Antwerp’s heyday may have been centuries ago, but behind its Flemish facades, a renaissance is underway.
The cultural capital of Flanders has earned its stripes as a fashion hub, an art history hotspot and a bastion of Belgian beer. Best of all, it’s friendly, picturesque and easy to tackle on foot.
Arriving at Antwerp Flanders International Airport
Antwerp Flanders International Airport is less than four miles (6km) from central Antwerp. The airport is compact and simple, with a few shops and restaurants, a VIP lounge and complimentary Wi-Fi. Grab a snack at Belgian supermarket Louis Delhaize just before security. For aviation buffs, the Stampe & Vertongen Museum, open on weekend afternoons, displays a collection that includes several World War I military aircraft.
The easiest way to get to central Antwerp is by taxi. Hail a ride from the roundabout in front of the airport and you’ll be in the city centre in just 15 minutes.
Alternatively, take a bus to nearby Antwerpen-Berchem train station and a tram into the city centre from there. There are buses every 15 minutes from the airport to Antwerp-Berchem Station. From there, take a tram to Silsburg and get off at Antwerpen Groenplaats for the historic city centre. For the zoo and Antwerpen-Centraal station, head towards Rooseveltplaats and get off at the final stop.
Cycling is a popular Antwerp pastime. Join the locals by hopping on a Velo Antwerpen using a very reasonably priced day pass. The pass lets you check out a bike as many times as you like and keep it for up to four hours each time. An excellent place for biking is Rivierenhof Park, a beautiful but less-visited park with a pretty castle on a pond. Or, bike to Middelheim to explore its open-air sculpture museum.
Antwerp has many parks with jogging trails. Park Spoor Noord is the city’s largest, set on the site of a former rail yard. The park opened in 2009 as an expansive green space with jogging trails, a skating zone and plenty of grass for picnicking. Closer to the city centre is Stadspark, which has shaded forest trails.
Dozens of yoga studios have popped up in Antwerp in recent years. Bikram Hot Yoga Antwerp is one of the longest-running studios in town, and drop-in students are welcome. For a non-heated class, AntwerpYoga is just across from Stadspark and is happy for you to just turn up for a class.
With the elegant Antwerpen-Centraal Station at the heart of the city, hopping on a train to explore the countryside couldn’t be easier. These three rewarding day trip destinations are less than 90 minutes away by train.
Lier is a small, picturesque riverside town just 10 miles (16km) southeast of Antwerp. Highlights include the photogenic Lier Begijnhof street and the 14th-century Zimmer Tower, topped with a clock that shows the sun, tides and zodiac signs.
Located 34 miles (54km) southwest of Antwerp, Ghent is small but packed with some of Belgium’s most important sites. Visit the Museum of Fine Arts, brimming with Belgian masterpieces, and explore Gravensteen, a 12th-century castle designed as a grand show of power and wealth.
With Roman city walls, Tongeren is Belgium’s oldest town, 55 miles (88km) southeast of Antwerp. Take time to visit the Gallo-Romeins Museum to explore its rich collection of Roman artefacts. And if you visit on a Sunday morning, you can pick some artefacts at the famous antique market to take home with you.