Top Things to do and see in Antwerp, Belgium

Welcome to the enchanting city of Antwerp, Belgium! Join us on a virtual journey as we uncover the top things to do and see in this vibrant and culturally rich destination. Explore the historic heart of Antwerp at the Grote Markt, a picturesque square surrounded by stunning guild houses. Admire the impressive City Hall and the iconic Brabo Fountain, and soak in the atmosphere of this bustling gathering place. Discover the artistic legacy of Antwerp at the Rubenshuis, the former home of the renowned Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens. Immerse yourself in his world as you explore his studio, art collection, and beautiful garden. Indulge in the world of diamonds at the Antwerp Diamond District, where a significant portion of the world’s diamond trade takes place. Learn about the diamond industry’s history, marvel at exquisite jewelry, and even shop for a sparkling souvenir. Experience the cultural scene of Antwerp at the Museum aan de Stroom (MAS), a striking contemporary building that houses diverse collections exploring the city’s maritime heritage and global connections. Explore the fashion capital of Belgium by visiting the MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp. Learn about the city’s influential fashion history and the designers who have shaped its identity. Immerse yourself in the vibrant district of Het Eilandje, a former harbor area that has been transformed into a trendy neighborhood with stylish bars, restaurants, and stunning architecture. Discover Antwerp’s devotion to chocolate at local chocolatiers and chocolate shops. Treat your taste buds to the finest Belgian chocolates and pralines, and learn about the art of chocolate-making. Explore the Antwerp Zoo, one of the oldest zoos in the world and home to a diverse range of animal species. Spend a day observing wildlife and enjoying the beautifully landscaped surroundings. Join us as we uncover the hidden gems and must-visit attractions of Antwerp, a city that seamlessly blends history, art, fashion, and culinary delights. Get ready to be captivated by the allure of Antwerp in this immersive video experience. So, pack your bags, and let the adventure begin in this remarkable city where culture, history, and Belgian charm await!

Grote Markt

Architecture and History

Welcome to the historic heart of Antwerp, the Grote Markt! This picturesque square is surrounded by stunning guild houses and is a must-visit attraction in the city. As you step into this enchanting town square, you’ll be captivated by the splendor of its spectacular Gothic architecture. Marvel at the grandeur of the 16th-century City Hall and the impressive buildings that surround the square, each echoing the city’s rich history.

Take a leisurely stroll along the cobblestone paths that lead you through a maze of ornate facades. Don’t forget to pause and admire the intricate details of the historic statues that grace the square, each telling a unique story. If you’re a fan of cafe culture, you’re in for a treat! Enjoy a cup of freshly brewed coffee or savor local delicacies at one of the charming cafes lining the square. The Grote Markt is the perfect place to soak in the atmosphere of Antwerp and immerse yourself in its captivating history.

City Hall

One of the standout features of the Grote Markt is the impressive City Hall. This architectural masterpiece is a testament to Antwerp’s rich history and is well worth a visit. Dating back to the 16th century, City Hall showcases stunning Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles.

Take some time to admire the intricate carvings, arched windows, and ornate details that adorn the facade. Step inside the City Hall and be transported back in time as you explore the various rooms and chambers. Each one is beautifully decorated and offers a glimpse into the past. Don’t miss the chance to climb the tower for panoramic views of Antwerp!

Guildhalls

Surrounding the Grote Markt are the stunning guildhalls, which add to the charm of the square. These historic buildings were once the headquarters of the various trade guilds that played a vital role in Antwerp’s economic prosperity.

As you explore the square, take note of the unique architectural features of each guildhall. Admire the colorful facades, intricate sculptures, and decorative elements that make each building stand out. These guildhalls are a testament to the craftsmanship and wealth that characterized Antwerp during its golden age.

Brabo Fountain

No visit to the Grote Markt is complete without seeing the iconic Brabo Fountain. This fountain tells the legendary story of the city’s founding. According to folklore, a giant named Druon Antigoon terrorized the city by demanding tolls from passing ships. Those who refused to pay had their hands cut off.

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The hero of the story, Brabo, defeated the giant and cut off his hand, throwing it into the river. The name “Antwerp” is said to come from “hand werpen,” which means “hand throwing” in Dutch. The Brabo Fountain depicts this legendary scene, with Brabo holding the giant’s hand triumphantly.

The fountain has become an iconic symbol of Antwerp and is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike. Take a moment to admire this beautiful sculpture and learn more about the folklore that shaped the city’s history.

