted new industry based on a flexible and strategic implementation of the project as a co-production between various authorities and private parties. The plan succeeded in extending the linear layout along the Scheldt river by connecting new satellite communities to the main strip.
Starting in the 1990s, Antwerp rebranded itself as a world-class fashion centre. Emphasizing the avant-garde, it tried to compete with London, Milan, New York and Paris. It emerged from organized tourism and mega-cultural events.
According to the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), the port of Antwerpwas the seventeenth largest (by tonnage) port in the world in 2005 and second only toRotterdam in Europe. Importantly it handles high volumes of economically attractive general and project cargo, as well as bulk cargo. Antwerp's docklands, with five oil refineries, are home to a massive concentration of petrochemical industries, second only to the petrochemical cluster in Houston, Texas. Electricity generation is also an important activity, with four nuclear power plants at Doel, a conventional power station in Kallo, as well as several smaller combined cycle plants. There is a wind farm in the northern part of the port area. There are plans to extend this in the period 2014–2020. The old Belgian bluestone quays bordering the Scheldt for a distance of 5.6 km (3.5 mi) to the north and south of the city centre have been retained for their sentimental value and are used mainly by cruise ships and short sea shipping.
Antwerp's other great mainstay is the diamond trade that takes place largely within the diamond district. The city has four diamond bourses: the Diamond Club of Antwerp, the Beurs voor Diamanthandel, the Antwerpsche Diamantkring and the Vrije Diamanthandel. Since World War II families of the large Hasidic Jewish community have dominated Antwerp's diamond trading industry, although the last two decades have seen Indian and Maronite Christian from Lebanon and Armenian, traders become increasingly important. Antwerp World Diamond Centre, the successor to the Hoge Raad voor Diamant, plays an important role in setting standards, regulating professional ethics, training and promoting the interests of Antwerp as a centre of the diamond industry.
The municipality comprises the city of Antwerp proper and several towns. It is divided into nine entities (districts):
Some cafés have free wireless internet, but don't write it on the door for whatever reason. Others will charge for Internet access.
- McDonald's has free internet.
- Poolplanet — Six computers, €1 for half an hour. Printing is possible.
Many hotels, including the Radisson, have free/included internet. If you come in from the street with a laptop, they may let you use it for the price of a few drinks at their bar. The Fon initiative has also some members living in and around Antwerp providing often free connectivity.
If you're a student or member of a university, college or research institute elsewhere in the world, you can probably connect for free to the eduroam Wi-Fi network for higher education [www], in and near most buildings of the University of Antwerp or any of the Colleges. Ask IT services at your home institution whether it's part of eduroam, and if so, ask them for a manual to setup your machine for connections elsewhere.
Prices in Antwerp
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€1.20|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||€7.00|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||€32.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||€50.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||€70.00|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||€8.00|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||€3.50|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€3.50|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||€10.00|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||€|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||€0.18|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||€6.00|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||€1.90|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||€90.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||€40.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||€90.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||€2.20|
60 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
237 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
Antwerp airport (IATA: ANR) is a small airport catering mostly to business travellers, as due to the length its runway it can only be served by small aircraft. There are regular flights to business destinations such as London or Geneva, some holiday flights, as well as sizeable unscheduled traffic (mainly private and chartered business jets). The flip side of the small size of the airport is that both arrival and departure procedures are very quick compared to large hubs. There is a regular bus from the airport to the center and a taxi costs around €10.
Brussels Airport (IATA: BRU)
- Since the completion of the Diabolo rail link, hourly direct trains linking Antwerpen Centraal station with this airport have been introduced, and travel time was cut back to 35 minutes (45 minutes on weekends and public holidays). Single adult tickets are €11,30.
- There is also a direct bus between Brussels Airport and Antwerp which costs €10 and has two stops in Antwerp at Hotel Crowne Plaza and in the city center, in front of Central Station. A schedule can be found here
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (IATA:AMS) has a high-speed train station on the Amsterdam-Brussels line directly underneath the terminal, which allows for two different railway connections to Antwerp:
- There is a regular intercity train Amsterdam - Brussels that connects Schiphol Airport directly with Antwerpen Centraal station in approximately 1 hr 50 minutes. You can buy tickets with credit card at the automatic ticket booths in the Schiphol arrival hall. Payment with cash is also possible at the counter. Or you can book through Belgian Railways (SNCB/NMBS). A single ticket costs about €25.
