Help Wikitravel grow by contributing to an article! Learn how.

Antwerp

From Wikitravel
(Redirected from Antwerpen)
Jump to: navigation, search

Antwerp (Dutch: Antwerpen) [1] is a major destination in Belgium in the region of Flanders. 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.

Antwerp is the second largest city of Belgium. It has a beautiful historic city center, and is world-renowned for its fashion industry. The port of Antwerp is the second largest in Europe, and a major economic player in Belgium.

Antwerp Market Square

Contents

Understand[edit]

The name "Antwerp" is most likely derived from "aan de werpe", which is Dutch for "at the throw", referring to a place where the bending river throws its sand. Locals might tell you of an ancient urban legend, 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.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

  • Antwerp airport (IATA: ANR) [2]. CityJet [3] is the main airline serving Antwerp Airport, flying 3 times daily to London City Airport (LCY), with convenient connections to Dublin, Dundee, Edinburgh and Jersey. The daily connection to Manchester (MAN) has been discontinued. Recently, FlyBe [4] has begun one flight daily to London Southend Airport (SEN). There is a regular bus from Antwerp Airport to Berchem train station (lines 51, 52, 53), from where there are multiple connections to the city centre (e.g. tram line 9). A taxi costs around €10.
  • Brussels Airport (IATA: BRU) [5]. Every hour there is a direct bus to and from this airport which costs €10 on way [6]. It has two stops in Antwerp: at Hotel Crowne Plaza and in the city centre, in front of Central Station. Hourly direct trains link Antwerp central station with Brussels airport, with a travel time of approximately 35 minutes (45 minutes on weekends and public holidays). Single adult tickets are €11,20 (Aug. 2014).
  • Charleroi Airport (IATA: CRL) [7], marketed as "Brussels South Charleroi Airport", is a low-cost hub, served mainly by Ryanair and WizzAir. An express bus (line A) connects it to Charleroi Sud train station, from where there are train connections to anywhere in Belgium. Belgian Railways sell a combined expressbus + train ticket: from Antwerp Central Station the trip takes 2 hours and costs about €20.
  • Schiphol Airport (IATA: AMS) [8]. There are several options to take the train from Amsterdam Schiphol airport to Antwerp central station. By regular intercity train, first take a train to Rotterdam, then change onto the Den Haag (The Hague) - Brussels line that connects Rotterdam directly with Antwerp Central station [9]. This train runs 12 times daily. You can buy tickets with credit card at the ticketing machines in the Schiphol arrival hall. Payment with cash is also possible at the counter, or you can book in advance through Belgian Railways (SNCB/NMBS) [10]. 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 half the time it takes the regular train, but at twice the price [11]. Contrary to regular trains, booking beforehand is required on Thalys. Best book your seat at least a week beforehand, since buying a ticket on the spot will turn out to be even more expensive. Keep in mind that the regular intercity and the Thalys are run by different companies, but their trains 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, and you will be fined for riding without valid ticket.
  • Düsseldorf Airport (IATA: DUS) [12] is the third largest airport of Germany. There is no easy train connection to Antwerp, but since June 2014, a bus service by Deutsche Bahn railways connects Antwerp directly to Düsseldorf Airport [13] 3 times daily. Tickets can be booked through Deutsche Bahn.

Antwerp Central is one of the few railway stations in Europe with its own IATA code (IATA: ZWE). Many airlines therefore can offer integrated tickets directly to Antwerp. Depending on demand and time of travel, these can turn out to be much cheaper than flying to the nearest airport and taking the train on your own. In practice you will then first fly to Amsterdam, Paris or Düsseldorf Airport. After collecting your luggage, you register at the transfer desk to collect a "boarding pass" for a high-speed train or bus connection to Antwerp.

By train[edit]

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 [14] or at the ticket counters in most stations. The ticket machines in most stations are handy: they have an English language option and accept VISA, MasterCard and American Express. In case the ticket machines are broken and the ticket counters are closed, you can also buy a ticket from the train conductor: find him/her when you board the train - you will pay a small supplement though (approx. €3).

