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24 Best Things To Do in Antwerp (+Insider Tips & Map)

24 Best Things To Do in Antwerp (+Insider Tips & Map)

Visiting Belgium’s second-largest city and wondering what to see and do in Antwerp? In this article, we share the very best places to see and top things to do in Antwerp, coupled with our insider tips and advice. Find out!

First, let me tell you that it’s a great choice to visit Antwerp! In my opinion, Antwerp is one of the most beautiful cities in Belgium and well worth visiting!

We live nearby and I just love Antwerp, so I might be a bit biased. But to me, Antwerp is a perfect mix of history and modern trendy places; it’s a city that has an amazing vibe and keeps on reinventing itself. I’m certain that you’ll love it here as well and I hope that our tips will help you plan a more memorable visit to Antwerp!

In this article, we share the very best things to see and do in Antwerp. It’s an insider’s guide to the best places that you have to see if visiting the city for the first time.

In addition to the most famous landmarks, we also included the best new additions, things to do in Antwerp that you won’t find in the older tourist guides. At the bottom of this article, you can also find the map indicating the best things to do in Antwerp, as well as our suggested walking route. We also share some suggestions on where to stay.

I hope that this will not only inspire you to come to visit Antwerp, spend a bit more time here, and explore deeper but will also help you to get the most out of your trip. Find out!

TIP: If you are short on time and want to experience the best of Antwerp in a nutshell, I recommend joining a city tour with a local. Here are the best-rated 2-3 hour city tours:

Things to do in Antwerp Belgium

Best things to do in Antwerp – how to use this guide

If you only have limited time in Antwerp, you will probably want to see the most famous landmarks that the city is known for. Below are the main highlights, most popular things to do in Antwerp. I listed them in the same order as you would visit if you start walking or biking from the Central Station.

The tasty additions to the best places to see in Antwerp – Antwerp Chocolate Museum and Antwerp City Brewery – are listed in the end. These are not a must but will make your visit to the city even more memorable.

To help you better plan your time in the city, I also created a map with a sample city walk itinerary to help you get the best out of your time in Antwerp.

Even if you are visiting Antwerp for just one day, you can see most of the best places. However, please note that if you want to actually visit (and not just see the exterior) every place on this list, you will need at least two days.

TIP: Renting a bike or joining a guided bike tour is a great way to see the best of Antwerp, especially if you are short on time and want to cover a lot of ground.

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

1. Central Station – Antwerpen Centraal

The central station of Antwerp is one of the world’s most beautiful train stations. The building’s exterior is very impressive, but to truly appreciate it, you have to see it from the inside.

The most impressive is the main hall (main entrance on the side of Koningin Astridplein) and also the big hall with a clock as seen from the ground level.

Central Station is one of the places you must see in Antwerp. Don’t miss it! If you arrive in Antwerp by train, you will start your city visit here anyway, so don’t rush outside when you arrive and take some time to look around the building.

Antwerpen Centraal - one of the most beautiful train stations in the world
Antwerp’s Central Station is just as impressive on the inside as it is on the outside
Best things to do in Antwerp - Central Station is not to be missed
You can find this beautiful hand/bird sculpture on the upper floor of the Central Station.

2. Antwerp Zoo

Established in 1843, Antwerp Zoo is the oldest animal park in Belgium and one of the oldest in the world. This historic zoo is located in the center of Antwerp, right next to the Antwerpen Centraal railway station.

A visit to the zoo is the perfect way to escape the hustle and the bustle of the city, while at the same time being right in the heart of town.

Antwerp Zoo can be visited the whole year as there are indoor as well as outdoor attractions. There are all kinds of activities and shows and you can easily spend a good couple of hours here. Don’t miss it if you are visiting Antwerp with kids!

Antwerp Zoo is considered one of the best things to do in Antwerp for locals and tourists alike. However, the tickets are quite expensive. So if you only have one day in Antwerp, you may find that other places are worth your time and money more. But if you have 2-3 hours to spare in your itinerary (or if you are traveling with children), this historic zoo is well worth a visit.

Antwerp zoo is the oldest animal park in Belgium
Antwerp Zoo is the oldest animal park in Belgium
Gardens of Antwerp zoo in summer
The gardens of Antwerp Zoo
Elephants at Antwerp zoo
Elephants at Antwerp Zoo
Antwerp Central Station as seen from the zoo
Antwerp Central Station as seen from the zoo
Winter light festival at Antwerp zoo
Winter light festival at Antwerp Zoo (nowadays, it usually takes place in Planckendael Animal Park near Mechellen).

3. Diamond District

Antwerp has been known as the diamond capital of the world since 1447 and it still is today.

