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14 Best Things to Do in Antwerp with Kids (+Insider Tips)

14 Best Things to Do in Antwerp with Kids (+Insider Tips)

Are you traveling to Antwerp with kids and are looking for ideas for the best things to do in Antwerp with children? You came to the right place!

Antwerp is one of our favorite towns in Belgium. We live just outside the city and love exploring Antwerp with our children. This great town never disappoints!

There are more family-friendly things to do in Antwerp than you might think. With a few recent family-friendly additions, as well as many seasonal events, Antwerp has a lot more to offer to traveling families than ever before.

In this article, we share some of our family’s favorites, top things to see and do in Antwerp with kids. 

This list is aimed at tourists who want to discover and explore Antwerp with children. So if you are an expat looking for more regular family-friendly activities like bowling, indoor playgrounds, or movie theatres in Antwerp, you’ll just have to google them. Or leave your question in the comments below and I’ll try to answer as best as I can.

MAS museum and boats of Eilandje district in Antwerp Belgium
MAS museum and colorful boats of ‘t Eilandje district in Antwerp
 

Without further ado, here are the best things to do in Antwerp with kids:

1. Antwerp Zoo

No list of the best things to do in Antwerp would be complete without a visit to the Antwerp Zoo. And this is certainly the case if you are visiting Antwerp with children!

The zoo of Antwerp is one of the oldest animal parks in Europe and is located right in the middle of the city. So, in addition to animals, you can also see some really nice historic buildings that make the Antwerp zoo so much more special than any other animal park in Belgium.

And talking about animals, they have gorillas, elephants, giraffes, rhinos, but also lots of smaller animals and birds. There’s also a nice butterfly house that’s really fun for kids. Colorful butterflies often come to sit on your shoulder or even your hand.

Good to know: Count at least 2-3 hours for the visit, but – especially with young kids – you can easily spend almost an entire day here too. The zoo is quite big and there are also some shows and feeding moments that you can attend.

Practical info: The zoo is open daily throughout the year, with opening hours varying per season. For more info, see their website. If you have a day to spare, you may want to check their sister-park Planckendael instead. It’s a much larger animal park located close to Mechelen, with even more animals and lots of playgrounds for kids.

Rhinocerus at Antwerp zoo
Rhino at Antwerp zoo. Pay attention to the historic buildings at the zoo as well.
Penguins at the Antwerp zoo
Penguins at the Antwerp zoo
Big aquarium at the Antwerp zoo
Big aquarium at the zoo
Antwerpen zoo is not to be missed when visiting Antwerp with kids
Antwerp zoo is located right next to the central station and is open 365 days a year.
 

TIP: If you are visiting Antwerp during the winter holiday season (December to mid-January), don’t miss the incredible light spectacle China Light. It might be called somewhat different (e.g. this winter, it’s called Alice in Wonderland light festival), but the concept remains amazing. Highly recommended when visiting Belgium in winter, with or without kids!

One more winter tip: Antwerp also hosts one of the nicest Christmas markets in Belgium.

With lots of market stalls selling typical Belgian and holiday specialties, a beautiful ice skating rink, and lots of attractions for the children Antwerp Christmas market is just one more great reason to visit Antwerp with kids in winter.

China Light in the zoo of Antwerp
China Light in the zoo of Antwerp
Antwerp zoo lights festival in winter
Light festival at the Antwerp zoo is different every year, and always worth a visit.
 

2. Plopsa Station

Plopsa Station is an indoor theme park and playground for kids. If you are visiting Antwerp with young children and are looking for a few hours of indoor play fun, it’s a great place to be.

This place used to be called Comics Station and was mostly focused on the famous Belgian comic strips heroes, such as Tintin or the Smurfs. It’s been recently taken over by Belgium’s biggest entertainment group Studio 100 that has lots of experience in family entertainment, theme parks, etc.

In addition to the famous comic strips figures, it is now more focused on the heroes that kids will recognize from the Studio 100 shows and kids’ TV series. It also offers lots of fun attractions for the youngest children.

Plopsa Station is like a miniature version of a theme park AND it is indoors – a good place to spend a couple of hours with kids in Antwerp when it rains or on a cold winter’s day.

