Antwerp (Dutch: Antwerpen)  is a major destination of Belgium in the region of Flanders. The overwhelming friendliness of the people of Antwerp and their innate penchant for good food and good living, combined with their low stress lifestyle, makes it a desirable and relaxing place to visit. Renowned for being the "world's leading diamond city", more than 70% of all diamonds are traded in Antwerp. The Diamond Market is the hub of the economic section in Belgium. More than 85% of the world’s rough diamonds, 50% of cut diamonds, and 40% of industrial diamonds are traded in the city.
The origins of Antwerp comes from "aan de werpe", which is Dutch for "at the throw", referring to where the river throws its sand. The name also has a funny anecdote saying it comes from "Hand werpen", which translated is "throwing (a) hand(s)".
In the official flag, the castle "het Steen" and the hand of Antwerp are shown.
In the 16th century, Antwerp was one of the most important financial centres of the world, where traders from all over Europe and Asia sold and bought their goods. After the siege of Antwerp in 1585 by the Spanish, this role as a financial centre was taken over by Amsterdam. Nevertheless, since the 19th century and especially the 20th century, Antwerp has made a serious economic comeback. At a population of 506,225 (2012), it is the second largest city in Belgium, after Brussels, and it has a major European port.
Due to its long and culturally rich history, the city of Antwerp houses many interesting historical buildings from different historical periods, as well as a lot of interesting museums. Recently it has become a trendy city, attracting a lot of Flemish and foreign artists, writers, intellectuals, and actors. This is reflected in the city's many trendy bars and shops. Antwerp is a city with many faces. While it may not be as historically preserved as other Flemish medieval cities, like Bruges or Ghent, it is a very dynamic city, offering a perfect mix of history and present-day modern life.
Antwerp airport (IATA: ANR) . There is only one airline serving Antwerp Airport: CityJet  , catering mostly to business travellers. They fly 5 times daily to London City Airport (LCY) and once daily to Manchester (MAN) in the United Kingdom, with convenient connections to Dublin, Dundee, Edinburgh and Jersey. There is a regular bus to the centre and a taxi costs around €10.
Brussels Airport (IATA: BRU) . Every hour there is a direct bus to and from this airport which costs €10 and has two stops in Antwerp at Hotel Crowne Plaza and in the city centre, in front of Central Station. Since the completion of the Diabolo rail link, hourly direct trains linking Antwerp central station with the airport have been introduced, and travel time was cut back to 35 minutes (45 minutes on weekends and public holidays). Single adult tickets are €10,20 (Sept. 2012).
Schiphol Airport (IATA: AMS) . There are 2 options to take the train from Amsterdam Schiphol airport to Antwerp central station. There is a regular intercity train Amsterdam - Brussels that connects Schiphol Airport directly with Antwerp Central station in approximately 1 hr 50 minutes. You can buy tickets with credit card at the automatic ticket booths in the Schiphol arrival hall. Payment with cash is also possible at the counter. Or you can book through Belgian Railways (SNCB/NMBS) . A single ticket costs about €25. Second option, is the bright red high-speed Thalys train Amsterdam - Paris, which also connects Amsterdam airport with Antwerp central station, in about half the time it takes the regular train, but at double the price. Contrary to regular trains, reservations on Thalys are required. Best reserve your seat a week or so beforehand, since buying a ticket on the spot will turn out to be even more expensive. Please keep in mind that the regular intercity and the Thalys are run by different companies, but their trains tend to leave from the same platform. Whatever you do, do not jump on a Thalys train with a regular intercity ticket or vice versa. Thalys and regular train tickets are not interchangeable. Your wallet won't like the fine.
Belgium has an extensive rail network, and for intercity travel within Belgium, trains are always the best option. Tickets can be bought on the website of the Belgian railways and at the ticket counters in most stations. There are good train connections to and from Brussels Airport and Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. To plan your trip, you can consult the website of NMBS  for national and international travels. If you cross multiple borders, it is often possible to book your entire trip at once through Deutsche Bahn .
