Antwerp : what to do in the diamond city

By Charlotte Deprez Published 07/05/2019

Though Brussels is the most beautiful city in the world, there are a few other Belgian cities that deserve your attention. And Antwerp is one of them! The city of arts, fashion, diamonds, and avant-garde is an amazing city trip option at a one hour drive only from Brussels.

1. Must-sees

The train station

If you arrive in Antwerp by train (oooh you should!), your little tour starts with one of the city gems: the Central Station. Regularly listed as one of the most beautiful train stations in the world, Antwerpen-Centraal was built at the beginning of the 20th century and pretty much looks like a cathedral. That’s right, a cathedral!

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Por fora ela é linda, mas por dentro é de cair o queixo. Não é à toa que é considerada a mais bonita do mundo! Você já viu uma estação de trem tão linda quanto essa? Acho que a de Antuérpia e a de Nova Iorque são as minhas favoritas ♥️ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #antwerp #antuerpia #belgica #belgium #europe #eurotrip #wanderlust #prefiroviajar #mulheresviajantes #colecionandomomentos #colecionandodestinos #picoftheday #braroundtheworld #brasileirosporai #eaiquetalviajar #doyoutravel #travelling #issabordo #turismo #turistando #viagemeturismo #2018bestnine #bestnine2018 #fantasticview #revistaviajar #revistaqualviagem⁣⠀#2017bestnine #bestnine2017

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Koningin Astridplein 27, 2018 Antwerp

The historical center

Antwerp is definitely a walking city. No need to take a hop on hop off or spend hours in public transport to get around town. Indeed, because of its size, its numerous pedestrian streets and its animation, you can just walk around and observe the gorgeous architecture of the buildings, get into the hypest shops and cafés or just enjoy the vibrant city atmosphere.

The city cathedral

The gothic cathedral Notre Dame d’Anvers is the true heart of the city. Impressive by its size, it’s easy to spot from almost every corner of the center. It’s not on the Grand Place (Grote Markt) of the city but on a nearby square (Groenplaats). No matter your religious beliefs, don’t forget to enter the cathedral, as it’s absolutely stunning inside as well.

Groenplaats 21, 2000 Antwerp

Grote Markt

Disclaimer: the beauty of this place is indisputable. The architecture is harmonious in a very eclectic and Belgian way. That’s also the place where you’ll find the famous fountain representing the myth from where Antwerp got its name!

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Weekend in Antwerp

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Begijnhof

The Begijnhof is a very quiet and serene place with gorgeous architecture. It no longer houses nuns but people still live in its little houses. The church has been preserved and there is also a beautiful little park in the middle, making it the perfect spot for a break and a moment of zen. And in the spring, the trees burst with hundreds of colorful flowers!

Rodestraat 39, 2000 Antwerp

‘t Eilandje

Ten years ago, ‘t Eilandje was pretty much an abandoned port district! In this neighbourhood where the city meets the port, the industrial vibe is still very present. The Mas and Red Star Line museums attract more and more people to the neighbourhood, along with cafés, restaurants and artistic projects in repurposed warehouses.

The MAS (Museum aan de Stroom)

Whether you want to visit the MAS or not, you HAVE to go to the top floor of the building and admire the view of the port and the city! According to pretty much everyone, it’s the most gorgeous one you’ll get. As for the MAS itself, it’s a perfect mix between a warehouse and a museum, with impressive exhibitions hosted all year long and stunning architecture. Trust us, there’s a LOT going on there.

Hanzestedenplaats 1, 2000 Antwerp

2. Shops

Graanmarkt 13

A store, a restaurant and an apartment, yes Graanmarkt 13 is all of this. The owners have carefully selected all the labels sold on the two floors of their beautiful concept store. And for your nomad soul, part of the items available here are things they have collected during trips around the world! Every now and then, the couple also showcases a collection in their personal apartment, on the top floor. Great way to make the customers feel at home, don’t you think?

Graanmarkt 13, Graanmarkt 13, 2000 Antwerp. Info on graanmarkt13.com.

Le Labo

“Le Labo” is a high-end niche perfume company that wants to differentiate itself from other perfume brands by working in a minimalistic way: no major marketing campaigns, not thousands of versions of the same perfume, … At Le Labo, everything is focused on the fragrance itself. Here, your bottle of perfume will be personalized with the place and date of bottling, but also with the name of your choice! And the boutique itself is so gorgeous it’s a must see.

Le Labo, Wapper 18, 2000 Antwerp. Info on lelabofragrances.com.

The Meir

The Meir is Antwerp’s most iconic shopping avenue and district! Whatever you’re looking for on your shopping spree, you’ll find it here. On top of that, the Meir is home to some of the most beautiful buildings in the city, such as the Shopping Stadfestzaal.