Located at the far end of the Central Railway Station in the heart of the city center, this family attraction is easy to find and doesn’t require more than a few hours. This makes it easy to combine a visit here with that to the nearby zoo, Chocolate Nation, or a day of shopping and sightseeing.

Good to know: For opening hours and more practical information, see their website.

Plopsa Station Antwerp - an indoor theme park for young children
Plopsa Station Antwerp – an indoor theme park and playground for families with young children
Comics Station indoor theme park and playground is a must in Antwerp with kids
This was a restaurant at the Comics Station before it became Plopsa Station
 

3. The View Antwerp Ferris Wheel

In the past, I’ve been a bit hesitant to include Antwerp Ferris Wheel as one of the places to visit in the city, mainly because it used to move locations all the time. Recently, it seems to have settled on Steenplein along the Scheldt River. It’s just next to Het Steen Castle and a really nice place from which to enjoy some of the best views of Antwerp.

So if you are visiting Antwerp with children and are looking for a fun activity for the whole family, I now recommend considering The View Antwerp Ferris wheel. The views from the top are really nice, with the historic Old Town and the river at your feet and the entire city stretching in all directions as far as an eye can see.

While the wheel is not very high, neither are the buildings in Antwerp city center. So you have a really good 360° view in all directions. From the top, you can also see the famous Antwerp Harbor, the second-largest seaport in Europe.

Oh, and the cabins are closed, so it’s safe to do with kids and is something that can be enjoyed in all season.

Good to know: The View Antwerp is usually open daily, from 11 am to 11 pm. At the moment, an adult ticket costs 8 euros and 5 euros for the kids. Usually, you get 4 rounds, which gives you plenty of time to enjoy the views and identify various landmarks.

Our kids have been on the giant wheel in Antwerp a few times and it remains one of their favorite things to do in the city.

Antwerp ferris wheel The View - nice to do in Antwerpen with kids
Antwerp Ferris Wheel The View
Antwerp aerial view from Antwerp ferris wheel
Aerial views from the ferris wheel
 

4. Antwerp Underground Canals – De Ruien

Now, this might look like an unusual choice – visiting the old sewers and underground canals with children – but our kids loved it! And so did we. De Ruien is one of the lesser-known, secret places in Antwerp that will make your visit to the city so much more special.

The part that you can visit with kids is very small, it’s a 10-15 minute boat ride that can be done with kids from 3 years and older. With older children (from 10 years), you can also go on a short walking tour along the underground canals.

The entrance to De Ruien is centrally located close to the Antwerp City Hall. You don’t need to book this short visit (other options are best reserved in advance), so it’s really easy to visit. It’s something that doesn’t take long and only costs a few euros and is a very unique experience. Check it out!

For up-to-date practical info and available tours, see their website.

De Ruien sewers and underground canals is a fun place to visit in Antwerp with kids
De Ruien sewers and underground canals
Antwerp with kids - underground canals De Ruien
Antwerp underground canals De Ruien
Antwerp underground canals De Ruien
Antwerp underground canals De Ruien also have street names. It’s a really interesting way to see a very different side of the city!
 

5. The Rooftop Terrace of MAS

MAS is a modern museum in the new trendy part of Antwerp, ‘t Eilandje. It’s an impressive red building, an architectural masterpiece that cannot be missed when visiting Antwerp.

While a visit to the museum might not interest younger kids, the view from the rooftop terrace is something the whole family will appreciate.

The entrance to the building is free of charge and you can take an escalator staircase all the way to the top. The architecture of this building and the views from various floors and from the top make this one of our kids’ favorite places to visit in Antwerp.

Good to know: The MAS museum is open daily except on Mondays and some public holidays. The rooftop terrace is usually accessible on the days when the museum is open between 9.30 AM and 10 PM unless the weather is exceptionally bad. If you decide to visit the museum, you’ll be glad to know that kids under 12 are free of charge. More info on their website.

TIP: There are many trendy local restaurants nearby. We love De Burgerij – not as much for its delicious hamburgers, but for its children’s play corner. Our kids never want to leave and it gives us a welcoming break as well. A nice alternative – in summer – is the nearby Bar Noord. They have a beach bar with a big (water) playground that is always a big success with kids.