Antwerp-Central is a major stop on the Paris-Amsterdam high-speed line. Since 2009, international trains from France and the Netherlands stop in Antwerp-Central station only, and not anymore in Antwerp-Berchem. Through Brussels-South railway station, there are also high-speed connections to other destinations in France with TGV, or destinations in Germany with ICE. Real-time information on rail traffic, delays, disruptions, arrivals and departures at every Belgian station can be easily found on RailTime . If you have an mobile internet connection available, the BeTrains app can also be of use .
The public transportation company De Lijn  has a dense network of buses, trams, and pre-metro (underground tram) connections in the city and wide area around it.
You can buy cards of €9 (10 fares) at fixed points in town or buy them inside buses. If you don't have a card you pay more inside the bus (€2.00 per fare).
For one fare, you can ride up to an hour within the entire city centre limits. If you want to travel out of the city centre you have to pay more for the extra zones travelled.
The central bus station is the Franklin Roosevelt plaats, near the central train station. Most buses leave from there or from the train station.
Maps of the bus/tram network in the entire region can be found in PDF format here:  . Since 2012, Google Maps has most bus stops in the area mapped, sometimes including timetables  - though not always, it's clearly a work in progress.
Taxis are available, but they can be quite expensive. They await customers at specific locations around town (waving your hand will seldom work) like the Groenplaats or the railway station. You can recognize these places by an orange TAXI sign. The prices are fixed in the taximeter.
Driving in Antwerp is not as difficult as many big cities in the world, but crossroads can seem very chaotic for foreigners. There are few free parking spaces, but many spaces where you have to pay (on the street or in underground car parks). The underground car parks are well-signposted. The prices are typically €2 per hour.
There are many one-way roads, that can make it difficult to get to a specific place. Try to park your car as close as possible and go on foot.
The city has many special areas for cyclists. Most one-way roads can be accessed both ways. It's very easy and comfortable. Make sure to lock your bike to a fixed object, however, or it will be stolen! Around town there are a few places that are specially prepared for hosting bicycles for free, like at the Groenplaats.
Bicycles can be rented at several places in town like Ligfiets, Windroos, Fietsdokter (verschransingsstraat), or Fietshaven (government initiative, under the central station).
The coolest bikes by far are those of the Velo  system. You can get a day pass for these bikes in the Central Station and pick up your bike at more than 80 places in Antwerp. The first 15 minutes are free, then the price gradually increases.
Most things to see are near or within the Boulevards, the half-moon of avenues where there were once 16th century city-walls. This old town center, with a diameter of about 1.5 km can be walked, but there is excellent public transport.
Rubenshuis, +32 (0)3 201 1555. Wapper 9-11. The house of painter Peter Paul Rubens is now a museum of his life and artwork. Entrance fee: €6, Students under 26 €1, other students free. Free audio guide (recommended). Bring light earphones to plug in to the audio guide.
Plantin Moretus Museum, +32 (0)3 221 1450 or +32 (0)3 221 1451. The home of 16th century bookbinder and printer Christoffel Plantin. Regarded as one of the finest museums dedicated to printing in the world. Its extensive collections of important books and printing presses along with its role in spearheading the technology of printing have seen it added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Antwerp Zoo — One of the oldest zoos in the world, with over 4000 animals and lots of 19th century design and architecture.
Cathedral of Our Lady, (Onze Lieve Vrouwekathedraal). One of the most impressive and largest Gothic cathedrals in Northern Europe, built in 1351 it stands over 400 ft tall. It also houses some of Rubens' most famous paintings.
Saint Paul's Church, (Pauluskerke). A beautiful mixed gothic and baroque church formerly part of a nunnery. Noted for its Calvary monument. It is a short distance north of the Grote Maarkt on Zwartzustersstraat.
Carolus Borromeus Church — Unlike the cathedral, this is a Baroque church. With a safe and minimal exterior, you would not know the beautiful decorations (done by Rubens' studio) are inside. Located on the picturesque square Conscienceplein.
