The gorgeous city of Antwerp is just perfect for a short weekend getaway. Due to its compact size you can wander the streets at your own pace and still experience lots of cool stuff. Here is our 1 day in Antwerp.
Don’t have the time to come over for a whole weekend? Never mind! Even if you’re just passing through and have just a couple of hours this city has plenty to offer.
1 Day in Antwerp – The 4 best things to do and see
I would recommend you start your day with Belgian Waffles (I know it’s a cliché but they’re sooo good) and coffee to-go and take a nice walk from Central Station towards the docks to get a feeling for Antwerp. The central station is iconic and a landmark in Belgium.
ART : Of course you could easily spend 1 day in Antwerp just hanging out in museums and wandering in the footsteps of Rubens. If you visit only one art museum, it should be the fantastic M HKA!
The former grain silo looks great from the outside and hosts a formidable collection of contemporary art based on the Gordon Matta-Clark Foundation. Apart from the numerous international artists represented here it is the presentation of the Belgian avant-garde that is most striking for non-residents. The very friendly and well-informed art students who work in the museum will gladly answer any of your questions and are fun to chat with. Thus it’s probably best to visit the M HKA (Leuvenstraat 32) as early as possible.
FASHION :: You may have heard about it or not, but Antwerp is a true fashion city. Everyone is looking good, the fashion academy has an international reputation and a wide range of designer and concept stores line the tiny streets. You should definitely pay a visit to Graanmarkt 13 – it’s a so-called Open House that comprises store, restaurant, tailor and studios. If you have just 1 day in Antwerp, come here. On the ground floor you can browse fashion and even treat yourself to some fresh designer pieces from their own label.
If you ask politely you can have a sneak-peak into the upper levels where the tailorshop is – the stairs are an architecuraal highlight. Crossing the courtyard and passing the bee colony, you’ll get to the basement with a terrace and restaurant.
FOOD :: In Antwerp you’ll have to be pretty tough to withstand the sweet delights of the numerous bakeries and chocolatiers. One of the best spots for food in general is the exotic market at Theaterplein (Saturday, 8am – 4pm).
Even from a couple of streets away, you can already smell fruity stews, herbs, fish and spices. As soon as you step into this spectacle you are charmed by the colors of food from around the world. Go there with an empty stomach, anything else would be a waste. One should try the huge variety of raisins in combination with roasted nuts and seeds.
Make sure you visit the food stand with the Moroccan pastillas (it’s the one where all the locals queue up). It’s sweet salty perfection – I tried olives, feta, dried figs, dried tomatoes, sesame and honey!!! – with a small glass of very sweet and very hot mint tea for just 3 Euros. Awesome!!!
CULTURE :: The must-see in the culture department is St. Andres Church (Waaistraat 5). Not because it is the most breathtaking church on earth but because this pretty little church presents some important Antwerp cultural heritage in a quite modest way and even the statue of the Virgin Mary has some fashion sense.
This century-old wooden statue was once clothed by a fashion designer and has been wearing specially tailored haute couture ever since!
By the way you are now quite close to Kloosterstraat, where you can take a stroll and discover adorable antique shops and independent designer stores. For a golden finish of your 1 day in Antwerp just take a seat in one of the little restaurants and enjoy a cold and tasty Belgian beer.
Disclaimer: Alexandra was invited on this trip on behalf of justtravelous.com by flandern.com.