City Guide: Exploring Antwerp, Belgium

Every year on my birthday, I choose a destination to visit the following weekend. This year we made a trip to Antwerp. By car, it is only a two hours ride from Cologne to the Belgian port city. We decided to arrive in the morning and drive back in the evening to save up that hotel money.


With a population of half a million inhabitants, Antwerp is the largest city of Belgium and even larger that Belgium’s capital of Brussels. Antwerp is known as the city of diamonds and offers the second largest port in Europe, which is a reason, why Antwerp was one of the largest cities in the world in the 15th century. In addition to many museums, Antwerp also invites you to go shopping. You’ll find designer boutiques next to modern pop ups and vintage shops.


Antwerp Belgium City Guide of penguins & elephants ofpenguinsandelephants Exploring Antwerp Pinterest

arrival & parking in Antwerp

We reached Antwerp after a two-hour drive without traffic jams and parked our car in the Q-Park Antwerp Godefriduskaai - on the weekends it is only 15€ to park the car for the whole day.


sightseeing in Antwerp

The Museum an der Strom is our first stop and it shows interesting exhibitions and is also an architectural eye-catcher itself. I even like the presentation and construction of those exhibitions a lot better than the exhibitions itself. There are also many things to interact with. If you are not interested in art, you still might wanna visit the MAS, as it offers a free viewing platform on the roof.


Antwerp Belgium ofpenguinsandelephants of penguins & elephants MAS Museum an der Strom view rooftop


Through an area called Schipperkwartier (translates to Shipping quarter) we walked into the city center. If you are hungry for breakfast or just in the mood for coffee, you will definitely find a nice café around here.


We reached the main square with its town hall and promptly, it started raining. Fortunately, we were able to walk into the tourist information to look at the flyers and information. There were many flyers and I knew its going to be a long day :) The main square with its beautiful golden houses reminded me about Brussels, maybe you see that, too.


Antwerp Belgium ofpenguinsandelephants of penguins & elephants main square market square


We took some pictures and walked towards the River Schelde a few hundred meters away, where we discovers the city castle of Antwerp, called Steen. The castle has been part of the city wall and since it exists for more than 800 years, it is the oldest building in the city.


Antwerp Belgium ofpenguinsandelephants of penguins & elephants city castle Steen


Back in the city center we visited the Cathedral of Our Lady. Since its tower is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you should admire the church especially from the outside. If you are interested in the interior, you have to pay for the entrance.


Antwerp Belgium ofpenguinsandelephants of penguins & elephants Cathedral of Our Lady UNESCO

lunch in Antwerp

When waiting for the rain to stop earlier, I found out about a food market called Mercado. It was a pretty cool food hall with different restaurants and a seating area inside. All the kitchens looked fabulous. If you drop by for lunch, you'll definitely find something here. 


Antwerp Belgium ofpenguinsandelephants of penguins & elephants food hall food market Mercado

museums in Antwerp

Around the corner is the Fashion Museum with its current exhibition She walks in beauty by Olivier Theyskens. However, check if you like the current exhibition. Following, we had quite a long walk over to the mast museum for the day. We visit the Museum of Hedendaagse Art (M HKA), which shows modern art. The museum also includes a silo, which looks much more interesting from the outside than from the inside. I did not particularly like the exhibitions, but maybe there will be something new soon?


In addition to the ones we visited, there are many other museums in Antwerp: the FotoMuseum, the Rubens House, the Red Star Line Museum, the Museum de Rede and the Diamond Museum….


Antwerp Belgium ofpenguinsandelephants of penguins & elephants Fashion Museum

shopping in Antwerp


On the way back, we strolled through the Klosterstraat. In addition to many cool fashion boutiques and outlets, we also found interior shops and bought a few little things.


The store I liked were Christinaensen & Christiaensen, MONDAY, YAY Concept Store and BAZAR BIZARE by YOUR. But go see for yourself, what you like!


sightseeing part 2 in Antwerp

We had a little waffle break (as Belgium has the best ones!), but unfortunately the cafe was not very good and I will not recommend it to you. Instead, we recommend a visit to the central station and the diamond district. If you will arrive by train, this is an advantage. We visited the neighborhood in the afternoon so it was quite dark already - the diamond quarter should rather be visited during the day. If you have plans on buying some diamonds, make sure to check for qualified deals. If you only wanna look: Just head to the diamond quarter and you will see many shops to admire those beauties. If you are interested in diamonds, you should not miss the Diamond Museum. It will be reopened in spring 2018.


The main station is particularly impressive. Make sure to visit the majestic main entrance, as the train station is large and very modern in design. Interesting, however, is the historical part.


Antwerp Belgium ofpenguinsandelephants of penguins & elephants diamonds
Antwerp Belgium ofpenguinsandelephants of penguins & elephants central station


After taking some pictures, we took the bus back to the car and then headed back home. The day was very exhausting, but we were able to see so many new things. Unfortunately, the weather was not very good and we missed the cool flair, but I'm sure: In good weather we will come back


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What about you?

Have you ever visited Antwerp in Belgium before? What did you do? Where did you sleep? Do you think that I missed out on something, that you would like to share? I'd love to hear your story about Antwerp!