- Second option is the bright red high-speed Thalys train Amsterdam - Paris, which stops at Schiphol and Antwerpen Centraal station, in about half the time it takes the regular train, but at double the price. Contrary to regular trains, reservations on Thalys are required. Best reserve your seat a wee or so beforehand, since buying a ticket on the spot will turn out to be even more expensive. The Thalys journey from Schiphol to Antwerpen Centraal can also be booked as a part of a SkyTeam flight (IATA code for Antwerpen Centraal is ZWE), usually costing less than when booking the flight and the Thalys ride alone.
- KLM also maintains a direct shuttle bus connection between Antwerpen Centraal and Schiphol Airport, which can be booked as a KLM flight segment under the code KL320/KL321. The bus takes 2.5 h to get between Antwerp and Schiphol, but there is usually no difference in price between flight tickets using the bus and the Thalys, so book carefully.
Belgium has an extensive rail network, and for intercity travel within Belgium, trains are always the best option. Tickets can be bought on the website of the Belgian railways and at the ticket counters in most stations. There are good train connections to and from Brussels Airport and Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. To plan your trip, you can consult the website of NMBS for national and international travels. If you cross multiple borders, it is often possible to book your entire trip at once through Deutsche Bahn.
Antwerp-Central is a major stop on the Paris-Amsterdam high-speed line. Since 2009, international trains from France and the Netherlands stop in Antwerp-Central station only, and not anymore in Antwerp-Berchem. Through Brussels-South railway station, there are also high-speed connections to other destinations in France with TGV, or destinations in Germany with ICE. Real-time information on rail traffic, delays, disruptions, arrivals and departures at every Belgian station can be easily found on RailTime. If you have a mobile internet connection available, the BeTrains app can also be of use.
Transportation - Get Around
By Public Transport
The public transportation company De Lijn has a dense network of buses, trams, and pre-metro (underground tram) connections in the city and wide area around it. You can buy cards of €14 (10 fares) at fixed points in town or buy them inside buses. If you don't have a card you pay more inside the bus (€3.00 per fare). For one fare, you can ride up to an hour within the entire city center limits. If you want to travel out of the city center you have to pay more for the extra zones travelled.
The central bus station is the Franklin Roosevelt plaats, near the central train station. Most buses leave from there or from the train station. Maps of the bus/tram network in the entire region can be found in PDF format here
By Taxi and cars
Taxis are available, but they can be quite expensive. They await customers at specific locations around town (waving your hand will seldom work) like theGroenplaats or the railway station. You can recognize these places by an orange TAXI sign. The prices are fixed in the taximeter.
Driving in Antwerp is not as difficult as many big cities in the world, but crossroads can seem very chaotic for foreigners. There are few free parking spaces, but many spaces where you have to pay (on the street or in underground car parks). The underground car parks are well-signposted. The prices are typically €2 per hour.
There are many one-way roads, that can make it difficult to get to a specific place. Try to park your car as close as possible and go on foot.
The city has many special areas for cyclists, and cycling is easy and comfortable in Antwerp. Most one-way roads can be accessed both ways. Make sure to lock your bike to a fixed object, however, or it will be stolen! Around town there are a few places that are specially prepared for hosting bicycles for free, like at theGroenplaats.
Antwerp's bike-sharing scheme is called Velo. You can get a day pass for these bikes in the Central Station and pick up your bike at more than 80 places in Antwerp. The first 15 minutes are free, then the price gradually increases. Bicycles can also be rented at several places in town like Ligfiets, Windroos, Fietsdokter (verschransingsstraat), or Fietshaven (government initiative, under the central station).
Most things to see are near or within the Boulevards, the half-moon of avenues where there were once 16th century city-walls. This old town center, with a diameter of about 1.5 km, can be walked, and there is also excellent public transport. The centre is densely signposted to aid those discovering it on foot [www].
