This year I had a chance to visit Belgium few times, thanks to the affordable flights from Moscow to Brussels offered by Aeroflot. So, I decided to spend one day in Antwerp!
Antwerp fascinates from very first steps!
If you come here for one day by train, just like me, then I advise you not to rush, but to have a walk around the station itself — in my view, it looks like a real museum, itself, both from the outside and inside. No wonder, it is considered one of the most beautiful railway station in the world!
There are no direct flights from Moscow to Antwerp, but it is easy to get here by train or by bus from Brussels.
Photographer in Antwerp
What to see in Antwerp
If you are wondering where to start the sightseeing in Antwerp and what to see, here is my proposal.
1) First of all, I recommend taking a bike!
To explore Antwerp on a bike is a real pleasure! Everything in the city is arranged for the cyclists- road markings, dedicated lanes, attentive drivers and plenty of bike parking lots scattered around the city. One of them is located in the square in front of the Railway Station.
You can book a bike in advance (just in couple of minutes) by registering on the website.
One day rent is 4 €.
2) Right next to the Railway station there is the Antwerp Zoo.
Open hours: from 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
Tickets: 25 € for adults and 20 € for children.
3) But I advise you to go to “Diamond Quarter" right from the Railway Station. Did you know that Antwerp is the world’s capital of diamonds? They are sold here for 24 hours a day! And even if you are not going to make such an expensive purchase, this place is still worth seeing.
4) The best shopping is on Leysstraat that will be on your way to the center of Antwerp and Meir street is adjacent to it (in fact, one street flows smoothly into another). In good weather there are street artists performing there.
5) Once you are in the Downtown, it is worth visiting the Cathedral of Our Lady of Antwerp.
First of all, this is the largest from these types of buildings in the whole Benelux (its construction is not even finished yet).
Second, its exquisite and unique interior decoration is a combination of Gothic, Neo-Gothic, Rococo and Baroque elements. On top of that, you can find four paintings of Rubens inside.
Open hours: from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on working days and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends.
The ticket price is 6 €, for children under 12 y/o - free of charge.
The cathedral is active and the entrance is free for parishioners, but during the service you will not be able neither to take pictures nor to explore the interior properly.
6) Then, you can walk to the Big Market Square, Grote Markt.
There you will see the famous Flemish houses, the City Hall and the monument Brabo Fountain, one of the iconic landmarks of the city.
7) Just around the corner, on Hoogstraat 15, I recommend you to pop in “T Parlement” pub offering a fantastic selection of beer and snacks, a big variety of cheeses and excellent coffee.
8) If you move towards the river you will reach the Stone Castle (Hetsteen). This place has impressed me very much! This medieval fortress is the oldest building in Antwerp and the most picturesque attraction on the Scheldt river embankment.
There is even a legend about the giant Antigonus, the master of this castle who was cutting off the hands of those captains who refused to pay tributes for the ships entering the harbor. But there was a brave young man, Silvius Brabo, who defeated the villain, cut off his hand and threw it into the river. So, actually, the name of the city of Antwerp is coming from "Bandwerpen" that translates from Dutch as “thrown hand”.
By the way, you will see the reflection of this legend in the Brabo monument in the middle of Grote Markt, and you might come across some other “hands” around the city.
9) You should definitely take a walk along the river side. First of all, the river Scheldt is really beautiful. Second, there is a wonderful view of the city from its embankment. Stroll along the promenade up to the Museum aan de Stroom, am open-air museum with the ruins of an ancient building. It also serves as a wonderful panoramic platform with the view on the city.
10) And finally, you can walk through the tunnel of St. Anne under the river. It continues for half a kilometer under the water and it is really cold inside, so you should better carry along some warm cloths. And on the other side of this tunnel you can admire the view of the Cathedral Tower and the first skyscraper in Europe.