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#antwerpen #antwerp #stadsfeestzaal #visitantwerp

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STAY

STAY is a concept store in the heart of the fashion district that wants to highlight slow shopping. The owners want you to take the time to look around and enjoy your visit. At STAY, not only will you find clothes and shoes, but also decoration and lifestyle objects. Need a break while shopping? In the back, you will also find a small café and a pastry bar.

STAY, Nationalestraat 49, 2000 Antwerp. Info on stay-antwerp.be.

The Plant Corner 

Do you have a green thumb? Then The Plant Corner might just be what you’re looking for! This plant shop with tropical jungle vibes sells everything you could dream of: looking for a plant that doesn’t need a lot of care? Or a cactus to decorate your desk? The in-store experts will be able to answer you. And if you don’t want to go to Antwerp each time you need a plant, good news: They have an e-shop!

The Plant Corner, Isabellalei 144, 2018 Antwerp. Info on theplantcorner.com.

St Vincents

In a very nice district of Antwerp, this former printing house was turned into one of the most beautiful concept stores in Belgium! The walls with exposed bricks, the polished concrete floor, the high ceilings… Everything feels like you’ve just opened a design magazine. You can stop by for coffee in a nice atmosphere, but also if you’re looking for a timeless and unique decoration item.

St Vincents, Kleine Markt 13, 2000 Antwerp. Info on their Facebook page.

3. Restaurants

The Jane

The Jane restaurant welcomes you in a pretty original setting: the former chapel of the Military Hospital. Why? Well, simply because food is a religion! This gastronomic restaurant run by chefs Nick Bril and Sergio Herman boasts two Michelin stars. And for the record, The Jane was voted world’s most beautiful restaurant in 2015. Yup.

The Jane, Paradeplein 1, 2018 Antwerp. Info on thejaneantwerp.com.

De Godevaart

The menu of the restaurant De Godevaart is adapted according to each season and the products they have to offer. Inspired by French gastronomy, the dishes are mixed with international inspirations and prepared with fresh products. Moreover, sugar is hardly used in preparations, even in desserts, which makes the dishes healthier.

De Godevaart, Sint-Katelijnevest 23, 2000 Antwerp. Info on degodevaart.be.

Gå Nord

Ga Nord will take you, well, up north! In this 1900s industrial building packed with greenery and beautiful furniture. On the menu, you’ll find Scandinavian food such as smörrebröd or köttbullar, but also ramen and Japanese cheesecake because why choose? In this restaurant, you can let the chefs compose your menu according to what you like so that you have the best experience. Cherry on the cake: every Sunday, Ga Nord organizes a brunch!

Ga nord, Hardenvoort 5, 2060 Antwerp. Info on ganord.be.

De Peerdestal

Not far from Grote Markt, De Peerdestal is located in a 17th-century building. The whole decor and jazzy background give it a wonderful and warm atmosphere. Leading this restaurant for 20 years already, Mike Vlasman offers a varied and seasonal menu made of high-quality products.

Wijngaardstraat 8, 2000 Antwerp

4. Cafés

Mooy

This pink concept store/café — and instagrammers’ dream — opened in Antwerp just a few months ago. MOOY is a mix between a healthy canteen (with every dish on the menu available in a vegan option) and a beauty shop, perfect if you want that glow inside and out. The beauty products sold here are mostly vegan but also cruelty-free and organic.

Mooy, Lombardenvest 19, 2000 Antwerp. Info on mooyantwerp.be.

Barnini

Right next to the Meir, coffee lovers line up at Barnini’s doors for their caffeine shot. Behind the green facade and cute terrace, you’ll find a comfy retro café serving a wide variety of very original coffees as well as a large selection of bagels, Barnini’s specialty.

Barnini, Oudevaartplaats 10, 2000 Antwerp. Info on their Facebook page.

Tinsel

Tinsel is the ideal place for your morning coffee, brunch or lunch. On the menu, they have coffees, obviously, but also sandwiches, soups, and salads. The coffee is good, the dishes are generous, the prices are more than fair and the atmosphere is very chill, making Tinsel one of the cool kids’ favorite hotspot.

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??pretty spot #Antwerp

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Tinsel, Vlaamsekaai 40, 2000 Antwerpen. Info on their Facebook page.

Cuisinette Domestic

Feeling like high tea but not willing to go to London? Head to Cuisinette Domestic and its powdery pink and velvety interior! On your gorgeous three-tier tray, you’ll find little sandwiches, brioches, and sweets, the perfect companions to your afternoon tea with style.

Cuisinette Domestic, Lange Gasthuisstraat 5, 2000 Antwerpen. Info on domestic-bakkerij.be.

