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Top Things To Do In Antwerp, Belgium (Insider Tips)


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Quinta Bedolla



Welcome to Antwerp, Belgium’s vibrant and charming city known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and diverse cultural scene. Located in the Flemish region of Belgium, Antwerp is a hidden gem filled with remarkable treasures waiting to be discovered. Whether you are a history enthusiast, art lover, fashionista, or a foodie, Antwerp has something for everyone.


As the second-largest city in Belgium, Antwerp boasts a plethora of attractions and activities that cater to all interests. From architectural marvels like the Antwerp Cathedral to the bustling Antwerp Zoo, from trendy fashion boutiques to the world-famous Diamond District, there is no shortage of things to see and do in this vibrant city.


Antwerp is also renowned for its cultural scene, featuring impressive museums and galleries that showcase the city’s rich artistic heritage. You can immerse yourself in the works of famous Flemish painters, such as Rubens and Van Dyck, at the Rubenshuis or explore contemporary art at the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp (M HKA).


Additionally, Antwerp is a culinary paradise, offering a diverse range of gastronomic delights. From indulging in traditional Belgian cuisine, including mouthwatering waffles, chocolate, and fries, to sampling unique local beers in cozy cafés and beer bars, your taste buds are in for a treat.


In this article, we will guide you through the top things to do in Antwerp, providing insider tips to ensure you make the most of your visit. So, prepare to be captivated by the charm and allure of this Belgian gem as we take you on an unforgettable journey through the city’s highlights.


Visit the Antwerp Cathedral

Standing tall in the heart of Antwerp, the Antwerp Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Our Lady, is an architectural marvel that should not be missed during your visit. This impressive Gothic-style cathedral is one of the largest in Europe and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It took over two centuries to construct and is renowned for its stunning spire, soaring to a height of 123 meters.


Step inside the cathedral and prepare to be awestruck by the magnificent interior. Admire the intricate stained glass windows, the stunning artworks, and the tranquil atmosphere that envelops the space. Don’t miss the chance to see the masterpieces by famous Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens, including his renowned painting, “The Elevation of the Cross.”


If you’re feeling adventurous, climb the 500 steps to the top of the cathedral tower for panoramic views of the city. The climb may be challenging, but the breathtaking vistas of Antwerp’s skyline and the Scheldt River are well worth the effort.


Before you leave, spend some time exploring the surrounding area known as the Vrijdagmarkt. This lively square is lined with charming cafés and restaurants, perfect for a refreshing drink or a delicious meal.


Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, or simply seeking architectural marvels, a visit to the Antwerp Cathedral is a must. Immerse yourself in centuries of history, marvel at the intricate craftsmanship, and experience the spiritual ambiance of this iconic landmark.


Explore the Antwerp Zoo

No visit to Antwerp is complete without a trip to the Antwerp Zoo, one of the oldest and most prestigious zoos in the world. Founded in 1843, this expansive zoo is home to a wide variety of exotic animals and offers a captivating experience for visitors of all ages.


As you stroll through the beautifully landscaped grounds, you’ll encounter over 5,000 animals from diverse species, including lions, elephants, giraffes, and penguins. The zoo’s commitment to conservation and animal welfare is evident in its modern and well-maintained enclosures, providing a comfortable and natural habitat for the animals.


One of the highlights of the Antwerp Zoo is the majestic Egyptian temple, a stunning architectural masterpiece that houses a vast collection of reptiles, amphibians, and fish. Step into the immersive rainforest exhibition and be transported to a lush tropical paradise, where you can observe rare and colorful birds, monkeys, and other tropical creatures.


For a truly unforgettable experience, consider attending one of the zoo’s educational shows and feeding sessions, where you can learn more about the animals and even interact with some of them. The zoo also offers guided tours and workshops for those seeking a more in-depth understanding of its residents and conservation efforts.


When you need a break, take a moment to relax in one of the many picnic areas or enjoy a meal at one of the zoo’s restaurants. You can also visit the zoo’s gift shop to find unique souvenirs and support the zoo’s conservation initiatives.


Located conveniently near Antwerp Central Station, the zoo is easily accessible for visitors. Whether you’re a wildlife enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply looking for a family-friendly activity, exploring the Antwerp Zoo is sure to be a memorable experience that will leave you in awe of the wonders of the animal kingdom.


