Antwerp, located along the famed Belgian river Scheldt, is best known as one of the world's leading diamond-trading centers, operating a renowned diamond industry that dates back to the Middle Ages. As the home to Europe's second-largest port, the city is a major cultural and economic center in Northern Europe, known for its famed stock exchange building and cultural museums related to figures such as Flemish Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens.
1.Antwerp Bike Tours
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Antwerp Bike Tours is a citywide biking tour company that offers guided tours of unique Antwerp cultural and historical sites for participants of all ages. The company offers six types of standard bike tours, including a classic tour that departs daily in the afternoon and lasts approximately three hours, showcasing sites such as the Grand Market, the Cathedral of Our Lady, and the Rubens House. Children's and early bird morning tours are also offered, along with epicurean tour options that stops at the city's famed Brewery De Koninck for beer tastings or at several local chocolatiers for chocolate tastings. Combination bike and boat tours take participants aboard the Flandria 24 cruise ship after bike exploration, offering a two-hour boat tour with complimentary beer and chocolate tastings.
Paradijsstraat 15, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium, Phone: +32-4-68-23-08-95
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Antwerp BeerWalk is a craft beer crawl that educates participants on the history of the city's craft beer brewing scene, which has long been acclaimed as one of the top urban brewing cities in Belgium and produces a number of world-renowned beers. Each tour begins at the De Konincklijke Snor craft beer bar and travels to several of the city's leading breweries and beer bars, giving participants an opportunity to sample brews and learn about brewing history and production methods. Tours last approximately three hours, with five complimentary beer tastings included in each tour. Exclusive brew tastings are offered as part of tours, along with free take-home BeerWalk tasting glass souvenirs.
De Konincklijke Snor, Adriaan Brouwerstraat 33 Antwerpen
3.Belgium Food Tours
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Belgium Food Tours is Antwerp's original and top-rated tourist cuisine tour company, offering weekly walk-and-eat tours embarking twice daily on Saturdays from the Groenplaats Kiosk near the city's Hard Rock Cafe location. Public tours last approximately three hours, led by experienced food bloggers who elaborate on the city's gastronomic traditions and trends. Participants have the opportunity to sample food from at least six restaurants during the tour, with a focus on the city's hottest and most popular food trends. All tour groups are kept to a small size to ensure maximum participation and fun. All sample food is included in the overall tour price, though visitors are welcome to purchase additional food and drink at each location. Private and custom tours may be arranged for small groups and organizations.
Kiosk, Groenplaats, 2000 Antwerpen
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Bierpassieweekend, or Beer Passion Weekend, is a three-day festival held each June in Antwerp that celebrates the city's vibrant, world-renowned craft beer brewing scene, recognized as one of the most influential and acclaimed beer scenes in Belgium. More than 200 Belgian craft brews are available for sampling and purchase at the festival, including blonde, brown, red, Abbey, and Trappist styles. More than two dozen new styles of beer are released annually at the festival, including releases from top regional breweries. Beer tastings may be purchased by purchasing festival tokens, which may also be redeemed for food from food truck vendors parked on site at the festival.
Groenplaats, Antwerp, Belgium, Phone: 03-6-45-72-47
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Den Botaniek, or the Botanic Garden of Antwerp, is the city's official public botanical garden facility, located near the Antwerp city center along the Leopoldstraat. The garden dates back to 1825, when it was the private herbal and pharmacological garden of pharmacist Peter van Coudenbergh, used to grow medicinal herbs for use at St. Elizabeth Hospital. The one-hectare garden was reorganized in 1878 by botanist Henri Van Heurck and converted into a public garden facility, which formerly housed the city's natural history museum. Since 1926, it has been managed by the city council and houses more than 2,000 plant species, including significant collections of magnolia tripetala, large wild lemon, and Japanese nut trees. It is open daily to the public for free admission, though its indoor conservatory facility is closed on Sundays.
