Wondering about the best places to visit in Antwerp? Keep on reading this local guide!
No matter how much I love traveling, my home always has a special place in my heart. I’m originally from Limburg, but I’ve now lived in Antwerp for almost ten years.
Antwerp is the fashion city of Belgium, and it’s a bustling city full of culture, architecture, and delicious food. I’ve put together an Antwerp travel guide full of the top spots to visit and the best things to do from a local’s perspective.
** Disclaimer: This post contains affiliated links which means that purchases made through these links reward Bey of Travel a small commission without any additional charge for the purchaser.**
25 Best Places to visit in Antwerp: Travel Guide
Before I share all of the amazing things to do in Antwerp, here are some planning tips to help prepare for your trip!
Antwerp is located in Belgium, in western Europe. It lies in the Dutch-speaking region of the country, called Flemish.
It is a port city and is situated on Belgium’s River Scheldt. Antwerp is perfect for culture and nature lovers alike, its history dates back to the Middle Ages, and thanks to its parks and green spaces you can enjoy short hikes and strolls in and around the city!
When is the best time to visit Antwerp?
The best time to visit Antwerp is during spring or summer – so ideally any time between March and September. Although it will be a little busier, there’s less chance of rain so you can fully enjoy the city without worrying about getting soaked.
If you want to avoid crowds, I would recommend visiting Antwerp in early January or February. Although this is the coldest time of year, there are plenty of Christmas decorations up and everything looks extra festive. Just make sure to bundle up!
How to move around in Antwerp?
To get into Antwerp, you can take a taxi from our national airport in Zaventem, which will cost around €60. Alternatively, there is also a train station in the airport.
It takes around half an hour to get the train from Brussels to Antwerp – trains leave around every 20 minutes.
If you want a more low-cost option, the bus is the cheapest form of transport into the city and takes around 40 minutes.
Once you’re in Antwerp, it’s best to explore by bike or on foot. You can rent a bike at A-Velo, they offer day or week passes, and you can ride between the different Velo stations during your rental. Check their website online for more information about renting a bike.
Useful apps to download during your time in Antwerp
- Deliveroo and Uber eats for takeaway food
- Vélo for renting bicycles
- Antwerptax for ordering a taxi
- NMBS for train transportation
- De Lijn for bus or tram transportation
Where to stay in Antwerp?
There are so many wonderful places to stay during your stay in Antwerp – here are some of my favorite options.
August is listed as one of the Best Urban Hotels 2019 by Wallpaper* magazine. The rooms are a warm homage to the dedicated former way of Augustinian life, with the addition of modern amenities.
The hotel also has a very lovely trendy restaurant with plenty of delicious options. More info and booking options here.
Yust Antwerp is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a low-cost stay, as it has room for any budget. From dorm rooms for 8 people to long-stay studios, they offer the perfect solution for any type of visitor. More info and booking options here.
Julien lies in the historical center of the city and has the most breathtaking rooms – and even a luxurious spa. It’s quality amenities will have you feeling truly spoiled from start to finish. More info and booking options here.
De Gulden Schoen
If you have a little more budget to splash during your stay in Antwerp, check out De Gulden Schoen. In the center of the city, you will find this oasis of peace with neat luxurious rooms. More info and booking options here.
Sightseeing Pass for Antwerp
When it comes to things to do in Antwerp, the options are endless.
One of my main pieces of advice is to check out the Antwerp City Card before your visit. It will give you access to 15 museums, 4 historical churches, and multiple atypical must-sees like the brewery De Koninck and the Ruien.
With the card you can also use public transportation within the city, completely free of charge. You can buy one online, and you have the option between a 24h (€29), 48h (€37), or 72h card (€42).
The average price of a museum entrance ticket can be €10 – so for culture lovers, this card is definitely worth checking out.
Fun Things to do in Antwerp Belgium
Here are my top recommendations of things to do and places to visit in Antwerp during your visit:
Grote Markt Antwerp
One of the best places to visit in Antwerp is Grote Markt. This is the central square of the city, located in the old town quarter.
