Day trip to Antwerp – 7 Things to do while you are there

In the first week of 2019, we went to Antwerp for a couple of hours. While this may sound stupid, Antwerp is about an hour away from Rotterdam, so it was worth our while. Follow us along our day as we tell you about the things we did!

Chinatown

A personal favourite of ours is to head into the city’s chinatown to get something to eat or drink. While Antwerps’ chinatown is just a single street, it does boast the classic chinese archway and some colourful signs along the street. Just opposite of the train station, this street is a must visit for some street photography or great food. You could also opt to head into the chinese supermarket to shoot some portraits. The aisles are very colourful. You’d have to shoot on your phone here, because people tend to not enjoy having a massive camera in their face while doing groceries.

Shopping

the Stadsfeestzaal

Antwerp is a great city to go shopping. The main, high street shopping street is called the “Meir”, but you can find many different shopping streets all over the city. We recommend heading into the Stadsfeestzaal, a former ball room turned shopping center. We are talking marble floors and gold ceilings. Worth a visit even if you are not an avid shopper. If you leave the shopping center, walk along the meir towards our next stop to find some traditional “Luikse Wafels”, the waffle that is actually Belgian.

Meir

The shopping street “meir”

While we already mentioned this shopping street in our previous stop, the Meir is a street you shouldn’t avoid. On this street, you will find the Royal Palace (Paleis op de Meir), as well as several spots to get some great traditional belgian food.

Besides, Meir is the quickest way to get into the old town of Antwerp (if you started at the train station). Finally, it’s a great place to hide from the rain on a day with bad weather like we had.

Cathedral of “Our Lady”

The “Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe-Kathedraal” or Cathedral of our Sweet Lady is a big cathedral you will probably not miss. The bell tower is the tallest structure in Antwerp. Walk around the church to admire the gothic architecture, and if the doors are open, head inside to get a dose of culture. Please make sure you are respectful of rules and customs, the cathedral is in active use.

Grote Markt

Christmas markets on the Grote Markt

The Grote Markt is a the major square of Antwerp. Normally, the square is empty of chalets, but as we visited during the holiday season, the entire city was filled with christmas market stalls, and a big christmas tree. The Square is adjacent to the cathedral, so if you walk around the cathedral you can immediately continue walking around this square. The square is also accompanied by the City Hall, and other monumental buildings. Besides, squares are a great place to do some peoplewatching.

St. Annatunnel

The escalators have these big inviting buttons that would halt the stairs to an immediate stop. Tempting to hit them, but you shouldn’t 🙂

The St. Annatunnel is perhaps the most interesting place to see on this list. This old pedestrian tunnel running under the river Scheldt was opened in 1933, and not a lot has changed since. The wooden escalators are still in place, and the decorations are largely the same. Even if you have no business at the other side of the river, we recommend heading down to experience the wooden escalators, and to take some pictures. If you are really interested in the history of this place, they offer free audio tours as well.

Begijnhof

Inside the begijnhof

The begijnhof is Antwerps’ beguinage. Normally, these places wouldn’t be on our to do list, but we saw some posts in our instagram feed that looked pretty cool. We had to take a look. When we arrived, we had the place for ourselves. Naturally, we whipped out our cameras to shoot some pictures for the gram, and they turned out to be pretty cool. Since the place is quiet and secluded, it’s an excellent place to get that perfect snap without disruptions.

Bonus: Christmas Markets

Christmas market on one of antwerp’s many squares

If you happen to visit Antwerp during the holiday season, you will find christmas decorations on every corner of every street. The annual christmas market runs all the way trough the city, so you can do your sightseeing and be greeted by christmas vendors everywhere. Whats not to like? Jokes aside, grab a “Jenever”, the predecessor of gin, and enjoy the cold winter days.

These are just a few things you can do in Antwerp. There’s a lot more to see, these are just our personal favourites. If you want to see more pictures of Antwerp, check out our instagram here.  Let us know what you think!

Happy Travels!

Joël

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