Leopoldstraat 25, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium, Phone: +03-2-32-40-87
6.Comics Station Antwerp
© Comics Station Antwerp
Comics Station Antwerp is an indoor theme park that brings a variety of popular Belgian comics characters to life, including the world-famous cartoon personalities The Smurfs. The family-friendly amusement park also features attractions themed after characters such as the Robbedoes, Lucky Luke, the Red Knight, and Suske en Wiske, with interactive games and children's play areas offered geared toward visitors ages 3-12. Attractions include a Smurfs-themed adventure that allows children to help plan a party with their favorite blue munchkins, using interactive digital technologies to complete activities such as dance lessons and building repair. Other cartoon character zones feature attractions such as a children's theater, a pint-sized cinema, and a reading corner.
Kievitplein, 2018 Antwerpen, Belgium, Phone: +32-32-32-33-08
7.Cycling Architecture Tour
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Cycling Architecture Tour takes visitors through the sights of historic downtown Antwerp in cycling groups, embarking from the city's Steenplein, located near the slope of Zuiderterras. Cycling tours travel past attractions such as the city's Latin Quarter, Rubens House, Steen Fortress, and Grote Markt, traversing a safe, low-traffic route and encouraging participants to engage in heart-healthy exercise tourism. All tours are led by experienced tour guides, who elaborate on the history and culture of the city and the stories behind its most famous sights. Rental bikes are available for participants, though visitors are welcome to bring their own bikes along for exploration. Tours are available for up to 15 participants at a time, with private and custom tours available for larger groups and organizations.
Grote Markt 13, 2000 Antwerp, Phone: +32-32-32-01-03
8.De Koninck Brewery
© De Koninck Brewery
De Koninck Brewery, also known as the Brouwerij De Koninck, is an iconic Antwerp city brewery that was originally opened within the De Plaisante Hof inn in 1833 by Joseph Henricus De Koninck. The brewery found widespread success by the middle of the 19th century, originally named De Hand for the city's famous toll boundary station that was adorned with a painting of a hand. Today, it is owned by Duvel Moorgat Brewery and is best known for its iconic bolleke beer glass, which is used to serve its three flagship brews. Beers currently produced by the brewery include its flagship De Koninck Belgian Pale Ale, its Triple d'Anvers Tripel, and its Winterkoninck seasonal ale. Interactive brewery tours are offered at the brewery's public complex, along with several fine dining restaurants, tasting rooms, and gift shops.
Mechelsesteenweg 291, 2018 Antwerpen, Belgium, Phone: +32-38-66-96-90
© De Ruien
De Ruien is a public touring attraction that explores Antwerp's historic sewer ruins, which were originally constructed in the Middle Ages. The network of natural and constructed waterways was utilized until their conversion into a covered drain system by the City of Antwerp. Today, the old system's ruins have been converted into a visitor attraction that is managed by WerkmMaat VZW and Zanzibar BVBA, under the supervision of the municipality. Three guided tour options take visitors ages 10 and older through the city's historic underbelly, including a guided group walking tour that embarks for both day and night guided explorations of the system. An interactive tablet tour is also offered daily, along with a boat discovery tour that takes visitors through the system's waterways aboard a tour boat.
Suikerrui 21, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium, Phone: +32-33-44-07-55
DIVA, also known as the Antwerp House of Diamonds, is a public museum and tourist attraction located within the city's historic goldsmith and diamond dealer neighborhood, which earned the city the reputation of the "Diamond Capital of the World" for its merchant activity dating back to the Golden Age. The museum is located adjacent to attractions such as the city's Cathedral of Our Lady and MAS City Museum, offering a variety of visitor exhibits related to the history of diamond dealing in the city that trades more than 84 percent of the world's rough diamonds today. Exhibits include interactive fictional audio plays scripted by museum director Frank Van Laecke, which provide tours and overviews of important people, places, and events connected to the city's diamond industry. A working diamond vault is also showcased, along with a jewelry boudoir exhibit showcasing the museum's most precious diamond artifacts.
Suikerrui 17-19, 2000 Antwerpen, Phone: +32-33-60-52-52
11.Grote Markt van Antwerpen
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Grote Markt van Antwerpen, or the Great Market Square of Antwerp, is the city's 16th-century central market square, which is home to attractions such as its historic Flemish Renaissance-style Antwerp City Hall building, constructed in 1565 and substantially renovated in the 19th century. The square is also home to a number of historic 16th-century guild buildings which were reconstructed after a 1576 fire, along with the 1887 Brabo Fountain statue, which was crafted by artist Jef Lambaux to depict the city's famed mythical hero Brabo. Other attractions in the triangular town square include the Antwerp Jazz Club, the city's tourism office, and a number of quaint restaurants and cafes offering seasonal outdoor seating. During the winter months, the square hosts a holiday market and public ice skating rink.
