Antwerp from A to Z
Antwerp City Card
Get the most out of Antwerp! How, you asked? Use the Antwerp City Card as your guide. The card will open the nicest, tastiest and most surprising doors of the city for you, for free or at a discount. What’s more, you can choose how long you want to use it.
Antwerp has so much to offer that it would take a lifetime to discover everything. But you only have a weekend or a mid-week. That is why we selected the best the city has to offer: the Cathedral of Our Lady, the Rubens House, the MAS museum... and what’s more, your Antwerp City Card entitles you to free admission to all these attractions.
You can also use public transportation free of charge as long as your Antwerp City Card is valid. In addition, you can also cheaply rent a bike, receive a discount in the chip shop and use your free ticket for the hop-N-stop shuttle (do take it at least once!).
The Antwerp City Card tells you what to see in the city but it doesn’t tell you when to visit these attractions. That’s up to you to decide. Depending on how much time you will be spending in Antwerp, you can choose a card that is valid for 24, 48 or 72 hours. Your card is activated when you use it for the first time.
The Antwerp City Card costs €27 for 24 hours, €35 for 48 hours or €40 for 72 hours. The validity period of your transport pass always begins on the day you purchase your Antwerp City Card. Do you want the start to coincide with your first visit? Tell the information desk assistant so they can fill in another date on the back of your card.
The name "Antwerp" is most likely derived from "aan de werpe", which is Dutch for "at the throw", referring to a place where the bending river throws its sand. Locals might tell you of an ancient urban legend, saying it comes from "Hand werpen", which translated means "throwing (a) hand(s)". In the official flag, the castle "het Steen" and the hand of Antwerp are shown.
In the 16th century, Antwerp was one of the most important financial centres of the world, where traders from all over Europe and Asia sold and bought their goods. After the siege of Antwerp in 1585 by the Spanish, this role as a financial centre was taken over by Amsterdam. Nevertheless, since the 19th century and especially the 20th century, Antwerp has made a serious economic comeback. At a population of around 500,000, it is the second largest city in Belgium, after Brussels, and it has a major European port.
|Belgian beers are world-famous, and Antwerp is an excellent place to taste!
The De Koninck Antwerp City Brewery offers an ideal introduction to the world of beer. Het Pakhuis is another brewery where you can taste authentically brewed beer. In addition, there are plenty of typical ‘brown cafés’ which often have dozens and in some cases hundreds of Belgian beers on the menu. Examples include Bier Central, ’t Waagstuk, Paters Vaetje, de Kulminator and Gollem. One beer that deserves a special mention is Seefbier. A few years ago, Seefbier got a little brother: Bootjesbier.
In Belgium you don’t need to worry about the bar closing down on you because there is no legally mandated bar time (a.k.a. last call). Rest assured you will have plenty of time to enjoy the seemingly endless variety of Belgian beers.
|Belgian waffles were originally leavened with yeast, although nowadays baking powder is often used. Depending upon the season, all kind of fruits can be added and of course, the chocolate topping you surely can’t resist.|
|Cabs are available, but they can be quite expensive. When you use them, make sure you only get into licensed cabs. They await customers at specific locations around town (waving your hand will seldom work) like the Groenplaats or the railway station. You can recognize these places by an orange TAXI sign. The prices are fixed in the taximeter. Cabs include a service charge, but expect to add 5% – 10% to round up the bill.|
|Indulge yourself in chocolates. All Belgian main brands like Leonidas, Neuhaus and Godiva are represented with a shop in Antwerp. Additionally, some very good local chocolatiers can be found all over the city, such as SJOKOLAT (Hoogstraat 33), who likes to experiment with new flavours, or Goossens (Isabellalei 6) for a more traditional approach.|
|Like many of its European counterparts, Belgium is a relatively safe country with few threats to tourist’s safety. Once your train arrives you may be ready to jump on and zone out but it is a good idea to keep an eye on your belongings here as well. Pickpockets have been reported to operate on international trains, mainly between Paris-Brussels and Amsterdam-Brussels.
Most parts of Antwerp are safe, but some neighbourhoods can feel less comfortable, especially by female travellers, as the local population is rich in foreign cultures and because of the dominant presence of young men in the streets, especially the area around De Coninckplein and the neighbourhoods of Borgerhout, Seefhoek and the Schipperskwartier. Still, these neighbourhoods have a very lively atmosphere and are definitely worth a visit during the day if this is new to you.
Be particularly vigilant at Antwerp's Central station as there are teams of pickpockets operating in the area who use young children to distract their victims whilst laptop bags and handbags are slashed with razors. Do be mindful of your belongings and keep an eye on your wallet and purses and avoid keeping all your money and travel documents in one place.
Professional thieves often work in teams of two or three and use a range of techniques to distract their victims such as asking for directions, spilling food or drink, or telling them someone has spilled something on their clothes. There have also been reports of small groups of young men preying on tired and bewildered tourists in metro stations, commonly at night.
Like most of the rest of Europe, the number for emergencies (ambulance, police and fire) is 112.
|The euro became the official currency of Belgium in 2002, replacing the Belgian franc.
There are 100 cents in a Euro (€).