Wander through the Historic Center

Step back in time and immerse yourself in the rich history of Antwerp as you wander through its charming historic center. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a treasure trove of architectural gems, cobblestone streets, and hidden squares that showcase the city’s medieval past.


Start your journey by exploring the iconic Grote Markt, the central square of Antwerp. Admire the magnificent City Hall with its impressive Renaissance façade and ornate decorations. The guildhalls surrounding the square add to the picturesque atmosphere, each showcasing unique architectural styles and historical significance.


Continue your stroll along the narrow streets and be enchanted by the well-preserved medieval buildings, elegant mansions, and quaint shops. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Vlaeykensgang, a hidden alleyway that takes you back in time with its cobblestones and historic houses.


As you wander through the historic center, you’ll encounter stunning landmarks such as the Cathedral of Our Lady, the St. Paul’s Church, and the iconic Brabo Fountain. Take your time to appreciate the intricate details and the stories behind each structure.


Make a stop at the world-renowned Museum Plantin-Moretus, a UNESCO World Heritage site known as the “Print Room of Europe.” This fascinating museum was once a printing house and showcases an extensive collection of printing presses, manuscripts, and books. Dive into the world of early printing and discover the historical significance of Antwerp in the world of publishing.


Throughout your wanderings, you’ll stumble upon charming squares like the Groenplaats and Handschoenmarkt, where you can relax on a terrace and enjoy a refreshing drink while taking in the vibrant ambiance of the city.


Exploring the historic center of Antwerp is like stepping into a living museum. The combination of architectural beauty, historical landmarks, and a vibrant atmosphere will transport you to a bygone era and leave you with a deep appreciation for the city’s rich heritage.


Enjoy panoramic views from the MAS Museum

For breathtaking panoramic views of Antwerp’s skyline and the Scheldt River, a visit to the MAS Museum is a must. The Museum aan de Stroom (MAS) is not just a cultural institution but also an architectural masterpiece that stands tall in the Eilandje district.


The MAS Museum offers a unique and immersive experience that combines art, culture, and history. Its exhibits cover a wide range of topics, from Antwerp’s maritime heritage to global cultural diversity. As you explore the different floors, you’ll encounter fascinating exhibitions that showcase the city’s connections with the world.


However, the true highlight of the MAS Museum lies on its rooftop. Take the panoramic glass elevator to the top and be rewarded with breathtaking views that stretch as far as the eye can see. From the MAS rooftop, you can admire the iconic Antwerp Cathedral, the impressive Port of Antwerp, and the beautifully-preserved historic buildings that dot the cityscape.


As you soak in the panoramic vistas, you’ll also notice the unique architectural design of the MAS Museum itself. The distinctive red sandstone facade, made up of thousands of hand-shaped bricks, creates a striking contrast against the modern glass windows.


After taking in the views, head back inside the museum and continue your exploration of the fascinating exhibits. From ancient artifacts to contemporary art installations, the MAS Museum offers a diverse range of collections that will captivate and educate visitors of all ages.


Before you leave, make sure to visit the MAS Café on the ground floor. This trendy café offers a cozy and inviting atmosphere where you can relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or indulge in a delicious meal while overlooking the bustling docks.


The MAS Museum is not only a cultural hotspot but also a gateway to stunning panoramic views of Antwerp. Whether you’re a history buff, an art lover, or simply seeking a breathtaking vista, a visit to the MAS Museum is an experience that should not be missed.


Experience the Antwerp Fashion Scene

Antwerp is a city that has firmly established its place on the global fashion stage. Known for its avant-garde and cutting-edge designs, Antwerp has produced some of the world’s most influential fashion designers, making it a haven for fashion enthusiasts.


One of the best ways to experience the Antwerp fashion scene is by visiting the renowned Fashion Museum (MoMu). Located in the heart of the city, the museum showcases a vast collection of Belgian fashion pieces, including works by iconic Antwerp-based designers such as Dries Van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester, and Martin Margiela.


As you stroll through the museum, you’ll gain insights into the creative process behind these visionary designers and their impact on the fashion industry. From innovative designs to unconventional materials, the exhibits at MoMu will inspire and challenge your perception of fashion.