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 [15] for national and international travels. If you cross multiple borders, it is often possible to book your entire trip at once through Deutsche Bahn [16]. Note however that Deutsche Bahn (the website and the travel agencies at the trainstation, except the one in Cologne) does not enable you to buy tickets for the THALYS trains (the high-speed trains of Belgium).

Antwerp-Central is a major stop on the Paris-Amsterdam high-speed line. Through Brussels-South railway station, there are also high-speed connections to other destinations in France with TGV [17], or destinations in Germany with ICE [18]. Real-time information on rail traffic, delays, disruptions, arrivals and departures at every Belgian station can be easily found on RailTime [19]. If you have an mobile internet connection available, the NMBS app or the 3rd party BeTrains app can be very useful [20].

During rush hour the railway network in the entire country is prone to delays, especially when passing through Brussels. During hot summer days the trains towards the coast are likely to be very crowded. Overcrowding is also possible if your train happens to stop nearby one of the many summer music festivals of Belgium.

By bus[edit]

  • Antwerp has a Eurolines office near the central bus station (Rooseveltplaats, office in the Van Stralenstraat) [21]. There are regular buses to London and to most cities in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Balkan, the Baltic states and eastern/northern Europe. Their buses usually halt in the Van Stralenstraat.
  • Ecolines [22] also serves Antwerp through its Riga-Paris route, with tickets that can be booked online or through the Euro-Maror company (located at Paardenmarkt 65). Its buses stop on the Borsbeekbrug, near Antwerp-Berchem railway station.
  • As of recently, Deutsche Bahn offers a bus connection from Düsseldorf [23] .
  • A special cross-border bus (Veolia line 19) connects Antwerp hourly with the Dutch cities of Breda and Hulst. It leaves from the Breda railway station, and has stops in Antwerp at Noorderplaats (the stop is on the nothernmost part of the Italiëlei), and on the left bank (Halewijnlaan). Tickets can be bought from the driver.

Get around[edit]

Public transportation[edit]

The public transportation company De Lijn [24] operates a dense network of buses, trams, and pre-metro (underground tram) connections in the city and its surroundings. If you plan on taking a bus or tram more than 5 times, then buy a 10-ride card (Lijnkaart) costing €10. They can be bought at fixed points in town (e.g. most supermarkets and any place that sells newspapers, just ask the cashier). Every time you enter a bus or tram, just put that card in one of the yellow ticket machines. A single ticket bought from the driver in the bus costs more (€2.00 per ride).

For one fare, you can ride up to an hour within the city boundaries. If you want to travel out of the city boundaries you may have to pay more for extra zones travelled. The central bus station is the Franklin Rooseveltplaats, near the central train station. Nearly all buses leave from there, or from the Antwerp-Central or Antwerp-Berchem train stations. Buses towards the west terminate on the left bank (metro stop Van Eeden).

Maps of the bus/tram network in the entire region can be found online.

Due to traffic, buses and trams in Antwerp don't always travel according to their indicated schedule, especially around rush hour. However, certainly within the city centre the frequency is usually high enough to not cause too much of an inconvenience. Public transport company De Lijn has a bad reputation when it comes to informing the public of diversions, cancellations or delays. Expect to be given little to no information when the bus suddenly follows a diversion or a stop is not served - it's best to ask a local. This is a persistent problem that even the locals find very difficult to deal with.

Taxi and cars[edit]

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.

By bicycle[edit]

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 [25] 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 30 minutes are free, then the price gradually increases.

On foot[edit]

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.

By horse[edit]

Horse tram (paardentram) leaves from the Grote Markt every hour. It is an approximately 40 minutes / 1.5 mile ride through the city.

