Antwerp

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Antwerp (Dutch: Antwerpen, French: Anvers) [1] 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.

Antwerp was historically a fortified city. Today, broad boulevards run along the former moats.

Understand[edit]

The origins of the name of Antwerp comes from "aan de werpe", which is Dutch for "at the throw", referring to where the river throws its sand. The name also has a funny anecdote saying it comes from "Hand werpen", which translated is "throwing hands". In the official flag, the castle "het Steen" and the hand of Antwerp are shown.

In the 16th century, Antwerp was one of the most important financial centers of the world, where traders from all over Europe and Asia sold and bought their goods. After the siege of Antwerp in 1585 by the Spanish, this role as a financial center was taken over by Amsterdam. Nevertheless, since the 19th century and especially the 20th century, Antwerp has made a serious economic comeback.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

  • Antwerp airport (IATA: ANR) [2] 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 daily flights to London City Airport with CityJet [3] and to Manchester Airport with BMI Regional [4], 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) [5]
    • Since the completion of the Diabolo rail link, hourly direct trains linking Antwerp Central 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 €8,00.
    • 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: [6]
  • Schiphol Airport (IATA: AMS) [7]. There are 2 options to take the train from Amsterdam Schiphol airport to Antwerp central station:
    • There is a regular intercity train Amsterdam - Brussels that connects Schiphol Airport directly with Antwerp Central 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) [8]. A single ticket costs about €25.
    • Second option, is the bright red high-speed Thalys train Amsterdam - Paris, which also connects Amsterdam airport with Antwerp central 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 week or so beforehand, since buying a ticket on the spot will turn out to be even more expensive.
Please keep in mind that the regular intercity and the Thalys are run by different companies, but their trains tend to leave from the same platform. Whatever you do, do not jump on a Thalys train with a regular intercity ticket or vice versa. Thalys and regular train tickets are not interchangeable. Your wallet won't like the fine.
The magnificent Antwerpen Centraal is both a key railway hub and a destination in itself

By train[edit]

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 [9] for national and international travels. If you cross multiple borders, it is often possible to book your entire trip at once through Deutsche Bahn [10].

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 [11]. If you have an mobile internet connection available, the BeTrains app can also be of use [12].

By bus[edit]

Antwerp has Eurolines (at Van Stralenstraat 8) [13] and Ecolines (at Berchem station square) [14] offices with buses coming from all over Europe.

Get around[edit]

Public transportation[edit]

A De Lijn tram in Antwerp

The public transportation company De Lijn [15] 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 €9 (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 (€2.00 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: [16] . Since 2012, Google Maps has most bus stops in the area mapped, sometimes including timetables [17].

Taxi and cars[edit]

Taxis are available, but they can be quite expensive. They await customers at specific locations around town (waving your hand will seldom work) like the Groenplaats 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.

By bicycle[edit]

Velo bicycles at a bikesharing station

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 the Groenplaats.

Antwerp's bike-sharing scheme is called Velo [18]. 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).

On foot[edit]

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, but there is excellent public transport. The centre is densely signposted to aid those discovering it on foot [19].

By horse tram[edit]

Horse tram (paardentram) leaves from the Grote Markt every hour. It is an approximately 40 minutes / 1.5 mile ride through the city.

See[edit]

  • 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.

Centre[edit]

The Grote Markt with the Stadhuis
  •    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 can 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.
De Groenplaats
  • Red Light District. Like other cities such as Amsterdam and Hamburg, Antwerp also has its own red light district. If you want to visit, consider going during the day. When Villa Tinto setup, Antwerp's little red light district became Europe's most High Tech Brothel. If you intend to be a patron of the Red Light District, be wary of women who beckon you towards 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 worth while just to actually 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. Antwerp keeps a constant Police presence there, expect to see them. With the constant Police presence there is very little illegal activities.
  • Diamond District. This is the district south and southwest of the central station. As the name already indicates, this is an area where 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 also interesting from an ethnic and cultural perspective, since the diamond industry is for at least 50% in the hands of the city's Jews. Antwerp has a rather large population of Jews (about 50,000 people), a lot of them Orthodox.
  •    The hidden street Vlaeykensgang. 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, but informal restaurants and chic, discrete houses. A must see!
  • The Jewish Quarter (Joodse wijk). Contact the Jewish community for a guide — One of the main Jewish Centers in the world with the beautiful 'Van Den Nest' ans 'Bouwmeester' synagogues.
  • The Antwerp Ruien. You can take a guided tour of the underground city of Antwerp