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- The main shopping area is the Meir, a street that stretches out from the Keyserlei (close to the central station) to the Groenplaats. It is one of the most famous shopping streets in Belgium. Don't forget to visit the mall Stadsfeestzaal (betweenMeir and Hopland), which was beautifully restored and reopened in 2007 after it was partially destroyed by a fire ten years earlier. You will see a lot of gold on the ceiling, and all sorts of stores. The streets Hopland and Schuttershofstraat are the shopping terrain of the rich and famous with exclusive fashion shops like Cartier, Hermes, Scapa, Armani, etc. The Huidevettersstraat, Nationalestraat, andKammenstraat (all located close to the Meir) are also very interesting shopping streets to visit.
- Purchasing a diamond at one of the many tourist jewelry shops around the Central station can be an unpleasant experience. Like any big diamond city in world, there are many tourist trap diamond shops around the actual diamond district centre, though it is fair to say that if you are prepared to barter you can purchase jewellery here for significantly less than in countries such as the UK. Wealthy diamond buyers should do their investigative shopping online prior to visiting Antwerp. If you're less wealthy and someone asks you to bring back some diamonds from Antwerp, buy diamond-shaped chocolate pralines at e.g. Burie (Korte Gasthuisstraat 3), Château Blanc [www] (Torfbrug 1) or Del Rey (Appelmansstraat 5).
- Trendy shopping can be done in the Kammenstraat and surroundings. In this area, you will also find the Fashion Museum [www] and many shops of famous Antwerp fashion designers, such as Walter van Beirendonck and Dries van Noten.
- The Kloosterstraat has many antique shops, with often bizarre items for sale.
- Chinatown can be found about 300m north of the Central Station (see also Eat). A lot of Japanese, Korean, and Chinese products can be found here.
- Weekend Markets take place on the Theaterplein Square (follow Wapper orMeistraat south from the Meir) in front of the Stadsschouwburg theatre. The markets are very popular with stalls offering everything from food (fruit and veg, meat, fish, nuts, cheese ethnic specialities) to household goods to bicycles to antiques to clothes. Sunday tends to see a lot more stalls compared to Saturday. Take a break from browsing at the stall at the centre of the square, where you can buy a cheese roll with a glass of chilled cava to wash it down, most convivial!
- At Ploegstraat 25 you can find a "give-away shop", where you can bring and take stuff as you please without any monetary interaction. Open M-F 2PM-6PM.
- Antwerpse handjes — Little biscuits or chocolates in the shape of a hand. Invented by a Jewish baker in 1932.
- As with most Flemish towns, you can find many fritkoten in the city. These are places of which the Belgians are really proud of. Here you can buy the famous Belgian fries and other fried food for a reasonable price.
- Pitta/Shoarma — These shops are often open through the day and are the last ones to close.
- Broodje/Boterkoken (sandwiches) are local and inexpensive. Try one with crevettes and sause andalouse (€3,50 for a double one) at Diksmuise Boterkoeken, in the basement of the ugly shopping center (Schoenmarkt)
- People often go eat a "smos", a sandwich with several layers of garniture in it. The name refers to the mess you make when trying to eat it. You can find them in several stores like Panos or Foodmaker. The most famous "smoskes" according to students are found at "Jean-Pierre". You can find it opposite to the university (Grote Kauwenberg 41).
- Thai Thai Simple, . Amerikalei 72. Fresh authentic thai food in an old mansion on Amerikalei.
- Sombat, . Vleeshuisstraat 1. Thai haute cuisine
- De Keyserlei (the street that runs west from Central Station) is a street with a varied choice of restaurants. The side streets on the north side of De Keyserlei offer even more options, with Lebanese, South-African, Mexican, Italian and Vietnamese (to name but a few) restaurants all rubbing shoulders with each other. With so many restaurants in a small area the prices tend to be pretty competitive.
- Chinatown takes up a couple of streets on the north side of Koningin-Astrid-plein(the large square to the north of Central Station). Look for the 2 lions guarding the entrance to Van Wesenbekestraat. Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai and Nepalese restaurants are here as well as lots of Chinese options.
- Da Giovani (Jan Blomstraat 3-5-7-8), . A cheap Italian restaurant. It is popular among students, because of their 20% discount. A second "Da Giovanni" is on the Keyserlei, near the central station.
