Your Essential Travel Guide To Antwerp
Antwerp travel guide
Antwerp developed into a bustling hub during the 16th century thanks to its central role in the diamond trade. Despite being severely damaged during World War II, the city has retained its medieval charm, with café-filled alleys and cobbled lanes. This, paired with fantastic entertainment, vibrant fashion and majestic architecture, makes Antwerp one-of-a-kind.
If you're planning a holiday to Antwerp, our travel guide is here to help. Learn about what to do in the city, its best restaurants and top hotels for a perfect stay.
Why visit Antwerp?
Antwerp is known as the 'Rubens City' thanks to artist Peter Paul Rubens' legacy. He was considered the most influential artist of the Flemish Baroque tradition, whose artistic style emphasised colour, movement and sensuality. He ran a workshop in Antwerp where he produced altarpieces, portraits, landscapes and historical paintings.
Wander through the lively alleys and enjoy tasty Belgian beer or a glass of wine in one of the local pubs as you watch the city come alive. Or visit the majestic Cathedral of Our Lady, an impressive example of Gothic architecture. However you spend your time in Antwerp, one thing is sure: no two days will be the same!
Where to stay in Antwerp
Whether you enjoy the bustle of Antwerp's city centre or prefer the pull of the suburbs, this city has hotels for everyone. With our European City Breaks packages, you can book your ferry and hotel in one place, choosing from two ferry routes and four hotels.
Our hand-picked hotels include:
- B&B Hotel Antwerp Centre
- B&B Hotel Antwerpen Zuid
- Leonardo Antwerpen
- Leonardo Hotel Antwerp the Plaza
Choose your preferred hotel to suit your travel needs and budget, and you can be sure to experience an unforgettable city break in Antwerp with DFDS.
What to do in Antwerp
Cathedral of Our Lady
Antwerp's Cathedral of Our Lady was designed by Jan and Pieter Appelmans and was consecrated in 1521. It's the highest Gothic building in the Low Countries (Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands). It boasts an extensive collection of artwork by Peter Paul Rubens, Otto van Veen, Marten de Vos and Jacob de Backer.
In the heart of Antwerp, the Grote Markt is a treasure trove of quirky cafés, independent shops and beautiful 16th-century guild halls. Its town hall is the centrepiece and a remarkable example of Italo-Flemish and Renaissance architecture. The Brabo Fountain steals the scene and celebrates Antwerp's legendary founder, Silvius Brabo. Why not take a walking tour to discover the city like a local?
If you want to learn about Antwerp's history, there is no better place than Museum Plantin-Moretus. Opened in 1876, this UNESCO World Heritage Site takes you through the city's development over the 16th century and showcases the world's oldest printing press. Other highlights include the 1640 library, the 18th-century bookshop and valuable painting collections by Peter Paul Rubens.
Opened in 2011, the MAS Museum is Antwerp's biggest museum. Its central focus is its connection to the world, with collections ranging from Antwerp's maritime and cultural history to art from Europe, Asia, Africa, America and Oceania. The angular, curved glass panel building is made of red sandstone – a remarkable example of Art Deco architecture.
Where to eat in Antwerp
Antwerp's culinary scene is second to none, whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or grabbing a quick bite. Here are some of the best restaurants in the city, suitable for all tastes and budgets.
- Fish a'Gogo. Set in the heart of Antwerp, this seafood gem serves delicious fish and chips. Order the signature dish, the mussels in white wine sauce, served with chips and mayo.
- De Pottekijker. This Belgian restaurant has been delighting its visitors for 25 years with exquisite Belgian classics like the Flemish-style beef stew and the Pottekijker brochette (a skewer of beef, lamb and chicken).
- 't Hofke. Tucked away in one of Antwerp's cobbled alleys, 't Hofke offers an intimate atmosphere and tasty Belgian classics. Try the guests' favourite, the shrimp 't Hofke with rice.
Where to drink in Antwerp
Known for its vibrant nightlife and cocktail scene, Antwerp is the perfect place for a fun night out. Find some of the best bars below:
- Jones & Co. Sitting in the heart of the action, Jones & Co promises tasty cocktails and live music year-round. Want to learn how to make mouth-watering cocktails? Join one of their workshops!
- De Muze. This venue celebrates jazz in all its forms, with live performances and an excellent drinks menu.
- Beerlovers Bar. As the name suggests, Beerlovers Bar is a hymn to beer and its ever-changing flavours. The venue has over 200 types of beer and 12 changeable taps, so you're sure to find your fit!