2000 Antwerpen, Belgium
12.Middelheim Open Air Sculpture Museum
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Middelheim Open Air Sculpture Museum is a 30-acre sculpture park located within Antwerp's Middelheim Nachtegalen Park, which was born out of the city's Biennale Middelheim sculpture exhibition, started in 1951. After more than two decades of exhibitions, a permanent sculpture showcase was opened in 1989, intended to display permanent and temporary rotating works of public art at the Braem Pavilion. A large collection of contemporary and modern art works are showcased throughout the park, including works by prominent historic and modern artists such as Ai Weiwei and Auguste Rodin and local luminaries such as Jef Lambeaux. Free guided tours of the museum are offered weekly, and a gift shop contains artwork and gifts related to the world of contemporary art and sculpture.
Middelheimlaan 61, 2020 Antwerpen, Belgium, Phone: +32-32-88-33-60
13.Museum aan de Stroom
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Museum aan de Stroom is Antwerp's largest museum, located at the Hanzestedenplaats along the Scheldt River within the city's Eilandje district. The museum was opened to the public in May of 2011 and focuses on the cultural and social history of Antwerp, combining artifacts previously held at museums such as the Maritime Museum and the Ethnographic Museum. It was designed by architectural firm Neutelings Riedijk to house a permanent collection of more than 470,000 items, including 180,000 on display in permanent exhibits. Exhibits focus on the city's history as an international port, with areas focusing on the histories of influential citizens and the city's reputation as a major Northern European metropolis. The museum focuses on the integration of modern technology as an aid to all of its exhibits, using QR codes to provide additional information in five languages.
Hanzestedenplaats 1, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium, Phone: +32-33-38-44-00
14.The Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp
© The Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp
The Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp, or MHKA, is the city's primary art museum and is considered to be one of the top art museums in the county of Belgium. The museum was designed in 1987 by architect Michel Grandsard following its founding in 1985, which served as an extension of the legacy of the International Cultural Centre, Belgium's first contemporary art organization. Following the 2002 appointment of director Bart de Baere, the museum's collections was radically expanded to center on the idea of post-war avant-garde art, with a focus on diversified and decolonized international collections. Today, it exhibits works in permanent and rotating temporary exhibits, also offering events at an arthouse cinema and a vast library of contemporary art books.
Leuvenstraat 32, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium, Phone: +32-32-60-99-99
15.The Plantin-Moretus Museum
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The Plantin-Moretus Museum is a combined living history museum and printing history museum, housed within the former residence and business of Plantin Press operators and 16th-century printers Jan Moretus and Christophe Plantin. The museum commemorates the history of the printing press company, which was known for its eight-language-edition Plantin Polyglot Bible, considered to be one of the most complex printed works of its time. Today, the museum has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and presents an extensive collection of typographical artifacts, including the world's two oldest surviving printing presses. Other collections include the archives of the Plantin Press and significant holdings of matrices and dies.
Vrijdagmarkt 22-23, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium, Phone: +32-32-21-14-50
© Port House
Port House is Antwerp's newest architectural landmark, constructed by famed Zaha Hadid Architects to house the headquarters of the Antwerp Port Authority. The building serves as the headquarters for more than 500 daily employees, designed to represent the city's past, present, and future as one of the top international ports in Northern Europe. It is constructed in the shape of a diamond to represent the city's history as one of the world's top diamond trading ports. Guided tours of the building are offered to the public daily, providing stunning panoramic views of the city's port and coastline and elaborating on the building's architecture, history, and daily operations.
Mexicostraat, 2030 Antwerpen, Belgium, Phone: +32-32-05-20-11
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17.Red Star Line Museum
© Red Star Line Museum
Red Star Line Museum is an immigration-focused museum detailing the history of the Red Star Line transatlantic passenger line, which was founded in 1871 by Clement Griscom and transported more than three million American immigrants to the United Kingdom and United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The museum is located at the line's former warehouse facility, opened to the public in 2013. It is operated by the City of Antwerp and showcases exhibits focusing on the personal stories of travelers aboard the line, from their intake process in cities such as Warsaw to their arrival at major ports such as Southhampton, New York, and Philadelphia. Significant collections of artworks depicting line travelers are also showcased, along with stories of famous passengers such as Albert Einstein and narratives of Jewish passengers escaping the rise of Nazi Germany.