See[edit][add listing]

Centre[edit]

Rubens House, Garden view
Plantin Moretus Library
  • Rubenshuis [26], +32 (0)3 201 1555. Wapper 9-11. The house of painter Peter Paul Rubens (a Baroque painter) 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 [27], +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 [28] — One of the oldest zoos in the world, with over 4000 animals and lots of 19th century design and architecture.
  • Cathedral of Our Lady [29], (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. Entrance fee (2013): Adult: 5 euros, Concession (student/senior): 3 euros, Audio guide: 2 euros.
  • Saint Paul's Church, (Pauluskerk). 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 Markt 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 [30] — 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 castle, with a medieval foundation upon which new structures were built until the 19th century. It lies on the banks of the river Schelde, where it used to function as a city fortification. Until recently it was the site of the naval museum, of which only the open-air part can still be seen there. The main collection has moved to the new MAS museum. The inside of Het Steen is now closed until a new function is found for the place. It is the starting point of the Wandelterrassen, a scenic boardwalk with a cafe/restaurant at either end.
  • MAS [31] - Antwerp's newest and largest museum was built to gather together the collections of many smaller museums that were scattered around the city. It's main theme is "Antwerp is the world". You can visit the building for free and go to the rooftop, which offers a very wide view accross Antwerp. Visiting the museum collections itself costs about €5, possibly more for special exhibits.
  • 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 with fantastic views over the city and the nearby Cathedral, but that is now closed to the general public. The tower is renowned for its typical art-deco ornaments. The term skyscraper is a little bit irrelevant if you compare it to buildings that were erected on the American Continent (e.g. the Empire State Building in New York, built in the same period, measures 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 which at the Verversrui and surrounding streets. Even if you have no intention of partaking in the festivities, it is worth strolling through to catch a glimpse the atmosphere. Though illegal by law, the city of Antwerp decided to tolerate prostitution in these particular streets, and installed a permanent police presence to assure safety of the workers and to repel other criminal activity often tied to this industry - expect to see police patrols. The immediately surrounding area is poor and you might stumble into beggars and drunks. While few of these are particularly hostile, they can be bothersome and should be ignored.
  • Diamond District — This is the district to the 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 dominated by the Jewish community of Antwerp - though the influency of Indian merchants is rapidly increasing.
  • Aquatopia [32] — 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 flats. Easiest to enter through a porch in the Hoogstraat.
  • The Antwerp Ruien, the remnants of the old network of waterways that used to criss-cross the city in late medieval times, now located beneath the streets whose names end in "...rui". You can take a guided tour of the "underground city of Antwerp" [33]
  • The Begijnhof (beguinage)[34] — Not as well-known or as large as similar structures in e.g. Leuven or Bruges, but still worth a detour. A sort of medieval monastery for women. The well-kept gardens are great photo opportunities.
  • The Jewish Quarter (Joodse wijk), Antwerp has a sizeable Jewish population (about 15,000 people), many of them Hasidic Orthodox [35]. Contact the Jewish community for a guide [36] — Antwerp is one of the main Jewish Centres in the world with the beautiful 'Van Den Nest' and 'Bouwmeester' synagogues.
  • Extra City Kunsthal [37] - ECK is an art space for contemporary visual arts, based in an old bottling factory. Its shows are mostly experimental, but always intriguing.

The Antwerp South ("Het Zuid")[edit]

The south of the city is now known as the trendy part. At the centre of this part 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 higher 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".

  • MUHKA, +32 (0)3 260 99 99 (), [38]. Museum of contemporary art.  edit
  • Fotography Museum, +32 03 242 93 00 (fax: +32 03 242 93 10), [39]. Renovated in 2004.  edit
  • Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten (Fine Arts Museum), +32'' (0)3 238 7809, [40]. 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 is undergoing major renovation until end of 2017. Some of the collection will be temporarily displayed at the new MAS museum in the port area.  edit
  • Zuiderpershuis, +32 (0)3 248 7077, [41]. 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
  • Kloosterstraat - this street connecting the south part of the city with the center is well-known for its many antique shops.
  • De Singel [42] This cultural hotspot of Antwerp is the home of the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp. The multi-purpose building contains several concert and theatre halls and exhibition spaces, with almost daily several concerts of classical and avant-garde music, theatre, dance and architecture exhibitions. A little bit further down the road is Antwerp Expo [43], the main exposition halls of Antwerp where large scale trade shows and conferences take place regularly.
  • 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 and The Middelheim Park is probably one of the more interesting. 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.
  • 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.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • pedestrian tunnel
    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 [44]. 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 [45] and "Vélo" [46]. "Antwerp by Bike" [47] 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 [48] or [49])


  • 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

Guided Tours and Cruises[edit]

  • Port of Antwerp — Take a tour of one of the largest ports in the world. The second largest port in Europe and 5th largest in the world. 2.5 hours long. €12 for adults, €10 for students.
  • Ghostly Nighttime Tour, (Antwerp Ghostwalk) [50] — Take the ghost tour and learn about the dark history of Antwerp.
  • Jan Plezier Boottochten [51] Themed cruises including the pancake cruise (pancake boat), the spareribs cruise and the shrimp cruise.

