Things to do in Antwerp

About Antwerp

Antwerpen charms visitors with must-see attractions like the Cathedral of Our Lady, home to Rubens' masterpieces, the grandeur of Antwerpen Central Station, and the historic beauty of the Grote Markt. The MAS (Museum aan de Stroom) offers enriching cultural insights, while wandering through Antwerpen’s old town reveals a web of cobblestoned lanes lined with antique shops and cafes.
Families with kids can explore the wonders of Antwerpen Zoo, indulge in interactive fun at the Comics Station Antwerp, or have an educational visit to the Aquatopia aquarium. These venues provide engaging, family-oriented activities that fuse entertainment with learning.
Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the Schelde riverbanks, visit the Middelheim Museum's open-air sculpture park, or join a guided bike tour to explore the city's architectural marvels and hidden greenspaces.
The Plantin-Moretus Museum for a historical journey through printing, the Rubenshuis for a deep dive into the world of a master painter, or indulging in Antwerpen's rich chocolate heritage with a chocolate tasting experience are among the best indoor activities in the city.
Antwerpen offers a variety of tours, including a historical walk around its medieval core, an exploration of the Diamond District, and themed excursions that delve into art and cuisine. The Antwerp City Card provides access to several top attractions, making self-guided tours an enriching way to experience the city.
The most visited museums include the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, the Red Star Line Museum, and the Fashion Museum (MoMu), each offering a unique perspective of Antwerp’s art, history, and culture.
For rainy days, the best tours in Antwerpen include indoor activities like a guided tour through the De Koninck Antwerp City Brewery, a historical escape at the Plantin-Moretus Museum, or a self-guided audio tour within the Cathedral of Our Lady.
Short tours in Antwerpen such as a brief visit to the renowned Chocolate Line store for a chocolate tasting, a concise audio-guided tour of the Cathedral of Our Lady, or a quick exploration of Het Steen castle can all be enjoyed in an hour or less.

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Best Things to Do In Antwerpen

Discover the cultural heartbeat of Belgium with an array of Antwerpen activities that cater to all interests.

Antwerpen: The Grote Markt

What is it?
A historic square at the heart of Antwerpen, surrounded by ornate buildings and the city hall.
Why you should go?
The Grote Markt is the cultural and geographical center of Antwerpen, offering a window into the city's rich past. The cobblestone square is lined with stunning examples of guild houses whose intricate facades have stood the test of time. The Brabo Fountain stands prominently at the center, while the majestic city hall's architecture captivates visitors. The Grote Markt is not just a space for historic contemplation; it's a lively hub with frequent markets, events, and an array of cozy Belgian cafes.

Antwerpen: The Museum aan de Stroom (MAS)

What is it?
A contemporary museum dedicated to the history, art, and culture of Antwerpen and beyond.
Why you should go?
Museum aan de Stroom, widely known as MAS, is a modern architectural wonder, a beacon of knowledge on the Antwerpen skyline. Housing a plethora of artifacts, the museum tells stories of the city, the power of the Scheldt river, and global trade. The ten-story building provides not only educational exhibits but also panoramic views of the city from its rooftop terrace. A visit to MAS is to journey across continents and through time, indulging in rich narratives and impressive displays.

Antwerpen: St. Paul's Church

What is it?
A Baroque church known for its stunning interior, art collection, and peaceful courtyard.
Why you should go?
St. Paul's Church represents a treasure trove of artistic and religious significance. With opulent Baroque altarpieces and a collection of paintings by renowned artists such as Anthony van Dyck, visitors can delve into a world of aesthetic and spiritual beauty. The adjacent ‘Calvary’ garden, a unique outdoor extension of the church, features sculptures and stations reflecting scenes from Jesus' journey to the crucifixion. Serene and sublime, the church offers a tranquil escape from the city's tempo.

Antwerpen: The Fashion Museum (MoMu)

What is it?
A stylish museum celebrating Antwerpen's role as a noteworthy fashion center.
Why you should go?
Antwerpen's reputation as a city of fashion is boldly displayed at MoMu, where the evolution of style takes center stage. Dynamic exhibitions showcase both historical garments and boundary-pushing contemporary fashion, reflecting the innovation of Antwerpen's Royal Academy of Fine Arts fashion department alumni. Fashion enthusiasts and the design-curious alike will be inspired by the range of designs, multimedia exhibits, and insights into the creative process that are found within this chic and cutting-edge space.

