When people hear about Belgium they think of cities like Brussels and Bruges but to my opinion it’s Antwerp – the city at the river Scheldt – you really need to visit, and this is why:
1 – DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER
If diamonds are your best friends… make yourself up to meet new friends in sparkling Antwerp.
For more than 5 centuries Antwerp has been the diamond capital of the world.
Here you find the knowledge, creativity, technology and expertise. If you are looking for something unique, Antwerp is thé place to be.
Via Central Station you can walk to the Diamond Square Mile – the Antwerp diamond district. Here you find the Antwerp World Diamond Centre and other diamond organizations, jewellers, workshops and traders on the way to their next transaction.
Jewellers with the certified label (Antwerp’s Most Brilliant) can be found all over the city.
If you wish to immerse completely in the magical world of diamonds and other treasures, visit the DIVA Museum, located at Suikerrui. (near Grote Markt)
2 – FROM BELGIUM WITH LOVE: CHOCOLATES
I confess… I looove chocolates. But in my defence, you can find chocolates everywhere in my country!
To learn more about the how and the why Belgium is world-famous for its chocolates, book a tour in ‘chocolate nation’.
Chocolate Nation is the world’s largest Belgian chocolate museum located in the centre of Antwerp, opposite Central Station.
CHOCOLATE IS THE BEST PRESENT FOR THE ONE YOU LOVE & YOURSELF 😊
So let me help you to find the best chocolate in the city.
In the city you will find shops of famous brands like GODIVA – NEUHAUS – LEONIDAS and GUYLIAN.
The wonderful window displays and the smell from chocolate will invite you to come in and then… there is no way back.
Other brands like THE BELGIAN and COTE D’OR may sound less familiar but I can tell you the taste is really good.
Do you want to know some of my favourites? Here you go:
- Plaisir from the irrésistibles collection – NEUHAUS
- Bûche pistachio & Manon café (white chocolate shell) – LEONIDAS
- Coconut Pyramid – GODIVA
- Vanilla sticks & a caramel with dark chocolate candy called Chokotoff – COTE D’OR
- The sea shells from THE BELGIAN
But in truth… they are all good because one can not argue about flavours right?
If you want to share the love with family and friends, buy one of the exceptionally beautiful gift boxes for them.
3 – ABSOLUTELY FASHIONABLE
Antwerp is one of the world’s leading fashion cities of the world.
It were 6 designers – the iconic Antwerp Six – who graduated from the now infamous Fashion Department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts – and made it to the top of the international fashion world.
In Antwerp you can shop in world-famous fashion houses, international chain stores and everything in between. Let me give you some insight where to go.
Antwerp’s ModeNatie – located in Nationalestraat – is the heart of the fashion district. In this building you find the fashion museum (MOMU) a library and the Fashion Department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts.
You can shop the collection of the famous Belgian designer Dries Van Noten in the beautiful building ‘Het Modepaleis’ also situated in Nationalestraat.
The clothes of Mr. Van Noten are above my budget 😉 but I like to shop at Filippa K as they sell a lot of nice minimalistic items which suit my classic style.
In the impressive 18th and 19th century buildings on Meir – the main shopping street – you find international chain stores like ZARA, H&M and shopping mall INNO. Furthermore you find here Armani Exchange, I don’t know how many sneaker stores and the beautiful jewelry store Slaets to just name a few. Don’t forget to pass by Stadsfeestzaal to shop, have a drink or just admire the spectacular interior of the building.
The Wilde Zee is a small square surrounded by 5 pedestrian streets. Here you find hip clothing – and shoe shops like Cosi Cosi, N Brands, Monar, the concept store & other Stories and so many other beautiful shops… and places to eat & drink so you can rest after some extensive shopping.
The Nieuwe Gaanderij – which is a covered gallery – connects the Wilde Zee with Huidevettersstraat, where you can shop with major brands like Liu Jo, Michael Kors, BOSS, Max Mara, Essentiel (Belgian brand), Massimo Dutti and the by Belgian Royals very much liked NATAN (famous Belgian designer). While you are here… go to Lange Gasthuisstraat to visit the stores Verso and Princess where you can shop designer clothing from multiple brands.
