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Antwerp Travel Information

A glamorous, lively city, Antwerp is world famous for its fashion and diamonds, as well as some magnificent architecture.


The city's rich history is evident in the cobbled streets and impressive squares of the Old Town, whilst for vibrant nightlife the city is fast becoming regarded as a rival to Amsterdam.

Antwerp, the diamond capital of the world is not a cultural city without life! It is a vibrant city with stylish restaurants, cosy cafes, trendy clubs and a thriving theatre scene.

Antwerp Travel and Flight Information

Antwerp is cosmopolitan, dynamic and thriving, it is unpretentious and very lovable, full of history and cultural life. The main focus is the Old Town which occupies a semicircle area running for about 1 and a half miles along the river front and bounded by a broad road where the city wall once stood. Within are streets full of character, the monumental Cathedral of Our Lady (1352) containing Rubens originals, a beautiful and tranquil main square (the Grote Markt) and an old waterside fortress known as the Steen. Churches and museums are plentiful; perhaps the best known is Rubens' House, a palace packed full of furniture owned by the great Antwerp master. The city is responsible for half the world's diamond production and cutting has been carried out here for centuries. It is also the world's third largest port, with many of its 450,000 residents working in the industry. A local activity is "doing a terrace": just about any time of the year, cafes have tables and chairs on the street which in summer turn into a sea of coffee and beer drinkers.

In N-central Belgium, near the Dutch border. 23 mls N of Brussels. 3 mls NW of the airport.

Antwer is on flat land on the East bank of the River Schelde. Although it is more than 50 miles from the North Sea, a sheltered estuary has allowed the city to develop as an important port and industrial centre.

Places to Stay
Its 50 plus hotels can soon get full during holiday periods. Posh hotels in the Old Town and the upmarket residential areas outside the centre; cheaper options are around Central Station and there is also a couple of campsites and handful of youth hostels which are open for all ages.

Things to Do
Daytime: sightseeing and shopping; various museums, including a fine-art museum and National Maritime Museum (most close Mon); walking tours (on architecture or in the footsteps of Rubens, for example); diamond tours; Antwerp Zoo; boat cruises; exhibitions in the International Cultural Centre.
Nightlife: vibrant by Belgian standards, much of it informal and centred on taverns; 2 red-light districts (around the port and Central Station); discos from sleazy to sophisticated; own opera company.

Truly has an international mixture; along with the normal Italian and Chinese restaurants you can choose from Mongolian barbecues, Egyptian grills, Spanish tapas and especially Greek, Moroccan and Turkish which reflect the city's varied cultural mixture. A particularly high concentration of places to eat are around Grote Markt, some are geared specifically to tourists, and in the more sleazy area around Central Station and De Keyserlei Street. Mussels and chips are popular with the locals, washed down with beer called "bolleke". English menus can be hard to come across but waiters will usually be able to translate, although service can be slow. Waffles and Belgian fries are served on the street, and tea salons proliferate.

The main shopping streets are mostly pedestrianised De Keyserlei and Meir with European chains and some smaller boutiques. The Empire shopping centre and Century centre. Several markets including a Sunday morning bird market; the delightfully named Exotic market, selling produce on Saturdays; and flea markets on Wednesdays and Friday mornings in front of Plantin Moretus Museum. Good buys are Belgian chocolates, as well as Belgian beers and the local "witteke" gin. The diamond district around Central Station is full of gem shops.

Half day: Turnhout (playing-card museum). Full day: historical Lier and Mechelen; St Niklaas; Brussels; Ghent.

Getting Around
Antwerp is well served by public transport. A small underground Metro system which stops are few and far between is supplemented by plenty of tram and bus stops. Taxis. Horse-drawn carriages. Antwerp is a good walking city and all of the major sights can be reached on foot. It is also very easy to get around by tram or bus.

Who is it for?
70%+ of visitors are from The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany in equal numbers; French, British and Americans mostly make up the rest. Appreciated by culture and art lovers, shoppers (mostly for diamonds) and those who enjoy having hundreds of beers to pick from.

Getting There
Direct flights from the UK to Brussels airport are available at discount rates from your local airport. The flight time to Brussels airport is approx 1 hour. From Brussels it is just under 1 hour to Antwerp's Central Station.

Must See
Start with the impressive Green Square and Cathedral of Our Lady. Nearby, the Market Square and Town Hall are masterpieces of Italian Renaissance style, whilst the City Hall and Guild Houses date from the 16th & 17th century. 'Het Steen' is the oldest building in Antwerp, and is now home to the National Maritime Museum.

Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp

Must Do
Visit the fascinating Rubens' House which holds many of the artist's treasures. Antwerp's excellent collection of museums also includes the Diamond Museum, the Royal Museum of Fine Art and the new 'Momu' Fashion Museum.

Rubens House

To Relax
Sample local beers in the jazz bars and lively cafes in the Old Town. Antwerp's obsession with fashion is evident in its trendy boutiques and designer stores, whilst on the Meir shopping street you will find well known stores. Markets include an exotic food market and an antiques market.

Daily average temperatures (Approx) 'C

JAN 5 FEB 6 MAR 8 APR 11 MAY 17 JUN 20 JUL 22 AUG 21 SEP 18 OCT 12 NOV 7 DEC 5

Antwerp by Hessle Travel

Antwerp Highlights

> This undiscovered city offers a marvellous blend of the old and the new

> It is the world's leading diamond cutting and dealing city

> Antwerp is the 2nd largest city in Belgium and the largest in Flanders

> Visit Antwerp's cafes in the Groenplaats, Market Square and Suikerrui

> Cobbled streets and market places abound with medieval churches and handsome guild houses

Book yourself a flight or city break to Antwerp with Hessle Travel.

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