Visiting Antwerp in one day
Do you have just one day to explore Antwerp? We’ve put together the perfect program for a day in Antwerp, so you’ll surely see the best Antwerp offers.
Antwerp Central Station – Architectural gem
Start your day at the breathtaking Central Station, often cited as one of the most beautiful train stations in the world. Antwerp Central Station seamlessly combines old and new architecture and flaunts an impressive steel dome. Take plenty of time to enjoy this historic station’s outside and inside beauty.
Photo: Steel dome of Central Station
Meir & Stadsfeestzaal – Shopping and gazing
Next, head to Meir, Antwerp’s main shopping street. Even if you’re not much of a shopper, this is the place to be. Meir is full of imposing buildings from the early 20th century. Be sure to visit Stadsfeestzaal, hidden behind house number 78. This event hall from 1908 was transformed a few years ago into a beautiful commercial center exuding the grandeur of yesteryear.
Photo: Antoon van Dijck statue on Meir
The historic city center – Medieval architecture and guild houses
Next, explore the historic city center around the majestic Cathedral of Our Lady. In Antwerp’s cathedral, admire works of art by Flemish masters, including four masterpieces by the famous painter Peter Paul Rubens, who holds a special place in the hearts of Antwerpians. On Groenplaats, you will find a prominent statue of him. Groenplaats is an ideal place to enjoy a snack or a drink by the way, as the square is lined with pubs and restaurant.
Next, visit the Grote Markt in the historical center, surrounded by old guild houses. See the town hall and the statue of Brabo. Also, wander through the narrow streets to the Grote Markt and walk toward the Vleeshuis, a former guildhall of butchers, and Het Steen, a medieval fortress.
Photo: bicyclists in Antwerp’s Grote Markt
MAS and ‘t Eilandje – Stunning views
Walk along the quays to the MAS (Museum aan de Stroom) from Het Steen. The MAS’s permanent and temporary exhibitions offer a refreshing look at the city’s history and global connections. You can also choose to visit the tenth floor only. There, the MAS treats you to an amazing 360-degree view of the city, the port, and the river – all for free.
Afterward, soak up the historic atmosphere of ‘t Eilandje, full of beautiful warehouses. Also, take a peek in the Felix Pakhuis at Godefriduskaai 30, an old warehouse whose interior street is open.
End your day at the Kattendijkdok, where you can get a fabulous view of the new Porthouse, the headquarters of the Antwerp Port Authority. The striking upper structure (by the famous Zaha Hadid Architects) is shaped like a bow and shines like a diamond. It gives a monumental shape to the former fire station below.
Photo: view of the Willemdok with the MAS Museum in the background
For those with extra time – Visit the Red Star Line Museum
If you still have time and energy left, consider visiting the Red Star Line Museum on Antwerp’s Eilandje. This museum tells the story of the millions of immigrants who left Antwerp between 1873 and 1934 to start a new life in America. Through interactive exhibits and personal stories, the museum gives you an insight into global migration that will leave a lasting impression.
Easy alternative: Antwerp by bike – highlights tour
For a quick way to see the city’s highlights, join Antwerp by Bike’s guided bike tour of Antwerp’s highlights. In just 2 hours, you’ll take in all of Antwerp’s must-sees during a relaxing activity.
Photo: posing in front of the MAS Museum with Antwerp by Bike