Right next to Central Station is the famous diamond district of Antwerp, the place where rough and polished diamonds are traded. You can’t really visit the trading markets, but there are plenty of shops selling diamond jewelry… I bet you have never seen so many diamonds and jewelry in one place!

The majority of diamond stores are concentrated in a triangle of three streets to the west of the Central Station: De Keyserlei, Pelikaanstraat, and Vestingstraat. Most diamond shops are open every day except Saturday.

TIP: If you want to buy diamonds, make sure to bargain. Negotiating the price is normally not done in Belgium, but Antwerp’s diamond stores are an exception to the rule.

In fact, it might be worth it to make a trip to Antwerp if you are considering buying diamonds. On a bigger purchase, you can save so much that your whole trip to Belgium will easily pay back for itself.

Best things to do in Antwerp - diamonds in the Diamond district
Antwerp is the Diamond Capital of the world
Antwerp Diamonds store on De Keyserlei in Antwerp
Antwerp Diamonds store on De Keyserlei

4. City Park

Antwerp City Park is another great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the busy city life.

It’s a nice place to visit with kids or if you have some time to spare. But, to be completely honest, it’s not an absolute must among the things to do in Antwerp. So – as it often goes – it all depends on how much time you have in the city.

The park isn’t big and it’s quite centrally located, so it’s quite easy to check it out on your way between the station and the old town.

Explore Antwerp City Park by bike
Antwerp City Park
Antwerp city park (Stadspark Antwerpen)
Antwerp City Park in the fall

5. Meir Shopping Street

The Meir shopping area encompasses the streets surrounding the area from the Cathedral all the way to the Central Station.

Meir is a prime shopping destination in Belgium, but there is more to it than the shops. Thanks to its historic architecture and prestigious character, the Meir makes shopping feel special.

Not only do the buildings make it worth a visit, but the offerings are also first-rate. You’ll find all the major, international brands here. Don’t miss Antwerp’s Stadsfeestzaal, an exclusive shopping center in the beautifully restored city festival hall. It’s one of the hidden gems of Antwerp that most tourists don’t know about.

Meir Antwerpen
Meir – the main shopping street in Antwerp and the most expensive shopping street in Belgium
The Meir - the main shopping street of Antwerp
The Meir – the main shopping street of Antwerp
Shopping Stadsfeestzaal in Antwerp Belgium
Shopping Stadsfeestzaal is well worth a quick look – you’ll likely pass here anyway.

6. The Rubens House

If tourists visit just one museum in Antwerp, they usually choose the Rubens House. World-famous Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens lived in this palazzo with his family. He created many of his paintings in this house, in the center of Antwerp.

The museum has an interesting collection of Rubens’ works but also shows how the master lived and worked. It doesn’t require much time and it’s really worth a visit.

Good to know: At the moment of the last update, the Rubens House is undergoing renovation. While the main house of the master will be closed for a few years, the gardens and the interactive Rubens Experience will reopen from 30 August 2024. For practical information, please check the official website of the Rubens House.

TIP: You can also see lots of Rubens’ paintings inside the Antwerp Cathedral (see below). Also the beautifully-renovated Royal Museum of Fine Arts also has some of his works. In fact, this museum is a wonderful alternative to the Rubens House while it remains closed. You can find more information about it further below.

The Rubens House is one of the best places to see in Antwerp
Daniel in the Lions’ Den Painting by Peter Paul Rubens

7. Belgium’s Best Boutique Shopping

After leaving the Rubenshuis to continue in the direction of the Graanmarkt. It’s a nice little square and it’s usually amazingly quiet compared to the surrounding streets.

If you are interested in (window) shopping, then you will love the Schuttershofstraat and the Huidevettersstraat. Here, you can find some of the world’s most luxury boutique stores like Hermès, Chanel, or Louis Vuitton to name just a few.

Antwerp is also the fashion capital of Belgium and home to one of the best-known fashion designer schools in Europe. Some of the best Belgian designers also have their shops in Antwerp. If you are looking to buy some unique clothing, this is the place to be.

And if you are looking for some really good Belgian chocolate, you’ll also find some of the best brands in this area. Look for Neuhaus, Pierre Marcolini, Godiva, or Leonidas, and pass on the chocolate that you find at the souvenir shops.

Shopping in Antwerp - Fratelli Rossetti luxury shoe store on Huidevettersstraat in Antwerpen
Colorful shoes at Fratelli Rossetti store on Huidevettersstraat
One of the best things to do in Antwerp is boutique shopping
You’ll find many high-end boutique shops in Antwerp
Neuhaus chocolate store in Antwerp Belgium
Neuhaus chocolate store in Antwerp. If you want to try some really good Belgian chocolate, this is one of the better brands.