Central Station. Even if not arriving or leaving by train the station is well worth a visit. Platforms are on three levels, all constructed beneath the very impressive original structure. edit
City Hall/Old Market Square, (Stadhuis/Grote Markt). This is the historical centre of town. The market square is surrounded by the typical medieval guild houses you can find in most Flemish historical towns. The city hall is designed in special architectural style with a combination between Gothic and early Renaissance. This style is almost exclusively found in this region of Europe.
Vleeshuis — Literally, this is the "Meat house". It was built as the guild hall for the butchers. Every day tonnes of meat switched owners here. The building is famous for the original masonry and is made to resemble stacks of bacon (switching between white stones and red bricks). It now houses a museum, of which the main part comprises a musical instrument collection, including some examples of old harpsichords built by the local Ruckers family.
Het Steen (The Stone) — This is a rather small medieval castle on the banks of the river Schelde. It used to function as a city fortification and now houses a naval museum (open air only, inside closed). It is the starting point of the Wandelterrassen, a scenic boardwalk with a cafe/restaurant at either end.
Boerentoren (Farmers' tower) — Now called "KBC-tower" after the company that owns it, this skyscraper (97m) in the historical center of town is said to be the oldest one on the European continent. It was built at the beginning of the 1930s. It is located at the end of the Meir shopping street. There is an observation deck on the 25th floor (6E entry including an exhibition downstairs), from which you get fantastic views of the city, including the nearby Cathedral. The tower is renowned for its typical art-deco sculptures. The term skyscraper is a little bit irrelevant if you compare it to other buildings that were erected on the American Continent, for example the Empire State Building in New York, built in the same period, has 381m.
Bourla theatre — 19th century neo-classicist theatre building. Charming from the outside and even nicer if you manage to get in for a theater show or a concert. It houses a spectacular pastry salon inside the large cupola above the theater itself. Great place to have tea with cake or waffles, of course.
Red Light District — Like other cities such as Amsterdam and Hamburg, Antwerp also has its own red light district. If you want to visit, consider going during the day. When Villa Tinto setup, Antwerp's little red light district became Europe's most High Tech Brothel. If you intend to be a patron of the Red Light District, be wary of women who beckon you towards their kamers and invite you in without discussing a price. In many cases, these women will charge a greatly inflated rate once they have you inside their kamer. Even if you have no intention of partaking in the festivities, it is worth while just to actually see the spectacle that the district is. 200 women all in their own window dressed for action. It is also worth being wary of beggars in the Red Light District. While few of these are particularly hostile, they can be bothersome and should be ignored. Antwerp keeps a constant Police presence there, expect to see them. With the constant Police presence there is very little illegal activities...
Diamond District — This is the district south and southwest of the central station. As the name already indicates, this is an area where you will find countless jewellery shops, as well as the Antwerp Diamond Exchange, arguably the most important financial centre of the world's diamond industry. The district is also interesting from an ethnic and cultural perspective, since the diamond industry is for at least 50% in the hands of the city's Jews. Antwerp has a rather large population of Jews (about 15,000 people), a lot of them Orthodox.
Aquatopia — Reasonable aquarium in the basement of the Astrid Park Plaza hotel, tickets also available from the Zoo.
The hidden street Vlaeykensgang, which connects Hoogstraat, Oude Koornmarkt and Pelgrimsstraat. It is a real street, but only accessible through unassuming medieval front doors in the streets. The medieval equivalent of a gated community. It now houses nice, but informal restaurants and chic, discrete houses. A must see!
The Antwerp Ruien, you can now take a guided tour of the underground city of Antwerp 
The Begijnhof (beguinage) — A sort of medieval monastery for women. The well-kept gardens are great photo opportunities.
The Jewish Quarter (Joodse wijk), contact the Jewish community for a guide  — One of the main Jewish Centres in the world with the beautiful 'Van Den Nest' ans 'Bouwmeester' synagogues.
MAS - Large musem that tells about Antwerp is the world. You can visit the building for free, with an very wide view accross Antwerp on the rooftop. Visiting the museum requires an entry fee of €5.
