The Top 10 Things To Do And See In Antwerp

| © Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo
Hanna Clarys

Antwerp is a bustling city where no one ever gets bored. Around every corner is something that will excite, surprise, amaze or move any visitor. Making a selection of what to do and see when you’re in town is never easy, but here’s the cream of the crop in Antwerp.

1. 't Eilandje


The Museum aan de Stroom (MAS) at the Bonaparte Dock in Antwerp, Belgium
© DE ROCKER / Alamy Stock Photo
Having been a neglected and discarded neighborhood only a few years ago, ‘t Eilandje is now the hotspot for hipsters and artsy folk. Although the gaudy yachts might not be for everyone, the small harbor is a pleasant place to dream about stormy seas and faraway adventures. Towering above the entire neighborhood and a must visit for every Antwerp lover is the MAS museum; a landmark between the city and its port, this brand new museum tells the story of Antwerp and its inhabitants. The view from the roof is breathtaking on a clear and sunny day, and those who dare to look down can spot a beautiful artwork from renowned Belgian painter Luc Tuymans hidden somewhere on the museum site itself.

2. Fashion Museum MoMu


The Paper Fashion exhibition in the Fashion Museum of Antwerp, curated by Vassilis Zidianakis (Belgium, 05/03/2009)
© Christophe Ketels / Alamy Stock Photo
If Vogue Magazine is the bible of fashion, Antwerp is fashion’s Garden of Eden. The city has always inspired young designers and its Fashion Academy has brought forth some of the biggest names on the Milan and New York catwalks. That’s why the MoMu is the ultimate fashion experience, with a permanent exhibition on the history of fashion and the Antwerp Six, and temporary exhibitions held frequently. Every self-respecting fashionista should pay this museum a visit.

Summer Of Antwerp

The Summer of Antwerp is one big feast that lasts over two months every summer. On several locations across the city, from rooftops and hangars to parks and upgraded industrial areas, concerts, theater performances and circus shows are organized. Movie nights along the river Scheldt and innumerable parties light up the summer nights. Drink cocktails in the exotic chill-out spot Zomerbar, dance in the Zomerfabriek and stay at the Nulsterrenpension. This ‘zero-star pension’ provides a once-in-a lifetime experience, located in an abandoned gas factory and equipped with second-hand beds and furniture.

3. Café De Muze

Cafe, French, Dutch

World famous and located in Antwerp city, this jazz café has been hot and happening ever since 1964. Café De Muze represents everything the city stands for; artists and forgotten writers, up and coming musicians and those who have already made it. Only in De Muze can you find this wonderful blend of people that is so characteristic of the city itself. At least three times a week there is a music gig during which up and coming bands test their jazzy beats on the public.

4. Extra City Kunsthal


© Mark Rietveld / Courtesy of Kunsthal Extra City
Extra City is off the beaten track, but entirely worth being on this list. Art adepts will love this place; Extra City Kunsthal is a platform for the production, presentation and debate of contemporary art and there are exhibitions, performances and talks going on all the time. The venue is located in a former industrial launderette and accommodates artist studios, ateliersfor art students, a cool bar and a cinema space. It’s totally hip and arty, and visitors will feel inspired from the moment they set foot in the building.

5. Red Star Line Museum


Facade of the Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp, Belgium
© DE ROCKER / Alamy Stock Photo
The Red Star Line Museum is definitely one of the coolest museums in Antwerp, and Belgium for that matter. Very interactive and perfect for children, this museum invites its visitors on a journey in the footsteps of the millions of emigrants who sailed from Europe to America in the 1800s. Beautiful old pictures, well made videos and emotional testimonials all in the historic sheds of the legendary shipping company itself. It is a wonderful and special museum which tells a story to which everyone can relate; a story that is still important to tell in our time. It is a story of dreams, disappointment and hope for a better life. This museum raises empathy and understanding for refugees all around the world, past and present.

6. The Kloosterstraat

Shopping Mall, Shop

Christiaensen & Christiaensen
Christiaensen & Christiaensen / Courtesy of
This narrow and always pleasantly crowded street in the south of the city is a favorite route for flaneurs with a soft spot for antiques. Numerous minuscule stores filled with old furniture, collector’s items and retro gadgets make for long and slow afternoons in the sun. You can find anything you want here and everything you never knew you wanted. After digging through all the knick-knacks, a well deserved fresh beer is to be found in every bar along the street.

7. Ampere nightclub

Nightclub, Cocktails, Wine, Beer, Fast Food

Friends hanging out at a nightclub
Nightclub Ampere is worth mentioning for the raving party animals among us. Not only is it located right underneath the tracks of Antwerp Central Station, it is also the first eco-club in Belgium. The dancers’ body heat is captured and used to warm the building, and the dance floor generates energy when danced upon which is then recycled into electricity, which used for lights and sound. The heat produced by 1000 people can generate energy for a full week, which makes Ampere almost entirely self-sufficient. The music played here is mostly house and techno, mixed with regular live performances. So if you’re a green techno lover, this place will make for an unforgettable party.

8. Cinema Cartoon's

Cinema, Movie Theater

Red seats in a theater and opera
© Deyan Georgiev - Premium RF / Alamy Stock Photo
If you’re stuck in Antwerp on a rainy day, Cartoon’s is the city’s smallest cinema and the coziest alternative to any other indoor activity. It distinguishes itself from other cinemas by programming mostly arthouse and indie films, and by not selling popcorn or nachos. In the evening you can descend to the basement bar to enjoy live music by local bands.

9. Rubenshuis


Rubenshuis / Rubens House museum, former home and studio of Peter Paul Rubens (1577?1640) in Antwerp, Flanders, Belgium
© Arterra Picture Library / Alamy Stock Photo
Translating to the House of Rubens, this small museum is located in the former studio and home of one of the most famous Flemish painters of all time. Peter Paul Rubens lived in the 17th century and created some of the most beautiful altarpieces, portraits and landscapes in a specific baroque style. The Rubenshuis itself is a masterpiece of architecture and the walls of the building are adorned with an impressive selection of Rubens’ artwork and paintings, including his very own self-portrait.

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