8. Plantin – Moretus Museum

If you like history and somewhat unusual museums, you will enjoy a visit to Plantin – Moretus Museum. This is my personal favorite museum in Antwerp and I highly recommend it to everyone.

It’s the only museum on the Unesco World Heritage list and is the only remaining printing workshop and publishing house in the world, dating back to the 16th century. You can admire the beautiful buildings, the richly decorated interior of this mansion, see an impressive library, and the printing house. You also learn so much about the art of book printing. This is such a fascinating place and it exceeded all my expectations.

If you have some time left in between other great things to do in Antwerp, check it out! Platin-Moretus Museum is also a great place to visit in Antwerp when it rains.

Practical information: Platin-Moretus Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 AM to 5 PM. You can easily spend two hours here. More info here.

Things to do in Antwerp - museum Plantin-Moretus
Museum Plantin-Moretus
Best of Antwerp - Plantin Moretus Museum printing house
The printing house at Plantin-Moretus Museum

9. Groenplaats

Antwerp’s Green Square is the perfect place for those who want to laze around on a warm summer’s day under the sun and enjoy watching the city from the comfort of a cozy café.

If you are looking for McDonald’s or Starbucks, you can find them here, together with many local cafes and restaurants. A little tourist train departs from Groenplaats in summer and is fun for adults and children alike.

Antwerp has an old tradition of open markets and you can find the daily flower market on the Groenplaats. The Antwerp Christmas market is also (partially) located on this square.

Groenplaats in Antwerp

10. Antwerp Cathedral of Our Lady

Antwerp Cathedral of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal) is the highest Gothic building in the Low Countries. It’s an iconic building, but also a treasury with an impressive collection of major artworks, including several paintings by Rubens.

You can join the guided tour of the Cathedral or explore it at your own pace. There is an 8 EUR fee to visit the Cathedral for adults (kids are free). If you’re coming for the mass, the entrance is free of course, but you won’t be able to see the best parts. There’s also a mass in English; it’s held on Saturdays at 5 PM.

At the moment, the exterior of the Cathedral is being renovated and you can’t see it in all its glory. However, you can still see all the masterpieces inside.

Good to know: The Cathedral is open daily, usually from 10 AM to 5 PM. Opening hours differ on the weekends. For more info, see their website.

Antwerp Cathedral of Our Lady - Onze Lieve Vrouwekathedraal
Antwerp Cathedral

11. Grote Markt

Grote Markt is the main square of Antwerp and is one of the most beautiful town squares in Europe. The magnificent 16th-century City Hall (Stadhuis) dominates the square surrounded by the beautiful Guild Houses.

If there is one place you absolutely have to see in Antwerp, it’s the Grote Markt.

You cannot overlook the Brabo Fountain, right in the center of the square. According to the legend, Brabo killed a giant who demanded a high toll for each ship that wanted to enter the city. If the ship’s crew wouldn’t pay the toll, their hands were cut off. The little Brabo fought the giant, cut his hand, and threw it in the river. The fountain’s statue depicts this story that is used to explain the origins of the name of the city – Antwerpenhand werpen meaning ‘to throw a hand’.

Grote Markt is only empty on cold winter mornings; the rest of the time – it’s always busy here. In summer, it’s buzzing with tourists and locals, and lots of events take place here as well.

Filled with cafes and restaurants, Grote Markt is the place that wakes up around noon. If you come here first thing in the morning, you can often have the whole place to yourself. But its lively atmosphere is part of the charm, so we prefer to visit here in the afternoon.

Grote Markt in Antwerp Belgium is not to be missed
Grote Markt is the most beautiful town square in Antwerp
Best things to do in Antwerp - the Grote Markt town square
Brabo statue on the Grote Markt town square
Antwerp Grote Markt buildings nicely lit in the dark
Antwerp Grote Markt buildings nicely lit during the annual Antwerp Christmas market

12. Het Elfde Gebod

The café Het Elfde Gebod (The 11th Commandment) can be found on the Northern side in the shadow of the Cathedral and is worth a short stop for a drink.

It might look strange to include a café in the ‘best things to do in Antwerp’ list, but it’s such a special place that you really should check it out when in Antwerp. The 11th Commandment has a spectacular interior filled with saints, angels, saints, pulpits, etc. and has kept its authenticity for over 40 years.

You will find many traditional Belgian beers here, including the local Antwerp De Koninck beer (‘t Bolleke), the famous Trappist beers, and more. Non-alcoholic drinks are also available, of course.

