The best kept-gem of Belgium, Antwerp is a beautiful destination lesser-crowded than those popular cities in Belgium like Brussels, Ghent, and Bruges. 

For a long time, Antwerp has been serving as an important port city in the country. If you are looking to explore exciting museums, theatres, and amazing restaurants, this is a great place to be in Belgium. But that’s not it! Antwerp tourism offers plenty of different experiences and places to explore to tourists for an ultimate time. 

Being a laid-back city, Antwerp even offers you some amazing activities like canal cruising and bicycle tours, both long and short. Besides, this beaut city can be easily explored on foot. So, you’ll also have the opportunity to do cafe/bar hopping as there are great options to enjoy a coffee, beer, or waffles. 

With that being said, let’s now create an ultimate guide for you on what to see in Antwerp in one day. But before that, let’s fill you with some crucial information. 

No time to read now? No problem, save a pin to your Pinterest board for later!

Antwerp Day Trip

Table of Contents

Best Time to Visit Antwerp

Being the land of the Flanders Province of Belgium, Antwerp is also known as the diamond city. It is a year-round destination, which means you can plan your Antwerp day trip any time of the year. 

But when it comes to the best time to visit Antwerp, well, you can plan the trip any time from the months of May to September. Late spring is when the days are long, and the weather remains pleasant. 

Summer is another time when you can plan a trip to Antwerp. This is the time when locals are on holiday in the month of July and August. Besides, the weather also remains ideal for tourism during this time of the year. 

The months of September and October are also good for visiting Antwerp as the weather is still on the warmer side. Along with that, it is crucial to know that the weather in Flanders Province is a bit unpredictable. So, expect frequent rain and pack accordingly. 

Important Facts About Antwerp

The city of Antwerp is a little different from other major cities in Belgium. Here are a few basic facts about this beautiful city before we give you a one-day Antwerp itinerary.

  • Being a Flemish Province of Belgium, Dutch is the main and official language of Antwerp. 
  • Antwerp’s connection with the Dutch language can also be understood by the fact that its name is derived from a Dutch phrase that translates as “to throw a hand”. It talks about the legends of a young warrior who fought a mythical giant and cut off his hand, and threw it into the river in order to defeat the giant. 
  • Antwerp is the city that houses one of the oldest zoos in the world, which was founded in 1843.

Also, you would be amazed to know that the world’s first printed newspaper was published here in Antwerp. To celebrate the work of Antwerp’s earliest printers, there is even a museum known as the Plantin-Moretus Museum – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Top Things to See in Antwerp in One Day

Now that you know all the some facts about Antwerp, let’s unveil the list of the best things to do in for your one-day Antwerp itinerary. 

Admire the Architectural Beauty of Central Station –Antwerp Centraal

You must be amused to see a station on your list of things to do. But here it is! Central Station of Antwerp is undoubtedly one of the world’s most beautiful train stations. 

In case you don’t know, Belgium was the first European country that opens a public railway in 1835. And Antwerp was the city that played an important role in the early infrastructure. Central Station was initially the wood-studded terminus which was later replaced by the current infrastructure. 

The exterior of the station is stunning, but the main highlight is the interior which makes it a must-visit landmark in Antwerp. It is a big architectural marvel of steel, glass, and marble, and hence, is considered a treasured site. 

The infrastructure covers different architectural styles, where the main facade boasts a Neo-Renaissance style with elements of Art Nouveau. As you enter the station, the beguiling interior welcomes you with an impressive staircase and an ornate station clock. 

As you further go, there is a high ceiling steel platform with a height of 43 meters which was designed by Clement van Bogart. It was built purposely with such a height just to accommodate the smoke of the steam train.

Learn About the History of Printing at the Plantin-Moretus Museum

Well, there was a reason why we told you that the world’s first printed newspaper was published in Antwerp. Plantin-Moretus Museum has to be on your list of top things to do in one day in Antwerp, Belgium. 

A treasure trove for all books and history lovers, this museum walks you through the history of the printing industry. And Antwerp being the first city to publish a printed newspaper, the museum not just takes you back to Antwerp association with it but a general history of the printing industry as well. 

And that is the reason why Plantin-Mortus Museum is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are different interactive and informative rooms that impart you with the history of book printing. Not just this, the museum also has a rich collection of exhibits, including ancient printing presses, typographical tools, leather walls, and even original manuscripts. 

Apart from the exhibits, the entire building is also historical. It is a 16th-century construction that once served as the house and printing establishment of a celebrated book printer – Christophe Plantin and his son-in-law, Jan Moretus, who was also his successor.

