Megan Bryant is a passionate writer and traveler who has combined her two loves to help others fulfill their traveling dreams. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually curled up with her 3 Dachshunds and a good book or planning her next adventure—wherever that may be.
Antwerp, a vibrant city in Belgium, is a treasure trove of culture, history, art, and culinary delights. Nestled in Flanders, it caters to all interests, from art and history to fashion and ambiance.
As you explore Antwerp, you’ll journey through a historical tapestry where medieval fortresses coexist with modern museums. Visit the renowned Diamond District, delve into emigration stories at the Red Star Line Museum, and explore the UNESCO-recognized Museum Plantin-Moretus.
Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or new to Europe, Antwerp is a must-visit destination, and here are 15 things that you just can’t miss off your itinerary.
Antwerp Central Station
Embark on your Antwerp adventure by stepping into the iconic Antwerp Central Station. Often referred to as the “Railway Cathedral,” this awe-inspiring architectural marvel stands as one of the world’s most splendid train stations, and its sheer grandeur and remarkable design make it a destination all in itself.
Cathedral of Our Lady
Immerse yourself in the historical embrace of the Cathedral of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal), a distinguished UNESCO World Heritage site. This majestic Gothic cathedral not only graces the city’s skyline but also contains a breathtaking collection of artistry. Among its treasures are masterpieces by the esteemed artist Peter Paul Rubens, providing you with a glimpse into the realm of his creativity.
Art lovers can’t miss the Rubenshuis—once the abode and studio of the renowned Flemish Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens. This location offers a profound connection to the artist’s life and legacy, allowing you to venture into the world of Rubens as you explore his creations, his working space, and his beautiful, meticulously designed gardens.
MAS – Museum aan de Stroom
Dive into the maritime tapestry of Antwerp’s past and its cultural diversity at the Museum aan de Stroom (MAS). A true marvel of modern architecture, this museum is a sight to behold. Beyond its captivating exterior, however, the exhibits weave tales of the city’s global interactions, providing insightful narratives into Antwerp’s vital connections across the world.
Antwerp Zoo has stood the test of time as it was established all the way back in 1843. The cherished zoological haven is not only one of the world’s oldest but also one of its most esteemed zoos, providing a sanctuary for both families and enthusiasts of the animal kingdom. Antwerp Zoo’s history intertwines with the city’s, creating a delightful and educational experience for all who visit.
Antwerp proudly wears the crown as the diamond capital of the world, so of course, when visiting the city, one of the best things to do is stroll through the Diamond District and immerse yourself in the glittering world of precious gems. Plus, you never know; you may just discover that perfect, sparkling souvenir to carry home as a cherished memory of your visit.
Stadsfeestzaal Shopping Centre
If you seek a shopping experience that combines architectural splendor with fashion, the Stadsfeestzaal Shopping Centre is a must-visit. Housed within a neoclassical masterpiece, this historical building has been artfully transformed into a shopping haven. As you browse the boutiques and stores, you’ll appreciate not only the latest fashion trends but also the architectural beauty that surrounds you.
For those who are in need of retail therapy, Meir is the ultimate destination. This bustling shopping street caters to every shopper’s desire, from luxury boutiques to charming local shops. Whether you’re seeking high-end fashion or unique souvenirs, Meir offers an array of choices.
Step back in time and delve into the world of printing and publishing at the Museum Plantin-Moretus. As a distinguished UNESCO World Heritage site, it stands as a testament to the history of written communication. This museum boasts one of the world’s best-preserved printing houses and publishing firms, offering a fascinating glimpse into the evolution of the printed word and the art of bookmaking.
Red Star Line Museum
Explore the profound history of emigration at the Red Star Line Museum. This institution serves as a reminder of the millions of individuals who embarked on life-changing journeys to the United States and Canada during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The museum’s exhibitions and narratives provide a moving account of the hopes, dreams, and challenges faced by those who sought new beginnings across the ocean.
While in Antwerp, visit Het Steen, a medieval fortress gracefully perched along the banks of the Scheldt River. This historic gem is one of Antwerp’s oldest buildings, and from its vantage point, you can enjoy sweeping views of the picturesque river, which adds a dash of natural beauty to the interesting historical landscape.
Antwerp’s Street Art
The city of Antwerp has become a canvas for local and international artists, with colorful murals and thought-provoking graffiti adorning its streets. Take a walking tour to uncover these hidden artistic treasures and experience the dynamic urban culture, or just set off walking solo and see what masterpieces you stumble across.
Seek serenity amidst the bustling city at the Antwerp Botanical Garden. This lush oasis in the heart of Antwerp provides a perfect escape for nature enthusiasts and those seeking a tranquil respite. Stroll through its well-manicured gardens, soak in the fragrant blooms, and find a peaceful moment away from the urban hustle and bustle.
Don’t miss the opportunity to tantalize your taste buds with a visit to Elixir d’Anvers, a traditional Belgian herbal liqueur distillery. Delve into the world of artisanal liqueur production, learn about the time-honored processes, and savor the unique flavors of this beloved beverage. It’s a delightful and authentic Belgian experience.
Enjoy Belgian Cuisine
Finally, no visit to Antwerp would be complete without indulging in the delectable offerings of Belgian cuisine. Treat yourself to classics like fluffy waffles, exquisite chocolates, and savory moules-frites (mussels and fries). To top it all off, dine at a local brasserie and savor the flavors of Flemish cuisine, bringing your Antwerp adventure to a delicious conclusion.
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