Het Elfde Gebod cafe in Antwerp Belgium
Het Elfde Gebod cafe is usually crowded – this picture is taken before the opening
Elfde Gebod cafe and restaurant in Antwerp Belgium
Elfde Gebod

13. Saint Carolus Borromeus Church & Hendrik Conscience Town Square

Saint Charles Borromeo Church (Carolus Borromeukerk) is one of the most beautiful churches of Antwerp. It’s slightly hidden and out of sight, located on a charming little town square, Hendrik Conscienceplein.

You have to walk through some narrow cobblestoned streets to see the magnificent facade of this 17th-century Jesuit church.

Antwerp is the most distinctive Baroque city of the Low Countries and Saint Carolus Borromeus church is one of the places you really should see in Antwerp. It’s impressive from the outside, but its rich interior is not to be missed either!

Right opposite the church, you can see Hendrik Conscience Library. This library is home to one of the nicest hidden gems of Antwerp – Nottebohmzaal.

Saint Charles Borromeo Church (Carolus Borromeus Kerk) in Antwerp
Saint Charles Borromeo Church (Carolus Borromeuskerk)
Hendrik Conscience Library in Antwerp Belgium
Hendrik Conscience Library and town square

14. Vleeshuis

Vleeshuis (literal translation ‘the meat house, also known as the Butcher’s House) is the oldest guildhall in Antwerp. The 500-year-old building is very impressive from the outside and is worth seeing if you are in the area.

Inside, you can find a museum featuring all kinds of musical instruments. This is a great place to learn about the centuries-old history of music and dance in Antwerp. There is also an exhibition where you can see how the church bells are made. It’s quite interesting!

Plus, it’s worth visiting inside to see the interior of this unique building.

For practical information and opening times, consult the official website of the museum.

Vleeshuis in Antwerp
Vleeshuis music instruments museum - best places to see in Antwerp Belgium
Musical instruments museum inside Vleeshuis.
Vleeshuis museum exposition of how church bells are made - Antwerp Belgium
In the basement, you can find this exhibition explaining how the bells are made.

15. Het Steen Castle & Antwerp Story

Het Steen is Antwerp’s oldest building. It was built at the beginning of the 13th century and served as a city fortress. This impressive castle lies on the Scheldt river and is just a short walk from the Grote Markt.

In the past, Het Steen was home to the Maritime Museum, later – a child-friendly meeting space with all kinds of workshops for kids. Finally, the city has decided to make better use of this beautiful building and it now serves as a visitor center and a nice place to learn more about the history of Antwerp.

Het Steen is now home to one of the newest attractions in Antwerp – the Antwerp Story. I thought that it would be a bit comparable to the Historium in Bruges, but it’s actually a very different concept. You walk through 11 different rooms, each showcasing different facets of Antwerp in original ways.

Antwerp Story is much more focused on the city as it is today and lots of exhibits are videos of the locals telling stories about the city, etc. While it’s interesting to see, I really wonder if it will appeal to many international visitors… To tell the truth, we found it a bit random and disappointing, and much prefer the concept like the Historium in Bruges which showcases the past of the city.

In addition to the interactive museum, you can enjoy nice views from the panoramic roof terrace of Het Steen, and also the building itself is really impressive to see. There is also a nice store inside where you can buy all kinds of local specialties from the city.

All in all, we highly recommend visiting Het Steen – for the building, the views, and the shop – all of which can be visited for free. But I don’t think you’ll be missing that much if you skip the Antwerp Story, the only part that actually requires a ticket.

This is now one of the best places to visit in Antwerp, so be sure to check it out!

Good to know: Het Steen and the visitor center is open daily from 10 AM to 6 PM. For more information, see here.

Het Steen castle - Antwerp's oldest building
Het Steen castle – Antwerp’s oldest building
Het Steen Castle in Antwerp Belgium
Het Steen
Inside of Het Steen castle in Antwerp
Inside one of the freely accessible rooms of Het Steen
Antwerp Story at Het Steen
Antwerp Story

16. Antwerp Ferris Wheel ‘The View’

The View Antwerpen, aka Giant Ferris Wheel, is a ‘traveling’ Antwerp attraction. Sometimes you can find it just outside the central station, next to the Zoo, and sometimes next to Het Steen, by the river.

For a few years, it has settled on the Steenplein next to the river, where the views are really nice. However, as I am updating this article, it moved back to the station due to the works that take place next to the river… I indicated both locations on our map, but you can’t really miss it since you’ll likely pass both of these areas when sightseeing in Antwerp.

Either way, a ride on the Antwerp Giant Wheel gives you a different perspective of the city. We prefer it when it’s next to the river as you can see the river on one side, the historic old town right at your feet, and Antwerp harbor in the distance. But it’s also nice in the center, especially because you get a close view of the impressive facade of the Central Railway Station.

