An Antwerp Adventure: A Local’s Guide to Must-Visit Places

By Katia Royer.

Welcome to Antwerp, the city that stole my heart and has been my home for as long as I can remember—my beloved city of wonder and whimsy. As a sailor, artist, art restorer, and certified chocoholic, but most importantly, a proud local, I’m thrilled to be your tour guide in this extraordinary place. Whether you’re here for EngageU or simply to explore, get ready for a journey filled with surprises, laughter, and, of course, plenty of chocolate. Join us at EngageU 2023 and let’s dive into this Antwerp adventure together!

1. Antwerp Central Station: A Grand Welcome

Your Antwerp adventure kicks off the moment you step off the train at Antwerp Central Station. Gaze in awe at the stunning architecture of this railway cathedral, often touted as one of the world’s most beautiful train stations. And don’t forget to cast your eyes skyward to admire the magnificent dome.

2. The Historic Center: A Walk Through Time

Take a leisurely stroll through Antwerp’s historic center, where the cobbled streets practically beg for exploration. As an art restorer, I’ve whiled away countless hours here, marveling at the architecture of centuries-old buildings and discovering hidden details. Don’t miss the Grote Markt, where the imposing City Hall and Brabo Fountain have weathered the test of time and continue to tell the city’s legendary story.

3. Antwerp Chocolates: Sweet Perfection

Now, let’s indulge our sweet tooth at Chocolatier Goossens, a hidden gem for chocolate aficionados like us. Their delectable creations will transport you to a cocoa paradise. Pro tip: Don’t leave without trying their pralines; they’re genuine works of art!

4. The River Scheldt: Sailing Serenity

As a sailor, I find both serenity and excitement on the water. The River Scheldt provides the perfect backdrop for a tranquil riverside walk or, for an even better experience, a ride on the ferry. Hop on board to the Left Bank and discover the most breathtaking view of the Antwerp skyline. From there, you’ll see Antwerp from a perspective that’s truly shipshape.

5. The Royal Art Museum: A Brush with Brilliance

Being an art enthusiast and having had the privilege of working with the Royal Art Museum, I must insist you pay a visit. It’s not merely about admiring paintings; it’s an immersive dive into a sea of creativity. You’ll witness how art has shaped our city, and you’ll be thrilled to know that this museum has just reopened after a 10-year closure and renovation.

6. Belgian Cafés: Where ‘Gezelligheid’ Rules

Now, let’s immerse ourselves in Belgian café culture. Antwerp’s cafés are not merely spots to grab a drink; they serve as communal living rooms where locals come together to unwind, exchange stories, and bask in ‘gezelligheid’ (coziness). Take a moment to relish a coffee or indulge in a Belgian beer at one of these establishments, and you’ll immediately feel like a true Antwerpian. Some places I wholeheartedly recommend for a drink and a taste of Antwerpian ‘gezelligheid’ are Cabron, De Muze, Pelikaan, Dogma, and café Pardaf.

7. Antwerp’s Culinary Scene: A Taste of Delight

Antwerp’s culinary scene is an absolute treasure trove. Beyond chocolate, be sure to treat yourself to Belgian waffles, crispy fries, and, of course, some delicious Belgian beer. Your taste buds are in for an unforgettable adventure! When it comes to waffles, make sure you visit Bubblewaffle. While Number 1 may claim that they have the best fries, I recommend Frituur ‘t Stad. And for beer enthusiasts, you’re in luck; every bar in Antwerp boasts the finest brews. Don’t miss the chance to savor a Triple d’Anvers – it’s a must-try!

8. The MAS Museum: Where History Meets Modernity

Another of my favorite haunts is the Museum aan de Stroom (MAS). It masterfully blends history, culture, and modernity in a way that mirrors Antwerp itself. Don’t forget to explore the rooftop; the view is a masterpiece in its own right.

9. The Antwerp Fashion District: Style Central

Antwerp proudly wears the title of Belgium’s fashion capital, and it’s all happening in the Fashion District. Dive into high-end boutiques, concept stores, and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, which has nurtured world-famous designers known as the “Antwerp Six.”

10. Street Art: Urban Canvas

Antwerp’s walls serve as an ever-evolving canvas for incredibly talented artists. Keep your eyes peeled for vibrant murals and graffiti art that adorn the city’s facades. It’s like strolling through an open-air art gallery, adding an extra layer of character to our already fascinating city. You can check out this website to discover street art in your neighborhood: Street Art Cities – Antwerp.

So there you have it, your Antwerp adventure awaits! A mix of history, culture, art, culinary delights, and the warm embrace of Belgian café culture. It’s a journey that promises to be as sweet as our chocolates and as rich as our history.

Yours in salty adventure and sweet chocolatey dreams,

Katia 🍫⚓🎨🏛️