Festivals[edit]

  • Zomer van Antwerpen (Summer of Antwerp,), +32 (0)3 224 8528 [52]. 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 [53] is a large dance festival in Antwerp.

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • 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 [54] (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 [55] 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.

Learn[edit]

Antwerp has several colleges and a university.

  • University of Antwerp [56].
  • AP Artesis Plantijn Hogeschool (formerly two separate colleges) [57].
  • Lessius Hogeschool.
  • Karel de Grote Hogeschool [58].
  • Antwerp Maritime Academy.
  • Royal Academy of Fine Arts

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 [59].

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 [60], part of the global Erasmus Student Network and very active in organizing activities to help international students find their way around.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Any time[edit]

  • As with most Flemish towns, you can find many fritkoten in the city. These are places of which the Belgians are really proud. 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)

Lunch[edit]

  • 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).

Dinner[edit]

  • Thai Thai Simple +32 477 292 554 [61]. Amerikalei 72. Fresh authentic thai food in an old mansion on Amerikalei.
  • Sombat +32 3 226 21 90 [62]. Vleeshuisstraat 1. Thai haute cuisine
  • 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 Giovanni (Jan Blomstraat 3-5-7-8), +32 (0)3 226 7450 [63]. 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 [64]. Known for its lively South American atmosphere, caipirinha cocktails, and tasteful Brazilian Mexican kitchen.
  • Wok & Tandoor, +32 (0)3 248 9595 [65]. 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, [66]. 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

Drink[edit][add listing]

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.
  • SIPS [67] - a cocktail bar.
  • 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.

Clubs[edit]

  • Petrol [68] — 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 [69] — 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 [70] -- The most infamous club in Antwerp. Situated right smack dab in the middle of the red light district. Known for its progressive music.

Specialties[edit]

  • De Koninck (commonly called "Bolleke") — Beer that is brewed in Antwerp.
  • Antwerpse handjes — Little biscuits or chocolates in the shape of a hand. Invented by a Jewish baker in 1932.
  • Elixir d'Anvers — A liquor based on plants.
  • The Antwerp Six — Clothes designed by Ann Demeulemeester, Walter Van Beirendonck, Dirk Bikkembergs, Dries Van Noten, Marina Yee en Dirk Van Saene.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Budget[edit]

  • 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 [71]. 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[72], +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[73], (+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, [74]. A former hospital that advertises itself as a conference centre, but also offers accommodation.
  • The Swan B&B, Huikstraat 25, [75]. 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

Mid-range[edit]

  • Apartment in Antwerp, Gierstraat 3, [76]. 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, [77]. 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, [78]. 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

Splurge[edit]

  • Leopold Hotel Antwerp, Quinten Matsijslei 25, +32 (0)3 203 1234, [79]. 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, [80]. 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, [81]. This hotel offers guests contemporary cosmopolitan elegance situated across from the city's historic main rail station.  edit

Contact[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 [82] — 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 [83], 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.

Stay safe[edit]

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.

Get out[edit]

Since Flanders (and Belgium) is not big, it's very easy to take the train and go visit another city.

Belgium[edit]

  • 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.
  • Namur — The regional capital of Wallonia.
  • Leuven — A college town hosting the oldest university in the Benelux. Very young vibrant city during the school year but calm and relaxing during the summer. Many hotels also cater to businessmen who find Brussels too expensive.

Getting to other places in Flanders or Wallonia is relatively easy from the bigger Belgian cities, especially from Antwerp, Ghent, and Brussels.

The Netherlands[edit]

  • 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.
  • Zeeland — Where the Schelde reaches the ocean. It's about one hour by train and you will have to change in Roosendaal.

France[edit]

  • 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.




This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!




Variants

Actions

Destination Docents

In other languages

other sites