Antwerp: Looking for recommendations for hotels, tours and activities in Belgium’s second largest city? Welcome to our Antwerp city guide with tips and info for environmentally conscious, smart city travelers!
Called Antwerpen (in Flemish), Antwerp is a city destination which has become very popular in recent years. A fashion, trade and – of course – diamond capital, Antwerp has all travelers could wish for. The following recommendations are based on our visit in November 2018.
More about Antwerp here
Where to stay in Antwerp
Antwerp Central Youth Hostel (Pulcinella)
Pulcinella Youth Hostel is a modern hotel-like building with hostel-like prices, good breakfast, a nice bar with very reasonable prices, friendly staff and perfectly located for exploring the city. It might get a little louder on weekends with groups, but otherwise is a little oasis of hospitality. Strong focus on sustainability too, which is why we chose it for our 4 nights stay.
What to do in Antwerp
The great thing about Antwerp is that you can easily explore it by foot or bike. No need for a car. Public transport is good as well, and the main train station is a short tram ride away. To learn about the city, join a free tour. Or, if you prefer to explore by yourself, the following are among our favourite places to visit.
Museum aan de Stroom (MAS)
On your first day, head to MAS, the flagship museum of Antwerp, to enjoy a great (free) view from the panorama platform at the top of the building. Some of the exhibitions shown at MAS are about the city and thus a great introduction. They change regularly and entrance is free with the Antwerp City Card. More info about MAS here.
Close to MAS and visible from all over the city, is the Cathedral of our Lady, whose construction began in 1352 and which still serves as the main landmark of Antwerp. Inside you will find master pieces of Peter Paul Rubens, and if you join a tour, will learn about the city’s lively and often troubled history. More about the Cathedral here. Free with the Antwerp City Card.
Middleheim Open Air Museum and Park
Middleheim is a huge park at the outskirts of Antwerp (reachable by bus or tram), with modern, quirky artworks spread across the areal. Great for a walk, run, or just enjoy a glass of “Bolleke” beer in the villa-like restaurant. More about Middleheim Museum here.
De Koninck Brewery
On your way back from Middleheim to the city center, De Koninck brewery is a stop well worth making. Not just because of its fine beers (a tour with two samples is included in the Antwerp City Card, which we used). Also for learning about Antwerp’s history through the eyes of one of its leading companies. More about De Koninck brewery and the tour here.
Easily one of our favourite museums in Antwerp and elsewhere: getting to know the life of the Plantin-Moretus family in the impressive 16th-century mansion, including world’s oldest printing presses is a treat not just for fans of the written word. No wonder it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. More about Museum Plantin-Moretus here.
Those are just a few of the many sights you can explore when visiting Antwerp. We recommend a minimum of 3 days.
Where to eat
The amount of organic, vegetarian and vegan cafés and restaurants in Antwerp was a positive surprise. Some of them are quite famous and highly valued on TripAdvisor & co. Other, smaller ones you’ll probably only find wandering around with enough time to explore. BNut Antwerp was one of those. Ever tried a “wurger”? There’s your chance…
We also tried Chickpea, near the Cathedral: nice ambience and friendly staff, worth visiting especially if you are into hummus.
Already a legend: Falafel Tof. Expect to wait for some time, this place is popular!
Restaurants recommended by Caroline of Antwerp Central Youth Hostel:
- The Broers van Julienne (Kasteelpleinstraat): mostly vegetarian dishes, very savoury
- Amici Books & Coffee bar (near the corner in Kammenstraat): a social project where only people with a mental disability work. Sustainability for me is also about giving opportunities to disadvantaged people.
- De Bomma (suikerrui): Local, Belgian specialities
- Rosenobel (Grote Markt): all vegetarian restaurant
- Greenway (Groenplaats): a fast, healthy vegetarian option
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