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Antwerp Travel Guide

Shopping! Designer boutiques and trendy stores on Meir notwithstanding, Antwerp markets have personalities. The centuries old Friday market (Vrigdagmarkt) has people coming in from all over to trade in second hand goods of every kind. The Linjwaadmarkt on Saturday offers some really unique clothes. Sint-Jansvliet on Sundays is terrific for antiques, and at the same time, there's a lively bird market. It's like a European Hong Kong. And we won't talk about the diamond market.

Architecture! Antwerp is one of the prettiest cities you'll ever see. Everywhere you go; the architecture is intricate and stylish, from the beautiful churches and the solemn museums to the stunning Antwerp Central Station. Walking around Antwerp neighbourhoods, which are clean and colourful, atmospheric in a manner that few other European cities can match.

Best Time To Visit Antwerp

The warm breeze coming in off the North Sea keeps Antwerp pretty temperate all year around. It rains throughout the year, but less so in the summer. There's no ideal time to go. Go when it suits you best, or if there's an event you'd particularly like to catch. The sun is pretty regular in the summers and doesn't blaze down. This is also festive time for Antwerp, but it's also the peak tourist season. It's crowded and things are much more expensive. There's not much to do in winter.

How To Reach Antwerp

GET IN:

Only City Jet (flying to London, Manchester, Dundee, Dublin, Edinburgh and Jersy) flies to Antwerp Airport. Tourists also make it a habit to come in via bus from Brussels Airport which is only an hour away. They also come in by train from Schipol Airport in Amsterdam. The rest of Belgium is connected by a high speed rail network. Consult the NMBS website for national and international travel around Belgium.

Tourist Attractions In Antwerp

  • Rubenshuis: It was the home of Peter Paul Rubens the painter and now it's a museum to his life and work. Entry fee: 6 Euro
  • Plantin Moretus Museum: It's on the UNESCO world heritage list, because it may be the finest collection of printing technology in the world. It's also the former home of Christoffel Plantin a 16thcentury printer and book binder.
  • Antwerp Zoo: One of the world's oldest zoos, extraordinary architecture and design containing over 4,000 animals a great day out.
  • Cathedral of Our Lady: Onze Lieve Vrouwekathedraal, One of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Northern Europe which is over 400 feet tall. You can see more of Rubens's work in here too.
  • Red Light District: Rather like a miniature version of Amsterdam and every bit as sleazy, but many people enjoy a tour of the red light windows.
  • Palace of Justice – Justitiepaleis: There are two of them side by side in fact, a new one and an old one – the new one was designed by Richard Rogers who was responsible for the Pompidou Centre in Paris.

Hotels & Restaurants In Antwerp

Hotels:

  • Radisson Blu Park Lane – Van Eycklei 32 - +32 3285 8871; Perfectly acceptable 5 star accommodation what you'd expect from Radisson really.
  • Plaza Hotel – Charlottalei 49 - +32 3287 2870; Really nice hotel that was picked out by The Observer newspaper as one of the ten best places to stay in Antwerp.

Bed and Breakfast: 

  • Boulevard Leopold – Belgielei 135 - + 32 486 675 838 ; A renovated 19thcentury mansion, in the old Jewish quarter. Fresh baked bread is served everyday at breakfast.
  • M0851 – Nationalestraat 19 - +32 97 60 600; They boast of soundproofed rooms here, but you're certainly in a nice area with restaurants and cafés plentiful in the vicinity.
  • Hotel Julien – Korte Nieuwstraat 24 - + 32 29 06 00; Inspired by the orient and a favourite of fashion industry folk, it's a modern touch on a renovated town house.
  • Room National – Nationalestraat 24 - +32 26 07 00; Another preferred option for the fashion set, check out the Japanese style wooden bathtubs.
  • Linnen – Lijnwaadmarkt 9 - +32 475 76 30 74; Contemporary furniture, ultra-modern bathrooms offset the period architecture really good for cocktails too

Dining: 

  • Thai Thai Simple : Amerikalei 72; Nice authentic Thai food and eaten in a lovely old mansion.
  • Da Giovani: Jan Blomstraat 3-5-7-8; Very popular with students because they get a discount, this cheap Italian is still worth a look.
  • Tropicos – Tabakvest and Hopland: It's a South American extravaganza and well worth your time to try the fusion of Mexican and Brazilian cuisine.
  • Rooden Hoed – Oude Koornmarkt and Tempelstraat: A very local favourite with the best seafood in town, not known to many tourists as it's a well kept secret.
  • Bourla – Graanmarkt 7: An old theatre sets the stage for this pricey but good value food, a mixture of Belgian and French styles dominate the menu.

Festivals & Events In Antwerp

  • April: Easter is popularly celebrated, and the atmosphere in the major churches is fantastic.
  • July: Summer concerts are held for free at Grote Markt
  • July: Tallships Race: Sailers race to Antwerp and people gather around to see who's first.
  • August: Navigayton is a massive festival held by the city's large gay community.
  • Agust: Cultuurmarkt sees a lot of events at the Grote Markt like theatre, live music and street acts.
  • October: Antwerp Book Show
  • December: Christmas

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