The ‘giant’ wheel isn’t actually that high, but because the buildings in Antwerp are quite low as well, you have good far views of the entire city.

While this is not an absolute must-do in Antwerp, it’s actually quite enjoyable. And since a ride only takes a few minutes of your time, I think it’s worth it. Because the cabins are closed, it’s something nice to do in Antwerp in any weather and any season.

Good to know: Antwerp Ferris Wheel is open daily, from 11 AM to 11 PM. At the moment of the latest update, a ticket costs 9 euros (5 euros for kids), and usually, you get 4 rounds.

The View Antwerpen ferris wheel - one of the best tourist attractions in Antwerp Belgium
Antwerp Ferris wheel The View, at Steenplein, next to the river.
Antwerp city panorama as seen from the ferris wheel
Views from the Ferris Wheel
Things to do in Antwerp - take a ride on the giant ferris wheel
Antwerp city center as seen from the Ferris Wheel

17. Scheldt River and Antwerp Harbor

The harbor has always been of utmost importance to the city of Antwerp. So make sure to take a short walk next to the river Scheldt and get the feel of what this port-city is truly about. Antwerp is Europe’s second-largest seaport and ranks among the world’s top ten. You can usually see some large container ships in the distance.

The cruise ships visiting Antwerp are also docked at the new cruise terminal next to the Steen fortress, right in the center of the city.

If you have a couple of hours to spare, consider a boat tour in Antwerp harbor, or simply take the waterbus for a short ride to St Anna on the other side of the river – see below. But if you only have a day in the city, this is not a must.

TIP: There are now also great boat connections from Steen Castle to the other side of the river by waterbus. And so if you have more time, you could take a boat to St. Anna Beach on the Left Bank (Linkeroever). You can then take a nice walk along the river, and have lunch or dinner at one of the many restaurants there.

The waterbus runs frequently, the ride to St. Anna takes less than 10 minutes (just one stop), and you don’t have to reserve in advance. It’s something nice to do if you are visiting Antwerp in summer and have at least two days in the city.

Schelde River in Antwerp - view from Het Steen castle
Scheldt River as seen from Het Steen panorama terrace
Best of Antwerp - Steenplein, ferris wheel, and waterbus city boat
Antwerp waterbus at Steenplein
Port of Antwerp boat tour with Jan Plezier pancake boat
Antwerp harbor is best explored by boat

18. St. Paul’s Church

St. Paul’s Church is impressive both from the outside as well as from the inside. The 18th-century Calvary with 60 life-sized statues is not to be missed. But also inside the church, there are hundreds of statues and lots of masterpieces by famous Flemish painters such as Rubens, Van Balen, and Van Dyck. Definitely worth a short visit!

We first discovered this hidden gem when exploring some off the beaten path places in Antwerp with kids. But I think it’s one of the unique landmarks that deserves a mention on this list of must-see places in Antwerp as well.

Note that the church is only open in the afternoon from 2 PM to 5 PM, and only in the high season (summer and Christmas).

St. Paul's church in Antwerp
St. Paul’s Church

19. Het Eilandje District and MAS Museum

The modern red building of the MAS museum in the new trendy Het Eilandje district has quickly become one of the landmarks, a must-see place in Antwerp.

MAS has many interesting expositions, but the interior of this modern building is just as impressive. Make sure to also go all the way to the top of the building. The rooftop terrace of MAS has some of the best views of Antwerp.

Practical information: The entrance to the museum building and the rooftop terrace is free of charge; the rest of the museum requires a ticket. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 AM to 5 PM. More info on their website.

MAS museum in Antwerp
MAS museum
Antwerp MAS museum interior and view on Het Eilandje district and the city center
View from MAS Museum
Antwerp skyline - view from MAS rooftop terrace
Antwerp skyline as seen from MAS rooftop

20. The Port House

The Port House of Antwerp (Havenhuis Antwerpen) is yet another recent addition to Antwerp’s skyline. When it was first opened in 2016, it was called the New Port House. It’s now the head office of the Antwerp Port Authority and is simply called the Port House.

It is one of the most impressive buildings I have ever seen and it’s fascinating to watch this ‘diamond ship’ change in a different light.

Visits inside are possible but require advance reservation and it’s not straightforward (at the moment of the latest update, only group reservations are possible – see here for more info). However, the building is the most impressive from the outside anyway, and therefore easy to visit at any time of day or even at night when it’s nicely lit.

TIP: Because the New Port House is located a bit further away from the city center, it’s easiest to visit with a bike tour or with a rental bike. Some harbor boat tours pass here as well.