Extra City Kunsthal - ECK is an art space for contemporary visual arts, based in an old bottling factory. Its shows are mostly experimental, but always intriguing.
Since the restoration a couple of years ago, the south of the city is known as the trendy part.
The centre of this piece of the city is a huge square called de gedempte zuiderdokken which simply means, 'the filled-up southern docks'. In the sixties, this was an abandoned trade dock. They filled up the dock in an attempt to expand the city. The high crime rate in the region made it a very cheap place to live. This was a blessing for the local art world, which started to flourish, making the region trendy and safe over the years. Today, it is known as a "yuppie stronghold".
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten (Fine Arts Museum), ☎ +32'' (0)3 238 7809, . Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten boasts of an excellent collection of paintings from the 15th century right up to the 20th century. The museum's permanent collection has masters such as Peter Paul Rubens, Brueghel, Van Eyck, Anthony Van Dyck, Jacob Jordaens, and James Ensor to name a few. NOTE: the Museum was closed from October 2010 for heavy reconstruction work. Some of the collection will be temporarily displayed at the new Museum an de Stroom in the port area when it opens in May 2011.edit
Zuiderpershuis, ☎ +32 (0)3 248 7077, . It is on the "kaaien" and is a centre for intercultural art.edit
Het Muntplein. A place where graffiti artists can make artwork without being chased by police. There are often very nice creations. Graffiti contests occur on a regular basis.edit
Palace of Justice (Justitiepaleis). There are actually two of these. The old one is a 19th century red brick building on the Britselei. The new one is a dominant, modern, white building in the south of Antwerp (Bolivarplaats). You can hardly miss it once you're there. The architect of this building was Richard Rogers, who also built the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Millennium Dome in London.edit
Zurenborg neighbourhood is a little off the beaten track. This neighbourhood in the south east of Antwerp (near the railway station Antwerpen-Berchem, look for 'Cogels-Osylei' on the map) is known for its eclectic, sometimes rather bizarre 19th century architecture. Consider taking a tram or bicycle to get there.
Middelheim Park — The centre of Antwerp is not very big, and once you cross the ring road, you will mainly see suburbs. There are some nice parks outside the ring road The Middelheim Park is one of them. It houses a permanent open-air exhibition of modern sculpture, including work by famous artists such as Rodin, Hans Arp, Henry Moore, and many others.
Take the pedestrian tunnel (St. Anna) to the left bank of the river Schelde. On the left bank, you have a beautiful view on the city center, so make sure you bring your camera! Besides that, there is not very much to see here, but it's very quiet compared to the city centre. If you don't feel like walking back again, the premetro will take you back to Groenplaats in under 5 minutes.
Pelgrom, +32 (0)3 234 0809 . This building combines both an impressive bar in the basement, plus the 'poortershuis', which is a replica of the house of businessmen in Antwerp during the 17th century.
Antwerp by Bike — Discover Antwerp with a bike. The inner city is perhaps too crowded, but the green outskirts are really worth visiting. For bike rental, see  and "Vélo" . "Antwerp by Bike"  has a charming tour with all the highlights of Antwerp, like the cathedral, the Butterfly Palace and the MAS museum (from July till September). For other tours, see  or )
Stadspark (City Park). This is a big park very near to the central station. It has a "Y" shaped fenced lake. In summer months you can find quite a few rabbits and ducks and other water loving birds and animals dwelling in the fenced area. get here in the evening. have a quite walk around the park. One full round is about 1.5 KMs long. It also has a small kids playing area. Lots people enjoy having a sun bathe in summer months as well. Worth a visit!edit
Zomer van Antwerpen (Summer of Antwerp,), +32 (0)3 224 8528 . A great festival that takes places during the whole summer in the whole city. Cheap or free activities such as dancing, theater, performances, circus, movies in open air, and much more are organized. Reserving is often a must (especially on free activities).
Laundry Day is a large dance festival in Antwerp.