Antwerp’s fashion influence extends beyond the walls of the museum. Take a walk along the renowned Nationalestraat, the fashion epicenter of the city, and discover a myriad of high-end boutiques, concept stores, and local designer shops. From established luxury brands to emerging talents, you’ll find a range of unique and exclusive fashion offerings.


For a deeper dive into the Antwerp fashion scene, consider taking a guided fashion tour. These tours provide insider knowledge and a behind-the-scenes look into the studios and showrooms of local designers, giving you a chance to witness firsthand the creative process and craftsmanship that goes into each garment.


Be sure to also check out Antwerp’s fashion events and festivals, such as the Antwerp Fashion Festival and the Antwerp Fashion Weekend. These events offer a platform to discover new talent, attend fashion shows, and participate in fashion-related activities.


Beyond the fashion industry, Antwerp is also known for its trendy and stylish street fashion. As you explore the city’s neighborhoods, you’ll encounter fashion-forward locals who effortlessly embrace individual style and contribute to the vibrant fashion scene.


Whether you’re a fashion devotee or simply have an appreciation for creativity and design, experiencing the Antwerp fashion scene is a must. Immerse yourself in the world of fashion, discover unique pieces, and witness the innovation that has put this city on the map as a global fashion capital.


Discover the Diamond District

Antwerp’s Diamond District, located near the central train station, is a must-visit destination for anyone fascinated by the sparkling allure of diamonds. As one of the world’s largest diamond trading centers, Antwerp holds a prestigious position in the global diamond industry.


Upon entering the Diamond District, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a labyrinth of streets adorned with jewelry shops, diamond dealers, and workshops. This bustling neighborhood is home to thousands of diamond-related businesses, including diamond cutters, gemologists, and diamond traders.


For those seeking a truly immersive experience, consider taking a guided tour of the Diamond District. These tours provide valuable insights into the diamond trade, the history of diamonds in Antwerp, and the intricate process of diamond cutting and polishing. You may even have the opportunity to witness skilled craftsmen at work, transforming rough diamonds into exquisite pieces of jewelry.


While it’s not essential to purchase a diamond during your visit to the Diamond District, it’s hard to resist the allure of the dazzling gems on display. Whether you’re looking for a special piece of jewelry or simply want to admire the stunning craftsmanship, the district offers a wide selection of diamonds of varying sizes, cuts, and designs.


If you are interested in purchasing a diamond, it’s important to make informed decisions and choose a reputable and certified diamond dealer. Antwerp’s Diamond Office provides the necessary certification and guarantees the authenticity and quality of the diamonds sold within the district.


Keep in mind that bargaining is an integral part of the diamond trade in the Diamond District. Don’t hesitate to negotiate the price and ask questions about the diamonds you’re interested in. The diamond dealers are accustomed to the negotiation process and will be happy to assist you.


Even if you are not in the market for diamonds, a visit to the Diamond District is still worthwhile for its cultural and historical significance. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of the diamond industry, appreciate the craftsmanship behind these precious gemstones, and witness the hustle and bustle of an industry that has played a vital role in Antwerp’s economy for centuries.


Whether you’re a gem enthusiast, a history buff, or simply intrigued by the allure of diamonds, a trip to Antwerp’s Diamond District is an experience that will leave you in awe of the beauty, craftsmanship, and captivating history associated with these precious stones.


Indulge in Belgian Cuisine and Beer

No trip to Belgium is complete without indulging in its delectable cuisine and world-famous beers, and Antwerp is the perfect place to satisfy your gastronomic cravings. From mouthwatering chocolate and waffles to hearty Flemish stews and a wide selection of local brews, Antwerp offers a diverse culinary experience that will leave you wanting more.


Start your culinary adventure by trying some authentic Belgian dishes. Antwerp is known for its delicious Flemish carbonade, a traditional beef stew cooked in beer and served with fries. Another local favorite is stoofvlees, a rich and flavorful beef stew slow-cooked in a dark beer sauce. Pair these hearty delicacies with a refreshing pint of locally brewed beer, and you’re in for a truly satisfying meal.