New Port House of Antwerp
New Port House of Antwerp
Boat tour in Antwerp harbor passing the Port House
Some boat tours pass Antwerp Port House as well

21. Red Star Line Museum

Red Star Line Museum is a trip back in time with the stories of people who sailed from here to find a new life in North America. You can also climb to the top of the tower for nice views of ‘t Eilandje district and the harbor.

Together with the Plantin-Moretus Museum (mentioned higher above), this is one of my personal favorite museums in Antwerp, also a good place to visit with kids. A visit here is very touching and eye-opening. Believe me, you’ll never look at emigration with the same eyes after visiting the Red Star Line Museum.

This rather recent museum is, in my opinion, one of the best things to do in Antwerp! Count 1.5-2 hours for a visit.

Practical information: The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 AM to 5 PM. More info on their website.

Red Star Line museum in Antwerp
Red Star Line museum

22. Royal Museum of Fine Arts

The newest addition to the best places to see in Antwerp is the Royal Museum of Fine Arts (or KMSKA – Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen). I say ‘new’ because it has recently reopened its doors after eleven years of renovations.

This is now one of the best art museums in Antwerp and one that’s definitely worth considering if you have a few hours to spare in the city. It could also be a good alternative for the Rubens House while it remains closed for renovations.

Some of the best pieces not to miss at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts include Rubens’ “The Adoration of the Magi”, a collection of several paintings by James Ensor, Jean Fouquet’s “Madonna Surrounded by Seraphim and Cherubim”, and Jan Van Eyck’s “Saint Barbara”.

But there are many more incredible masterpieces at this museum. And the way it’s been renovated and the artworks are presented, makes it one of the best art museums in Belgium. Recommended!

Good to know: The museum is open daily from 10 AM and has a late opening on Thursday evenings. You can reserve a time slot in advance, but normally, you can just get your tickets there. For more info, see their website. This is one of the few Antwerp attractions that is also open on Monday!

KMSKA is located a bit further away from other main sights and landmarks in Antwerp, so we didn’t indicate a walking route here. But it’s really just a small detour and absolutely worth it.

Rubens painting The Adoration of the Magi at KMSKA museum in Antwerp, Belgium
“The Adoration of the Magi” painting by Rubens (KMSKA).
The Intrigue painting by Ensor at KMSKA museum in Antwerp
“The Intrigue” painting by James Ensor (KMSKA).

23. Chocolate Nation

Chocolate Nation is the largest Belgian Chocolate Museum in the world. Opened in 2018, this unique and interactive museum is one of the newest additions to Antwerp’s tourist attractions. It has quickly become one of the most popular places to see in Antwerp.

Interesting fact. The very first Belgian chocolate factory opened in Antwerp in 1831. This new chocolate museum brings history to life and is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Antwerp for all types of visitors, no matter your group size or interests.

Everyone I know who visited Chocolate Nation really enjoyed it, so it’s not just ‘for tourists’. The delicious chocolates that you get to taste (or take home with you) make the visit even better, of course.

We recently took our kids here and the whole family had such a great time! The exhibitions are really well done, with lots of interaction where you can see, feel, smell, and taste chocolate while learning all about it in a fun way.

Good to know: Chocolate Nation is located very close to the Central Station and is open every day (see their website for more practical info). Check it out when in Antwerp!

Antwerp Chocolate Nation - top places to visit in Antwerpen Belgium
Chocolate Nation.
Box of Belgian Chocolates at Antwerp Chocolate Museum
Box of Belgian Chocolates at Antwerp Chocolate Nation.
Best things to do in Antwerp - Belgian chocolate museum
Chocolate Museum in Antwerp © Photo courtesy of Chocolate Nation

24. Bolleke Beer & Antwerp City Brewery De Koninck

Belgian beers are world-famous and every city and region has its own special beers that they are proud of. The most famous beer in Antwerp is Bolleke from De Koninck Brewery.

If you like to taste a traditional local beer when visiting Antwerp, be sure to ask for ‘Bolleke’ at any café or restaurant. If you prefer light beer (which is actually stronger), you may want to try Tripel d’Anvers – also from the same brewery.

In addition – if you want to know more about these and other Antwerp- and Belgian beers, you can also visit the Antwerp City Brewery De Koninck. Here, you can learn all about the history of Belgian beers, taste Antwerp city beers, and see the entire brewing process.

Here you can find more information and reserve your visit. The interactive tours are self-guided, so you can visit when it suits you. Every tour includes beer tasting as well (two beers).