Euro coins: 1(€), 2(€)
Cent coins: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50
Euro notes: 5(€), 10(€), 20(€), 50(€), 100(€), 200(€), 500(€)
Visa, MasterCard and American Express are widely accepted in Antwerp for most things, including shopping, restaurants and hotel invoices.
There are several ATM machines in Antwerp, which may be cheaper to withdraw money using your debit or credit card, but this depends on your individual bank charges.
|If you do become a victim of petty or serious crime, contact the nearest police station straight away to obtain a police report, as you will need this for a replacement passport or insurance claim. The local number in Belgium is 101 for emergencies requiring police assistance, or 112 for all other emergencies.|
|EUMA Belgium cannot be held responsible for any loss, injury or damage of any person or property, whatever the cause may be. The liability of persons and enterprises providing means of transportation or other services, however, remains unaffected. Participants take part in all tours and trips at their own risk. Only written arrangements are binding. The sole venue is Radisson Blu Astrid Hotel. Please make your own arrangements as far as health and travel insurance are concerned.|
|Antwerp locals love eating and drinking, and like to take the time to do so. In summer, café terraces and culinary events therefore set the mood. But it’s not just during summer months that Antwerp reveals its tastiest side: fries and beer – both often praised as the best in the world – are an integral part of Belgian gastronomy at all times of year. The many local specialities are evidence of the city’s rich culinary tradition, among them being Antwerpse Handjes, Bolleke beer and the liqueur Elixir d’Anvers. As you would expect from a city housing a world port, these regional treats are complemented by an extensive multicultural cuisine.|
|Belgians speak Flemish and French. Belgium can be divided into two geographical regions: French-speaking Wallonia in the south and a dialect of Dutch known as Flemish in the Flanders region in the north. Brussels sits right in between these two regions and is therefore bilingual: people there speak both French and Dutch. Interestingly, Belgium is a trilingual country, because there is a small part in the south of Wallonia that is dedicated to German speakers. Antwerp welcomes may different tourists, so English is not a problem.|
Antwerp has always been a market town with a tradition of open markets. This chilled way of shopping reveals the real Antwerp for inhabitants and visitors alike. Local everyday markets are dotted around the city and over weekends themed markets offer an abundance of produce and things for sale.
Vogelenmarkt (Birds market)
What: flowers, antiques, fabrics, jewellery, exotic birds, hamsters and rabbits
Where: Oudevaartplaats, Theaterplein and surroundings
When: Sundays, from 8 AM to 1 PM (also on public holidays)
What: local products, but also Turkish, Moroccan and southern specialities
Where: Oudevaartplaats, Theaterplein and surroundings
When: Saturdays, from 8 AM to 4 PM (except for public holidays)
What: old furniture and small antiques are being put up for auction
When: Fridays, from 9 AM to 1 PM
Antiques market Saturday
When: Saturdays, from 9 AM to 5 PM (except for public holidays)
Antiques market Sunday
When: Sundays, from 9 AM to 5 PM (also on public holidays)
What: products with a bio quality label
When: Sundays, from 8 AM to 4 PM
The shopping capital of Flanders
Shopping in Antwerp is always an experience. There’s a wide variety of shops to choose from, including fashion, design, antiques and vintage. They are all within walking distance in a city that is both hip and historic, cool and classic, trendy and traditional. The retailers in the historic city centre welcome you with open arms every first Sunday of the month. You can shop until you drop in the following streets and neighbourhoods: De Keyserlei, Meir, Diamond district, Wilde Zee, Fashion district, Hoogstraat, Kloosterstraat, Schuttershofstraat, Huidevettersstraat, Kammenstraat, Groenplaats and Zuid.
Shopping zone Meir
|The immensely beautiful Rococo buildings on the Meir house major European chain stores. It makes this traffic-free boulevard the pre-eminent hotspot for every shopaholic.
Thanks to its historic architecture and prestigious character, the Meir makes shopping feel special. Not only do the buildings make it worth a visit, the offerings are first-rate. You’ll find all major international chains here. Do visit Antwerp’s Stadsfeestzaal, an exclusive shopping centre in the beautifully restored city festival hall. A side street of the Meir leads to the Rubens House. The Wapper, the square in front of that museum, has several pub terraces. It’s the ideal place to take a break and recharge your batteries for the next round of shopping.
Purchasing a diamond at one of the many tourist jewellery shops around the Central station can be an unpleasant experience. Like any big diamond city in world, there are many tourist trap diamond shops around the actual diamond district centre though it is fair to say that if you are prepared to barter you can purchase jewellery here for significantly less than in countries such as the UK.
Chinatown can be found about 300m north of the Central Station. A lot of Japanese, Korean, and Chinese products can be found here.
|Restaurants often include a service charge, but some places still add 5% – 10% or round up the bill.|
Weather and Climate
|Belgium experiences similar weather to the south of England and is best visited in spring and summer, when the days are warmer and the locals are enjoying drinks on the outdoor terraces,
Required clothing: rainfall is common throughout the year, so bring a waterproof jacket with a hood. That way you don’t have to bother with an unwieldy umbrella. Otherwise, pack light clothing. Sturdy walking shoes are best for tackling the cobblestones in the centre.
EUMA becomes IMA
on 1 February 2017
11 days 14 hours 45 min. 50 sec.