- Tropicos (at Tabakvest and Hopland), . Known for its lively South American atmosphere, caipirinha cocktails, and tasteful Brazilian Mexican kitchen.
- Wok & Tandoor, . A show-restaurant serving wok and tandoori food. It is prepared in front of you by cooks in a spectacular way. It's an all-you-can-eat buffet with very reasonable prices. It is in the south of Antwerp close to the new Courthouse.
- Try one of the Indian restaurants on Lange Herentalsestraat
- The Hilton Hotel has a restaurant overlooking the Groenplaats.
- Rooden Hoed Corner of Oude Koornmarkt and Tempelstraat. The oldest restaurant in Antwerp, specializing in seafood, especially mussels. Very popular with locals, but few tourists, so you know it's good. Mains starting at €20.
- Mata Mata & Pili Pili (African Restaurant and Cocktail Bar), Hoogstraat 44, 2000 Antwerpen, . from 5pm 7 days. Lively and colourful restaurant with a range of dishes from across the African continent and a particular focus on West African cuisine.
- Bourla, Graanmarkt 7. A "Havanna style" restaurant in an old theatre. They serve a mix of Belgian and French style food. Not cheap, but excellent value for money €25-€50 for a 3 course meal incl. wine and drinks
- Aahaar (Vegetarian Indian Cuisine), Lange Herentalsestraat 23, 2018 Antwerpen (Minutes from Antwerp's main train station Central Station), . Mon to Fri 12:00-15:00 / 17:30-21:30 Sat & Sun 13:00-21:30. Serves only vegetarian Indian cuisine, including a buffet with a daily changing menu. €10 Unlimited Buffet.
Sights & Landmarks
- Antwerp City Card With the Antwerp City Card you can visit all museums and three monumental churches over a 48-hour period. It also features a 25% discount on attractions, sightseeing and bicycle rentals. In the free guide you find vouchers that you can use to enjoy benefits on typical Antwerp and Belgian products such as chocolate, chips and much more. Price: €28.
- City Hall/Old Market Square(Stadhuis/Grote Markt). This is the historical center of town. The market square is surrounded by the typical medieval guild houses you find in most Flemish historical towns. The city hall is designed in special architectural style with a combination between Gothic and early Renaissance. This style is almost exclusively found in this region of Europe.
- Diamond District. This is south and southwest of the central station. You will find countless jewellery shops, as well as the Antwerp Diamond Exchange, arguably the most important financial centre of the world's diamond industry. The district is interesting from an ethnic and cultural perspective, for at least 50% of the diamond industry is in the hands of the city's Jews. Antwerp has a large population of Jews (about 50,000 people), a lot of them Orthodox.
- Connects Hoogstraat, Oude Koornmarkt and Pelgrimsstraat. It is a real street, but only accessible through unassuming medieval front doors in the streets. The medieval equivalent of a gated community. It now houses nice, informal restaurants and chic, discrete houses. A must see!.
- Jewish Quarter (Joodse wijk). One of the main Jewish centers in the world, with the beautiful 'Van Den Nest' and 'Bouwmeester' synagogues. Contact the Jewish community for a guide.
- Antwerp Ruien. You can take a guided tour of the underground city of Antwerp.
- Red light district. Like cities such as Amsterdam and Hamburg, Antwerp has a red light district. If you want to visit, consider going during the day. When Villa Tinto set up, Antwerp's little red light district became Europe's most High Tech Brothel. If you intend to be a patron of the district, be wary of women who beckon you to their kamers and invite you in without discussing a price. In many cases, these women will charge a greatly inflated rate once they have you inside their kamer. Even if you have no intention of partaking in the festivities, it is worthwhile just to see the spectacle that the district is. 200 women all in their own window dressed for action. It is also worth being wary of beggars in the Red Light District. While few of these are particularly hostile, they can be bothersome and should be ignored. There is very little illegal activity as there is a constant police presence, which you can expect to see.
- Cathedral of Our Lady (Onze Lieve Vrouwekathedraal). One of the most impressive and largest Gothic cathedrals in Northern Europe, built in 1351 it stands over 400 ft tall. It also houses some of Rubens' most famous paintings.