Rubenshuis

Rubens’ Residence

Step into the world of the renowned Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens at the Rubenshuis. This former home and workshop of Rubens himself allows you to delve into his life and artistic legacy. Purchased by Rubens in 1610, the Rubenshuis is a testament to the opulent lifestyle and artistic genius of the painter.

As you wander through the historical house, you’ll get a glimpse into Rubens’ daily life. Explore his former residence, complete with beautifully preserved architectural details and period furniture. Visit his studio, where he created many of his masterpieces, and imagine the artistic process that took place within these walls.

Art Collection

The Rubenshuis is not only a historic residence but also a treasure trove of art. Admire the collection of Rubens’ works, including paintings, sketches, and studies. Marvel at the exquisitely detailed brushwork and vibrant colors that characterize his art.

Beyond Rubens’ own work, the Rubenshuis also houses an impressive collection of artworks from his contemporaries and followers. Explore the diverse range of styles and subjects represented in the collection, giving you a deeper understanding of the artistic context in which Rubens flourished.

Garden

Take a moment to step outside and explore the beautiful garden that surrounds the Rubenshuis. This peaceful oasis offers a tranquil retreat from the bustling city. Stroll through the manicured hedges, admire the colorful flowers, and find a quiet spot to sit and reflect.

The garden provides a glimpse into the aesthetics and design principles that inspired Rubens himself. Take inspiration from the lush surroundings and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. The Rubenshuis garden is the perfect place to recharge and appreciate the harmony between art and nature.

Antwerp Diamond District

Diamond Buying and Trading

Welcome to the Antwerp Diamond District, the diamond capital of the world! This bustling neighborhood is home to a significant portion of the global diamond trade. As you explore the district, you’ll witness the impressive expertise and craftsmanship that goes into the buying and trading of diamonds.

Take a guided tour to gain a deeper understanding of the diamond industry’s history and significance in Antwerp. Learn about the various stages of diamond production, from rough stones to polished gems. Marvel at the precision and skill of diamond cutters as they transform raw diamonds into stunning works of art.

Diamond Museum

For a comprehensive exploration of the diamond industry, visit the Diamond Museum. This fascinating institution offers a wealth of information about the world of diamonds. Discover the history, geology, and cultural significance of these precious gems.

The museum’s exhibits showcase a wide range of diamonds, from rare colored diamonds to sparkling engagement rings. Learn about famous diamonds throughout history and the stories behind them. Interactive displays and multimedia presentations provide a captivating and educational experience for all visitors.

Don’t miss the chance to see the museum’s collection of diamond jewelry, which features stunning designs from various eras. From traditional to contemporary, these pieces exemplify the beauty and prestige of diamonds. Whether you’re a diamond enthusiast or simply curious about these remarkable gemstones, the Diamond Museum is a must-visit destination in Antwerp.

Museum aan de Stroom

Panoramic Views

Prepare to be mesmerized by the panoramic views of Antwerp at the Museum aan de Stroom (MAS). This striking contemporary building offers unparalleled vistas of the city and its surroundings. Take the escalators to the top floor and be rewarded with breathtaking sights that stretch all the way to the horizon.

From this vantage point, you can see the architectural diversity of Antwerp, from medieval landmarks to modern skyscrapers. Observe the bustling activity of the port, one of the largest in Europe, and the scenic beauty of the Scheldt River.

Art and History Exhibits

While the views alone are worth the visit, the Museum aan de Stroom also houses a diverse range of art and history exhibits. Explore the city’s maritime heritage and its connections to the rest of the world. Learn about the significant role that Antwerp played in international trade and commerce throughout history.

The museum’s collection includes a wide array of artifacts, artworks, and interactive displays that bring Antwerp’s past to life. Discover the stories of the people who shaped the city and made it what it is today.

One of the museum’s highlights is the installation of the “Antwerp Hands.” These giant replicas of the city’s iconic hand symbol can be found throughout the museum, reaffirming Antwerp’s identity and welcoming visitors to explore its rich heritage.

MoMu Fashion Museum

Fashion Exhibitions

Antwerp is known as the fashion capital of Belgium, and the MoMu Fashion Museum is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the city’s influential fashion history. The museum showcases a wide range of fashion exhibitions, highlighting the creativity and innovation that have shaped Antwerp’s identity as a fashion hotspot.

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Explore the works of prominent Belgian and international fashion designers, many of whom graduated from Antwerp’s prestigious Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Marvel at the avant-garde designs, intricate details, and unique silhouettes that make these creations stand out.

From historical costumes to contemporary couture, the MoMu Fashion Museum offers a comprehensive overview of the fashion world. Step into the world of high fashion and gain a deeper appreciation for the craftsmanship and vision behind each piece.