Montevideostraat 3, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium, Phone: +32-32-98-27-70
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Sfinks Festival is an annual four-day music festival held the final weekend in July in the nearby town of Boechout. The festival is operated by the Sfinks VZW Association for Craftsmanship, Information, and Culture, which held its inaugural folk music event at a local Boechout park in 1976. During the 1980s, the festival expanded its programming to encompass world music genres, and in 1994, the festival expanded its daily lineup and moved to Boechout's Molenveld venue to accommodate increasing crowds. Today, it draws more than 40,000 annual visitors to watch performances by over 40 world music bands and artists, including top international artists such as Julian Marley, Zap Mama, and the New York Salsa All-Stars. Top DJ performances are also offered throughout the lineup, along with performances and activities at a children's area.
Pastoorsleike 7a, 2530 Boechout, Phone: +32-34-55-69-44
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19.The Snijders and Rockox House
© The Snijders and Rockox House
The Snijders and Rockox House is a living history and art museum preserving two early-17th century artist and arts patron residences within Antwerp's Keizerstraat district. The first home, De Gouden Rinck, was the former residence of Antwerp mayor and arts patron Nicolaas Rockox, whose family amassed a significant collection of Danish and Renaissance artworks throughout the next several centuries and displayed them in gallery showcases throughout the residence. From 1977 to 2017, the Rockox House served as a nonprofit arts museum overseen by the Museum Nicolaas Rockox foundation. Following a collaborative exhibit with the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, and the KMSKA that was exhibited between 2013 and 2016, the museum added the adjacent 1620 residence of painter Frans Snijders to its facilities. Top artworks, furniture, and tapestries from the Golden Age are displayed throughout the houses, with additional works showcased within an elaborate courtyard garden.
Keizerstraat 12, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium, Phone: +32-32-01-92-50
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20.Stadsfeestzaal Shopping Centre
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Stadsfeestzaal Shopping Centre is one of Antwerp's premiere retail centers, housed within the historic 1908 neo-Classical Festival Hall building, designed by architect Alexis Van Mechelen. Though the original building was destroyed by a fire in 2000, it was painstakingly reconstructed between 2004 and 2007, with an eye for replication of classic details such as its staircase, mosaics, and oak parquet floors, along with an additional modernized section. More than 40 stores are housed within the mall's 20,500 square meters of retail space, including top international retailers such as Urban Outfitters and L'Occitane. Other retailers include fashion boutiques HerryM and Antwerp Avenue, home stores Flying Tiger Copenhagen and Sostrene Grene, and food options Let'Sushi, Delifrance, and La Maison du Chocolat Belge.
Meir 78, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium, Phone: +32-32-02-31-00
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21.The Chocolate Line
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The Chocolate Line is one of the world's leading specialty chocolatiers, one of only three chocolate shops in the world to be mentioned in the prestigious Michelin guide. It is operated by Danish chocolatier Dominique Persoone, author of the award-winning book Cacao de chocoladeroute. Persoone has been renowned worldwide for his unique rock-and-roll-chocolatier persona, working with artists such as the Rolling Stones and nude photographer Spencer Tunick and sourcing chocolates for top European restaurants such as Oud Sluis and Hof van Cleve. He and his wife Fabienne Destaercke operate three Chocolate Line stores throughout Belgium, including a location on the Meir in Antwerp. Classic and modern chocolates are sold, blending traditional flavors such as hazelnut and caramel with modern infusions such as sake, yuzu, and matcha. Adult chocolate products are also available, including chocolate lipstick and a unique chocolate shooter sniffing machine.