MAS rooftop is a good place to take your kids to when visiting Antwerp
MAS rooftop terrace offers nice views of the city
MAS museum in Antwerp - views of het Eilandje neighborhood
Views from inside the museum are also incredible. You can access the common areas of MAS without a ticket and it’s well worth coming here even if just for the views.
 

6. Het Steen Castle

Het Steen is the oldest building of Antwerp. Located by the river, this medieval fortress has a long history. Nowadays, it’s a beautifully restored castle with a small interactive museum – Antwerp Story – where you can learn more about the city.

I’m not really sure if the museum is worth it for families with kids (lots of listening to the locals telling about the city today might not really appeal to the children), but the building itself is really impressive and some of the best parts don’t require a ticket.

In addition, there’s a rooftop terrace offering nice city views. And you can also stop by at the visitor center/ shop where you’ll find all kinds of local specialties from Antwerp. This is our kids’ favorite place at Het Steen…

All in all, I highly recommend checking it out. It’s located in the city center and doesn’t require much time. For more info about the museum, see their website.

Lange Wapper statue at the Steen castle in Antwerp Belgium
Lange Wapper statue at Het Steen castle in Antwerp
Het Steen Antwerp
Het Steen is a must-see in Antwerp
Antwerp with kids - Het Steen Castle
Interior of Het Steen – this part can be visited without a ticket.
 

7. Boat Trips

If your kids like boats, you could consider taking a boat trip in the harbor of Antwerp. This is not a must if you are short on time, but it’s something different to do in Antwerp that will give you a more complete picture of what this town is all about.

The harbor itself is a fascinating place to see. You will pass huge cargo ships and container-handling cranes that are always fascinating to watch for young and old.

There are several companies offering these tours. Here you can read more about our visit to the Antwerp harbor with Jan Plezier’s pancake boat (it seems to only run private tours at the moment though).

Alternatively, take a look at the boat tours organized by Flandria – they have a nice selection of boat tours in Antwerp, including scenic harbor tours and pancake tours as well.

TIP: You can just hop on a waterbus at ‘t Steen Castle and do a short trip on the Scheldt River. With kids, we recommend taking this boat to Sint Anna on the left bank of the river – just one stop from the city center. There, you’ll find a small sandy beach (swimming is not allowed though), playgrounds, and lots of restaurants.

Antwerp waterbus
Waterbus is also a nice (and very cheap) way to explore Antwerp from the water. It stops right at Steenplein in the city center.
Antwerp city seen from the boat on Scheldt River
MAS museum and other buildings as seen from a boat on the Scheldt River
Port of Antwerp boat tour is nice to do for families with kids as well
Port of Antwerp boat tour is fun to do with kids
 

8. Family-friendly Sightseeing Tours

There are several family-friendly sightseeing tours that you can do in Antwerp with kids. You can find more information about these tours on the Visit Antwerp website, but you don’t have to book them in advance. Most of these cost around 7-10 EUR for adults and about 5 EUR for children.

  • There is a tourist train – touristram – that runs daily in summer and during school holidays (and during the weekends in other periods). It starts at the Groenplaats, close to the Cathedral.
  • Another sightseeing option is a horse and carriage that runs from April through October. It starts at the Grote Markt.
  • HopNStop bus is another fun way to see the highlights of Antwerp with kids. It runs daily in high season and on the weekends during the rest of the year. It also starts and finishes at the Grote Markt.
  • If your kids are a bit older, you could consider renting a bike. We love exploring Antwerp by bike, it’s a great way to see a lot without having to walk too much.
Antwerp sightseeing train is a good way to see the highlights of Antwerp with kids
Antwerp sightseeing train
 

9. Comic Strip Walls and Street Art

Antwerp has a lot of street art and our kids love looking for it.

On top of the ever-changing street art, there are also 14 comic murals spread around the city. Kids will love searching for them! Here you can find the map with the location of the comic strips in Antwerp.

Street art in Antwerpen
Street art in Antwerpen
Child looking at a colorful street art in Antwerp Belgium
One of the comic strip murals in the city center.
Street art at Harmonie Park Antwerp
Street art at Harmonie Park. This building has been recently renovated and the street art here is now gone. But there are plenty new ones appearing all over the city with new find every time we visit.
 

