The ultimate guide to Antwerp

Jenessa Williams

Belgium’s second-largest city, Antwerp’s port location, cobbled lanes and vibrant art scene make it the perfect location for a romantic winter weekend away. Follow our top tips below to get the best out of your trip

Where to stay

Not all trips away come with the luxury of complete down-time, so for those who have to integrate a little business, the NH Collection Antwerp Centre allows you to study in style, with a peaceful courtyard and excellent meeting room facilities. Directly opposite Antwerp Central Station, it puts you right in the thick of the action. 

For something a little more homely—if home was expertly designed—the Hotel Indigo chain regularly ranks highly for customer service, with cheerful, industrial-modern finishes throughout. 

Antwerp also has a great Air BnB culture, with lots of cosy flats and enormous party palaces alike. In the market for a stag or a hen do? You may have just met your match.  

 

Where to eat

Did somebody say beer? It would be rude not to get a little hoppy while in Belgium, and the De Koninck City brewery is a great place to start, open every day of the week. Far from your usual tour, customers are invited to get hands-on in fun workshops, with tastings designed to stimulate all your senses. 

Once you’re done, take a short metro ride to Billie’s Bier Kafetaria—an authentic haunt where you can sample the local delicacies of pork cheeks, stew and of course, impossibly crisp Belgian frites, all served in generous portions and teamed with yes, more beer

For those looking to book something to remember, a dinner reservation at The Jane is sure to impress. This two-starred Michelin establishment is set in a repurposed military hospital that is highly characteristic of the cities dominant architecture, and the menu changes regularly, ensuring no two visits are the same. This is no walk-in affair—diners are encouraged to book at least three months ahead, but what awaits is more than worth the anticipation.

 

Learn and see

There’s always room for chocolate, and Chocolate Nation is the largest museum in the world dedicated exclusively to the sweet stuff. Leave 60 to 90 minutes to journey through 14 rooms of history and innovation, culminating in the gift-shop —the ideal place for souvenirs if there ever was one. 

Those new to Antwerp may enjoy the MAS Museum, which offers great entry-level knowledge of the city as well as beautiful, 360-degree views from the tenth floor. 

A short walk away from the old town, stock up on café snacks foods at Grote Markt and make a day of it—you’ll pass the Royal Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Fashion (MoMu) on your way. 

 

Socialise

Antwerp is well known for it’s bustling night life, with an excellent concentration on live music. Café De Muze jazz café hosts gigs at least three nights a week, while the Crossroad Café hosts performances every Sunday, covering Blues, Funk and Soul. 

Meier Street is the main shopping destination for all the familiar brand names, but The Kloosterstraat has much more character—a district full of concept stores, antique shops and bars, perfect for casual perusal. Mosey your way through the streets and find yourself at Wasbar. Hugely popular with students, this Laundromat-meets-bar is an ingenious way to mingle with the locals, not to mention a god-send for those travelling with light luggage. 

 

Get outdoors

Green spaces are well represented in Antwerp—take your pick from Middelheimpark Sculpture Park, outdoor concert and play-park hosting Rivierenhof or Park Vordenstein, just a little north of the city. 

Our favourite out of the bunch would be Middleheimpark, but it’s all about your desired pace—pockets of calm can be found all over Antwerp for those who seek them. 

If you like to acclimatise with the “up-and-coming” there are few better places to be than Ilandie Harbour. An area of global supply, huge investments are going into this area, which is kept almost impossibly clean and visitor-friendly. From here, you can enjoy a ride on the water bus, or simply sit back and watch the world go by. There’s something strangely humbling about the sheer precision of delivery and dispatch that goes on here. 


Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter