Antwerp is a charming city in the north of Belgium with plenty of history and even a bit of myth as well.
Have you noticed that the symbol of the city is a hand? The story goes that to cross the River Schelde you had to pay a toll to a huge scary troll called Antigoon, or he would cut off your hand. The residents lived in fear until a soldier named Brabo killed the giant troll and cut off his hand and threw it into the river. Yikes. But don’t fear, just enjoy the many treats in the shape of a hand instead.
Antwerp: Weekend Trip from Amsterdam
Antwerp is an easy weekend trip from Amsterdam. Only a few hours on the train or bus and you can reach this pretty city on the River Schelde.
Getting to Antwerp from Amsterdam
The Thalys runs a direct train that takes an hour and 15 minutes. The Thalys can be booked up to four months in advance. You can also take the Intercity Brussels train but you will typically need to transfer at least once. The cheapest tickets are around €20 each way. They even have a special 40% discount for Weekend Returns. Check the NS International site for ticket prices and availability.
If the train is too pricey or not available you can also take the bus to Antwerp from Amsterdam. Flixbus has direct buses to Antwerp starting at €20 round trip. The ride takes about 2.5 hours.
Don’t want to haul your luggage around on the train? Have it shipped directly with Luggage Forward.
Getting Around in Antwerp
The city center is easy to get around by foot, but if you’d like to explore further you can go by tram, bus or bike! You can save money on public transport if you plan ahead.
It is less expensive to purchase your tram or bus ticket in a point of sale than onboard. You can buy a 1-, 3-, 5-day or 10-trip pass from these point of sales and save money. A day pass is €8 on the tram but only €6 onboard for example. A single ride ticket is €3. Click here for more information about the ticket options and where to purchase them.
Things To Do in Antwerp
Antwerp is a fascinating city with lots of places to explore. Here are a few sights you should not miss.
A sight that you definitely should not miss in Antwerp is the MAS. This new museum is filled with all kinds of exhibits focusing on the history of Antwerp and its link with the rest of the world, both in the past and modern times.
You can go to the top of the MAS and take in the amazing views for free. But I highly recommend checking out the exhibits as well.
This museum was the house of the painter Peter Paul Rubens and is located in the heart of the city center. Wander through Rubenshuis and see Rubens’ collection of art as well as some of his own paintings. Be sure to visit the gardens.
The main square of Antwerp, Grote Markt is surrounded by beautiful monumental buildings such as city hall and several guild halls. Take in the view at one of many restaurants and cafes around the square. Order a “Bolleke de Koninck“, sit back and relax.
Sint Anna’s Tunnel
Antwerp sits on the River Schelde. In the 1930s a pedestrian tunnel was built under the water to link the centrum with the left bank. The tunnel has still preserved the old wooden escalators and lovely elevators from these times gone by. Take a stroll under the tunnel to see the views of the city skyline from the other side. And you won’t even have to lose a hand in the process.
De Koninck Brewery
Love beer? Take a tour of the local Koninck Brewery and sample their products. You can book tickets here.
Wander in the City Center
The center of Antwerp is a great place to wander. Discover the cute brick buildings and duck into alleyways and turn down small cobbled streets. Pop into charming cafes and shops along the way.
You can also explore Antwerp with a guide on a walking tour, bike tour or even a food tour!
Eating & Drinking in Antwerp
Antwerp has plenty of options, from cheap eats to fancy dining. Here our some of our favorite addresses.
But first, if you want to learn about the local food scene I always recommend starting your trip with a food tour. Not only will you get to taste foods you might not find on your own, you can also ask the guide and other guests if they can recommend an awesome place to eat in town.
The Jane sits at the top of the list for fine dining in Antwerp. Located in ‘t Groen Kwartier in a former military chapel, this restaurant serves a tasting menu of 12-14 dishes. It’s not cheap at more than €125 per person but the double Michelin stars means you should enjoy a great meal!
Paradeplein 1, Antwerp
This classic Antwerp coffee shop is a great place to start your day. Visit one of their two Antwerp locations for excellent espresso drinks and to take a break from sightseeing. (and when in Amsterdam be sure to check out the location in Amsterdam Zuid too)
Lamorinièrestraat 161, Antwerp
Mechelsesteenweg 16, Antwerp
Maurice Coffee & Knits
Started by an actress as a homage to her grandfather, Maurice serves coffee and food in their spacious and colorful location in Antwerp’s center. A good place for a chat over a salad or smoothie. The Cogels-Osylei location serves a big brunch on the weekends.
Schoenmarkt 35, Antwerp
Cogels-Osylei 88, Antwerp
Have you been traveling for a while and need to do some laundry? Pop into one of two Wasbar locations in Antwerp and get those clothes clean while you have a snack and surf the internet.
Kammenstraat 25, Antwerp
Graaf van Egmontstraat 5, Antwerp
An extremely unique restaurant, Elfde Gebod serves typical Belgian style dishes like mussels in white wine and rabbit cooked with beer. They also have a good selection of local brews. The restaurant stands out for its decor. Statues of angels, saints and cherubs look down on you while you eat. Take heed of the 11th commandment to eat well, drink beer and enjoy life.
Torfbrug 10, Antwerp
Beer lovers should be sure to stop by this funky little bar for a great selection of brews, especially Belgian varieties.
Vleminckveld 32, Antwerp
Feeling the need for a fancy cocktail? Try Dogma, a charming spot with creative libations. The menus are handwritten and the ambiance is dark and moody with cozy leather seating.
Wijngaardstraat 5, Antwerp
Places to Stay in Antwerp
When I visit Antwerp I like to stay in an apartment so that I can get to know a neighborhood. There are many places available on sites like Airbnb. Use this link to register and you can save up to €30 off your first reservation!
Here are some wonderful places to stay in Antwerp:
- The Collectors House: an apartment conveniently located within steps of many sights and rented by a charming and interesting owner
- Smartflats Design: modern apartments of all sizes perfect if you are traveling with a group. Full kitchens, stunning views and even Cocomat beds
- Maison de Trazegnies: a chic hotel with all suite rooms
- Koto Garden Suites: enjoy the creative decor at this suite hotel with a swimming pool and many interesting details
- Raphael Suites: delightful suites and apartments in the center of Antwerp
- Cozy & Bright Apartment: a large apartment located in the heart of the city
- Suite 11: modern rooms and studio apartments with kitchens
- Staark: a fantastic spacious apartment with great views and close to the dock area
- Bed & Breakfast Exterlaer: stay in a quiet area outside the city and enjoy a relaxing garden
- Mañana Mañana: affordable and cozy hotel in the center of Antwerp
- Maison Nationale City Flats & Suites: chic, bright rooms and apartments, helpful, friendly owners
- B&B Au Lit Jerome: amazing decor at this fabulous stylish B&B
- Kabas Hostel: a great option for those on a budget or who like a more social setting. The hostel even serves breakfast made with eggs from their own chickens!
We hope you enjoy your weekend trip to Antwerp!
For more information on Antwerp , check out these books!
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