Stitched Panorama

Belgium’s best-kept secret, Antwerp

Have you ever thought of planning a holiday to Antwerp? This is one of those cities that you will fall in love at first sight.

Art, history, food, culture and diamonds is what this port city is about. If you are traveling by train in to Antwerp (which is what I would recommend), you will arrive at the Railway Cathedral. This neo-gothic masterpiece regularly appears on lists of the most beautiful train stations in the world. The enormous roof and towers are absolutely impressive. It is a welcome you will not want to miss!

Antwerp railway station

The port of Antwerp  is one of the biggest in the world, ranking third in Europe and within the top 20 globally. A good option to see a 360-degree view over Antwerp  would be to visit the Museum aan de Stroom (or MAS). Head to the top floor (for free) to the observation deck. Over the summer months it is open until midnight. The museum is about a 30 minute walk from the Grote Markt which is the  main city square and is a popular tourist destination.

Antwept view from the top

Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal (Cathedral of our Lady) and the Scheldt river.

Grote Markt is fringed with gorgeous guild houses and the statue of Brabo, Antwerp’s legendary hero stands in the middle, while the magnificent 16th century City Hall dominates the market square from the side. A short walk from Grote Markt is Groenplaats. This charming old square is dominated by Our Lady’s Cathedral. Find a nice spot to sit and enjoy some real Belgian fries from Max, a tiny fries cafe at the corner of the square. This city is also the best place to enjoy world’s famous Belgian waffles. Here they are sold by roadside vendors or at most restaurants, bars and pubs. These delicious waffles are topped by generous heaps of freshly whipped cream and fruit!

Walk around the Grote Markt and Groenplaats area and you will enter Vlaeykensgang. Here you will get a glimpse of how Antwerp’s old town looked like in the 16th century.   This is the best place to listen to the carillon concerts of the Cathedral of Our Lady. As you wind your way through the quiet cobblestone path, you get a glimpse into the history of the town, with its brick courtyards, wooden benches, old lanterns and vine-adorned doors.

16 century Antwerp

Our stay in Antwerp was only for a night so we had to squeeze in a lot in two days. I would definitely recommend at least two nights, if not more.  If you have some time in hand (unlike us), do not miss visiting the Diamond District. Antwerp is referred to as the world’s capital of diamonds. Interestingly, one square mile (approximately) in the Diamond District is taken by diamond cutting workshops, diamond dealers, merchants and brokers.

Have I convinced you?