The Theatre district is the place to be to spend some really good money – here you find some of Antwerp’s most exclusive boutiques. In Schuttershofstraat you can shop at Chanel, Delvaux (Belgian brand), Carolina Herrera and Moncler to just name a few. At Komedieplaats you can admire the window displays of Louis Vuitton before entering the store. Next door you can shop at Ralph Lauren.
If you leave the historic heart and walk South to the vibrant Antwerpen Zuid, you’ll notice it was worth the walk. In the Volkstraat you find trendy conceptstores like Enes with designer items and unique objects. In this area you also find the Fashion House of Ann Demeulemeester, a Belgian designer from the original Antwerp Six.
4 – A HEART FOR ANTWERP
Antwerp has a long and rich history so as a result you can find many expressions in the fields of art like architecture, painting and literature in the city.
In fact the entire city is a piece of art. Everywhere you go you will find historical buildings, musea, art galleries, antique stores and theatres.
If you are interested in architecture… you will have a blast in Antwerp. You’ll find traces that go back to early Medieval times around the area of ’t Steen. Furthermore you find some great examples of Gothic style (Cathedral) – Renaissance (City Hall) – Baroque (Rubenshuis) – Rococo (Osterrieth huis) – Art Nouveau (houses at Cogels-Osylei) – Art Déco (Boerentoren) and buildings in neo – and eclectic architecture like Handelsbeurs and Central Station.
The most important painter of Antwerp is none other than… Peter Paul Rubens, a world famous baroque painter from the 16th – 17th century. No where in the world is Rubens more present than in Rubenshuis, a unique museum in the heart of the city.
Another iconic museum is Plantin-Moretus (UNESCO World Heritage) which is the original home and workplace of the publisher family. Plantijn was the most influential printer & publisher of many books in the second half of the 16th century. Here you find thousands of books and an amazing art collection.
The Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp is home to some really important paintings. Here you can find paintings from the Flemish Primitives, the world’s largest James Ensor collection, sculptures from Rodin, masterpieces from Titian, Modigliani and hundreds of other art works.
The Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp is located in Antwerpen Zuid. This trendy area is a true hotspot for art galleries, auction houses, stores with unique design objects and the Photo Museum.
In the impressive early 20th century building of Opera Ballet Flanders on Frankrijklei, you can enjoy high quality opera and ballet performances.
As you can see art is everywhere…
5 – A JOY FOR YOUR SENSES: FOOD & DRINKS
As a multicultural city you find restaurants from about every area in the world.
Greek, Japanese, Italian, Libanese, South American, Maroccon, French, Chinese, Thai, Spanish, Israeli, American, Vietnamese, … it’s all here.
And off course here you can eat some of our world-famous dishes like mussels & fries or Flemish stew & fries or what about our croquettes?
I can’t even start to tell you how delicious you can eat here… there are so many talented chefs here it’s ridiculous. 😊
With every good meal belongs a good drink, and also in that area we are doing a pretty good job. We have our own Elixir d’Anvers (herbal liqueur)
In Belgium you find the best beers in the world. To just name of few (the list is very long): Duvel – De Koninck – Stella – Jupiler – Westmalle.
We serve wines from all over the world and we are producing more and more wine – and gins – ourselves.
Belgium is currently the 5th largest importer of champagnes in the world so if you fancy a glass of bubbles, you will be delighted with the choices.
Furthermore… nowhere short in coffee – yes we have Starbucks (Central Station & Groenplaats) but we also make coffee ourselves and have some really good barista’s in the city.
Belgium is a small country but we have multiple springs and bottle our own water – like Spa, Chaudfontaine, Bru. In restaurants we often also serve mineral water from other brands like Evian, Perrier or San Pellegrino to just name a few.
You will be impressed with the variety and quality of food & drinks. ENJOY!
The city of Antwerp is looking forward to meet you!