Antwerp is known for its quaint, medieval atmosphere but it also boasts plenty of fun things to do. Whether you're into history and culture or fashion and entertainment, there's something for everyone in this bustling Belgian city.
Take a stroll through one of the most famous Flemish masters' studios, where his finest works are on display. This is one of the best things to do in Antwerp!
Grote Markt (Dutch for ‘Grand Market’; French: Grand-Place) is Antwerp’s centrally located historic square, and it’s one of the liveliest spots in the city. The area is crammed with must-see sights like Antwerp’s Renaissance Town Hall, and it’s also home to many restaurants, cafes and shops.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city’s Town Hall (or Stadhuis) takes up the western side of the square; it was built by Cornelis Floris de Vriendt in the 16th century and is a fine example of Flemish mannerism. Inside, it’s hung with 19th-century paintings by H. Leys that illustrate the history of Antwerp.
On the north side of the square are some of Antwerp’s most interesting guild houses, which served as the headquarters of the city’s guilds in the 16th and 17th centuries. They’re a treat for architecture lovers. Another must-visit spot is the Vleeshuis, or butcher’s house; this 500-year-old guildhall has a fascinating museum with displays of musical instruments.
Stadsfeestzaal Shopping Centre
Antwerp’s Stadsfeestzaal Shopping Centre is located in the prestigious Meir street and offers an array of first-rate shops, all in one spot. It’s a great way to start your shopping adventure in the city.
It has four levels of fashion, leisure and gastronomy, with big names like H&M and Zara. It also has a cinema and several restaurants.
This historic shopping center was originally built for exhibitions and fairs, but it was transformed into a shopping complex after a fire in 2000. Its interior features gorgeous ornamental gilding and historical details.
Besides shopping, it is also home to Rockox House, a historic mansion that is a wonderful place to explore. It’s filled with interesting temporary exhibits and has a lovely herb garden.
Designed by Dutch architects Neutelings Riedijk, MAS is an icon of the revitalization of the port area, sitting just north of Antwerp city center on the dock commissioned by Napoleon in 1811. The 60-meter (197-foot) high building towers over the old Hanseatic warehouses, a landmark exemplary for postmodern Art Deco architecture.
Using layers of red sandstone bricks held together with glass, the five floors of MAS Museum tell the story of Antwerp's development into one of Europe's largest ports, diamond capital and multiracial center of learning and culture. More than half a million artifacts from paintings to newsreel, penny farthings and model ships provide an insightful look at how the city has shaped its people and their history.
The MAS is more than just a museum, it’s a repository of cultural heritage in the heart of the bustling Eilandje neighbourhood, with the Boulevard and rooftop panorama offering free high-level city views. And with exhibitions that change perciodically, you’re bound to be enchanted by the rich diversity of MAS Museum.
Red Star Line Museum
The Red Star Line Museum is located in the Eilandje district of Antwerp. It offers lots of different activities and attractions for families all year round.
The story of millions of European emigrants between 1873 and 1934 that left their homes to find a better life in America is told at the Red Star Line Museum. It's an insightful experience and a must-see for history buffs and those interested in the human journey of migration.
The three waterfront shipping warehouses that sheltered the ships of the Red Star Line have been restored and converted into a museum. They were designed by New York architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle, who also completed restorations for Ellis Island Immigration Museum in New York and Hamburg's Ballinstadt Emigration Museum.