Museums and galleries[edit]

Plantin Moretus Library
  •    Plantin Moretus MuseumVrijdagmarkt 22-23 +32 3 221 1450, +32 3 221 1451. 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, this is the "Meat house". It was built as the guild hall for the butchers. Every day tonnes of meat switched owners here. The building is famous for the original masonry and is 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.
  •    MAS. Large museum that tells about Antwerp is the world. You can visit the building for free, with an very wide view across Antwerp on the rooftop. Visiting the museum requires an entry fee of €5.
  •    Extra City KunsthalEikelstraat 25. ECK is an art space for contemporary visual arts, based in an old bottling factory. Its shows are mostly experimental, but always intriguing.

Churches[edit]

Onze Lieve Vrouwekathedraal towering over the Grote Markt
  •    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.

Animal interest[edit]

  •    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[edit]

Rubens House, Garden view
  •    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 skyscraper (97m) in the historical center of town is said to be the oldest one on the European continent. It was built at the beginning of the 1930s. It is located at the end of the Meir shopping street. There is an observation deck on the 25th floor (6E entry including an exhibition downstairs), from which you get fantastic views of the city, including the nearby Cathedral. The tower is renowned for its typical art-deco sculptures. The term skyscraper is a little bit irrelevant if you compare it to other buildings that were erected on the American Continent, for example the Empire State Building in New York, built in the same period, has 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.
  •    RubenshuisWapper 9-11 +32 3 201 1555. 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[edit]

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".

The MUHKA
  •    MUHKALeuvenstraat 32 +32 3 260 99 99, e-mail: . Museum of contemporary art.
  •    FotoMuseumWaalsekaai 47 +32 3 242 93 00fax: +32 3 242 93 10. Renovated in 2004.
  •    Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten (Royal Museum of Fine Arts), Leopold de Waelplaats +32 3 238 7809. 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 +32 3 248 7077. 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.

Do[edit]

Take the Sint-Annatunnel under the Schelde...
...for vistas of Antwerp from the left bank
  • Take St. Anna pedestrian tunnel (Sint-Annatunnel) to the left bank of the river Schelde. 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 +32 3 234 0809. 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 [20] and "Vélo" [21]. "Antwerp by Bike" [22] 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 [23] or [24])

Guided Tours and Cruises[edit]

  • Port of Antwerp — Take a tour of one of the largest ports in the world. The second largest port in Europe and 5th largest in the world. 2.5 hours long. €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[edit]

  • Zomer van Antwerpen (Summer of Antwerp,),  +32 3 224 8528. A great festival that takes places during the whole summer in the whole city. 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. Is a large dance festival in Antwerp.

Buy[edit]

The magnificent Stadtsfeestzaal
  • 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 (between Meir 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, and Kammenstraat (all located close to the Meir) are also very interesting shopping streets to visit.
Diamonds are charming, but the diamond shopping area in Antwerp is less so
  • 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 [25] (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 [26] 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 or Meistraat 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.

Learn[edit]

The Hogere Zeevaartschool (Maritime Academy)

Antwerp has several colleges and a university.

  • University of Antwerp [27].
  • Artesis (formerly Hogeschool Antwerpen) [28].
  • Lessius Hogeschool.
  • Plantijn Hogeschool [29].
  • Karel de Grote Hogeschool [30].
  • Antwerp Maritime Academy.

Due to very strict language requirements imposed by the Flemish government, all Bachelor courses are offered in Dutch only (except for the Maritime Academy which enjoys a special international status). However, the University of Antwerp currently offers 9 fully English-taught Master programmes, 7 advanced Master programmes, and 7 postgraduate degrees, in topics ranging from Linguistics and Computer Science to Marine Transport [31].

Antwerp hosts over 30000 students, and therefore boasts a vibrant student life that also has many traditional aspects. Well-connected in the center of Europe, offering a varied city day- and nightlife, and having a very reasonable cost of living compared to the surrounding capitals, it's a popular destination for Erasmus students. Current and prospective Erasmus students should get in touch with ESN Antwerp [32], part of the global Erasmus Student Network and very active in organizing activities to help international students find their way around.