It has some of the opulent structures in the city of Antwerp like the city hall, gorgeously decorated 16th-century guildhalls, and restaurants. Groke Markt used to be a trading point in the past, and today you can still shop, but you will love the ambiance that engulfs the area.
Grote Markt is accessible 24 hours and at all seasons. In fact in the winter months, it hosts a Christmas market and ice rink.
Address: Grote Markt, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium
Hours: 24 hours
The Red Star Line Museum
One of the best places to visit in Antwerp is the Red Star Museum. This site actually belonged to The Red Star Line warehouses in Antwerp and was later designated as a landmark and reopened as a museum in 2013. Today it welcomes hundreds of guests annually.
The museum showcases the travel stories of Red Star Line passengers who used the services of the shipping company to emigrate to the USA.
Address: Montevideostraat 3, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium
Hours: They are open every day except Mondays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
We have one of the most beautiful train stations in the world so checking the station out is a must – whether you actually need to take a train or not! The Antwerp Central Station is a gorgeous Neo-Renaissance building and one of the finest stations in Europe.
Address: Koningin Astridplein 27, 2018 Antwerpen, Belgium
Hours: 24 hours
The MAS Museum
MAS Museum is a great museum to visit! Here you can discover the history of our city, its residents, and the harbor. This modern art space hosts a collection of contemporary works by Belgian artists.
Head up to the rooftop to enjoy a beautiful view of the entire city.
Address: Hanzestedenplaats 1, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium
Hours: Every day except Monday, from 10:00, am to 5:00 pm
More info on the opening hours and entrance prices can be found on the website.
The Botanical Garden
Visit the botanical garden and the conservatory.
The Antwerp Botanical Garden is home to a gorgeous green space that spans three hectares and is home to over 10,000 plants from all over the world!
Address: Leopoldstraat 24, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium
Hours: Every day from 8:00 am to 08:00 pm
I love Middelheim Park and I think that it’s one of the best places to visit in Antwerp. It’s a gorgeous, wooded park – originally opened in 1939 – and features sculptures by famous artists such as Rodin and Picasso.
Stroll along former castle grounds of Vogelzoan, Middelheim, and Den Brandt.
Address: Middelheimlaan 1, 2020 Antwerpen, Belgium
Antwerp is a city by the water, so ensure you enjoy a picnic along the Scheldt in summer during your stay. Take a picnic blanket and some drinks and enjoy a beautiful sunset over the water.
Address: Scheldt River in Antwerp, Belgium
Hours: 24 hours
The Cathedral of Our Lady
The Cathedral of Our Lady is a Roman Catholic church in Antwerp. It is gorgeous and it has played a pivotal role in our history.
Address: Groenplaats 21, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium
Het Steen is basically a medieval castle right in the city center! It was originally built in 1128 and has been used as a prison for many centuries. In fact, it’s one of the oldest structures that remain standing in Antwerp today.
Architecture lovers can visit the well-known ‘t Steen or the Palace of Justice.
Address: Steenplein 1, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium
Antwerp’s city hall
Antwerp’s city hall — located on the riverfront – is a great example of northern Gothic architecture. It was originally built in 1533 and features a beautiful, red facade with intricate details.
Over time though, it has been destroyed and rebuilt quite a few times due to fires.
Address: Grote Markt 1, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium
Pay a visit to the Havenhuis, a design of the late world-famous architect Zaha Hadid.
Visit Antwerp’s most hidden (but most beautiful) alley.
The Photo Museum or FOMU
The photo museum is one of the most beautiful museums in the city. You can see works by both famous and less well-known photographers from all around the world.
Address: Waalsekaai 47, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium
Hours: Every day except Monday, from 10:00, am to 06:00 pm
The Fashion Museum aka ModeMusuem
The perfect place to visit if you’re interested in fashion history. It showcases a lot of exhibits on Belgian fashion.
Address: Nationalestraat 28, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium
Hours: Every day except Monday, from 10:00, am to 06:00 pm
Park Spoor Noord
This is one of the many places to visit in Antwerp in the summer. The redeveloped park attracts a lot of visitors on a daily basis.
