Antwerp is the second city of Belgium and here you can find the largest port in the country. When it comes to travellers, it is a popular choice and known as the diamond capital of the world, it is a city of wealth, making it one of the most important parts of the Belgian economy. However, it does have a history with it being one of the most important places in the world during the 16th century as well as one of the most important ports in Europe. It took a hit during the Second World War but it rebuilt itself but much of the medieval character can still be seen today along with its love for art and fashion.
This is the former home of the painter Pieter Paul Rubens and was built by him as a place to not only live but a place to work as it contained his own studio. The building was in a bad shape before restorations took place in 1937 and through a large amount of careful work, the building has been returned to how it once was. It contains furniture from the same period and you can also take in many of his pieces of artwork.
Red Star Line Museum
A large number of migrants left Belgium for America using Red Star Line ships and this museum takes you on a journey of many of the stories of the passengers who undertook the journey. They actually left the very building that the museum is housed in and with photographs and personal items, it is an experience that tells a story of the crossing from Belgium to America. For great views of the surrounding area, you can take to the observation tower.
The zoo dates back to 1843 making it one of the oldest in the world but when you want to get away from the city and try something different, then this is the place for you. Despite it being an old zoo, it has been brought into the 21st century with modern facilities and enclosures along with breeding programmes. There are many attractions at the zoo including a koala couple who are forever together in a thatched cottage while the new reef environment in the aquarium gives you access to a huge array of marine life.
Try French Fries
You might be in Belgian and wonder why French Fries are on the list of things to do, but the Belgians claim that they invented this famous chip, so they have to be worth a try. Regardless of who actually invented them, they are worth a try. While French fries are synonymous with fast food, you won’t get them in a hurry, so embrace the slower pace of life in the frites cafes and savour the taste.
Cathedral of Our Lady
This is the tallest cathedral in the Low Countries and is impressive both inside and out. Taking 169 years to build before its completion in 1521, this is a stunning building that can be seen from across the city and it is breathtaking in every sense of the world. The interior will blow you away with its mixture of Baroque décor and Ruben’s artwork.
Try some beer
The Belgians are actually very proud of their beer so it is worth trying a few, even if it is to show your appreciation for it. The Antwerp Brewery is a great place to start, where you can learn all about this famous beverage while trying some samples at the same time. If you get a taste for it then head to Paters Vaetje, where you can sample more than 100 beers, so there will definitely be a few there that you like.
This is a petite, yet beautiful castle located alongside the river in Antwerp. It has a history that dates back to the 13th century and here you can get some amazing photographs of it in all its glory. There is a strange statue outside the castle of Lange Wapper based on a character who is exposing himself to passers-by. The castle is better enjoyed from the outside but close by is a maritime museum that is worth a visit.
Take a bike around the city
Antwerp is a modern city and that means that there are plenty of options for you to hire a bike to tour the city on two wheels. While you can hire a bike and take to the streets yourself, you might prefer to take a guided tour. The tours can take a few hours but you will cover many of the large attractions in the city. Seeing them on two wheels is a great way to cover as much as possible in a short space of time.
Map of Antwerp
Pictures of Antwerp
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