Eat[edit]

Interior of Antwerp's Cathedral

Any time[edit]

  • 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 mussels and curry (€2,85) at Vishandel van Bladel (Schrijwerkerstraat 25), or one with crevettes and sause andalouse (€3,50 for a double one) at Diksmuise Boterkoeken, in the basement of the ugly shopping center (Schoenmarkt)

Lunch[edit]

  • 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).

Dinner[edit]

  • Thai Thai Simple +32 477 292 554. Amerikalei 72. Fresh authentic thai food in an old mansion on Amerikalei.
  • Sombat +32 3 226 21 90. 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),  +32 3 226 7450. 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),  +32 3 231 9964. Known for its lively South American atmosphere, caipirinha cocktails, and tasteful Brazilian Mexican kitchen.
  • Wok & Tandoor +32 3 248 9595. 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 +32 3 213 19 28. 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.
  •    BourlaGraanmarkt 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),  +32 3 226 00 52. 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. €9 Unlimited Buffet.

Drink[edit]

Wherever you are in Antwerp, you will always be near a pub or another drinking facility. Not surprising for a city that has the most pubs per capita in the world. In Antwerp pubs do not have a closing hour.

  • 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.
  •    KulminatorVleminckveld 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.
  • De Pelgrom, (Pelgrimsstraat). A cafe that is 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.

Clubs[edit]

  •    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.

Specialties[edit]

  • De Koninck (commonly called "Bolleke") — Beer that is brewed in Antwerp.
  • Antwerpse handjes — Little biscuits or chocolates in the shape of a hand. Invented by a Jewish baker in 1932.
  • Elixir d'Anvers — A liquor based on plants.
  • The Antwerp Six — Clothes designed by Ann Demeulemeester, Walter Van Beirendonck, Dirk Bikkembergs, Dries Van Noten, Marina Yee en Dirk Van Saene.

Sleep[edit]

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget under €65
Mid-range €65-120
Splurge over €120

Budget[edit]

Hotels[edit]

  • Hotel Antwerp Billard Palace.
  • Hotel Granducale.
  • Ibis budget Antwerpen Port.
  • Hotel Industrie.
  • Hotel Le Sud.
  • Hotel Postiljon.
  • Hotel RubenshofAmerikalei 115, 2000 Antwerpen (from Antwerpen Centraal, take trams no. 12 or 24),  +32 3 237 07 89. Run by a friendly couple, it offers a combination of lush, authentically historic interiors with a budget price (and standards). from €52 (shared bathrooms).
  • Sandton Eden Antwerpen.
  • Hotel Scheldezicht.

Other accommodation options[edit]

  • Antwerp Mabuhay LodgingsZurenborg, Draakstraat 32. Bed and breakfast, guesthouse in cozy neighborhood of Antwerp. Rooms available for two. Apartments and studios available for short term staying visitors, expats, or students.
  •    The Blue House (Bed & Breakfast), Lamorinièrestraat 89, 2018 Antwerpen (10 minutes from Central Station),  +32 486 93 10 87, e-mail: . Blue House is located on a one way street named after the 19th century painter “Lamorinière François”. You will find information about this painter in the cosy nook on the first floor of the Blue House. The Blue House is very well located. It is close to both the Central Station and the Berchem Station. Being close to the stations means that buses and trams are easily available with the bus and tram stops a close walking distance from the Blue House. Blue House lies in a typical Jewish neighbourhood. A unique experience. Your stay is possible on the first or the second floor of the house. 45 to 130 Euro including breakfast.
  • Camping VogelzangVogelzanglaan 7-9. 10 minutes by tram from the heart of the city and good for low-budget travelers.
  • Heksenketel +32 3 226 71 64. A hostel close to the city center with very welcoming and homely atmosphere. Dorm beds available only (no single or double, etc.) in rooms between four to eight beds.
  • Scoutel. A scouting youth hostel that is open to everyone and offers affordable accommodations in the center of the city, just around the corner of the central train station.
  • The Swan B&BHuikstraat 25. A self-contained apartment for up to 3 guests in a quiet part of the historic city center, a 5-minute walk from the main square. The owner Nadine gladly provides directions and tourist advice. Minimum stay of 2 nights. From €65.
  • Tulip Inn Antwerpen.

