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.
Whichever season you visit in, you’re likely to find at least a few very intriguing items on Antwerp’s events calendar.
Antwerp Christmas Market
Each December, Grote Markt transforms into a winter wonderland, crowned with a Christmas tree and decked out in sparkling lights. It’s the place to go to get in the Christmas spirit and mooch around over 100 stalls selling gifts, treats and decorations.
At the same time as the Antwerp Christmas Market, the Winterfoor Funfair is an indoor carnival geared towards children, but adults will love it, too, with its vintage carnival rides, circus acts and lots of snacks.
Each June, Antwerp gathers to celebrate Belgian beer at Beer Passion Weekend. Antwerp’s Groenplaats square fills with picnic tables and tents selling over 150 types of beers. Live music gets the party jumping and there’s a real sense of fun in the air.
In August, the Jazz Middelheim celebrates jazz music and promotes the genre to a wider audience. A full calendar of concerts draws top talent and brings an international audience of jazz lovers along with it.
It’s technically held in a nearby town called Boom (a fitting name), but Tomorrowland is one of the world’s most famous electronic music festivals. In operation since 2005, tickets to the three-day music festival typically sell out in hours.