The main shopping area is the Meir, a street that stretches out from the Keyserlei (close to the central station) to the Groenplaats. It is one of the most famous shopping streets in Belgium. Don't forget to visit the mall Stadsfeestzaal (between Meir and Hopland, which was beautifully restored and reopened in 2007 after it was partially destroyed by a fire ten years earlier. You will see a lot of gold on the ceiling, and all sorts of stores. The streets Hopland and Schuttershofstraat are the shopping terrain of the rich and famous with exclusive fashion shops like Cartier, Hermes, Scapa, Armani, etc. The Huidevettersstraat, Nationalestraat, and Kammenstraat (all located close to the Meir) are also very interesting shopping streets to visit.
Purchasing a diamond at one of the many tourist jewelry shops around the Central station can be an unpleasant experience. Like any big diamond city in world, there are many tourist trap diamond shops around the actual diamond district centre, though it is fair to say that if you are prepared to barter you can purchase jewellery here for significantly less than in countries such as the UK. Wealthy diamond buyers should do their investigative shopping online prior to visiting Antwerp. If you're less wealthy and someone asks you to bring back some diamonds from Antwerp, buy diamond-shaped chocolate pralines at e.g. Burie (Korte Gasthuisstraat 3), Château Blanc  (Torfbrug 1) or Del Rey (Appelmansstraat 5).
Trendy shopping can be done in the Kammenstraat and surroundings. In this area, you will also find the Fashion Museum  and many shops of famous Antwerp fashion designers, such as Walter van Beirendonck and Dries van Noten.
The Kloosterstraat has many antique shops, with often bizarre items for sale.
Chinatown can be found about 300m north of the Central Station (see also Eat). A lot of Japanese, Korean, and Chinese products can be found here.
Weekend Markets take place on the Theaterplein Square (follow Wapper or Meistraat south from the Meir) in front of the Stadsschouwburg theatre. The markets are very popular with stalls offering everything from food (fruit and veg, meat, fish, nuts, cheese ethnic specialities) to household goods to bicycles to antiques to clothes. Sunday tends to see a lot more stalls compared to Saturday. Take a break from browsing at the stall at the centre of the square, where you can buy a cheese roll with a glass of chilled cava to wash it down, most convivial!
At Ploegstraat 25 you can find a "give-away shop", where you can bring and take stuff as you please without any monetary interaction. Open M-F 2PM-6PM.
Due to very strict language requirements imposed by the Flemish government, all Bachelor courses are offered in Dutch only (except for the Maritime Academy which enjoys a special international status). However, the University of Antwerp currently offers 9 fully English-taught Master programmes, 7 advanced Master programmes, and 7 postgraduate degrees, in topics ranging from Linguistics and Computer Science to Marine Transport .
Antwerp hosts over 30000 students, and therefore boasts a vibrant student life that also has many traditional aspects. Well-connected in the centre of Europe, offering a varied city day- and nightlife, and having a very reasonable cost of living compared to the surrounding capitals, it's a popular destination for Erasmus students. Current and prospective Erasmus students should get in touch with ESN Antwerp , part of the global Erasmus Student Network and very active in organizing activities to help international students find their way around.
As with most Flemish towns, you can find many fritkoten in the city. These are places of which the Belgians are really proud of. Here you can buy the famous Belgian fries and other fried food for a reasonable price.
Pitta/Shoarma — These shops are often open through the day and are the last ones to close.
Broodje/Boterkoeken (sandwiches) are local and inexpensive. Try one with mussels and curry (2,85€) at Vishandel van Bladel (Schrijwerkerstraat 25), or one with crevettes and sause andalouse (3,50€ for a double one) at Diksmuise Boterkoeken, in the basement of the ugly shopping center (Schoenmarkt)
People often go eat a "smos", a bread with several layers of garniture in it. The name refers to the mess you make when trying to eat it. You can find them in several stores like Panos or Foodmaker. The most famous "smoskes" according to students are found at "Jean-Pierre". You can find it opposite to the university (Grote Kauwenberg 41).
De Keyserlei (the street that runs west from Central Station) is a street with a varied choice of restaurants. The side streets on the north side of De Keyserlei offer even more options, with Lebanese, South-African, Mexican, Italian and Vietnamese (to name but a few) restaurants all rubbing shoulders with each other. With so many restaurants in a small area the prices tend to be pretty competitive.