Mid-range[edit]

The Park Inn is just one of the many hotels in Konigin Astridplein, next to the Antwerpen Centraal station

Chain hotels[edit]

  •    Best Western Hotel DocklandsKempischdok-Westkaai 84-90 2000 Antwerpen +32 3 231 07 26. The name is absolutely correct - the Best Western is in the docklands area. The hotel could use an update to contemporary standards, but can be cheaper than more central hotels.
  •    Crowne Plaza Antwerpen (at the intersection of the R1, A1 and A12 highways, on the outskirts of the city). It can be inexpensive for a hotel of its class, but it comes at the expense of the less-than-handy location and rather aged decor in the cheapest rooms. On the flip side, the large pool with artsy decorations and forest vistas is a treat. from €70.
  •    Holiday Inn Express Antwerpen City NorthItaliëlei 2, 2000 Antwerpen. The hotel faces one of the port basins in the docklands area in the north of Antwerp, offering a view of the Museum aan de Stroom from some of its rooms. Despite the modern facade, the hotel was built to the brand's previous standards, so it may not be comparable to newer HIExpress properties in terms of furniture and fitouts, but all hotels in the chain it offers free breakfast and WiFi included in the room rate. €97.
  •    Ibis Hotel Antwerpen Centrum (Good location in the city center, near the Stadschouwburg theatre and the Vogeltjesmarkt.),  +32 3 2318830. While the room rates tend to be low, the breakfast in the hotel tends not to be, but fortunately there are plenty of cafes in the immediate area and a market on the Theaterplein square in front of the hotel Saturday and Sunday mornings. If you're a very light sleeper try to get a room on the side that doesn't face onto the Theaterplein as the market traders start setting up pretty early!
  •    Ibis Styles Antwerpen City Centre (formerly All Seasons). The Ibis Styles offers great location next to the Antwerp Centraal railway station and free breakfasts, but it is starting to get slightly worn. From €71.
  •    Mercure Antwerpen Centrum OperaMolenbergstraat 9. The Mercure is a in side street a reasonable distance from the central train station. It may not be easy to find, so look for the huge sign atop the corner building.
  •    Novotel AntwerpenLuithagen - Haven 6. This is an old-style low-rise suburban Novotel, complete with a garden with an outdoor pool. The good news is that it was completely renovated, so expect reasonably fresh, nice appointments and features such as the inBalance gym and a game station for kids. The location is north of the docklands, which makes it a reasonable choice pretty much only for those arriving by car.
  •    Park Inn by Radisson AntwerpenKoningin Astridplein 2018 Antwerp (right on Koningin Astrid Square 100 metres from the Antwerpen Centraal station),  +32 3 202 31 70. Some rooms feature Nespresso machines. The heated pool and fitness centre at the Radisson Blu Astrid, 100 metres away, can be used free of charge. €99.
  •    Ramada Plaza AntwerpDesguinlei 94. The Ramada Plaza is a glazed highrise tower overlooking a park, with 210 elegantly appointed rooms, geared towards business travellers. It is in the very south of the city, right next to the Berchem motorway junction. While the location is remote, there is a tram station next to the hotel.
  •    Scandic AntwerpenLuitenant Lippenslaan 66, Borgerhout. If you are looking for minimalistic Scandinavian design, this is not the place - the Scandic Antwerpen looks every bit like a 1990s Hilton inside, a bunch of which the chain once operated. It is located in Borgerhout, right outside Antwerp's motorway ringroad, which is convenient for those arriving by car and not for others.
  •    Tryp By Wyndham Antwerp (formerly "SIR Plantin"), Plantin en Moretuslei 136. The Tryp is a bit farther from the city's main attractions than some other hotels, but it compensates for that with attractive pricing and artsy decor, including renderings of traditional Dutch paintings as headboards. From €69.

Independent and boutique hotels[edit]

  • Hotel Antigone.
  • Astoria Hotel.
  • Antwerp City Center Hotel.
  • Antwerp Harbour Hotel - Internationaal Zeemanshuis.
  • Antwerp Logies.
  • Arass Hotel.
  • Hotel Banks.
  • Century Hotel.
  • City Inn Hotel and Apartments.
  • Colombus Hotel.
  • ElzenveldLange Gasthuisstraat 45. A former hospital that advertises itself as a conference center, but also offers accommodation.
  • Eco Hotel Diamond Antwerp.
  • Hotel Keyserlei.
  • Leonardo Hotel Antwerpen.
  • Hotel National.
  • Plaza Hotel.
  • Hotel Le Tissu.
  • Theater Hotel.