Don’t forget to treat yourself to some world-class Belgian chocolate. Antwerp boasts a range of artisanal chocolate shops where you can sample and purchase handcrafted pralines, truffles, and other tempting chocolate creations. Take the time to savor the rich flavors and delicate textures of these exquisite sweets.


Indulging in Belgian cuisine wouldn’t be complete without trying the famous Belgian waffles. These light and crispy delights can be found in various forms, from the classic Brussels waffle dusted with powdered sugar to the Liege waffle, which is sweeter and has a caramelized exterior. Enjoy them plain or with an array of toppings such as whipped cream, fresh fruits, or Belgian chocolate.


As a beer lover’s paradise, Antwerp offers a wide selection of local beers to quench your thirst. From Trappist ales to lambics and blondes to dark abbey beers, there is a brew to suit every palate. Grab a seat at a cozy beer bar or visit a traditional Belgian pub to sample the diverse range of flavors and styles that Belgian beer has to offer.


To enhance your beer tasting experience, consider taking a beer tour or visiting one of Antwerp’s beer museums, such as the De Koninck Brewery or the Belgian Beer Experience. These tours and museums provide insight into the brewing process, the history of Belgian beer, and offer guided tastings that will deepen your appreciation for this beloved beverage.


Whether you’re a foodie or simply love indulging in delectable delights, exploring the culinary scene in Antwerp is a must. From savory dishes and mouthwatering chocolates to an array of superb beers, Antwerp offers a feast for the senses that will leave you with a true appreciation for Belgian gastronomy.


Explore the Antwerp Port area

The Antwerp Port, one of the largest seaports in Europe, is a vibrant and bustling area that is worth exploring during your visit to Antwerp. With a rich maritime history and an impressive array of activities and attractions, the port offers a unique glimpse into the city’s international trade and shipping industry.


Start your exploration at the Port House, a striking architectural masterpiece that combines the old and the new. Designed by the renowned architect Zaha Hadid, the Port House is a visual treat with its stunning glass structure perched on top of an original historic building. Take a guided tour to learn more about the port’s operations and the architectural significance of this iconic landmark.


For an up-close experience of the port’s activity, take a boat tour along the Scheldt River. These guided tours provide a fascinating insight into the daily operations of the port, as well as stunning views of the massive container ships, grain towers, and bustling docks. You’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the immense scale of the port and the vital role it plays in global trade.


Another must-visit attraction in the Antwerp Port area is the Red Star Line Museum. Housed in the original Red Star Line buildings, this museum tells the stories of the millions of European emigrants who departed from Antwerp on Red Star Line ships in search of a better life in America. Through interactive exhibits and personal artifacts, the museum provides a poignant look into the immigrant experience.


As you explore the port area, you’ll also come across trendy bars, restaurants, and cafes where you can refuel and relax. Enjoy a refreshing drink or a delicious meal while taking in the vibrant atmosphere and picturesque views of the ships sailing by.


For those interested in art and culture, don’t miss the M HKA Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp. Located near the port, this museum houses a diverse collection of contemporary art from both Belgian and international artists. From thought-provoking installations to captivating paintings, the M HKA offers a fresh perspective on the vibrant world of modern art.


The Antwerp Port area is not just a hub of commerce and industry but also a place where history, architecture, and culture converge. By exploring this dynamic area, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of Antwerp’s maritime heritage and witness the ongoing vitality of the port that continues to propel the city forward.


Visit the Plantin-Moretus Museum

Step back in time and immerse yourself in the rich history of printing at the Plantin-Moretus Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Antwerp. This unique museum is dedicated to the art of printing and provides a fascinating glimpse into the world of Renaissance typography.


The Plantin-Moretus Museum is housed in the former residence and printing press of the Plantin-Moretus family, who played a pivotal role in the development of the printing industry during the 16th and 17th centuries. This makes it one of the oldest printing establishments in the world.


Upon entering the museum, you’ll be greeted by a stunning courtyard and a beautifully preserved Renaissance-style house. Step inside, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by a vast collection of rare books, manuscripts, presses, and printing tools, all of which provide valuable insights into the history and techniques of this ancient craft.