Chinatown takes up a couple of streets on the north side of Koningin-Astrid-plein (the large square to the north of Central Station). Look for the 2 lions guarding the entrance to Van Wesenbekestraat. Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai and Nepalese retaurants are here as well as lots of Chinese options.
Da Giovani (Jan Blomstraat 3-5-7-8), +32 (0)3 226 7450 . A cheap Italian restaurant. It is popular among students, because of their 20% discount. A second "Da Giovanni" is on the Keyserlei, near the central station.
Tropicos (at Tabakvest and Hopland), +32 (0)3 231 9964 . Known for its lively South American atmosphere, caipirinha cocktails, and tasteful Brazilian Mexican kitchen.
Wok & Tandoor, +32 (0)3 248 9595 . A show-restaurant serving wok and tandoori food. It is prepared in front of you by cooks in a spectacular way. It's an all-you-can-eat buffet with very reasonable prices. It is in the south of Antwerp close to the new Courthouse.
Govinda's Garden (Amerikalei 184) — The restaurant of the Krishnas. They serve healthy macrobiotic food for a small price. Only open in the evenings. UPDATE: This is no longer a restaurant, though still a Hare Krishna centre. So if you ring, they'll be very kind and friendly to you, but don't expect to be able to get dinner! Try one of the Indian restaurants on Lange Herentalsestraat instead.
The Hilton Hotel has a restaurant overlooking the Groenplaats.
Rooden Hoed Corner of Oude Koornmarkt and Tempelstraat. The oldest restaurant in Antwerp, specializing in seafood, especially mussels. Very popular with locals, but few tourists, so you know it's good. Mains starting at €20.
Mata Mata & Pili Pili (African Restaurant and Cocktail Bar), Hoogstraat 44, 2000 Antwerpen, ☎ 03 213 19 28, . from 5pm 7 days. Lively and colourful restaurant with a range of dishes from across the African continent and a particular focus on West African cuisine.edit
Bourla, Graanmarkt 7. A "Havanna style" restaurant in an old theatre. They serve a mix of Belgian and French style food. Not cheap, but excellent value for money€25-€50 for a 3 course meal incl. wine and drinks. edit
Wherever you are in Antwerp, you will always be near a pub or another drinking facility. Not surprising for a city that has the most pubs per capita in the world. In Antwerp pubs do not have a closing hour.
Den Engel — Most famous traditional cafe in Antwerp. Situated at Grote Markt.
De Vagant — A famous Belgian cafe serving about 300 kinds of Jenever.
De Muze — A jazz café located in Melkmarkt. Relaxed atmosphere and live (jazz) music played on a regular basis. Beyond typical Belgian beers, coffee lovers can enjoy a true Italian Espresso or, if willing to drink something bigger, a "Koffie Verkeerd".
Caffénation — Most friendly bar in Antwerp. They have very nice specialized coffee creations and a cozy outdoor with lots of green. Good music. Say hi from "TheKitt" for a special, double shot cappuccino.
Kulminator, Vleminckveld 32. Kind of off the beaten path, this bar has a neat hole in the wall atmosphere and an amazing selection of beer, (around 700 beers, with 200-300 aged over 10 years) ranging from expensive to about average. All in all, a great time, and a great value.edit
Paeters Vaetje, (in the Cathedral Square). Here you can order more than one hundred different kinds of beer. In summertime, you can also sit outside.
De Pelgrom, (Pelgrimsstraat). A cafe that is in an old underground storage place right next to the vlaaikesgang with medieval finishes.
Kassa4, located in the student neighborhood, on the Ossenmarkt. Very popular student pub with a good choice of alternative music. Can be very crowded at times.
Den Hovenier — Typical Antwerp pub near the Sint-Jacob Church.
Café Beveren, near the river. Enjoy the automatic Decap Organ.
Stanny — Non-smoking café close to the station of Antwerp-Berchem.
