A little about Antwerp for those that aren’t familiar…
The city is in northern Belgium and is neighbors as part of what I see as the triangle of the three major cities in Belgium. It’s the second most populace city in Belgium having roughly 510,000 people living inside its city limits. The city of Antwerp speaks Dutch, but just thirty minutes away in Brussels territory, you’ll find French speakers. Antwerp is a port city which got its name from an old folklore about a giant named Antigoon who lived near the Schledt River and blocked the city’s port to all passing boatmen. Those who couldn’t pay to enter would get their hand cut off. Thus, hand-werpen (dutch for “to throw”). Antwerp is known for their diamonds and fashion, as well as their world-class Central Station, which is rated #2 in Europe and #3 around the world. They also have a high Jewish population and Jewish expats from New York who marry other Jews in Antwerp.
Honestly, I couldn’t tell you which city I prefer if I had to choose from Ghent, Brugge, or Antwerp. Depending on the reasoning of your trip, I would tell you to travel to different cities, but I would certainly make an effort to see all three. They all have their similarities, though as soon as you enter Antwerp, you get a different feeling. It is more spacious and less biker friendly than Ghent but has an excellent public transportation set-up that enables you to get almost anywhere you want to go in the city with minimal walking. I noticed that there is no particular city center within the city like there is in the rest of the main Belgian cities. That confused me a bit, however, it didn’t make it any more difficult to navigate.
Antwerp is a city for everyone. Whether you’re a shopper, sightseer, adult, or student, it has got the right vibe for everyone.
It is not a break-the-bank city, however, it is not the cheapest city in the world either. Here are some useful price guides for a majority of the city:
The train from almost all neighboring cities to Antwerp will cost between $6-$11 for a one-way ticket, and a bus or tram ticket will cost you about $1.75 for a one-hour duration. A seafood entrée which is an Antwerp specialty on average will cost you between $11-$15. World famous Belgian chocolate will cost you around $2.20 for five measly pieces, but their liquor crème filled trademarked dark chocolate is a must-splurge. A hostel around the center of the city, although choices are limited, will cost you quite a bit at $25 for a night. It’s easy to find a cheap meal, Belgian fries or a kebab, anywhere in the city for less than $5.
It can get quite cold in the winter, as it can anywhere in the country. However, during the summer, which is the peak tourist season, it remains comfortable around 80 degrees all season long.
Other recommended attractions, restaurants, and bars in Antwerp:
- Antwerpen Zoo – one of the oldest zoos in the world.
- Antwerp City Hall in the main square
- Antwerp Central Station – as mentioned above is world class
- Cathedral of Our Lady
- 16th Century Guildhouses at the Grote Markt
- Statue of Brabo and the Giant’s hand – in front of City Hall
In conclusion, Antwerp is a beautiful city but didn’t necessarily make an extraordinary impact on me. Did I enjoy my stay? Yes. Would I go back if presented an opportunity? That remains to be seen, though probably not. If you have any questions about the city, feel free to reach me via email!