A winter weekend in Antwerp

Make the most of your city trip to wintery Antwerp and be inspired by the many, heart-warming options. 


Breakfast always tastes better when you don’t have to prepare it yourself. Enjoy a croissant and a hot chocolate as you read your newspaper after which you are ready to head into the city centre.

It’s early still and the perfect time to admire the Baroque splendour of St Charles Borromeo Church in lovely Conscienceplein. The enormous altarpiece above the main altar is changed three times a year. One of the paintings is even a real Rubens.They use a special pulley system for this, which is over 400 years old. This is a complicated process and quite a sight to behold. Once outside, check out the fun stores in Wijngaardstraat as you walk towards Grote Markt.

If you are interested in finding out more about the stately façades of the Guild Houses and about Brabo, the young man who lobbed the giant’s hand into the Scheldt, then walk over to the tourist information office. But you can also ask an Antwerper as you sip a Bolleke in one of the many traditional pubs. From the traditional pub, it’s back to architectural grandeur. And after a Bolleke, the Cathedral of Our Lady looks even more impressive. Here you will come face to face with the great masterpieces of Rubens. Walk past Groenplaats and Boerentoren and then make your way to Meir, where several large chains have set up shop in a series of magnificent buildings.One of the eye-catchers along Meir is the former Royal Palace ‘Paleis op de Meir’, the former Rococo retreat
of our royal family, and before that of Napoleon. Now you can buy delicious addictive chocolates here. If you’re up for more Rubens, turn the corner onto Wapper, where the walls of the flamboyant Rubens House are covered with artworks and where you can see how the master himself lived.

All this history will have made you hungry. There are plenty of nice places that serve good food near Theaterplein and Graanmarkt. Or why not have a snack on the go at the exotic Saturday market in Theaterplein?

In Antwerp, old artworks are harmoniously juxtaposed with fashionable stores. Wilde Zee, the area around Schuttershofstraat and Huidevettersstraat, is the place to discover authentic Antwerp craftsmanship

Time for some action. Score a coupleof skates and take a spin or two around the statue of Rubens. You have definitely earned that drink. Fortunately, there is cosy winter bar near the ice-skating rink.

Shhh, Nello and Patrasche are asleep in Handschoenmarkt. Follow the delicious scent of bacon potatoes, churros and other tasty items to Grote Markt and have a snack near one of the campfires in the Christmas market. Don’t worry if you find it too cold to eat outdoors. There are plenty of restaurants nearby. Need some fresh air before diving into a music pub or cocktail bar? Then take
a stroll along the Scheldt and enjoy the breath-taking views of the river and the left bank. Or look down at the many glittering lights as you take a ride on the giant Ferris wheel.


Time to work that body. Buy a Velo day pass and bike over to Zuidand Bolivarplaats, where you can see the wings of the Law Courts sparkle in the winter sun. Slightly less striking but equally inviting is the architecture of M HKA, Antwerp’s contemporary art
museum, which lurks behind high white walls. End your visit with a pitstop in the M HKAFE on the fourthf loor for a healthy lunch. With a bit of luck you can enjoy the sun on the large roof terrace.

In recent years, the cream of the crop of Antwerp’s art scene seems to have converged in Zuid. Besides M HKA,you will also find FoMu, short for Photo Museum, here as well as a host of art galleries. Zuid with its bars and trendy shops is considered to be
Antwerp’s trendiest neighbourhood and the place to go for spotting famous locals.

Many of the shops in Kloosterstraat, that sell antiques and vintage items, are also open on Sunday. Then walk towards Oude Koornmarkt through Vlaeykensgang. This alley will transport you back in time to the Middle Ages.

Eilandje, Antwerp’s most vibrant district, is just waiting to be discovered. In recent years, several fun restaurants and shops opened here. Walk through the Schipperskwartier to and through Felix Pakhuis to get to Willemdok, Antwerp’s oldest dock. Learn more about the story of Antwerp, the port and the world as you work your way up the floors in the MAS museum.The higher the gallery, the more spectacular the views of the city. And if you’re lucky, you may even catch a stunning sunset on the rooftop terrace at the end of your visit. 

No, we are not ready to go home yet! Still have some time and energy? Then take the tram or bike to Central Station. Step inside and take a good look around. The trains look like toy trains against the backdrop of this magnificent building, which has already been named one of the world’smost beautiful stations on several occasions. 

Victoriano Moreno


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