Visitors to Antwerp can spend their days wandering through the city’s picturesque streets, admiring the stunning architecture and soaking up the vibrant atmosphere. There are plenty of museums and galleries to explore, including the Rubens House, which is dedicated to the famous Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens. The city is also home to some of the best shopping in Belgium, with a wide range of designer boutiques and independent stores to browse. Foodies will love Antwerp’s culinary scene, which includes everything from traditional Belgian cuisine to trendy cafes and gourmet restaurants.
The best tours in Antwerp
If you’re short on time and want to see the best of Antwerp, it’s a good idea to join a tour with a local. Here are some of the best rated tours:
🚶 Go on a walking tour led by a professional guide
How to Get to Antwerp
Antwerp is a popular tourist destination in Belgium, and there are several ways to get there. Whether you’re traveling from within Belgium or from abroad, there are various transportation options available.
Antwerp has its own airport, the Antwerp International Airport (ANR), which is located approximately 5 kilometers southeast of the city center. However, the airport has limited international connections, and most flights are domestic or to nearby European cities. If you’re traveling from further away, you may want to consider flying into Brussels International Airport (BRU) or Brussels South Charleroi Airport (CRL), which are both approximately an hour away from Antwerp by train.
Traveling by train is one of the easiest and most popular ways to get to Antwerp. The city is well-connected to other major cities in Belgium and Europe, with frequent train services from Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris, and other cities. The Antwerp Central Station is also considered one of the most beautiful railway stations in the world.
Driving to Antwerp is also an option, especially if you’re coming from other parts of Belgium or nearby countries. However, keep in mind that traffic can be heavy, and parking in the city center can be difficult and expensive. It’s recommended to park your car in one of the many park-and-ride facilities located on the outskirts of the city and take public transportation into the city center.
Several bus companies operate services to Antwerp from other cities in Belgium and Europe. However, bus travel can be slower and less comfortable than other modes of transportation, especially for longer distances.
Transport in Antwerp
Antwerp has a well-developed public transport system that makes it easy to get around the city. The system is operated by De Lijn, which provides tram and bus services throughout the city.
Trams are a popular mode of transport in Antwerp, and there are several lines that operate throughout the city. The trams are clean and comfortable, and they offer a convenient way to travel around the city. Most trams run every 10-15 minutes, and they operate from early morning until late at night.
Buses are another option for getting around Antwerp. They are less frequent than trams, but they cover a wider area of the city. Buses run from early morning until late at night, and they provide a convenient way to travel to areas that are not served by trams.
If you’re feeling adventurous and want to explore the city on two wheels, you can also rent a bike in Antwerp. The city has an extensive network of bike lanes and is considered one of the most bike-friendly cities in Europe. You can rent a bike from one of the many bike rental shops or use the city’s bike-sharing system, which allows you to rent a bike for a short period of time and return it to any bike station in the city.
Tickets for public transport in Antwerp can be purchased at vending machines located at tram and bus stops, or at ticket offices located throughout the city. There are several ticket options available, including single tickets, day passes, and multi-day passes.
It is important to note that tickets cannot be purchased on board trams or buses. Passengers must purchase their tickets before boarding, and they must validate their tickets using the machines located on board the trams and buses. Failure to do so can result in a fine.
Overall, the public transport system in Antwerp is efficient and reliable, making it easy for visitors to explore the city.
Where to Stay in Antwerp
Antwerp, with its diverse neighborhoods, offers a plethora of accommodation options that cater to various tastes and budgets. When planning your weekend stay, consider these areas to ensure a memorable and convenient experience:
Staying in the Historic Center of Antwerp means immersing yourself in the city’s rich history and enchanting atmosphere. This area is perfect for travelers who want to be surrounded by iconic landmarks, centuries-old architecture, and a vibrant city life. As you wander through the cobblestone streets, you’ll find yourself within walking distance of major attractions such as the Cathedral of Our Lady, the Grote Markt, and the Plantin-Moretus Museum.
Moreover, the Historic Center is a shopper’s paradise, with a mix of high-end boutiques, quirky shops, and artisanal stores. After a day of exploration, indulge in the delightful culinary scene, with numerous cafes, restaurants, and bars offering a taste of traditional Belgian dishes and international cuisine. The convenience of being in the heart of the city allows you to make the most of your limited time, ensuring you don’t miss out on any of Antwerp’s highlights.
South District (Het Zuid)
If you’re a lover of art, fashion, and a vibrant nightlife, then the South District, known locally as Het Zuid, is the ideal neighborhood for your weekend stay. This trendy area exudes an artistic vibe, with galleries, museums, and design studios lining its streets. The Royal Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Contemporary Art (M HKA) are must-visit attractions for art enthusiasts.