There’s a playground for children and the Cargo Summer Bar provides summer cocktails and other refreshments to enjoy on your summery day out.
Address: Ellermanstraat, 2060 Antwerpen, Belgium
Hours: 24 hours
Hang out at Pakt, a lovely neighborhood to discover and enjoy a coffee or a bite to eat.
Plantin – Moretus Museum
This is a printing museum in Antwerp and is dedicated to the work of the 16th-century printers Christophe Plantin and Jan Moretus. The museum complex is a stunning piece of art!
Address: Vrijdagmarkt 22, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium
Hours: Every day except Monday, from 10:00, am to 05:00 pm
If you’re traveling with children, the Antwerp Zoo is a fun place to visit. At the zoo, you can see more than 5000 animals and around 950 species from around the world. Several of the animals (including camels, llamas, and giraffes) roam freely in large enclosures which is pretty unique for a European zoo.
It is also one of the oldest zoos in the world!
Address: Koningin Astridplein 20-26, 2018 Antwerpen, Belgium
Hours: Every day from 9 am to 5:30 pm (except for New Year’s Day and Christmas)
More things to do in Antwerp Belgium
There are plenty of ways to fill your days in Antwerp, from beautiful views to pieces of history.
On the other side of the water (on the left bank), you’ll find the most beautiful view of the city. You can get there through the pedestrian tunnel at Sint-Jansvliet.
Want to escape the bustle of the city? Pay a visit to the ‘beach’ of Sint Anneke. The Sint-Anna tunnel is also worth checking out, as it truly is a hidden pearl in our diamond city. It opened in 1933 and the tunnel has managed to retain its authenticity until now.
For theater performances, visit the Bourla or enjoy a wonderful performance of the classical ballet in the Stadsschouwburg. The best concerts take place in the ‘Sportpaleis’, but if you prefer something more intimate, go to Trix or Middelheim. Make sure you plan and book your tickets well in advance to avoid missing out!
Walking Trails and Scenic City Strolls
Antwerp has both the modern amenities and urban history for the city explorer, and more – there is water, and amazing nature. If you are tired of the hustle and bustle of the city, then go on a stroll or a ride through these trails in Antwerp,
The Scheldt flows through the city from south to north and has always played an important role in the history of Antwerp. The city originated along the Scheldt and owes much of its richest tales to the river. It has an important economic function but also plays a major role in local nature and life.
The river and the green areas connected to it together form the Scheldeland. This landscape is the habitat of many special animal and plant species and belongs almost entirely to the Natura 2000 network, a European network of protected nature reserves.
You can find more information about the walking area here.
A green ribbon runs around the Antwerp core city. It is largely enclosed by the surrounding infrastructures. Although the roads take up a lot of space, there is still room for quite a bit of open green space.
In the south, it is still fairly robust, but the further north you go, the more fragmented it becomes. At the Lobroekdok, the Green Ribbon Bedding is completely absorbed into the building fabric. You can find more information about the walking area here.
My favorite place to go hiking is without a doubt the Hoboken Polder area, which is just outside the city. In the Hoboken Polder, there are several nice walks along indicated pathways. These walks give a wide impression of this beautiful nature reserve and cover approximately 9 km of walking.
Along the way, you walk among cows and pass ponds where you can admire different bird species. You can find the map here.
Where to eat in Antwerp? The Best Restaurants and Markets
Because of the mix of cultures, you can find the best food to suit everyone’s taste buds in Antwerp. There’s absolutely anything, from classics such as veal stew or steak tartare served with French fries to several hipster vegan options.
When in Belgium, you simply need to try our french fries (although they should be called Belgian fries…as we Belgians invented them!). We call them ‘frietjes’ and every Belgian family eats them monthly – or even weekly.
Antwerp’s most famous spot to eat them is Number 1, which is just around the corner from the City Hall in the historic city center. Since 1980, this place has been open day and night, and it’s a must-visit for locals and tourists alike. Want something even more special?
World-famous chef Sergio Herman opened the Frites Atelier a couple of years ago – here you can eat delicious luxury french fries (for a slightly higher price).