Good to know: Antwerp City Brewery is open daily except on Mondays. It’s located a bit further from all the other major tourist sights, but still within walking distance from the rest (about 30 minutes walk from the old town). We indicated the location on our map below, but didn’t include a walking route here since there are so many options, depending on where you’re coming from.

TIP: If you don’t want to walk, the easiest way to get here is by taking the metro/tram. You can take line #15 from Groenplaats in the Old Town or line #2 from Antwerpen Astrid Metro near the Central Station.

Bolleke De Koninck beer is the local beer from Antwerp Belgium
Bolleke is the best-known and most popular beer brewed in Antwerp. You can find it in any cafe in the city.
De Koninck - Antwerp City Brewery
Antwerp City Brewery De Koninck is well worth a visit if you are looking for something nice and not overly touristy to do in Antwerp
Beer tasting at Antwerp city brewery De Koninck
Beer tasting at Antwerp city brewery De Koninck

Best things to do in Antwerp – suggested city walk and map

Below, you can find our custom-made city map featuring the best things to do in Antwerp.

I indicated each location mentioned in this post, as well as the suggested walking route for the main sights and attractions.

How to use this map: Use your computer mouse (or fingers) to zoom in or out. Click on the icons to get more information about each place. Click the arrow on the top left corner for the index. Click the star next to the map’s title to add it to your Google Maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open Google Maps, click the menu and go to ‘Your Places’/’Maps’. If you want to print the map or see it in a bigger window, click on ‘View larger map’ in the top right corner.


Where to stay in Antwerp

If you want to explore the best that Antwerp has to offer, stay for 2-3 nights. This will give you more time to see the best of Antwerp, visit a few museums, do some shopping, experience some of the best food in Belgium, and maybe also find some hidden gems as well.

If you are looking for the best-located hotels for sightseeing in Antwerp, here are our recommendations.

For the very best location in the heart of Old Town, stay close to Groenplaats/ Antwerp Cathedral. Here are some of the best hotels in this area:

If you don’t mind walking to the main attractions and rather stay close to where you arrive by train, you may like Radisson BLU Astrid Hotel or NH Collection Antwerp Centre. Both these hotels are located near the central station, the Zoo, and close to many shops and restaurants. Usually, these hotels are cheaper and offer better value than comparable hotels in the old town.

LEARN MORE: Best Areas to Stay in Antwerp

TIP: Using the map below, you can compare hotels, apartments, and short-term rental accommodations in Antwerp city center. Simply insert your travel dates and group size, and you’ll see the best deals available for your stay. Check it out!


So, this is our guide to the very best things to do in Antwerp. This is in no way a complete list of everything that Antwerp has to offer, but if you are visiting the city for the first time and looking for must-see places in Antwerp, then this list is a good place to start.

TIP: If you have more time and are looking for more things to do in Antwerp, take a look at our guide to some amazing lesser-known places in the city that most tourists never see (but that are well worth your time). Check it out via the link below!

READ ALSO: Amazing Hidden Gems of Antwerp

Enjoy your trip!

Antwerp FAQ

What is Antwerp best known for?

Antwerp in Belgium is best known as the diamond capital of the world and is the second-largest port in Europe. In the 16th century, Antwerp was one of the biggest and richest cities in the world, and many buildings and art in the city date from Antwerp’s Golden Age. Antwerp is also home to one of the best fashion design schools in Europe and is a great city for culture, shopping, and dining.

Is Antwerp worth visiting?

Antwerp is a city that truly has something to offer to everyone! With its glorious past reflected in the most beautiful historic buildings and world-famous art, but also modern architecture, interesting museums, and some of the best shopping and dining in Europe, Antwerp is more than worth a trip. It’s one of the most diverse cities in Belgium with a great vibe and fantastic atmosphere. In fact, if you visit just one city in Belgium, Antwerp would be our top recommendation.

What places are a must-see in Antwerp?

If you only have a few hours in Antwerp, be sure to visit the Old Town with the Cathedral and the main town square Grote Markt. Also walk to the Scheldt River and Het Steen castle. If you visit just one museum in Antwerp, most people choose the Rubens House, but we also highly recommend the Plantin-Moretus Museum.

How much time do you need in Antwerp?

You can see the main landmarks of Antwerp in one day, so if one day is all you’ve got, Antwerp is still worth a trip. However, ideally, you plan at least 2 full days for Antwerp. This will give you more time to explore the city beyond the Old Town, visit a few of the best museums, check out some hidden gems, do some shopping, dine at many great restaurants in town and try local beers.

What are the best months to visit Antwerp?

Antwerp is a year-round destination and you’ll enjoy a visit in any season. For the best weather and fewer crowds, visit in May – June or September – October. July and August tend to be busy, but that’s also when the city really comes to life with various outdoor events, concerts, etc. December is also a nice month to visit Antwerp for Christmas shopping, a great holiday atmosphere at the Christmas market.

