Heading to Belgium soon and want to venture out of the capital? Antwerp is a beautiful location you shouldn’t miss! And because we know how fast-paced Europe trips can be here we will tell you all the best things to do in Antwerp in a day.
Antwerp is sometimes overlooked by tourists stopping in Belgium only to visit the capital, Brussels, but we feel like Antwerp needs some appreciation of its own. Antwerp is a gothic city of dreams, with those romantic pebble stone streets and gorgeous houses that seem to wear little hats, plus the city is the perfect size to walk around and explore in one day. Let us show you how, here are our top things to do in Antwerp in a day:
Antwerp Central Train Station
One of my favorite things about Europe is how well-connected it all is by train—from Amsterdam to Antwerp is just a little over an hour— and chances are that you will arrive in Antwerp by train, to the central station, that’s why we will make this our first stop on the list of things to do in Antwerp.
The Antwerp central train station (Antwerpen-Centraal) is a stunning piece of architecture inside and out, it was constructed between 1895 and 1905, and it has become a significant image of the city. The variety of architectural influences that it shows has made it hard to pinpoint an exact architectural style, nonetheless, its beauty has earned it a place among the top 4 most beautiful train stations in the world.
I believe that the best way to explore any European city is on foot and mostly unplanned, wandering around the old town of this beautiful gothic city will give you a taste of the unique style of this small country.
One of the main squares in Antwerp is the Grote Markt (Great Market Square) where you will find the Bravos Monument, a fountain with a figure of a mythical Roman soldier who is said to have killed a giant.
Equally as eyecatching as the monument itself is the view of the stunning backdrop of triangle-top houses, making for a postcard image, that is why this is one of our top things to do in Antwerp.
Antwerp City Hall
In the same square, you will see the magnificent Stadhuis, the City Hall, this Renaissance building was constructed between 1561 and 1565 and is both influenced by both Italian and Flemish architectural styles, and was recognized in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1999.
The outside of the City Hall is decorated with the flags of the 28 countries that are part of the European Union, as well as countries that have a Belgian consulate in them.
The Smallest Waffle Shop in the World
If we think of Belgium we have to think of waffles, and even if that’s a stereotype, is not a wrong one, the Belgian waffles are truly something else! And that’s why tasting one should be on your list of top things to do in Antwerp!
You will find different waffle shops as you make your way through the city, but none as small as this one, “The smallest waffle shop in the world”, this cute little spot was recommended to me by a local friend of mine, sadly the day that I was there they were closed, but my friend says they are very popular with the locals.
*Make sure to ask for the Liege waffle. This is the sweet denser kind.
Another “stereotype” that is far from an exaggeration, Belgium chocolate is truly delicious!
Let’s begin with solid chocolate, Leonidas came highly recommended to me by my local friend that showed me around, so we visited one of their stores in the city center and tried a few different kinds of chocolate and ended up buying some extra chocolate bars as souvenirs for friends and family, and everyone loved them!
My favorite one was the Leonidas dark chocolate bar with raspberries, it was *chef’s kiss*.
My Belgian friend also recommended Cote d’Or as a supermarket alternative.
Quetzal hot chocolate
All that chocolate shopping will surely get you thirsty… maybe for a hot chocolate? When in Belgium, right?
So, after all that chocolate tasting you can make your way to Quetzal chocolate bar, a cozy little nook that gets straight to the point; you walk in the door, choose your type of chocolate—white, milk, or dark —choose some extras if you desire, like marshmallows and whipped cream, or even make it spicy or add some Baileys—the options are endless, and they all sound ridiculously good, so good luck choosing!
My favorite part is that every hot chocolate is served with a little piece of the most decadent brownie on the side—simply a heaven for chocolate lovers!
So if you are searching for things to do in Antwerp do not miss this spot.
Try some Belgian Frites
Time to switch it up from sweet to salty and have a more “substantial” meal, if we can call it that.
You might see a theme here, but I do base a lot of my exploration of a place based on food, and you cannot leave Belgium without trying some Frites, the Belgian equivalent of French fries.
Frites are cut thicker and are served in a paper cone with a sauce of your choice on top, my absolute favorite sauce is Joppiesauce, which is originally from the Netherlands but is also well-loved in Belgium, it tastes a bit like sweet onion mustard, but if you want to stick to the basics: ketchup and mayonnaise are popular options too.
There are so many Frites stands around the city, you shouldnt have a problem finding one.
Paters Vaetje Beer Bar
After taking your frites for a walk around the Old Town at sunset, its time to finish the day with a thick Belgian beer at a cozy tabern in the city center, somewhere like Paters Vaetje.
Paters Vaetje is a small but interesting looking bar with an Art Nouveau style, and a massive beer selection that makes the menu a bit intimidating but fun to go through. And if you are not a big beer drinker like me, the staff is incredibly friendly and very willing to help you choose something that will be right for you!
I really enjoyed trying out the dark fruity beers, my favorite one being this Kasteel Rouge beer.
And that is it for a days worth of things to do in Antwerp! I hope you found this guide useful, there are surely many things you could do in the city, but for me this covers the main things that are a must if you are there for a quick visit. Let me know what if you have any questions, or if theres something you think I am missing on this guide.
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