Copa Cava — a cava bar on the vlasmarkt, with a cosy atmosphere and which serves relatively cheap and exclusive cava from Barcelona.
t Vervolg -- between the "groenplaats" and the "Grote Markt", very friendly prices mixed with house & RnB always ensures there's something going on Monday through Saturday evening.
Witzli-Poetzli (Blauwmoezelstraat 8 | Meir From 10:00 daily) The Witzli-Poetzli is a very small café in the centre of citycentre. It is next to our great cathedral. In the summer there’s an unique terras in the shadow of the cathedral. In the winter it is a cosy place where people come to drink coffee and read a newspaper.
Petrol — The most trendy club and concert venue at the moment. Located on a deserted industrial terrain south of the city, somewhat away from the city centre. You might need a bicycle or a taxi ride to get there, unless you don't mind a long walk.
Noxx — The most famous and exclusive club of Antwerp with the biggest names in the DJ world performing. You can find it close to the Kinepolis Antwerp ('Metropolis'), just outside the centre of Antwerp.
Café d'Anvers -- The most infamous club in Antwerp. Situated right smack dab in the middle of the red light district. Known for its progressive music.
Antwerp Mabuhay Lodgings Bed and Breakfast, guesthouse in cozy neighbourhood of Antwerp. Rooms available for two. Apartments and studios available for short term staying visitors, expats, or students.
Scoutel. A scouting youth hostel that is open to everyone and offers affordable accommodations in the centre of the city, just around the corner of the central train station.
Camping Vogelzang, Vogelzanglaan 7-9. Located at 10 minutes by tram from the heart of the city and perfect for low-budget travellers.
Heksenketel, +32 (0)3 226.71.64. A hostel close to the city centre with very welcoming and homely atmosphere. Dorm beds available only (no single or double, etc) in rooms between four to eight beds.
Ibis Hotel Antwerpen Centrum, (+32)3/2318830. Good location in the city centre, near the Stadschouwburg theatre and the Vogeltjesmarkt. Not very exciting but you won't get any unpleasant surprises with this chain. Don't pay (14 Euros!) for breakfast in the hotel as there are plenty of cafes in the immediate area and a market on the Theaterplein square in front of the hotel Saturday and Sunday mornings. If you're a very light sleeper try to get a room on the side that doesn't face onto the Theaterplein as the market traders start setting up pretty early!
Elzenveld, Lange Gasthuisstraat 45, . A former hospital that advertises itself as a conference centre, but also offers accommodation.
The Swan B&B, Huikstraat 25, . A self-contained apartment for up to 3 guests in a quiet part of the historic city center, a 5 minute walk from the main square. The owner Nadine gladly provides directions and tourist advice. Minimum stay of 2 nights.From €65. edit
Apartment in Antwerp, Gierstraat 3, . Slapen in Apen is a guestapartment for 2 to 4 persons in the centre of Antwerp. It is located at the Vrijdagmarkt, on about 400 meters from the Central Market. €110. edit
A La Muze, Lombardenvest 18, . A La Muze is a city apartment for short staying with 1 or 2 bedrooms. It is located in a calm street about 100m from the cathedral. You can get there easily by public transport or by car. €110. edit
Park Inn Astrid Hotel, Koningin Astridplein 2018 Antwerp, ☎ +32 3 202 31 70, . This new hotel in Antwerp has 59 rooms and is ideally situated in the heart of the city's Diamond District on Koningin Astrid Square near the famed Zoo Antwerpen.edit
Leopold Hotel Antwerp, Quinten Matsijslei 25, ☎ +32 (0)3 203 1234, . checkin: 15:00; checkout: 12:00. 4-star hotel overlooking the city park. 5 minutes walk from diamond district and central station.(51.213611,4.4166)edit
Radisson Blu Park Lane Hotel, Van Eycklei, 34, ☎ +32 3 2858585, . This hotel is located adjacent to the Stadspark and bordered by the Diamond Quarter.edit
Radisson Blu Astrid Hotel, Koningin Astridplein 7, ☎ +32 3 202 31 70, . This hotel offers guests contemporary cosmopolitan elegance situated across from the city's historic main rail station.edit
Some cafés have free wireless internet, but don't write it on the door for whatever reason. Some will charge you for it...
