Antwerp (Antwerpen in Dutch) is my favorite city in Belgium; that’s most likely because I was born and raised half an hour from the city. When I was a kid, my parents would take me to the zoo a couple of times a year, or just for a walk through the city. I loved it. It was the first large city that I got to know extremely well.
Now, there are a lot of things to see in Antwerp. As an old medieval city, there is, of course, lots of history. The entire city is dotted with historic buildings, great museums, art galleries and churches. Additionally, it is also About 85% of all the rough diamonds in the world pass through Antwerp at some point. Add some high-end shopping and excellent local beers to the mix and you have a fantastic holiday destination.
Don’t think you can see Antwerp in a day. Instead, make sure to book a hotel and allow a few days to explore this vibrant city.
Top 5 Things to See in Antwerp Belgium
1. Central Station
Also known as the “Railway Cathedral”, Antwerp Central Stations is one of the city’s major attractions. This Neo-Gothic masterpiece regularly appears on lists of the most beautiful train stations in the world. The enormous roof and towers are absolutely impressive. If you plan to visit Antwerp, make sure to arrive by train.
Also, the Antwerp Zoo, one of the world’s oldest zoos, is located right next to the train stations.
2. Cathedral of Our Lady and Other Churches
The biggest Gothic building in the Benelux, Antwerp’s cathedral is an impressive structure. Although it is missing one of its towers, it still is a massively striking cathedral, and one of the symbols of the city. Inside you can see ‘The Descent from the Cross’ and ‘The Elevation of the Cross’ by Peter Paul Rubens, who used to live in Antwerp.
Besides the cathedral, there are several other churches worth checking out, the most remarkable of which is the Carolus Borromeus Church. That church, by the way, was partially designed by Rubens.
3. Rubens House
The Rubens House used to be the home and workshop of Peter Paul Rubens, one of the most famous Flemish painters of all time. The building itself is beautiful as it is, but it’s the inside that holds all the treasures. Opened to the public in 1946, the Rubens House is chock-full of artwork and paintings by Rubens and his apprentices.
4. Het Steen
This medieval fortress is located on the shore of the River Scheldt. Het Steen (The Stone in English) is the oldest building in Antwerp and has been in use since sometime in the 9th or 10th century. You can walk in and around for free.
5. Grand Market Square
In my opinion, this is the most beautiful place in the entire city. Located in the heart of the Historic District, the Grand Market Square is fringed with gorgeous guild houses. The statue of Brabo, Antwerp’s legendary hero, stands in the middle, while the magnificent 16th-century City Hall dominates the market square from the side. When visiting Antwerp, this is one place that really shouldn’t be missed!
These are my in the city. There are, however, dozens of other fascinating things to see in Antwerp.