Is Antwerp safe?

In general, Antwerp is a very safe place to visit and we never even think twice before walking around the city center at night. If you stay in the main tourist areas around the Old Town, you’ll feel totally safe. That being said – just as in any other big city – use common sense, watch out for pickpockets in the busy areas, and not wander around areas that you don’t know on your own in the dark.

Do they speak English in Antwerp?

Antwerp is located in the Flemish-speaking part of Belgium. In general, everyone in Flanders also speaks English, so you will have no difficulties communicating in English in Antwerp. Most museums and tourist attractions have signs and info in four languages: Dutch, French, German, and English. Most restaurants will also have an English menu.


More travel inspiration for visiting Antwerp:

Belgium travel guides:

READ ALSO: Best Things to Do in Amsterdam

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Insider's guide to the best things to see and do in Antwerp Belgium

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Thursday 23rd of May 2024

Planning on taking a day trip to Antwerp from Brussels via train. Your guide is fantastic - thank you! Would like to visit the attractions below for starters. Google Maps estimates it's an hour walk. Does it even make sense to consider public transportation or should we just walk? i.e. IDK how nice a walk it would be. Should we avoid the main streets?

Central Station – Antwerpen Centraal Red Star Line Museum Grote Markt Plantin – Moretus Museum


Saturday 25th of May 2024

@Jurga, thanks! decided to plan our day trip as follows (1h 6min of walking time): tram #24 until stop Londen and walk (600 meter) to the Red Star Line Museum MAS Het Steen Grote Markt Plantin – Moretus Museum Cathedral of Our Lady Antwerp Chocolate Nation (if time permits) Central Station – Antwerpen Centraal


Saturday 25th of May 2024

Hi David, we personally always walk everywhere. Antwerp city center is very walkable. That said, the only place on your list that is a bit further out of the way from the rest is Red Star Line Museum. So if your time is limited, you could potentially start there (take a taxi or a tram or rent one of the city bikes that you can drop off close to the museum - I wouldn't walk next to the main road, but a bike ride could be very pleasant and you could pass Park Bridge along the way - see Antwerp Hidden Gems for more info). After visiting the museum, walk back toward the center ending at a train station in the evening. This could save you quite some time and a long walk and leave more time for sightseeing. Otherwise, you could also start at the station following the approximate route from our article (zoom in on the map and you'll see the route we recommend), end at Red Star Line Museum, and if at the end of the day you feel that the walk back is too much, take a tram/bike/taxi. It's really up to you and how much walking you are prepared to do. Also, be sure to check the opening times of the places you absolutely want to visit so that you don't miss anything.


Wednesday 29th of November 2023

This info is great! Are the markets you mention on everyday and do you have info on how to get to Antwerp from Brussels by train? :)


Wednesday 29th of November 2023

Hi Sek, no, there are no daily markets in the center. The best one is on Saturday and Sunday on the Theater Square and there are a few more, also mostly on weekends. In the summer, there are more options. You can find an overview here. As for the train, it's very simple - you can take a direct train to Antwerp from Brussels (South, Central, North Stations, Airport, etc.) and there are at least a few trains every hour.


Sunday 2nd of April 2023

Thank you for this guide.. Found something to visit for me (chocolate museum) and my bf (beer museum) 😃. Gonna be a good 2 days in Antwerp!


Tuesday 4th of April 2023

Have a great trip!


Wednesday 16th of November 2022

Thank you for your guide. We are visiting soon but on a Monday! I am a bit worried as it seems at lot of places are closed on Mondays! Can you recommend places to go?



Wednesday 16th of November 2022

@Jurga, massive help thank you! I have put the fine arts museum on the itinerary 😁


Wednesday 16th of November 2022

Hi Heloise, don't worry - many places in Antwerp will be open on Monday too and most landmarks you just see from the outside anyway. I see that the recently reopened and beautifully renovated Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp is also open on Mondays (see their website for more info). I haven't been myself yet, but everyone says it's beautiful. So maybe something for you? I just checked some tours and indeed, many of them don't run at the moment or don't run on Mondays. There's a private walking tour that's available daily. I also see that the Hard Rock Cafe is open daily if that's your thing. But you'll find some local restaurants open on Mondays too. Also, most shops should be open too. Hope this helps. Enjoy your trip!


Saturday 16th of July 2022

Thank you so much for the best guide I’ve seen online .. I have been researching places to visit with my family and this was the best(:


Tuesday 19th of July 2022

Glad to help, Manal. Have a great time in Antwerp!

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