Antwerpen: Het Steen

What is it?
An ancient castle on the Antwerp riverfront, offering historic narratives and scenic views.
Why you should go?
As one of Antwerpen's oldest surviving buildings, Het Steen is steeped in legend and lore. Once a medieval fortress, it has stood guard over the city and river since the early 1200s. Today, it invites visitors to explore its storied walls and learn about Antwerp's tumultuous history, including its role in the Napoleonic Wars. The castle also provides a picturesque vista of the river, making it an ideal spot for awe-inspiring moments and reflective pauses during a city tour.

Antwerpen: Cathedral of Our Lady

What is it?
An iconic Gothic cathedral, renowned for its soaring spire and rich art collection.
Why you should go?
As a towering masterpiece of Gothic architecture, the Cathedral of Our Lady holds an eminent position in the Antwerpen skyline. Visitors flock here to not only admire its remarkable exterior but also to witness the impressive works housed within, including several of Peter Paul Rubens' paintings. The cathedral's ambiance offers a serene retreat from the city's bustle, making it a spiritual and artistic haven that is a must-see for any visitor.

Antwerpen: Antwerpen Central Station

What is it?
A stunning example of railway architecture, often referred to as the "Railway Cathedral".
Why you should go?
Antwerpen Central Station is much more than a transportation hub; it's a historical monument in its own right. With its vast dome, elegant clock tower, and ornate stone and marble features, it's a striking introduction to the city's commitment to grandeur and elegance. An exploration of its halls reveals the richness of Belgian railway history, alongside contemporary facilities that ensure a bustling, lively atmosphere travelers thoroughly enjoy.

Antwerpen: Antwerpen Zoo

What is it?
One of the oldest and most famous zoos in Europe, home to over 7,000 animals.
Why you should go?
The Antwerpen Zoo is a verdant oasis in the heart of the city, offering an enchanting escape to the natural world. It's a sanctuary for thousands of animals and boasts meticulously designed habitats that closely mimic the creature's natural environments. Beyond wildlife viewing, the zoo is involved in international conservation efforts, making a visit not just entertaining but also supportive of vital ecological endeavors. The rich biodiversity here promises a delightful experience for all ages.

Antwerpen: Rubenshuis

What is it?
The former home and studio of Peter Paul Rubens, now a museum dedicated to his life and work.
Why you should go?
Step back in time to the 17th century at the Rubenshuis, the historic home of the Flemish Baroque master. Now transformed into a museum, it offers an intimate glimpse into Rubens’ world. Visitors can explore the painter’s personal collection and studio, experiencing the environment that inspired some of his most famous works. The gorgeous garden and period furniture complete the authentic Rubens experience – a journey through art history that is both informative and visually stunning.

Antwerpen: Plantin-Moretus Museum

What is it?
A museum showcasing the world’s oldest printing presses and the rich history of printing in Antwerpen.
Why you should go?
The Plantin-Moretus Museum stands as a monument to the golden age of printing and the influence of the printed word on global culture. Housed in a beautifully preserved Renaissance building, this UNESCO World Heritage site contains an unrivaled collection of historical printing equipment, including the two oldest surviving printing presses in the world. It not only celebrates the legacy of the prolific Plantin and Moretus families but also offers a captivating insight into the evolution of books and printing.

TOP-5 tours in Antwerpen for first time visitors

  • Exploring the Diamond District: Dive into the sparkling world of Antwerpen's diamonds and learn why it's the diamond capital of the world.
  • Historic Antwerpen: An audio guide through centuries-old streets, revealing the stories behind the medieval architecture and landmarks.
  • Art and Culture Walk: Immerse in the vibrant local art scene encountering masterpieces of Rubens and modern installations.
  • Antwerpen Port Tour: Discover the importance of one of the world's largest ports and its influence on global trade over the ages.
  • Culinary Flavors of Antwerpen: Savor the taste of Belgium with a food-centric tour that guides through local delicacies and culinary hotspots.

Fun things to do in Antwerpen with kids

Experiencing Antwerpen with children opens a world of excitement and discovery for the whole family. The Antwerpen Zoo, located near the Central Station, is a true adventure into the animal kingdom. It presents a delightful day out where kids can marvel at exotic creatures and learn about biodiversity and conservation. Next on the list is the Comics Station Antwerp, an indoor theme park dedicated to famous Belgian comics. Interactive exhibits, thrilling rides, and vibrant artwork bring the world of cartoons to life, ensuring endless entertainment. For an educational twist, the Aquatopia aquarium, now part of the zoo, showcases a variety of marine life in habitats designed to replicate their natural environment. Kids can engage with underwater species, enhancing their appreciation for aquatic wildlife. Each of these attractions integrates learning with fun, making them top picks when exploring the best things to do in Antwerpen with kids.