5. Bars

Avini

Feeling like a glass of wine after a long day at work? Perfectly located in the artistic district of Antwerp (‘t Zuid), Avini specializes in good Tuscan and Italian wines! With tens of wines available by the glass (prices ranging from 4 to 25 €), tapas and a sleek yet warm decor Avini is a no brainer.

Avini, Karel Rogierstraat 40, 2000 Antwerp. Info on aviniwines.com/fr

Plein Publiek

Plein Publiek has the most original setting of the city, as it’s located in a huge greenhouse! This hybrid place is pretty much impossible to define in just one word: café, bar, restaurant, shop, event venue, art gallery,… This place strongly promotes local and organic products. Plein Publiek is a hip and vibrant place that definitely deserves your attention.

Plein Publiek, D’Herbouvillekaai 19, 2020 Antwerp. Info on

Dogma

Somewhere in the heart of Antwerp, hidden in a narrow building on Wijngaardstraat, Dogma is changing the Belgian and European cocktail scene since 2013. Here, you don’t just come for a gin and tonic, but for a whole experience. Leather sofas, candles and jazz music giver this place a very confidential atmosphere. The cocktails are real pieces of art and by far the best in town!

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VENUEZ EXPO ?‍♀️ Today is the day our headbartender Didier is giving a seminar at Venuez Expo 2019. He is bringing a camping chair, some top notch drinks and maybe even a chainsaw so we think it is going to be a seminar to remember. He’ll be up at the main stage at 5:15 pm so we’ll probably see you there. Tomorrow night he and @basschedidden will be making drinks at this spectacular after party that is planned in the expo itself. We overheard that @frankybacardi spared no expenses nor the limits of physical possibleness to throw this party of the century so you’ll sure as hell will want to come and say hi. You can find Didier at the Bacardi bar and Bassche -of course, where else ?- at the Patron bar. In the meanwhile at our home bar we are not forgetting it is still ST PADDY’S DAY ? Yesterday on 4pm at a Saturday we went on a last minute mission for a professional milk steamer. Doomed to fail we didn’t count on the superheroes of @caffemundi_crossroast to save us once again. This means that today we’ll be making the one and only Irish Coffees! We ourselves are super excited -maybe a little too much- but come and try for yourself! ? @nullammicrowaveum #venuezexpo #antwerpexpo #saintpaddysday #seminar #teamdogma #rebelcrew #dogmacocktails

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Dogma, Wijngaardstraat 5, 2000 Antwerp. Info on dogmacocktails.be.

Patine

This wine bar located in the heart of Antwerp has a comfortable interior with small tables, wooden chairs and beautiful antique chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. On the menu, you’ll find a great list of wines but also tapas (hummus, patatas bravas, cheese, …), soups, sandwiches, salads but also homemade cakes. When the weather gets nice, their big terrace is a great place for a glass of wine.

Patine, Leopold de Waelstraat 1, 2000 Antwerp. Info on gastro-by-mo.be/patine.

6. Hotels

Hotel Julien

Hotel Julien is a luxury design hotel, nestled in two 16th-century houses next to an old church in the center of Antwerp. At the reception, you’ll find a collection of design, inspiration and travel books that you can borrow if you want a good read with your coffee in the beautiful common areas. As for the rooms, they are also tastefully decorated and overlook the pretty inner courtyard. Also, don’t miss their amazing massages in the hotel spa! If you were looking for a zen hideout, you’ve found it!

Hotel Julien, Korte Nieuwstraat 24, 2000 Antwerp. Info on hotel-julien.com.

August

With August, Antwerp has a new pretty singular hotspot. The team behind Hotel Julien turned an old Augustinian monastery into a modern and cozy refuge where you’ll want to spend all our time. The hotel has been designed with a deep respect for its heritage on one hand, and the desire to bring a dash of modernity on the other hand. August’s 5 buildings house the hotel, but also a restaurant, a bar, a wellness center, an outdoor swimming beautiful gardens.

August, Jules Bordetstraat 5, 2018 Antwerp. Info on august-antwerp.com.

Hotel Franq

This eighteenth-century former bank was turned into a cozy hotel in 2017. The imposing hall reminds us of the past of the place, as well as the safes in the basement that were turned into a wine cellar and a meeting room. Hotel Franq has 42 cozy and design bedrooms featuring gorgeous bathrooms. And the breakfast, damn, the breakfast. By far one of the best in town!

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Real fan of this hotel!

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Hotel Franq, Kipdorp 10/12, 2000 Antwerp. Info on hotelfranq.com.

About the author Hello there! I’m Charlotte, a 20-something based in beautiful Brussels and passionate about traveling, food and photography. Follow me on www.thetinynomad.com.

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