Don’t forget to taste our delicious Belgian chocolate – Neuhaus is my personal favorite. They also have beautiful gift boxes as the perfect souvenir!
Visit the market on the Theaterplein on Saturday where you can eat hand-made cheese croquettes (look for the lighting tower stand), along with yummy Moroccan pizzas or fresh oysters.
My personal favorite spots to eat in Antwerp include:
- De Arme Duivel – Head here for some Belgian classic dishes. Reservation is a must. They also do takeaway (available through the app Deliveroo). The address is Armeduivelstraat 1, 2000 Antwerpen.
- Varelli – Find delicious Greek food here – every dish on the menu is a delight!
- Graanmarkt 13 – This restaurant is built around seasonal vegetables, and they also have a nice shop with clothes and design articles. Ask for a table on their splendid terrace.
- Het Gerecht – A culinary experience with only fresh homemade products in the perfect setting.
- The Jane – Definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience – booking well in advance is a must!
- Het Gebaar – World-famous pastry chef Roger Van Damme will treat you to several magical desserts.
- Yust – The young Belgian chef Laurens Jasperse makes sharing dishes very hard! The menu consists of only fresh ingredients, adapted to every season and inspired by every corner of the culinary world.
- Nathan – Restaurant Nathan rapidly rose to the top of the Belgian food scene with a Michelin star, which was more than deserved. The young couple serves the most delicious menus at affordable prices. Go for lunch and be blown away!
Where to find the best coffee in Antwerp?
More of a coffee fanatic than a foodie? There are so many incredible coffee places in Antwerp, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
- Tinsel – Tinsel is my favorite coffee bar by far in Antwerp. As they say themselves: ‘Tinsel is a small place with a big heart. Serving solely seasonal and homemade dishes, we strive to offer simple yet delicious food. No muss, no fuss’. Breakfast or brunch is worth a try as well.
- Caffènation – This is my go-to for a coffee on the go!
- Normo – At Normo, coziness comes first. They also sell their own pastries, coffee beans, and tea.
- Escobar – Escobar lies in a side ally of the Meir. It’s the ideal stop between shops, where you can enjoy a coffee or a nice lunch on their big fun terrace.
- Bar Paniek – I don’t really recommend this for the coffee, but more to enjoy the beautiful view over the water.
Going out in Antwerp
Many visitors flock to Antwerp every year for the world-famous Tomorrowland festival. Is the festival really worth a trip around the world? The short answer is an absolute yes. I’ve now enjoyed ten years there as a visitor myself, and I must say it’s simply a phenomenal festival that will blow you away.
Not just because of the music, but also because of the breath-taking details like the podium constructions, structures, and much more. Tomorrowland is truly like a fairytale.
Not got tickets for Tomorrowland? Club Vaag or Ampère are both excellent choices for a fun night out.
Where to shop in Antwerp?
Thanks to the fashion academy, students from all over the world come to study fashion in our city.
Big names such as Dries Van Noten have the most gorgeous boutiques in town. If you’re interested in doing some shopping during your stay, be sure to visit the Schuttershofstraat and Nationalestraat.
There’s such a variety of different shops and styles within the city – you can find international brands on the Meir, and on Sundays, there’s a lovely flea market in the Kloosterstraat.
The Meir is the main shopping street of Antwerp.
Our local craft, and one of the most well-known traditions we have, is the ‘Hands of Antwerp’.
If you’re curious, the hands are a reference to the legend about the origin of Antwerp. The giant Antigoon chopped off the hands of passing skippers who refused to pay until Brabo killed him.
Afterward, Brabo threw the hand of Antigoon in the river Schelde. You can find the Hands of Antwerp in every souvenir shop in the form of little cookies or chocolates.
If you look closely at the Mas Museum, you will see that all the facades are decorated with little hands.
So that’s a wrap!
Antwerp is a beautiful city that has something for everyone. Whether you are looking to explore the culture, enjoy Belgian beer, or indulge in some of Belgium’s finest chocolate, you won’t be disappointed.
Read all about my favorite places in Belgium here.
Do you have any further questions about this article? Feel free to leave a comment below.