10. St. Anna Tunnel

Antwerp’s pedestrian tunnel, St. Anna Tunnel, dating from the 1930s is often missed by foreign visitors. However, it’s a part of Antwerp’s history and a place that families will love to explore as well.

Original wooden escalators take you more than 30m (100 ft) under the ground and under the river Scheldt. You can walk to the Left Bank (Linkeroever) for some nice views over the old city center of Antwerp. Here, you’ll also find a playground for kids and a free open-air museum with all kinds of buoys and other huge artifacts from old ships.

Good to know: The entrance to the tunnel is located in a square art-deco yellowish building just a few blocks South of the Grote Markt (see the exact location on the map).

St Anna pedestrian tunnel is one of the hidden gems of Antwerp
St Anna pedestrian tunnel is one of the hidden gems of Antwerp
Fun things to do in Antwerp with kids - pedestrian St Anna Tunnel
Pedestrian St. Anna Tunnel brings you to the other side of the river
 

11. Hands of Antwerp

Antwerpen city name is said to have originated from ‘hand werpen‘ which means ‘to throw a hand’.

The origins of the name of Antwerp (Antwerpen in Dutch) come from an old legend about the giant called Antigoon and a little guy Brabo. Antigoon demanded a high toll for the ships entering the city and cut off the hands of the sailors if they refused. The little Brabo fought the giant, cut his hand, and threw it in the river. 

On the Grote Markt, in front of the City Hall, you can see the statue of Brabo throwing the giant’s hand

In the main shopping street, Meir, you can find a giant statue of the hand (map) that you can see as the featured image on top of this post. It’s an obligatory photo stop in Antwerp, certainly if visiting with kids.

TIP: All over the city you can also buy chocolates and biscuits in the form of little hands. Ask for the Antwerpse handjes. And once you are at it, make sure to try some Cuberdons (traditional cone-shaped Belgian sweets) as well.

Best things to do in Antwerp Belgium - updated for 2018
Brabo throwing the hand of the giant
Antwerpse Handjes - traditional cookies from Antwerp Belgium
Antwerpse Handjes – traditional cookies from Antwerp
 

12. City Park

Antwerp City Park (Stadspark) is a nice green park with a pond and several playgrounds for children. It’s just a bit outside of the main tourist route (but very close by), so you’ll mostly find locals here.

It’s a popular place for people to come for a walk, go jogging, or take a picnic when the weather is nice.

If you are visiting Antwerp with young kids, you may want to spend some time at the playgrounds here. It’s a nice way to escape the hustle and the bustle of the busy city center. And the park is literally just a stone’s throw from the Central Station and the zoo. Check it out!

One of the playgrounds at Antwerp City Park
One of the playgrounds at the City Park
 

13. Rivierenhof Park

Rivierenhof Park is the only place from this list of things to do in Antwerp with kids that is located outside the city center. Most tourists never get there, but it’s a beautiful park that is worth a visit if you are in Antwerp for a couple of days, especially during spring and summer.

The best way to get there is by bike (map).

TIP: If you have a car and are looking for something more off the beaten path, we really enjoy visiting Liefkenshoek Fort, just outside of the city. However, it’s a place more targeted towards locals and so all the information there is in Dutch. If interested, here you can find our article (in Dutch) about visiting Fort Liefkenshoek.

Rivierenhof Castle in Antwerp Belgium
Rivierenhof Castle
 

14. Try some local delicacies

When visiting Antwerp with kids, be sure to try some local delicacies. We already mentioned Antwerpse Handjes – small hand-shaped cookies and chocolates that you’ll only find in Antwerp.

There are also quite a few places selling warm Belgian waffles in the center of Antwerp – no child will be able to resist that! And, of course, you’ll find ice cream all over the city too.

Make sure to take your kids to a local fritkot – a small kiosk where you can buy typical Belgian fries (by the way, here in Belgium we eat them with mayo). There are several places in the city center close to the Cathedral where, despite the touristic location, the fries are usually quite good.

Belgian waffle in Antwerp
You’ll find Belgian waffles all over the city center
Colorful ice cream - Antwerp with kids
Colorful ice cream on a sunny summer day – always hard to resist!
You must try Belgian fries with mayo
You must try Belgian fries with Belgian mayo!
 

So, this is a local’s guide to the best places to see and things to do when visiting Antwerp with kids. Hope that this will give you some ideas of what to see and do in Antwerp with children.