Powered by GetYourGuide

Visit Ruben’s House

Ruben’s House is another must-visit museum in Antwerp. It was once the home of the famous Flemish painter – Peter Paul Rubens, and his family. He created many of his pieces here in this house. 

The museum houses an interesting collection of his artwork along with exhibits depicting his life and work in this house. The building dates back to the 17th century, which he bought in 1610 and lived here until his demise in 1640. 

Since the death of Rubens, the house has undergone numerous ownership. It was in 1937 when the government acquired the building and managed to restore it to its former form. 

Visiting Ruben’s House is a unique experience in itself. Unlike the other museums, you can walk through the ten refurbished rooms and get an insight into what the life of one of the most celebrated Flemish artists was like.

Try the Delectable Samples at Chocolate Nation

If you are a chocolate connoisseur, you know the worth of Belgian chocolate. And what could be a better opportunity than enjoying the taste of delectable Belgian chocolate in Belgium? 

For that, Chocolate Nation offers you that opportunity. It is basically a museum; yes, a chocolate museum exists in Antwerp! Here, you can check out the entire process of chocolate making right from the bean to the bar. 

To explain this process, there are different interesting and fun ways to take you through the chocolate-making process. There are 14 themed rooms that walk you down the journey of the cacao bean right from the equatorial plantations to the storage port of Antwerp. 

Not just this, you can also find various famous chocolate brands along with those tiny little local artisans. And yes, you can also do that for which you are eager to visit Chocolate Nation, which is chocolate tasting.

Visit the Cathedral of Our Lady

One of the most popular sacred sites in Antwerp, the Cathedral of Our Lady is the tallest structure in the city. It is located in the heart of the city’s old town and is touted as the largest Gothic cathedral in the country. It has an enormous bell tower which is 123 meters tall. 

The cathedral dates back to the 14th century and took some 169 years to complete. The exterior of the cathedral is marvellous. But we highly recommend you get a ticket to explore the interior of Antwerp Cathedral as well. 

Just to give you a picture of what the interior includes, well, it beautifully boasts impressive Baroque decor with a total of seven aisles. Not just this, the interior also includes the artwork of the famous Flemish painter – Peter Paul Rubens.

Wander Through the Lanes of Grote Markt

Grote Markt is probably the busiest square in Antwerp. Located in the old town, a visit to Grote Markt is a must on your Antwerp sightseeing tour. Surrounded by the huge buildings of the Flemish Renaissance, a walking tour here is indeed an experience in itself. 

City Hall is one prominent historical building located near the market. Apart from that, the other renowned buildings are old guild houses that date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. Today, a couple of these guild houses have been converted into museums; folk museum and ethnography museum being some of them. 

Grote Markt is a year-round attraction. But if you are visiting Antwerp during Christmas time, then the charm of this beautiful market doubles up. It hosts amazing Christmas Markets that sprawl across the downtown throughout the month of December and January. 

While in the vibrant atmosphere of Grote Market, what’s another must-thing to do is grab a drink in one of those outdoor cafes and watch the world go by. There are plenty of amazing bars and cafes to choose from. 

Het Steen Castle

The oldest building in Antwerp, Het Steen Castle, is a popular tourist site that was built back in the 13th century. Situated on Scheldt River, the castle serves as the main fortress of the city. 

Het Steen Castle once also served as the home to the Maritime Museum. However, later it got transformed into a child-friendly space with all sorts of workshops for kids. Today, this gorgeous building serves better use as it is converted into a Visitor Center where one can learn about the rich history of Antwerp. 

Today, the building houses one of the newest attractions of the city – the Antwerp Story. It has a unique concept wherein there are 11 rooms, each one of them displaying different aspects of the Antwerp in original ways. 

Along with that museum, you can also admire the stunning views of the city from the roof terrace of the castle. Not just this, but the building itself is so unique and luring to explore. There is even a store within the castle from where you can buy different local specialties as souvenirs.

Explore the Antwerp Zoo

Founded in 1843, Antwerp Zoo is the oldest animal park in the country of Belgium and one of the oldest in the world as well. The Zoo is situated next to the Antwerpen Centraal Railway Station. So, you can also choose to visit the zoo right after exploring the beguiling beauty of Central Station. 

If you want to escape from the city’s hustle and bustle, the Antwerp Zoo serves as the perfect hideout. The Zoo remains open throughout the year and includes both indoor and outdoor attractions. 

You can indulge in a whole range of activities and shows that will definitely keep you indulged for some hours here at Antwerp Zoo. And if you are travelling with kids, then this tourist attraction becomes a must-visit. 

