During our Belgium tour, we stopped in Antwerp for a couple of days. There was a high expectation after we had spent 3 wonderful days in the picturesque Bruges. We were hoping for the same in Antwerp and, although it is different to Bruges, we were very pleased to discover another Belgium city we loved. We stayed at the Mercure Antwerp (Accor Hotels) during our time here and loved the hotel. With its central location it meant we could walk to every sight or shopping district that tickled our fancy. There is a lot one can do while visiting this Belgium town. Here are a few of our favorite picks for top things to do in Antwerp.
Take a stroll through the Middelheim Museum, an open-air masterpiece situated 4km south of the center of Antwerp. Over a quarter of a million people visit this museum each year to enjoy the hundreds of items on show. With around 400 pieces of art and more than 200 sculptures (all from the last 100 years from national and international artists), there’s plenty to see at the Middelheim. As well as permanent collections, the park also displays three three temporary exhibitions each year. Entrance to the park is free of charge, which makes it ideal for any kind of traveler.
Peter Paul Rubens is one of the most famous Flemish painters of all time, known for his baroque style back in the 17th century. Rubenhuis is his former studio and home, and was opened to the public as a museum back in 1946. Aside from the building itself being a masterpiece of architecture and worth the visit alone, the walls of this space are adorned with Ruben’s artwork and paintings. This includes Ruben’s very own self-portrait, giving you the opportunity to look into the eyes of the legend himself.
Het Steen is a medieval fortress that sits on the riverbank in Antwerp. Its biggest accolade is that Het Steen is the oldest building in Antwerp, giving it a ‘where it all began’ kind of feel. The castle has been in use since the 9th or 10th century, and it has had a number of renovations and extensions since then. Most notably, the castle was almost completely flattened in the 19th century, leaving only small parts of the original structure still intact today. Nevertheless, the castle is an Antwerp must-see for history buffs and those who simply like beautiful buildings.
MoMu and FoMu
Fans of fashion and/or photography have two great options for fun days out in Antwerp. The Mode Museum (or MoMu) is a fashion museum in Antwerp that takes you through the ages of fashion in the city, in some cases dating all the way back to the 16th century. The museum houses 25,000 items of clothing, and has been very popular ever since the opening in 2002.
The FotoMuseum (or FoMu) is an equally famous Antwerp museum showcasing an extensive collection of photography and technological advances in the art form. Here you can learn all about the development of cameras over the ages, as well as peruse the large collection of photographs owned by the museum. You’ll find photos from the most famous photographers in the world, as well as unknown characters, making it’s a comprehensive collection for photography buffs.
Just as Bruges has a large square named Markt in its center, Antwerp has the Grote Markt. The 16-century city hall dominates the square, and its one of the main attractions here. In the middle of the square you’ll find Brado Fountain, which depicts the legend of Antwerp’s hero, Brado. In Grote Markt you’ll also find the Guild Houses, which have beautiful facades and are used often as a symbol of the city. Look up to the top of these houses and you’ll find the decorative roofs and statues upon them. A stroll through the Grote Markt in Antwerp is completely unmissable.
The Neo-gothic masterpiece that is Antwerp Central Station is one of the city’s most famous landmarks, and for good reason. This building is in the Top 5 for world’s most beautiful stations, thanks to its unbelievable architectural prowess. Even if you’re not planning on taking a train anywhere during your stay in Antwerp, it’s well worth heading to Antwerp Central just to catch a view of the ornate roof and ceiling stunning towers, and all round general beauty.
See Antwerp from above
The Museum aan de Stroom (or MAS) is a museum that houses artwork, amongst other things. It’s worth checking out if you’re in the mood for yet another museum, but the building can be used in other ways. Head to the top floor (for free!) to the observation deck, where you’ll be able to catch a 360-degree view over Antwerp. It’s definitely one of the best spots in which to see over the city. Over the summer months it is open until midnight, so you can opt for an evening view of Antwerp, all lit up with street lamps.
For information on these or other activities in Antwerp please visit www.visitantwerpen.be
Are there any sights you feel should be added to this list of Top Things to do in Antwerp?