Designers and Trends

Beyond the exhibitions, the MoMu Fashion Museum also hosts lectures, workshops, and events that celebrate the fashion industry. Keep an eye out for special showcases and collaborations with renowned designers and emerging talents.

Discover the latest trends and explore the cutting-edge designs that have become synonymous with Antwerp’s fashion scene. Whether you’re a fashion enthusiast or simply curious about the art form, the MoMu Fashion Museum offers a captivating and inspiring experience.

Het Eilandje

Historic Harbor Area

Step back in time as you explore Het Eilandje, a historic harbor area that has been transformed into a trendy neighborhood. This former industrial district has undergone a revitalization, with stylish bars, restaurants, and stunning architecture replacing warehouses and docks.

Take a leisurely stroll along the waterfront and admire the beautifully restored buildings that line the quays. From elegant townhouses to converted warehouses, these structures pay homage to Antwerp’s maritime past while embracing a modern aesthetic.

MAS Museum

While in Het Eilandje, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the MAS Museum. This striking contemporary building is a landmark in itself, with its iconic red sandstone facade and panoramic rooftop terrace.

The museum explores the city’s maritime heritage and global connections through a variety of interactive exhibits and multimedia presentations. Learn about the history of trade and navigation, and discover the stories of sailors, explorers, and merchants who shaped Antwerp’s destiny.

Climb to the top of the MAS Museum for stunning views of the city and the river. The rooftop terrace offers a unique vantage point to admire the architectural diversity of Antwerp and the surrounding area.

Red Star Line Museum

Another highlight of Het Eilandje is the Red Star Line Museum, which offers a unique perspective on Antwerp’s immigration history. This museum tells the story of the millions of people who embarked on transformative voyages from Antwerp to the new world.

As you explore the museum, you’ll be transported back in time to the departure and arrival halls of the Red Star Line shipping company. Interactive displays and immersive exhibits allow you to experience the challenges faced by immigrants and gain insight into their hopes and dreams.

The Red Star Line Museum is a testament to the importance of migration in shaping Antwerp’s social fabric and cultural diversity. It offers a thought-provoking and emotional journey that will leave a lasting impression on visitors.

Belgian Chocolates

Chocolatiers

No visit to Antwerp is complete without indulging in the city’s famous Belgian chocolates. Antwerp is home to a multitude of chocolatiers, each offering their own unique creations.

Take a stroll through the city and discover the hidden gems that offer a tantalizing array of chocolates. From traditional pralines to innovative flavor combinations, you’ll find chocolates to suit every taste and preference.

Many chocolatiers in Antwerp have been perfecting their craft for generations, ensuring the highest quality and attention to detail. Don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations or take a guided tour to learn more about the art of chocolate-making in Antwerp.

Workshops

For an immersive chocolate experience, consider participating in a workshop. Many chocolatiers offer hands-on sessions where you can learn the art of chocolate-making from the experts.

Join a master chocolatier and discover the secrets behind creating the perfect truffle or praline. Learn about the different types of chocolate, tempering techniques, and flavor combinations. Get your hands deliciously dirty as you mold, dip, and decorate your own sweet creations.

A chocolate workshop is not only a fun and interactive experience but also a chance to gain insight into the craftsmanship and passion that go into creating these delectable treats.

Tastings

Of course, no visit to Antwerp would be complete without indulging in a tasting of the finest Belgian chocolates. Visit a chocolate shop or chocolatier and treat your taste buds to a sensory experience like no other.

Savor the rich flavors, velvety textures, and exquisite craftsmanship that make Belgian chocolates world-renowned. From classic milk chocolates to dark chocolates with unique flavor infusions, there’s a chocolate for everyone to enjoy.

Take your time to appreciate the artistry and skill that goes into each handmade chocolate. Whether you’re a self-proclaimed chocoholic or simply appreciate the finer things in life, a tasting of Belgian chocolates in Antwerp is an experience not to be missed.

Antwerp Zoo

Animal Species

Welcome to the Antwerp Zoo, one of the oldest zoos in the world! This magnificent institution is home to a diverse range of animal species from all corners of the globe.

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As you explore the zoo, you’ll encounter animals from every continent, including elephants, lions, giraffes, and penguins. Marvel at the beauty and diversity of the animal kingdom, and learn more about the importance of conservation and animal welfare.

From the tiniest insects to the largest land mammals, the Antwerp Zoo offers a comprehensive display of the wonders of the natural world. Take your time to observe the animals in their habitats, and gain a deeper understanding of their behavior and ecological significance.