- Saint Paul's Church (Pauluskerke).A beautiful mixed gothic and baroque church formerly part of a nunnery. Noted for its Calvary monument. It is a short distance north of the Grote Maarkt on Zwartzustersstraat.
- Carolus Borromeus Church. Unlike the cathedral, this is a Baroque church. With a safe and minimal exterior, you would not know the beautiful decorations (done by Rubens' studio) are inside. Located on the picturesque square Conscienceplein.
- Antwerp Zoo. One of the oldest zoos in the world, with over 4000 animals and lots of 19th century design and architecture.
- Aquatopia. Reasonable aquarium in the basement of the Astrid Park Plaza hotel, tickets also available from the Zoo.
Other buildings of note
- The Begijnhof (beguinage). A sort of medieval monastery for women. The well-kept gardens are great photo opportunities.
- Boerentoren (Farmers' Tower). Now called KBC Tower after the company that owns it, this 97m skyscraper in the historical center of town is said to be the oldest one on the European continent. It was built between 1929 and 1932. It is located at the end of the Meir shopping street. The tower is renowned for its typical art-deco sculptures. It is not a skyscraper on the same scale as some that were erected in North America; for example the Empire State Building in New York, built at the same time, is 381m.
- Bourla theatre (Bourlaschouwburg). 19th century neo-classicist theatre building. Charming from the outside and even nicer if you manage to get in for a theater show or a concert. It houses a spectacular pastry salon inside the large cupola above the theater itself. Great place to have tea with cake or waffles, of course.
- Central Station. Even if not arriving or leaving by train the station is well worth a visit. Platforms are on three levels, all constructed beneath the very impressive original structure.
- Het Steen (The Stone). This is a rather small medieval castle on the banks of the river Schelde. It used to function as a city fortification and now houses a naval museum (open air only, inside closed). It is the starting point of the Wandelterrassen, a scenic boardwalk with a cafe/restaurant at either end.
- Rubenshuis, Wapper 9-11, . The house of painter Peter Paul Rubens is now a museum of his life and artwork Entrance fee: €6, Students under 26 €1, other students free. Free audio guide (recommended). Bring light earphones to plug in to the audio guide..
South of Antwerp
Since the restoration a couple of years ago, the south of the city is known as the trendy part. The centre of this piece of the city is a huge square called de gedempte zuiderdokken which simply means, 'the filled-up southern docks'. In the sixties, this was an abandoned trade dock. They filled up the dock in an attempt to expand the city. The high crime rate in the region made it a very cheap place to live. This was a blessing for the local art world, which started to flourish, making the region trendy and safe over the years. Today, it is known as a "yuppie stronghold".
- MUHKA, Leuvenstraat 32, , e-mail: [email protected].Museum of contemporary art.
- FotoMuseum, Waalsekaai 47, , fax: .Renovated in 2004.
- Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten (Royal Museum of Fine Arts), Leopold de Waelplaats, . Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten boasts of an excellent collection of paintings from the 15th century right up to the 20th century. The museum's permanent collection has masters such as Peter Paul Rubens, Brueghel, Van Eyck, Anthony Van Dyck, Jacob Jordaens, and James Ensor to name a few. Closed for heavy reconstruction work through early 2017. Some of the collection will be temporarily displayed at other museums in Antwerp and nearby cities on a rotating basis during construction.
- Zuiderpershuis, . It is on the "kaaien" and is a center for intercultural art.
- Het Muntplein. A place where graffiti artists can make artwork without being chased by police. There are often very nice creations. Graffiti contests occur on a regular basis.
- Palace of Justice (Justitiepaleis). There are actually two of these. The old one is a 19th-century red brick building on the Britselei. The new one is a dominant, modern, white building in the south of Antwerp (Bolivarplaats). You can hardly miss it once you're there. The architect of this building was Richard Rogers, who also built the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Millennium Dome in London.
- Zurenborg neighborhood. A little off the beaten track. This neighborhood in the south east of Antwerp (near the railway station Antwerpen-Berchem, look for 'Cogels-Osylei' on the map) is known for its eclectic, sometimes rather bizarre 19th century architecture. Consider taking a tram or bicycle to get there.
