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Antwerp is a big drinking city with no shortage of bars to explore. The big bar corporations, chains, and tourist conglomerates have left Antwerp blissfully untouched, so you’ll find a largely independent bar scene that’s retained its vibrant local character. Our list will focus on Old City center, where you’ll find many of the best pubs in town. Here are our top picks for where to drink in Old City.
Although Antwerp’s historical center is the city’s most popular tourist area, Cabron brings in a strong number of locals as well. Alternative and trendy, this up-and-coming venue occasionally hosts free concerts, which likely contributes to its growing popularity. It’s just around the corner from the cathedral, so it’s a perfect spot to drop in for a drink and a slice of homemade pizza, especially on a sunny day, when you can enjoy their outdoor seating.
Cabron, Kaasrui 1, Antwerpen, Belgium, +32 472 27 36 16
De Muze is a laid-back bar in Melkmarkt, perhaps best known for its live jazz. Six nights a week, the bar is filled with the music of Antwerp’s local jazz artists. The bar’s unassuming wooden facade contains an elaborate split-level, sprawling, Escher-like interior, resplendent in red brick. The bar serves a broad range of Belgian craft beers and specialty brews, alongside other spirits and mixed drinks. If you want something non-alcoholic, De Muze also makes a great Koffie Verkeerd (‘wrong coffee’, the Belgian take on café au lait).
De Muze, Melkmarkt 15, Antwerpen, Belgium, +32 3 226 01 26
Billie’s is a beer café and gastro-pub named after its own canine resident, Billie the dog. With a truly impressive beer list featuring brews from all over the world, there’s something on this menu to suit every taste. They also have fantastic food served in generous portions. Pick out a dish and ask their extremely friendly staff to recommend a beer pairing, you won’t be disappointed.
Kammenstraat 12, Antwerp, Belgium, +32 3 226 31 8
Jones & Co is a small, cozy bar with an excellent cocktail list. They serve several new spins on classic drinks, but it’s their own original creations that push this bar onto our list. One of the young mixologists behind the bar is also the owner, so don’t be surprised if it turns out he’s the one making your martini. Once you’ve got your drink in hand, head up to their terrace for a relaxing view of the nearby cathedral.
Pelgrimstraat 7, Antwerpen, Belgium, +32 493 07 37 71
This little café has more than 300 different beers on offer. The owner is a renowned beer sommelier, and the rest of the staff was clearly hand picked for their own extensive knowledge of the brews. The high level of expertise at work here shines through every step of the way, from the atmosphere and service down to the expert pouring of the beers. They also stock a decent number of whiskies and a modest food menu, so this beer lover’s haven offers something for everyone.
Hoogstraat 14, Antwerpen, Belgium, +32 475 89 49 64
This trendy cocktail bar is planted in het Zuid, a trendy borough of Antwerp. We’ve called it a cocktail bar, but we could also call it a rum bar, as they have dozens of different rums on offer. The interior is bizarre, made up of an extremely eclectic mix of oddments. As Bar Zar acts as a sort of gallery, all of these objects are for sale, so feel free to ask if you see something you like. The tables are high, the lighting is low, and the cocktails are great, so don’t hesitate to visit this one.
Pourbusstraat 8, Antwerpen, Belgium, +32 3 293 32 13