Zoo Experience

Beyond the impressive array of animal species, the Antwerp Zoo offers a range of experiences to enhance your visit. Attend feeding sessions and animal presentations to learn more about the animals’ natural behaviors and dietary needs.

For a unique perspective, consider taking a behind-the-scenes tour or participating in a zookeeper experience. Get up close and personal with the animals and gain insight into the daily lives of their caretakers.

The Antwerp Zoo also boasts beautiful landscaped gardens, dotted with sculptures and picturesque spots to relax and enjoy the surroundings. Take a leisurely walk through the park, and appreciate the harmony between nature and the animal habitats.

Attractions

In addition to the animal exhibits, the Antwerp Zoo is home to several attractions that add an extra element of fun and excitement to your visit. Enjoy a ride on the zoo’s carousel, take a spin on the Ferris wheel, or experience a thrilling adventure on the zoo’s playground.

For a more immersive experience, visit the zoo’s aquarium, where you can explore the underwater world and discover fascinating marine life. The zoo also has a butterfly pavilion, where you can admire the beauty and delicate nature of these colorful creatures.

The Antwerp Zoo offers an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages. Whether you’re a wildlife enthusiast, a family looking for a day of fun, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat in the heart of the city, the zoo has something for everyone.

Cultural Scene

Theater and Performances

Antwerp boasts a vibrant cultural scene, with an array of theaters and performance venues offering a diverse range of shows and productions. From traditional plays to avant-garde performances, there’s always something exciting happening in the city.

Check out the program of the Royal Flemish Theater (Koninklijke Vlaamse Schouwburg) for a taste of contemporary Flemish theater. Experience the energy and creativity of local actors and directors as they bring stories to life on stage.

For a more classical theater experience, visit the Bourla Theater. This stunning neoclassical building is a testament to Antwerp’s architectural heritage and offers a range of performances, including opera, ballet, and classical plays.

Art Galleries

Art enthusiasts will find plenty to admire in Antwerp’s numerous art galleries. From contemporary works to classical masterpieces, there’s a gallery to suit every taste and interest.

Visit the Royal Museum of Fine Arts (Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten) to discover an extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, and drawings. Marvel at works by renowned Flemish masters, including Rubens, Van Dyck, and Bruegel. The museum also showcases contemporary art and hosts temporary exhibitions that highlight emerging artists and new artistic movements.

For a more specialized art experience, explore the city’s smaller galleries, which focus on specific genres or mediums. From modern and contemporary art to photography and installations, these galleries offer a glimpse into the ever-evolving art scene in Antwerp.

Music Venues

Antwerp is a city that pulses with music, offering a wide range of venues for live performances and concerts. From intimate jazz clubs to grand concert halls, there’s a venue for every musical taste.

Visit the legendary jazz club Café Hopper for an evening of soulful tunes and cozy ambiance. Enjoy live performances by local and international jazz artists, and immerse yourself in the vibrant music scene.

For a more classical experience, attend a concert at the Queen Elisabeth Hall (Koningin Elisabethzaal). This iconic concert hall has hosted world-renowned orchestras, soloists, and conductors and offers exceptional acoustics and a stunning setting.

Antwerp’s music scene also extends to contemporary genres, with a variety of venues hosting concerts by local and international bands and artists. Whether you’re a jazz aficionado, a classical music lover, or a fan of the latest indie bands, Antwerp has a music venue that will cater to your tastes.

Conclusion

Antwerp is a city with a rich history, vibrant art scene, cutting-edge fashion, and culinary delights. It offers a unique blend of old-world charm and contemporary creativity, making it a must-visit destination for travelers seeking an immersive and diverse experience.

From exploring the historic heart of Antwerp at the Grote Markt to delving into the world of diamonds in the Antwerp Diamond District, there’s something for everyone in this enchanting city. Visit the Rubenshuis to discover the art and life of Peter Paul Rubens, and explore the Museum aan de Stroom (MAS) to admire panoramic views and dive into the city’s maritime heritage.

Indulge in Antwerp’s fashion scene at the MoMu Fashion Museum, and immerse yourself in the vibrant district of Het Eilandje, with its historic harbor area and fascinating museums. Don’t forget to treat yourself to some delicious Belgian chocolates, visit the Antwerp Zoo, and experience the city’s cultural scene through its theaters, art galleries, and music venues.

Antwerp invites you to immerse yourself in its captivating history, art, fashion, and culinary delights. Whether you’re a history buff, an art lover, a fashion enthusiast, or a foodie, Antwerp has something to offer everyone. So pack your bags, and let the adventure begin in this remarkable city where culture, history, and Belgian charm await!