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Antwerp Travel Guide

About Antwerp

Forget the beer and waffles cliché, Belgium’s second largest city is the latest European hipster hub, with an avant-garde cultural scene that blows all stereotypes out of the water.

The style revolution spearheaded by the Antwerp Six in the 1980s helped establish this modern metropolis as a capital of cool. Though it’s packed with contemporary art galleries and independent fashion houses, Antwerp has never lost touch with its historic roots.

The magnificent Old Town is home to some of the finest architecture in the Low Countries, and the stepped-gable buildings that line the Grote Markt are as impressive as anything you’ll find in Amsterdam.

Antwerp’s architectural achievements are mirrored by its artistic ones. The city has long been a magnet for painters, but not even Van Gough’s stint here could steal the limelight from Antwerp’s most celebrated resident, Sir Peter Paul Rubens. The house and studio of this legendary Baroque painter have been turned into a museum, and his work is proudly on display in a selection of world-class galleries.

If you prefer fashion to fine arts, a stroll through the bustling diamond quarter is a must. This small and fairly shabby district has been the capital of the world’s diamond trade for centuries, giving the city a long-standing reputation for glamour and sophistication.

The sprawling industrial cargo docks once added some grit to the Antwerp oyster but, thanks to a recent intensive programme of rejuvenation, the port has morphed into one of the trendiest parts of town.

With a stellar array of restaurants, Antwerp doesn’t disappoint on the foodie front either. There are Michelin-starred venues scattered across the city, not to mention an array of more eclectic places to dine, plus a few traditional Belgian gems too.

Unfortunately, eating out isn’t particularly cheap. Diners won’t find significant reductions by escaping the touristy Old Town, but you’ll soon forget about the exorbitant restaurant bills with an Antwerp-style shindig. The city’s energetic nightlife caters to everyone from rockers to ravers.


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Featured Hotels


Hotel Julien

A short walk from Groenplaats Square, this elegant and cosy Antwerp hotel is a beautiful mix of old and new. The rooms sport minimalist designer décor and all amenities blend seamlessly with original medieval features. Friendly staff preside over the space, and the roof terrace provides sweeping city views.

Leonardo Hotel

Located near Antwerp's Centraal Station, Leonardo Hotel has 96 spacious bedrooms, which are smart, clean and contemporary. The location is great for exploring the diamond district and for onward travel, but not so good for the historic Old Town, which is a fair walk away. But the price is right and the summer terrace is the perfect place to enjoy breakfast.

De Witte Lelie

This former 17th-century canal house is today one of the best boutique hotels in Antwerp. Period features and antiques have been sympathetically fused with contemporary designs to offer guests a comfortable and characterful stay in the city. The 10 gorgeous bedrooms give the hotel a cosy, personable feel, although rooms book up quickly.

Hilton Antwerp Old Town

Boasting the sky-high Cathedral of Our Lady as its next-door neighbour, this five-story fin-de-siècle building was originally the Grand Bazar department store. Spacious rooms are sumptuously decorated with one eye on history, though the flat-screen TVs and Wi-Fi keep everything up to date. Drink in the surroundings by taking afternoon tea in the marble-floored lobby.

Hotel Rubens

Tucked away in a quiet side street behind the Grote Markt, this stylish 4-star hotel is the perfect base to explore the Old Town. A friendly concierge welcomes weary travellers with a refreshing port or sherry, while the hotel’s chic rooms are comfortable, quiet and well-appointed. You won’t go hungry either; their buffet breakfast will set you up for a day full of sightseeing.

Hotel Rubenshof

Next to the Fine Arts Museum, this cheap Antwerp hotel sits in the trendy Zuid district. The building occupies a former cardinal's residence that dates back to 1860, with ornate public areas and 22 tastefully decorated bedrooms.