Het Zuid is also famous for its boutique shops, showcasing the work of local designers and artisans. Fashion-forward visitors will enjoy exploring the unique clothing stores and vintage boutiques. In the evening, the neighborhood comes alive with a bustling nightlife scene. Treat yourself to a delicious dinner at one of the chic restaurants and then experience the ambiance of the stylish bars and clubs.
For those seeking a more modern and picturesque setting, Eilandje is an excellent choice. This up-and-coming area is located near Antwerp’s historic port and offers a blend of contemporary architecture and waterfront views. The MAS Museum, a prominent architectural landmark, is situated in this neighborhood, showcasing the city’s maritime heritage and global connections.
Eilandje is perfect for leisurely walks along the docks, where you can admire stunning views of the river and the iconic Port House, a modern architectural marvel. With several trendy cafes and restaurants along the waterfront, you can enjoy a relaxing meal with picturesque scenery. While Eilandje is slightly removed from the bustling city center, it offers a tranquil escape and an opportunity to experience the modern side of Antwerp.
2-Day itinerary for a weekend in Antwerp
Antwerp is a charming city that has plenty of attractions to offer. If you only have 2 days in Antwerp, you can still experience the city’s highlights. Here’s a suggested itinerary that will help you make the most of your 48 hours in Antwerp.
Begin your weekend adventure by arriving at Antwerp Central Station, an architectural masterpiece and one of the most beautiful train stations in the world. Marvel at the grandeur of its dome, intricate details, and the stunning combination of iron and glass that make up its facade. Take some time to explore the station’s interior, which is equally impressive, and grab a quick breakfast at one of the charming cafes located inside the station. Enjoy a cup of freshly brewed coffee and a delicious croissant to kick-start your day.
After breakfast, make your way to the Old City and immerse yourself in the historical charm of the Grote Markt, the city’s main square. Admire the iconic Brabo Fountain, depicting the legend of how Antwerp got its name, and the stunning guild houses that line the square. These beautifully preserved buildings provide a glimpse into the city’s rich medieval past. Take some time to explore the surrounding streets, where you’ll find quaint shops, cafes, and restaurants.
After a leisurely morning, take a pleasant stroll down the Meir, Antwerp’s main shopping street. This bustling thoroughfare is not only a shopper’s paradise but also a showcase of impressive architecture. Admire the ornate facades of historic buildings that house various boutiques, high-end fashion stores, and charming Belgian chocolate shops. As you walk along the Meir, you’ll also find street performers adding to the lively atmosphere.
Delve into the world of art and history at the Rubenshuis, the former residence and studio of the renowned Flemish Baroque painter, Peter Paul Rubens. Step into the world of this artistic genius as you explore the different rooms, adorned with his masterpieces and personal belongings. The museum provides valuable insights into Rubens’ life and artistic career, allowing you to appreciate his artistic contributions even more.
As the sun begins to set, head to the trendy neighborhood of Het Zuid for an unforgettable dinner experience. Het Zuid is known for its vibrant nightlife, artistic vibe, and a wide array of dining options. Whether you’re in the mood for traditional Belgian cuisine, fusion dishes, or international delights, you’ll find plenty of restaurants to satisfy your taste buds. Explore the charming streets and squares of Het Zuid before settling down for a delectable meal at one of the cozy eateries.
Start your second day with a visit to the Antwerp Zoo, one of the oldest and most beautiful zoos in Europe. This zoological park boasts a diverse collection of animals from all over the world, making it an exciting experience for visitors of all ages. Walk through lush greenery and admire various animal exhibits, including elephants, giraffes, lions, and more. The zoo’s conservation efforts and dedication to animal welfare add a deeper dimension to your visit.
Explore the Diamond District, where more than 70% of the world’s diamonds are traded. Explore the district’s diamond shops and boutiques, and if you’re interested in the fascinating history of diamonds, visit the Diamond Museum. Gain insights into the diamond industry, learn about the cutting and polishing process, and discover the captivating stories behind some of the world’s most famous diamonds.
Conclude your two-day Antwerp exploration with a visit to the MAS Museum (Museum aan de Stroom). This architectural gem, situated near the waterfront, houses an impressive collection of art, artifacts, and exhibits related to the city’s history and global connections. Climb to the top of the MAS building for a panoramic view of Antwerp at sunset. As the sun dips below the horizon, watch the cityscape bathe in a warm golden glow, creating a mesmerizing sight to remember.
This itinerary is just a suggestion, and there are plenty of other things to see and do in Antwerp. But if you follow this plan, you’ll get a taste of the city’s history, culture, and cuisine in just 48 hours.