Paleis op de Meir 50, Antwerpen Belgium, Phone: +32-32-06-20-30
22.The Rubens House
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The Rubens House is a living history museum preserving the former home of artist Peter Paul Rubens, considered to be the greatest Flemish painter of the Baroque movement. The home was constructed in 1610, a year after the painter's marriage to Isabella Brant, and contained the studio and workshop location which served as the production site for many of his most noted works. Following the artist's death, the home was sold several times throughout the 18th and 19th centuries before being acquired by the City of Antwerp in 1937. Since 1946, it has been open to the public as a museum, showcasing period furniture and a collection of the artist's original works, including his c.1600 Adam and Eve and a self-portrait painted later in his life. At the rear of the home's garden, a Rubenianum center offers workshops and events related to the study of the artist's life and work.
Wapper 9-11, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium, Phone: +32-32-01-15-55
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Vlaeykensgang is one of Antwerp's oldest and most secluded urban passageways, dating back to 1591 and connecting the Oude Koornmarkt, Hoogstraat, and Pelgrimstraat. The hidden-away street transports pedestrians back in time to the city's Medieval era, formerly housing a number of shoemaker shops. Today, the street is home to a number of art galleries and antique stores, along with two upscale restaurants, Sir Anthony Van Djick and 't Hofke. Though it is acclaimed as a top off-the-beaten-path attraction, the street is less crowded with tourists than some of Antwerp's other notable visitor attractions, offering a true taste of Belgian city life of the past and present. Visitors may enter the street at Oude Koornmarkt 16 and use it as a spot for listening to summertime city carillon concerts.
Oude Koornmarkt 16, 2000 Antwerpen
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Antwerp Zoo is one of the world's oldest animal parks, originally opened to the public in 1844. The zoo is overseen by the De Koninklijke Maatschappij voor Dierkunde van Antwerpen organization, which also operates the Domein Planckendael animal park in Mechelen and the De Zegge nature preserve in Geel. It welcomes more than 1.6 million annual visitors and showcases over 7,000 animals belonging to 950 species, with habitats for African, Asian, and North and South American animals, along with aquatic habitats for fish, reptiles, and shore animals. Since 1983, the park has been listed as a national monument, with separate listings for several of its animal habitat buildings. It also serves as an important civic center, famous for hosting events for the 1920 Summer Olympics, and features a concert hall building showcasing live performances throughout its operating season.
Koningin Astridplein 20-26, 2018 Antwerpen, Belgium, Phone: +32-24-89-10
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24 Best Things to Do in Antwerp, Belgium
- Antwerp Bike Tours, Photo: Courtesy of erikverrept - Fotolia.com
- Antwerp BeerWalk, Photo: Courtesy of Stephen - Fotolia.com
- Belgium Food Tours, Photo: Courtesy of romanklevets - Fotolia.com
- Bierpassieweekend, Photo: Courtesy of slonme - Fotolia.com
- Den Botaniek, Photo: Courtesy of Hennie36 - Fotolia.com
- Comics Station Antwerp, Photo: Comics Station Antwerp
- Cycling Architecture Tour, Photo: Courtesy of romanklevets - Fotolia.com
- De Koninck Brewery, Photo: De Koninck Brewery
- De Ruien, Photo: De Ruien
- DIVA, Photo: DIVA
- Grote Markt van Antwerpen, Photo: Courtesy of Mistervlad - Fotolia.com
- Middelheim Open Air Sculpture Museum, Photo: Courtesy of GeniusMinus - Fotolia.com
- Museum aan de Stroom, Photo: Courtesy of siraanamwong - Fotolia.com
- The Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp, Photo: The Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp
- The Plantin-Moretus Museum, Photo: Courtesy of Bruno Bernier - Fotolia.com
- Port House, Photo: Port House
- Red Star Line Museum, Photo: Red Star Line Museum
- Sfinks Festival, Photo: Courtesy of andreaobzerova - Fotolia.com
- The Snijders and Rockox House, Photo: The Snijders and Rockox House
- Stadsfeestzaal Shopping Centre, Photo: Stadsfeestzaal Shopping Centre
- The Chocolate Line, Photo: Courtesy of jurryt23 - Fotolia.com
- The Rubens House, Photo: Courtesy of Horváth Botond - Fotolia.com
- Vlaeykensgang, Photo: Courtesy of GeniusMinus - Fotolia.com
- Antwerp Zoo, Photo: Courtesy of ivp - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of rh2010 - Fotolia.com