Things to do in Antwerpen with family

Antwerpen brims with attractions that merge cultural enrichment with family fun. The city's famed Antwerpen Zoo is a crowd-pleaser where families can together explore one of the world's oldest animal parks, home to an impressive array of species. Engaging exhibits encourage environmental stewardship among the young ones while providing a relaxing and educational experience. For those with an artistic streak, the Middelheim Open Air Sculpture Park offers a fusion of nature and artistry. Sprawled across lush gardens, families can wander among intriguing modern sculptures and enjoy a picnic in the picturesque surroundings. Then, step aboard the Flandria river cruise for an Antwerpen excursion on the water. It offers a unique perspective of the city’s historic architecture and bustling port life, all while providing informative commentary that will captivate family members of all ages. Together, these activities represent the best of what to do in Antwerpen for visiting families seeking shared experiences and memories.

Free things to do in Antwerpen

Visitors to Antwerpen can enjoy a selection of free attractions that showcase the city's vibrant culture and history. The Grote Markt, a picturesque historic square surrounded by the ornate guild houses and Antwerp's city hall, invites families and solo travelers alike to immerse themselves amid Renaissance architecture at no cost. Witnessing the daily bustle of this central meeting place is an experience in itself. Art aficionados will appreciate the city's street art, where walking tours reveal stunning murals and graffiti that turn urban landscapes into open-air galleries. For a serene escape, the Antwerp Botanic Garden offers a lush green haven right in the city center. This small yet enchanting botanical garden is perfect for a leisurely stroll past a diversity of plants and flowers. Each of these free things to do in Antwerpen is a delightful way to explore the city without spending a single euro, making it accessible for every kind of traveler.

Cheap things to do in Antwerpen

Visitors looking for budget-friendly experiences will find Antwerpen offers ample opportunities to enjoy the city's charm without breaking the bank. One can relish the artistic vibe of Antwerpen by visiting the Museum of Modern Art (M HKA). With a modest entry fee, this museum provides a deep dive into contemporary art's cutting edge. Another inexpensive attraction is the Antwerp City Card, which grants affordable access to various museums and historical sites, as well as public transport, allowing tourists to enrich their understanding of Antwerpen’s heritage in a cost-effective manner. Lastly, the vibrant Antwerp Flea Market in the Theaterplein, open on weekends, allows visitors to soak up local culture, hunt for unique souvenirs, and enjoy the lively atmosphere at a minimal expense. These cheap things to do in Antwerpen demonstrate that experiencing the city’s diverse offerings can be both enriching and economical.

Things to do in Antwerpen for couples

For duos adventuring through Antwerpen, the city teems with romantic activities. Strolling alongside the Schelde river offers a tranquil and scenic walk, ideal for couples seeking a serene sanctuary away from the urban energy. As sunset hues dance upon the water, the promenade becomes a particularly charming backdrop for an evening amble. For those captivated by Antwerpen's sparkling legacy, a visit to the Diamond District can add a touch of glitz to their getaway. Couples can marvel at dazzling displays and perhaps even select a sparkling souvenir to commemorate their journey together. Then there's the Antwerpen's Chocolate Shops, a must-visit indulgence where connoisseur couples can sample and savor the finest Belgian chocolates. Workshops are often available for an intimate hands-on experience in crafting these sweet treats. These attractions perfectly embody the things to see in Antwerpen for couples, from idyllic moments to unforgettable confectionary delights.

Things to do in Antwerpen at night

When night falls, Antwerpen transforms into a city filled with an array of nocturnal delights. Begin the evening with a visit to the bustling Grote Markt, which exudes a fairytale charm under the night sky with illuminated Renaissance buildings and cozy terraces – perfect for sipping on a Belgian beer. For music lovers, the vibrant jazz and music scene can be experienced in one of the many cafes and clubs that feature live performances, offering a taste of local talent and international acts. Alternatively, film enthusiasts can catch a movie at Cinema Zuid, an arthouse cinema that showcases both classic films and contemporary works in a laidback environment. These varied attractions underscore the eclectic mix of Antwerpen activities that awaken as daylight fades, ensuring that things to see in Antwerpen at night cater to different tastes and preferences.