Antwerp Travel Guide

Belgium’s second-largest city is the hub of Flemish culture and lifestyle. The ‘Diamond Capital of the World‘ is also Europe’s second-largest port, and something of a hidden gem in terms of tourism. The half million residents living along the banks of the Scheldt River revel in Antwerp’s medieval Old Town, vibrant nightlife scene and underrated cultural attractions amid a distinct lack of tourists.

Antwerp is made up of different neighborhoods with the Old City at its core. Although WWII did some serious damage to the medieval architecture, the fascinating Grote Market and Cathedral of Our Lady anchor a pleasant web of narrow lanes and quaint old houses. The Latin quarter is the hub of Antwerp’s recent rise into a fashion powerhouse, while the nearby port district has an interesting maritime ambiance.

For shopping, you’ll find everything along the famous pedestrianized Meir street, renowned throughout Europe. Red light activities are on display in the seedy but safe Sailors quarter, not far from Grote Market. If it’s diamonds you’re after, head to the Jewish quarter where you’ll find both traditional Jewish culture and blatant material opulence in spades.

Highlights

Antwerp Royal Museum of Fine Arts: this gallery’s collection of Flemish masterpieces is unrivaled, particularly if you’re a fan of Rubens, who spent most of his life in Antwerp.

Cathedral of Our Lady: some of Rubens’ finest religious artwork is displayed in this impressive 14th century church with its stunning white spire and detailed fa├žade.

Grote Market: the center of the Old Town is this wonderful market square with its iconic fountain bordered by medieval guild houses and the imposing Stadhuis (Town Hall).

Rubinshuis: the legendary Flemish artist Rubens designed and built his house which is now a museum documenting his life as both an artist and a statesman.

The Steen: for more than 1,000 years this foreboding fortress has defended Antwerp in countless battles and served as one of the most fearsome prisons in Europe.

Vlaeykensgang: perhaps the most charming medieval street in Antwerp is this cobblestone lane lined with original 16th century houses which offer the best glimpse at what this city looked like during its golden era.