Best Restaurants to Visit
Antwerp is a food lover’s paradise, offering a wide range of restaurants that cater to all tastes. Whether you’re looking for traditional Belgian cuisine or international flavors, you’re sure to find something that suits your palate. Here are some of the best restaurants to visit during your weekend in Antwerp:
If you’re a fan of Indian cuisine, Mission Masala is a must-visit restaurant in Antwerp. This cozy restaurant serves mouthwatering Indian-inspired dishes with a twist, such as the chicken tikka masala with a Belgian beer sauce. The limited menu allows the restaurant to focus on what they do best, creating delicious and unique dishes that are sure to impress.
For a fine dining experience, head to Het Gebaar, a Michelin-starred restaurant located in the heart of Antwerp. This elegant restaurant serves exquisite dishes made with high-quality ingredients, such as the lobster with green curry and coconut milk. The restaurant also offers a wide selection of wines to complement your meal.
No visit to Belgium is complete without trying some of the famous Belgian fries. Frites Atelier is a trendy fast-food restaurant that serves some of the best fries in Antwerp. The fries are made with high-quality potatoes and served with a variety of sauces, such as truffle mayonnaise and classic Belgian mayonnaise.
Balls & Glory
For a quick and tasty meal, head to Balls & Glory, a meatball restaurant that serves delicious and creative meatball dishes. The restaurant offers a variety of meatball flavors, such as chicken and tarragon and vegetarian mushroom and spinach. The meatballs are served with a variety of sides, such as mashed potatoes and coleslaw.
Antwerp has a lot to offer when it comes to food, and these restaurants are just a few of the best options available.
For those looking to get the most out of their weekend in Antwerp, here are some insider tips to help make the trip unforgettable.
Antwerp City Card
Consider getting the Antwerp City Card, which provides free access to many museums and attractions, as well as unlimited use of public transport.
Antwerp is a very walkable city, and many of the main attractions are within a reasonable walking distance of each other. For those who prefer not to walk, the city has an extensive public transportation system, including trams and buses. Visitors can purchase a day pass for unlimited travel on the city’s public transportation system.
Food and Drink
Antwerp is known for its cuisine, and there are plenty of delicious food options throughout the city. Visitors should be sure to try some of the local specialties, such as Belgian waffles, frites, and chocolate. For those looking for a more upscale dining experience, there are many Michelin-starred restaurants in the city.
Antwerp is also famous for its beer, with a wide variety of local breweries and beer bars to choose from. Visitors should be sure to try some of the local brews, such as De Koninck and Westmalle.
Antwerp is quite cashless, so ensure you have credit cards or contactless payment options.
Antwerp is a shopper’s paradise, with many unique boutiques and high-end fashion stores throughout the city. The city is particularly known for its diamond trade, and visitors can find many jewelers and diamond shops in the Diamond District.
Antwerp is home to many cultural events throughout the year, including music festivals, art exhibitions, and theater performances. Visitors should check the city’s events calendar to see what’s happening during their visit.
Antwerp is generally a safe city, but visitors should take the usual precautions to avoid pickpocketing and other petty crimes. It’s also important to be aware of the city’s bike lanes, which can be busy and require extra caution when crossing.
Weekend in Antwerp FAQ
Antwerp has a lot of attractions that are worth visiting. Some of the must-see attractions include the Antwerp Central Station, the Cathedral of Our Lady, the Rubens House, the MAS Museum, and the Plantin-Moretus Museum. These attractions offer a glimpse into the rich cultural and historical heritage of Antwerp.
Antwerp is surrounded by many beautiful towns and cities that are worth visiting. Some of the recommended day trips include Brussels, Ghent, Bruges, and Mechelen. These cities are easily accessible by train or car and offer a unique experience that is different from Antwerp.
Antwerp has a lot of unique winter activities that are worth doing. Some of these activities include ice-skating at the Christmas market, visiting the Winter in Antwerp festival, and exploring the city’s many museums and galleries. These activities offer a fun and exciting way to experience Antwerp during the winter season.
Both Antwerp and Brussels offer a unique experience that is worth exploring. However, Antwerp is a smaller city with a more relaxed and laid-back atmosphere, making it a better option for a weekend trip. Antwerp also has a rich cultural and historical heritage that is worth exploring, making it a great destination for art and history lovers.
Antwerp has a lot of fun activities that are worth doing on a Monday. Some of these activities include visiting the Antwerp Zoo, exploring the city’s many museums and galleries, and taking a stroll along the Scheldt River. These activities offer a fun and relaxing way to spend a Monday in Antwerp.
The ideal length of time to spend in Antwerp for a first-time visitor is two to three days. This will give visitors enough time to explore the city’s many attractions, museums, and galleries, as well as take a day trip to one of the nearby towns or cities.