Belgium’s second-largest city is the capital of cool, a place where hipsters reign supreme and trendy coffee bars rub shoulders with fashion boutiques and vinyl record shops. Here, art and design are favourite topics of conversation because of the incredible architecture, numerous modern art galleries and fascinating museums.
Tourist attractions in Antwerp include the Palace of Justice, with its extraordinary spiked roof, and the century-old Central Station, which has been transformed into a modern architectural masterpiece while still retaining its olde worlde charm. Of course, certain areas of Antwerp still maintain their historical magic, like the Grote Markt town square, home to a 16th-century guildhall, the medieval fortress Het Steen, and more.
Why we love holidays in Antwerp
- There are trendy coffee bars across the city, great places to people-watch and take in their cutting-edge fashion.
- It’s a vibrant cultural centre, and its Summer of Antwerp Festival is renowned.
- Wherever you go in the evening, you’ll find a party to join.
- The food is exceptional.
- Antwerp is full of exciting music venues.
- It’s home to the most beautiful railway station in the world.
- Baroque artist Rubens was born here, and you can see his paintings in different locations all over the city.
- Antwerp is renowned for its numerous churches, notably the Cathedral of our Lady.
You can learn all about Antwerp’s diamond manufacturing prowess and history in the exciting diamond museum, DIVA. Belgian chocolate and beer are plentiful, and even in the winter months, Antwerp is a fascinating city to visit, with its Christmas markets. Shopping is always a fun experience, and this city, which is both hip and historic, offers plenty to enchant on an unforgettable holiday package.
Things to do in Antwerp
Belgium’s second-largest city and its biggest port is an exciting, vibrant mix of trendy and historic. It offers holidaymakers a variety of world-class museums and art galleries, exquisite architecture, great food and plenty to drink. Follow a tunnel underneath the city’s Schelde River, sample some of Antwerp’s famous coffee bars, spoil yourself with some delicious Belgian chocolate…
Whether you’re coming to Antwerp to explore historical sights, see the exceptional architecture, attend a music concert or visit numerous art museums, you’re in for a fantastic culture trip. Antwerp is a beautiful destination in both summer and winter and serves up a diverse menu of activities.
Places to visit in Antwerp
- Visit Rubenshuis, artist Ruben’s 17th-century home and workplace.
- Explore its Railway Station, one of the most beautiful in the world.
- Sample traditional Belgian fries in a Frites café.
- Discover the pretty 13th-century castle, Het Steen, on the riverside.
- See constantly changing contemporary displays at the modern MAS Museum.
- Rent a bicycle and explore the city at leisure.
- Sit at a sidewalk café and people-watch in the town square, Grote Markt.
- Sip a glass of Koninck Beer at the Antwerp Distillery.
- Shop for diamonds in the diamond district.
- Learn all about Antwerp’s fashion history at the MoMu fashion museum.
- Visit Antwerp’s smallest cinema, Cartoons, and watch a movie.
- Explore the UNESCO-listed Plantin-Moretus Museum, home to two of the world’s oldest printing presses.
These are just some of the fantastic things to do in culture-rich Antwerp. Book your Antwerp travel package with Thompsons Holidays today.
Know before you go...
- The best time to visit Antwerp is from May to September when the weather is at its finest.
- High season is during the summer months, July and August.
- Winter months (November to February) are the low season.
- Flight duration from Johannesburg to Antwerp, Belgium: 18 hours.
- There are more frequent flights to Brussels (11 hours, 30 minutes). You can connect to Antwerp from there.
- South African passport holders require a Schengen visa to enter Belgium.
- Passport must be valid for 6 months after your trip.
- Time zone – Belgium is on Central European Time, 1 hour behind South Africa during the winter (November to March) and the same time as South Africa in the summer months (last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).
- The official currency is the Euro (€).
- Credit cards are widely accepted, and ATMs are readily available.
- Tipping is not expected for taxis, restaurants or bars, although it won’t be refused.
- 57% of the Belgian population is Catholic.
- When visiting religious sites, dress conservatively. (See ‘What to pack’).
- It is safe to drink tap water in Belgium. Bottled water is readily available.
- Many public restrooms charge a small fee for use, so keep change on hand for this.
- Relatively lenient, Belgium still bans smoking except in designated areas.
- Regarding vaccinations: Check with your doctor before travelling.
What must I pack?
- Lightweight clothing in summer, warm layers for winter.
- Comfortable walking shoes.
- Sunscreen, lip balm, hat and sunglasses.
- Mini first aid kit and regular prescription medication.
- Hand sanitiser and insect repellent.
- Travel adaptor.
- Many of the attractions in Antwerp are within walking or biking distance of each other. Another way of getting around the city is on the trams and buses of De Lijn.
What can I do to be a responsible traveller?
- Wherever possible, buy local food and souvenirs and support local artisans.
- Instead of using plastic bags, take fabric shopping bags with you.
- Respect each other’s cultures and customs and avoid imposing your beliefs.
- Be safety conscious: don’t display cash or valuables. Leave jewellery and expensive watches at home.
- Keep your belongings safe – use the hotel safe for passports and valuables and watch out for pickpockets and bag snatchers when out and about.
What do I do in an emergency?
- If passports or valuables are stolen, report the theft to the hotel/police immediately.
- Contact the Thompsons Holidays 24-hour care line to assist.
Out of season
We’re sorry! The holiday you’re looking for is not in season. Luckily, we have loads of other exciting options. Take a look!