Despite being the oldest animal park, Antwerp Zoo features modern facilities with state-of-the-art enclosure and breeding programs. Here at this park, you will also get an opportunity to explore the marine wildlife through their new reef environment in the aquarium.

No time to read now? No worries!

Save on Pinterest to read later!

Splurge in Shopping

Well, no vacation is ever completed without shopping. Agree? Shopping is the perfect activity to sum up your shopping tour in Antwerp. And for that, Stadsfeestzaal Shopping Centre is the place. 

Located in the downtown of the city, this shopping centre is an architectural gem that includes marble staircases and mosaic floor. Yes, it is a place for shopping where you can splurge and take back some cool stuff. And once you’re tired of shopping, there is also a champagne bar to unwind yourself. 

Before You Leave for Antwerp

Before you set off on your way to Antwerp, there are a number of things you will need to get organised to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey. These include what to pack, where to stay and what is the best insurance for your trip to Belgium. All of this is discussed in detail below.

How to Get to Antwerp

There are several ways to get to Antwerp, depending on your starting location and budget. Here are some options:

By plane: Antwerp has its own airport, Antwerp International Airport (ANR), which is located just 5 km from the city center. Several airlines, including Ryanair and TUI fly, operate flights to and from Antwerp. Alternatively, you can fly to Brussels Airport (BRU), which is about 45 km from Antwerp, and take a train or bus to Antwerp.

By train: Antwerp is well-connected by train to other major cities in Belgium and Europe. There are several high-speed trains that operate between Brussels and Antwerp, with a journey time of around 30 minutes. You can also take a train from Amsterdam, Paris, or Cologne to Antwerp.

By bus: There are several bus companies that operate services to and from Antwerp, including FlixBus and Eurolines. Buses are often a cheaper option than trains, but may take longer.

By car: If you’re driving, Antwerp is easily accessible via several major highways. However, keep in mind that parking in the city center can be expensive and difficult to find.

Once you arrive in Antwerp, the city is easy to navigate on foot, by bike, or by public transport. The local transport company, De Lijn, operates trams and buses throughout the city.

Where to Stay in Antwerp

There is a wide range of accommodations available in Antwerp, so you will not be short on options. Here are our top suggestions for the best places to stay in Antwerp for any budget.

What to Pack for Your Trip to Belgium

Belgium is a country with a temperate climate, so it’s best to pack clothes suitable for both warm and cool weather. Depending on the season, you may need to pack a waterproof jacket (men’s / women’s) and comfortable walking shoes (men’s / women’s). For the summer months, pack lightweight clothing, sunscreen, and a hat. If you plan on visiting religious sites or formal events, bring modest clothing. Belgium is famous for its chocolate and beer, so you may want to leave some extra space in your luggage for souvenirs or gifts. Additionally, be sure to pack any necessary medication and your travel documents, including your passport and visa if required.

For our full list of items that we pack no matter where we go in the world, check out our full packing guides over here.

Given the beautiful sights and scenery that you are no doubt going to see around the Belgium, we highly recommend packing a good camera for your trip. If you want to read more about the cameras we use and why we love them, check out the link below.

You can read what else we keep in our camera bag over here.

What is the Best Travel Insurance for Belgium

I know travel insurance is the least enjoyable thing to purchase and look at when you’re planning a trip, however, you wouldn’t want to be without it in the event that something happened. Accidents can happen anywhere and the extortionate medical bills will ruin your trip if you are not covered.

To ensure you have a stress-free trip with no worries about potential medical bills, make sure you cover yourself when you travel. We can recommend using SafetyWing, a backpacker-friendly and cheap insurance company that provides good coverage and support. It is also nomad-friendly, unlike most other insurance companies, meaning you do not need to worry about being out of your home country for too long.

Get a quote for your travel insurance right here and get covered!

So there you have it, your complete guide to Top Things to See in Antwerp in One Day. If you are visiting this incredible city and have any other questions on what to expect, leave us a comment down below. We love to chat about this stuff! If you have already been, let us know how it was in the comments below! 

Also, remember to share this with your friends and family that you are going to share this amazing experience with. Sharing is caring and we want to ensure that everyone is fully prepared to maximise their experience completing this stunning walk.

If you are planning a Belgium trip soon then check out our other Belgium content right here. Come and find us on social media to see where we are currently exploring. Tag us in your photos from your stay and we will share them with the rest of our community of explorers and backpackers.

Read Now:

This article may contain affiliate links that provide us with a small income. For more information read our Affiliate page.

Pin it for later!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.