- Middelheim Park. The center of Antwerp is not very big, and once you cross the ring road, you will mainly see suburbs. There are some nice parks outside the ring road The Middelheim Park is one of them. It houses a permanent open-air exhibition of modern sculpture, including work by famous artists such as Rodin, Hans Arp, Henry Moore, and many others.
- Maison Guiette. Designed by Le Corbusier in 1926, this is one of 17 of his creations worldwide to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Museums & Galleries
- Plantin Moretus Museum, Vrijdagmarkt 22, . , closed for renovation til 30 Sep 2016. The home of 16th century bookbinder and printer Christoffel Plantin. Regarded as one of the finest museums dedicated to printing in the world. Its extensive collections of important books and printing presses along with its role in spearheading the technology of printing have seen it added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
- Vleeshuis. Literally, the "Meat house". It was built as the guild hall for the butchers. Every day tonnes of meat changed owners here. The building is famous for the original masonry made to resemble stacks of bacon (switching between white stones and red bricks). It now houses a museum, of which the main part comprises a musical instrument collection, including some examples of old harpsichords built by the local Ruckers family.
- Mineralogical Museum, Frans de l’Arbrelaan 12 (Take tram 6 directionLuchtbal and get off at Gasthuishoeve), , e-mail: [email protected].Sat 13.30-17.30. Museum for mineralogy, paleontology and gemology. Largest collection of fluorescent minerals in Europe. Permanent collections of systematic minerals and fossils. Entry fee of €4, but free for children, students and teachers. Guided tours are free and highly recommended. Only open on Saturday afternoon.
- Museum aan de Stroom (MAS). Large museum that tells about Antwerp in the world. You can visit the building for free, with an very wide view across Antwerp on the rooftop. Visiting the museum has an entry fee of €5.
- Extra City Kunsthal, Eikelstraat 25. ECK is an art space for contemporary visual arts, based in an old bottling factory. Its shows are mostly experimental, but always intriguing.
Things to do
- St. Anna pedestrian tunnel (Sint-Annatunnel), Sint-Jansvliet. Take St. Anna pedestrian tunnel (Sint-Annatunnel) to the left bank of the river Schelde. If possible you should descend on the original wooden escalator. On the left bank, you have a beautiful view on the city center, so make sure you bring your camera! Besides that, there is not very much to see here, but it's very quiet compared to the city centre. If you don't feel like walking back again, the premetro will take you back to Groenplaats in under 5 minutes.
- Pelgrom, . This building combines both an impressive bar in the basement, plus the 'poortershuis', which is a replica of the house of businessmen in Antwerp during the 17th century.
- Antwerp by Bike — Discover Antwerp with a bike. The inner city is perhaps too crowded, but the green outskirts are really worth visiting. For bike rental, see [www] and "Vélo" [www]. "Antwerp by Bike"[www] has a charming tour with all the highlights of Antwerp, like the cathedral, the Butterfly Palace and the MAS museum (from July till September). For other tours, see [www] or [www])
- Baja Bikes (Bike Tours Antwerp). Antwerp is a perfect city to explore by bike. An english or dutch guide will show you around and tell you all about the city. Besides that the guide knows where to go in Antwerp and can recommend you nice bars and restaurants. It is possible to do a highlights tour or book a private tour so that you will have your own guide.
Guided tours and cruises
- Port of Antwerp — Take a 2.5 hour-long tour of the second largest port in Europe and 5th largest in the world. €12 for adults, €10 for students.
- Ghostly Nighttime Tour, (Antwerp Ghostwalk). Take the ghost tour and learn about the dark history of Antwerp.
- Jan Plezier Boottochten. Themed cruises including the pancake cruise (pancake boat), the spareribs cruise and the shrimp cruise.
Festivals and events
- Zomer van Antwerpen (Summer of Antwerp,), . A great festival that takes places throughout the city for the whole summer. Cheap or free activities such as dancing, theater, performances, circus, movies in open air, and much more are organized. Reserving is often a must (especially on free activities).
- Laundry Day. A large dance festival.
