Antwerp - Belgium's Second City 

Belgium’s second city, Antwerp is the largest city of the Flanders region with around half a million inhabitants.

Built on the banks of the Scheldt River, Antwerp is a haven for those looking for a historical trip with a multitude of monuments, museums and churches to choose from, beautiful architecture from medieval fortresses to baroque buildings and a wealth of galleries and theatres for those interested in the arts.

Known as Rubens city, Antwerp is home to a huge collection of paintings by Peter Paul Rubens, a renowned 16th century baroque artist who lived in the city for most of his live. 

A visit to the artists home, Rubenshuis, gives great insight in to his life, you’ll find his most acclaimed works in churches and museums around Antwerp.

The port of Antwerp is the 2nd largest port in Europe and is a bustling trading port, a tour of the port shows just how important the Scheldt River and this port is to the success of Antwerp.

Alongside all of this culture and commerce Antwerp also has a vibrant cafe, bar and restaurant culture, boasting multiple Michelin star restaurants.  The wide variety of attractions in Antwerp makes it a great short break destination.

You can take our Cross-Channel ferry directly to France from Dover and then make the short drive to Antwerp or if travelling from the North of England, you can avoid the long drive south and travel onboard our cruise ferries from Newcastle to Holland, and make the journey to Antwerp from Amsterdam - less than 2 hours drive from the ferry port.

Things to do and see in Antwerp

Cathedral of Our Lady

Antwerp has a wide variety of attractions and activities for everyone, here are a select few:

Cathedral of Our Lady
This inspiring gothic cathedral took over 150 years to build and is the largest Gothic construction in the Netherlands. The inside of this seven aisled Cathedral houses masterpieces by Rubens including the ‘Descent from the Cross’ and the ‘Raising of the Cross’.

The house that Peter Paul Rubens spent the latter part of his life in is a key tourist attraction for the city. This beautiful house, restored as a museum in Rubens’ honour, showcases ten of his works including his self portrait. The building, a complex built around an inner courtyard, includes a baroque portico between the courtyard and the garden, which was built by Rubens himself.

The Steen
In the 13th century this small castle, on the edge of the river Scheldt was the hub of Antwerp town. Now, The Steen is home to the Maritime Museum and is next to the 19th century harbour, where boats from the maritime museum can be viewed.

Momu (Mode Museum)
Since the 1980’s Antwerp has enjoyed success as a thriving city for individual and innovative fashion. The MoMu museum exhibits a collection of clothing, lace, embroidery, fabrics and artisan textile processing tools. Twice a year the museum organises themed exhibitions which include a side programme of workshops, debates, lectures and guided tours.

Grote Markt and Brabo Fountain
This beautiful square is still the heart of the old town of Antwerp. From the square, sample some Belgium beer at one of the many terrace bars and restaurants whilst surrounded by the stunning architecture of the Town Hall, Houses of Guilds and Cathedral of Our Lady. In the middle of the square you’ll also find the Brabo Fountain, this huge monument depicts Silvius Brabo tossing the severed hand of the giant Antigonus into the Scheldt.

Shopping in Antwerp

Enjoy nature while shopping - Garden in Antwerp

Over the last few decades Antwerp has earned a place amongst the fashion cities of the world due to the success of young Flemish designers. A great fashion district with a host of boutique and quirky clothes shops can be found off the main shopping street of Meir.

On August 15th, a public holiday in Antwerp, Rubens Market takes place in the main shopping district, where market traders dress up in traditional Rubens-style clothing and sell their wares. You’ll find a wide range of weekly markets in Antwerp including a birds market and an antique market.

Antwerps ‘diamond district’ is full of countless jewellery stores, many of which offer discount prices on diamonds. As the largest diamond district in the world, handling around 80% of the worlds rough diamonds, the jewellery shops in this area of the city are definitely worth a look.

Eating out in Antwerp

Antwerp is home to a huge variety of cafes, bars and restaurants, catering for all tastes and budgets, a small selection of restaurant options are shown below:

The Gin Fish
Located on Haarstraat, this is a Michelin star restaurant serving delicious seafood in a trendy restaurant with a cosy atmosphere.

Hendrik Conscienceplein
A lesser known square when compared to the Grote Markt but worth a visit to find nice cafes, terraces and restaurants.

Neuze Neuze
A handsome split level restaurant with cosy areas to relax and enjoy a delicious bistro style food.