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.
Food and Drink
Antwerp takes its eating and drinking seriously, even for food-frenzied Flanders. In the warmer months, cafés overflow on to sunny terraces where locals gather over glasses of Belgian beer. The city’s oldest brewery is De Koninck. In operation since 1833, the brewery is so much a part of Antwerp that it has coined its own term: a bolleke is local slang for a glass of De Koninck.
Food and Drink
And what goes better with a bolleke than an order of Belgian fries? Taste the double- or triple-fried delicacies at Antwerp’s ubiquitous food trucks. Or head to a café for moules-frites, mussels cooked in a white-wine broth and served with a heaping side of fries. For a big night out, there are several Michelin-starred restaurants in the city centre.
Aside from Belgian cuisine, Antwerp is a melting pot of international cuisine, home to Moroccan, Indian, Jewish cuisine and more. To taste them all in one place, head to the Saturday Market from 0800 to 1600 in the Antwerp Theaterplein square.
For dessert, you can’t go wrong with Belgian chocolate. An Antwerp delicacy is Antwerpse Handjes, created by Chocolatier Goossens. The hand-shaped chocolates are filled with marzipan and a bit of Elixir d'Anvers, a local herbal liqueur.