Explore the elegant rooms, including the printing workshop and the library, where you can marvel at the extensive collection of books and manuscripts. The museum’s knowledgeable guides are on hand to provide informative tours, further enriching your understanding of the printing process and the legacy of the Plantin-Moretus family.


One of the highlights of the museum is its collection of original works by famous artists and thinkers, including Peter Paul Rubens. Admire the elaborate woodcuts and engravings that adorned books printed during the Renaissance period, as well as beautifully illuminated manuscripts.


Make sure to explore the picturesque courtyard, which features a serene garden and a statue of Christopher Plantin, the founder of the printing business. This tranquil outdoor space offers a serene escape from the bustling city and provides an enchanting glimpse into the life and legacy of the Plantin-Moretus family.


Visiting the Plantin-Moretus Museum offers a unique opportunity to delve into the world of bookmaking and printing during the Renaissance era. Whether you’re a history buff, an art lover, or simply curious about the origins of the printed word, this museum provides a captivating journey through time and a deep appreciation for the art of typography.


Take a boat tour on the Scheldt River

To truly appreciate the beauty of Antwerp from a different perspective, embark on a boat tour along the stunning Scheldt River. This scenic river, which flows through the heart of the city, offers a delightful way to explore Antwerp and its surrounding landscapes.


As you hop aboard a river cruise, sit back, relax, and let the captivating views unfold before your eyes. The Scheldt River is lined with picturesque landmarks, architectural gems, and lush greenery, providing a picturesque backdrop for your journey.


During the boat tour, you’ll pass by iconic landmarks such as the Antwerp Cathedral, the MAS Museum, and the striking Port House. Capture the perfect photographs as you sail along the river and witness the city’s rich history and modern-day vitality simultaneously.


Listen to the informative commentary provided by the knowledgeable crew, who will share fascinating stories and interesting facts about Antwerp’s history, culture, and maritime heritage. Gain a deeper understanding of the significance of the Scheldt River, which has played a crucial role in the city’s development as a major port.


Depending on the tour, you may also have the opportunity to venture beyond Antwerp’s city limits and explore the natural beauty of the Scheldt Estuary. Marvel at the vast expanse of water, the ever-changing landscapes, and the abundant birdlife that call this area home.


Feel the gentle breeze on your face and soak in the serene ambiance as you glide along the river. It’s not just about the sights, but also about the experience of being on the water and enjoying a moment of tranquility away from the city’s hustle and bustle.


Boat tours on the Scheldt River are available throughout the year, with different durations and routes to cater to various preferences. Whether you opt for a short excursion or a longer journey, the boat tour on the Scheldt River offers a unique and memorable way to discover Antwerp’s beauty from a different perspective.


So, sit back, relax, and let the river carry you as you take in the enchanting sights and immerse yourself in the scenic charm of Antwerp on a captivating boat tour along the Scheldt River.



Antwerp truly offers a captivating blend of history, culture, gastronomy, and natural beauty that make it a remarkable destination for travelers. From exploring the historic center and visiting iconic landmarks like the Antwerp Cathedral to indulging in Belgian cuisine and beer, there is something to enchant every visitor.


The city’s rich heritage is evident in its impressive architecture and world-class museums, such as the Plantin-Moretus Museum and the MAS Museum. Immersing yourself in Antwerp’s cultural scene allows you to appreciate its artistic contributions and deep-rooted connections to the world of fashion, diamonds, and printing.


Antwerp’s vibrant culinary scene tantalizes the taste buds with a plethora of flavors, from traditional Belgian dishes like Flemish carbonade and waffles to the finest Belgian chocolates and a wide selection of local beers. The city’s lively restaurants, cafes, and bars ensure that every meal and drink is a memorable experience.


Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the city’s beautiful port area and take a boat tour along the Scheldt River, where you can appreciate the significance of Antwerp as a major seaport and witness the serenity of the natural landscapes surrounding the city.


Antwerp truly has something for everyone – history enthusiasts, art lovers, fashionistas, and foodies alike. Its rich cultural heritage, stunning architecture, and warm Flemish hospitality create an unforgettable experience for every visitor.


So, whether you are planning a weekend getaway or a longer trip, Antwerp promises to captivate and inspire. Immerse yourself in the charm of this Belgian gem and embark on a journey that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.