McDonald's has free internet.
Poolplanet — Six computers, €1 for half an hour. Printing is possible.
Many hotels, including the Radisson, have free/included internet. If you come in from the street with a laptop, they may let you use it for the price of a few drinks at their bar. The Fon initiative has also some members living in and around Antwerp providing often free connectivity.
If you're a student or member of a university, college or research institute elsewhere in the world, you can probably connect for free to the eduroam Wi-Fi network for higher education , in and near most buildings of the University of Antwerp or any of the Colleges. Ask IT services at your home institution whether it's part of eduroam, and if so, ask them for a manual to setup your machine for connections elsewhere.
Most parts of Antwerp are safe, but some neighbourhoods can feel less confortable, especially by female travellers, as the local population is rich in foreign cultures and because of the dominant presence of young men in the streets, especially the area around De Coninckplein and the neighbourhoods of Borgerhout, Seefhoek and the Schipperskwartier. Still, these neighbourhoods have a very lively atmosphere and so are definitely worth a visit, during the day if this is new to you.
Moreover, it is of utmost importance to lock your bike properly if left outside on the street throughout the city, as to take any valuable off sight in your car. If you need police assistance, the direct police number is 101. If you need a nonurgent police inquiry or the most nearby police station you can dial 0800/12312 for free. Most police officers in Antwerp are friendly and professional.
Be particularly vigilant at Antwerp's Central Station as there are teams of pickpockets operating in the area who use young children to distract their victims whilst laptop bags and handbags are slashed with razors. On average, 15 incidents of pickpocketing are reported daily at the station. There are also pickpockets operating in other busy Antwerp train stations like Berchem. Do be mindful of your belongings and keep an eye on your wallet and purses and avoid keeping all your money and travel documents in one place.
Like most of the rest of Europe, the number for emergencies (ambulance, police and fire) is 112.
Bruges (Brugge) — Very nice medieval town. Often called "Venice of the North", because of the many canals that flow through and under it. Well worth an overnight stay, since it is most romantic at night and very safe.
Brussels — The capital of Belgium and some say, the capital of Europe. Multicultural and multilingual. Unfortunately, some of the city's historic (medieval) centre was destroyed at the end of the 19th century when Belgium seceded from the Netherlands and Brussels was made capital of the new country. Nonetheless, Brussels is known as a city of "hidden gems," where you can turn a street corner in a less-than-breathtaking area and come face-to-face with an opulent and unexpected Art Deco or Art Nouveau building. Its popularity with tourists in recent years has been steadily increasing.
Ghent — A medieval town a bit like Bruges, with more emphasis on cathedrals and other big buildings. Great centre of medieval paintings exhibited in and around the cathedral of Sint-Baafs.
Leuven — One of the only cities in Belgium that is nearly as lively as Antwerp or Brussels is obviously this college town (except for the summer months). One of the world's oldest universities is here. Many hotels also cater to businessmen who find Brussels too dangerous or too expensive.
Getting to other places in Flanders or Wallonia is relatively easy from the bigger Belgian cities, especially from Antwerp, Ghent, and Brussels.
Amsterdam — You can take a direct train to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. There is about one train an hour and it will take you about two hours to get there. Amsterdam is well-known for its grachten, many bicycles, and coffee-shops. There also is the Thalys high speed train which is a bit more expensive but you will get there a lot faster.
Rotterdam — You can take a direct train to Rotterdam in the Netherlands. There is about one train an hour and it will take you about one hour to get there. Rotterdam is well-known for its harbour.
Lille — This is very famous among others for having the largest bookstore in Europe ("Le furet du Nord"). Lille is in the North of France just off the Belgian border. The train ride is pretty long (sometimes over two hours) making it less easy for a day trip. The Dutch (Flemish) name is Rijsel and the town is not to be confused with another Flemish town called, Lille in Dutch!
Paris — With the Thalys, you can be there in about two hours.
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