Wherever you are in Antwerp, you will always be near a pub or another drinking facility. Not surprising in the city that has the most pubs per capita in the world. The pubs do not have a closing hour.
Drinks originating here are De Koninck (commonly called "Bolleke") beer, and Elixir d'Anvers – a liquor based on plants.
- Den Engel — Most famous traditional cafe in Antwerp. Situated at Grote Markt.
- De Vagant — A famous Belgian cafe serving about 300 kinds of Jenever.
- De Muze — A jazz café located in Melkmarkt. Relaxed atmosphere and live (jazz) music played on a regular basis. Beyond typical Belgian beers, coffee lovers can enjoy a true Italian Espresso or, if willing to drink something bigger, a "Koffie Verkeerd".
- Caffénation — Most friendly bar in Antwerp. They have very nice specialized coffee creations and a cozy outdoor with lots of green. Good music. Say hi from "TheKitt" for a special, double shot cappuccino.
- Kulminator, Vleminckveld 32. Kind of off the beaten path, this bar has a neat hole in the wall atmosphere and an amazing selection of beer, (around 700 beers, with 200-300 aged over 10 years) ranging from expensive to about average. All in all, a great time, and a great value.
- Paeters Vaetje, (in the Cathedral Square). Here you can order more than one hundred different kinds of beer. In summertime, you can also sit outside.
- Pelgrom, Pelgrimsstraat 15, . A cafe in an old underground storage place right next to the vlaaikesgang with medieval finishes.
- Kassa4, located in the student neighborhood, on the Ossenmarkt. Very popular student pub with a good choice of alternative music. Can be very crowded at times.
- Den Hovenier — Typical Antwerp pub near the Sint-Jacob Church.
- Café Beveren, near the river. Enjoy the automatic Decap Organ.
- Stanny — Non-smoking café close to the station of Antwerp-Berchem.
- Copa Cava — a cava bar on the vlasmarkt, with a cosy atmosphere and which serves relatively cheap and exclusive cava from Barcelona.
- La Treille — intimate wine bar and shop at Haarstraat 23, close to the Grote Markt, serves and sells authentic wines (straight form the vineyard) out of Italy, Belgium and France.
- t Vervolg — between the "groenplaats" and the "Grote Markt", very friendly prices mixed with house & RnB always ensures there's something going on Monday through Saturday evening.
- SIPS. A cocktail bar.
- Witzli-Poetzli (Blauwmoezelstraat 8 | Meir From 10:00 daily) The Witzli-Poetzli is a very small café in the center of city center. It is next to our great cathedral. In the summer there's a unique terras in the shadow of the cathedral. In the winter it is a cosy place where people come to drink coffee and read a newspaper.
- Café Den Joker. Kleine Markt 16. The one and only comedy bar in Antwerp. A lot of Belgian stand-up comedians started their career in this small bar. Comedy organized weekly. Also improvisation sessions and quizzes. Often in Dutch.
- Petrol. The most trendy club and concert venue at the moment. Located on a deserted industrial terrain south of the city, somewhat away from the city center. You might need a bicycle or a taxi ride to get there, unless you don't mind a long walk.
- Noxx. The most famous and exclusive club of Antwerp with the biggest names in the DJ world performing. You can find it close to the Kinepolis Antwerp ('Metropolis'), just outside the center of Antwerp.
- Café d'Anvers. The most infamous club in Antwerp. Situated right smack dab in the middle of the red light district. Known for its progressive music.
- Café Local. Located in 't Zuid. Free entrance on Thursdays.
Safety in Antwerp
Most parts of Antwerp are safe, but some neighborhoods are to be avoided in the evening, especially the area around De Coninckplein and the neighborhoods of Borgerhout, Seefhoek and the Schipperskwartier. Still, these neighbourhoods have a very lively atmosphere and so are definitely worth a visit during the day.
Moreover, it is of utmost importance to lock your bike properly if left outside on the street throughout the city. If you need police assistance, the direct police number is 101. If you need a nonurgent police inquiry or the most nearby police station you can dial 0800/12312 for free. Most police officers in Antwerp are friendly and professional.
Like most of the rest of Europe, the number for emergencies (ambulance, police and fire) is 112.