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destination • November 2nd, 2021

What to see & do in Antwerp, Belgium

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Belgium's Antwerp is a popular port city on the River Scheldt, with a history that dates back to the Middle Ages. Travelers can enjoy the finest quality museums and art, beautiful architecture, and excellent gastronomy in the European city of Antwerp. At its heart is the centuries-old Diamond District, where tens of thousands of diamond traders, cutters, and polishers can be found.  But Antwerp is also famous for its Flemish Renaissance architecture, which you can admire at the Grote Markt, a square in the old town. Art lovers will feel right at home in Antwerp. The 17th-century Rubens House displays works by the famous Flemish Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens.

Antwerp cathedral

Grote Markt

Rubens House

Interesting sights

Popular sights include the historic Antwerp Cathedral of Our Lady, which doubles as a temple for art. Inside the cathedral are major works by Rubens, and its dazzling 123-meter-high tower is the highest Gothic structure in Belgium.   

More works of Rubens can be found at the Rubens House, a museum that is preserved as one of the most famous artist residencies in the world. The master's works are displayed here, as well as those of other talented Flemish painters, alongside a glimpse into the life of Belgium's most famous painter.  

For those who are interested in the history of printing, be sure to check out the ​​Plantin-Moretus Museum. ​​The building dates back to medieval times and is now a UNSECO World Heritage Site.

Popular attractions

Many visitors come to Antwerp just to go shopping. The Stadsfeestzaal Shopping Center in the heart of the city is housed in a stunning monumental building. Even those who are reluctant to shop will enjoy the beautiful architecture, marble staircase, and mosaic floor.  

Another popular attraction is the Antwerp Zoo, one of the oldest and best-known zoos in all of Europe. This beautiful zoo holds 950 different species and a total of 5000 animals live inside. Be prepared to spend at least half a day here to see them all.

Antwerp’s cuisine

The most well-known product from Antwerp is the ‘Antwerpse Handjes’ – cookies in the shape of small hands, often covered in chocolate. These traditional cookies can also be filled with marzipan or with the regional liqueur Elixir d’Anvers.   

The hand refers to the legend of a giant who demanded a toll from all ships in the port of Antwerp. If they refused to pay, their hand would be cut off. Legend has it that a brave Roman captain, Brabo, challenged the giant, defeated him, cut off his hand and threw it in the river.   

Gourmets in Antwerp can easily enjoy the classic Belgian cuisine as well as the native specialties of the region. The popular vegetable asparagus is used in several dishes in the region by local chefs. Numerous gourmets visit the city each year for the sole purpose of trying fresh mussels. This delicious seafood is cooked in a variety of ways, and the so-called “sailor’s mussels” is considered the most popular seafood dish in Antwerp. Click here if you want to learn more about Belgian cuisine or Belgian food culture.

JRE chefs in Antwerp

Giovani Oosters of restaurant Vous lé Vous in Wimmertingen (Hasselt). Giovani’s cuisine is created with dedication and a big preference for the use of local products. His Belgian and Limburg delights he conjured up with incredible attention to detail.  

Paul-Luc Meesen of restaurant De Fakkels in St.-Truiden. Chef Paul-Luc treats his gourmets to innovative and creative gastronomy, in his modernised, romantic restaurant.  

Bina Snoekx of restaurant Sarriette in Peer. This luxurious fine-dining spot serves excellent modern French haute-cuisine.  

Jo Grootaerts of restaurant Altermezzo in Tongeren. This talented chef was named 'Young Chef of the Year' by both Gault&Millau and Michelin in 2017. His creative cuisine is known for its​ daring combinations of herbs and flavours.  

Griet Broeckx of restaurant Vin Perdu in Oud-Turnhout. At this bar-bistro, you will find classic French cuisine but always inventive and seasonal. Excellent cocktails and mocktails make it extra cozy and ensure a great culinary experience.

Book your table

Try the best Flemish cuisine at one of our restaurants in Belgium and explore the finest traditional delights the gastronomic region of Antwerp has to offer. Book your table at one of our restaurants through our website, for an exquisite culinary event.

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