For more information on the best and lesser-known places to see in Antwerp, see our city guides via the links below.

READ ALSO: Best Things to Do in Antwerp & Antwerp’s Hidden Gems

TIP: If you are visiting Belgium with a family in the summer, don’t miss Belgian theme parks!

More tips for your trip to Belgium:

If you found this post useful, don’t forget to bookmark it and share it with your friends. Are you on Pinterest? Pin this image!

Best places to see and things to do in Antwerp with kids - Belgium

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Linda Österberg

Wednesday 17th of July 2019

Hi Jurga! This post really helped us having a nice time in Antwerpen! We visited the Sint Anna tunnel, Bar Nord and the sewer and a couple of other of your tips.

Thanks!?

Linda

Jurga

Thursday 25th of July 2019

Glad to hear that, Linda. Thanks for taking the time to come back to our blog and leave this feedback.

Annabel Kirk

Tuesday 2nd of July 2019

Hi Jurga, we're doing a road trip from the UK to Corsica this summer. We're taking the ferry from Harwich to Hook of Holland so I'm looking for somewhere to have a picnic lunch on the first day (a Friday) on route to our first stop at a campsite in northern Luxembourg. I wondered whether Rivierenhof Park might be a good option as Google maps shows we'll be bypassing Antwerp. We don't want to go into the city but the park sounds like a relaxing place to stop without us needing to divert from the route too much. Is there anywhere else you'd recommend? We'll be heading along the E313 after Antwerp towards Liege so if you know of somewhere else which might be relaxing and good for boys aged 7 and 5, let me know! Otherwise, this post has been very handy for bringing Rivierenhof to my attention!

Jurga

Thursday 4th of July 2019

Hi Annabel, if you have some time to spare, then indeed, Rivierenhof might be a nice place to stretch your legs. It's not too far from the highway, but it can be quite busy around there, so I wouldn't do it if you are in a hurry. On the map, you can see where a playground is. Another nice part of the park is where Sterckshof castle is and there is also a nice garden and a maze nearby. You can use Google Maps to tell you how to best get there and how long it takes. Have a nice trip!

Lavy

Wednesday 17th of April 2019

Excellent! Planning our trip with 2 boys in the immediate future and your blog is the perfect guide. Thank You

Jurga

Thursday 18th of April 2019

Good to hear that. Enjoy your trip!

Sonia

Thursday 13th of September 2018

Hi Jurga, Trying to plan a trip for my family and just wandering how easy it is to find dairy and nut free food in restaurants and shops (for my son) as I wouldn't want him to miss out. Thanks.

Jurga

Sunday 16th of September 2018

Hi Sonia, I really have no experience with this as our kids don't have any dietary restrictions. In general, I think you can always find some options everywhere you go. Don't be afraid to ask at the restaurant. I'm sure most places will do their best if you explain what you're looking for.

Kristine

Tuesday 8th of May 2018

Hi Jurga, I’m also a mom of 3 boys! They sure keep me busy. Curious, how stroller friendly are the sites you’ve recommended for Antwerp? I’ve got a 7, 3 and 1.5 year old and the 2 younger ones need a stroller.

Also, I’ve heard how everyone should go to a chocolate shop/factory while in Belgium. Do you know of a place in Antwerp where my boys can get a sugar rush?

Thanks!

Jurga

Monday 14th of May 2018

Hi Kristine, you'll be fine with a stroller in Antwerp. However, there are some works going on in the city centre and also lots of cobble stones, so ideally you have a stroller with big inflatable wheels. But I know that they aren't easy to pack if traveling far. We often used our MacLaren Twin stroller when traveling with kids; it's so robust and well made that it was ok in all European towns, despite the cobbled streets. As for chocolate shops, you'll find plenty of them in all tourist locations all over Belgium. Look for Leonidas, Godiva, or Neuhaus - they are some of the better ones that aren't crazy expensive. Leonidas is probably best price/quality wise. Try their white Manon pralines with nuts - they're our favourites! There are quite a few Leonidas chocolate stores in Antwerp (see map). I don't really know about any chocolate factories that you could visit in Antwerp, but there are plenty of shops. Also this Chocolate Shop in Antwerp seems to be worth checking out.

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