Splurge[edit]

The art nouveau Hilton is a historic landmark
  • Hotel Firean
  •    Hilton AntwerpGroenplaats 32. The Hilton is located in a 1885 listed building that was originally the Grand Bazar du Bon Marché department store. The hotel has a restaurant and a rootfop cafe overlooking the Groenplaats. €156.
  • HotelO Antwerpen Kathedral. €139.
  • HotelO Antwerpen - Sud. €145.
  • Hyllit Hotel.
  • Hotel Julien. €205.
  • De Keyser Hotel.
  •    Leopold Hotel AntwerpQuinten Matsijslei 25 +32 3 203 1234. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. 4-star hotel overlooking the city park. 5 minutes' walk from diamond district and central station.
  •    Lindner Hotel & City Lounge AntwerpenLange Kievitstraat 125. This hotel belonging to a German upscale chain is hidden in a tower in a modern mixed development behind the Centraal station, and affords nice views of the city from its upper-floor lounges and gym, as well as comfortable rooms outfitted in a subdued, modern fashion. €140.
  • Hotel Matelote.
  • Hotel Les Nuits.
  • Maison d'Anvers. €134.
  • Hotel Prinse.
  •    Radisson Blu Astrid HotelKoningin Astridplein 7 (Across from the main rail station.),  +32 3 202 31 70. Some might say that the biggest benefit of staying at the Astrid is not having to look at its peculiar postmodern facade. More tangible benefits include splendid location on the Astridplein just by the Antwerpen Centraal and large rooms with modern comforts.
  • Hotel Rubens-Grote Markt. €170.
  • Hotel 't Sandt. €170.
  • Hotel De Witte Lelie. €295.

Connect[edit]

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 [33], 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.

Stay safe[edit]

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.

Go next[edit]

Antwerp is a key railway hub on the high-speed line from the Netherlands to France, so you can get relatively quickly and easily not only around Belgium, but also to its two neighbours.

Belgium[edit]

Getting around Belgium is relatively easy from Antwerp, as the country is small and featuring one of the densest railway networks in the world. Some of the more popular destinations that can be visited on a day trip from Antwerp are:

  • Bruges (Brugge) — Very nice medieval town. Often called "Venice of the North", because of the many canals that flow through and under it. Well worth an overnight stay, since it is most romantic at night and very safe.
  • Brussels — The capital of Belgium and some say, the capital of Europe. Multicultural and multilingual. Unfortunately, some of the city's historic (medieval) center was destroyed at the end of the 19th century when Belgium seceded from the Netherlands and Brussels was made capital of the new country. Nonetheless, Brussels is known as a city of "hidden gems," where you can turn a street corner in a less-than-breathtaking area and come face-to-face with an opulent and unexpected Art Deco or Art Nouveau building. Its popularity with tourists in recent years has been steadily increasing.
  • Ghent — A medieval town a bit like Bruges, with more emphasis on cathedrals and other big buildings. Great center of medieval paintings exhibited in and around the cathedral of Sint-Baafs.
  • Namur — The regional capital of Wallonia.
  • Leuven — Nearly as lively as Antwerp or Brussels is this college town, home to one of the world's oldest universities is here. Many hotels also cater to businessmen who find Brussels too dangerous or too expensive.

Netherlands[edit]

  • Amsterdam — You can take a direct train to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. There is about one train an hour and it will take you about two hours to get there. Amsterdam is well known for its grachten, many bicycles, and coffee-shops. There also is the Thalys high speed train which is a bit more expensive but you will get there a lot faster.
  • Rotterdam — You can take a direct train to Rotterdam in the Netherlands. There is about one train an hour and it will take you about one hour to get there. Rotterdam is well known for its harbor.
  • Den Bosch — You can go by train to this medieval city (change trains in Roosendaal).
  • Zeeland — Where the Schelde reaches the ocean. It's about one hour by train and you will have to change in Roosendaal.

France[edit]

  • Lille — Lille is in the North of France just off the Belgian border. It is famous among others for having the largest bookstore in Europe ("Le furet du Nord"). The train ride is pretty long (sometimes over two hours) making it less easy for a day trip. The Dutch (Flemish) name is Rijsel and the town is not to be confused with another Flemish town called "Lille" in Dutch!
  • Paris — With the Thalys, you can be there in about two hours.
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This city travel guide to Antwerp has the status usable. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page!