Antwerp, ‘the Diamond City,’ earns this title not only through being the ‘Diamond Capital of the World,’ but through the cultural, historical and gastronomical gems that it has to offer, as well the incredible short term apartment rentals and bed and breakfast options available, making it a world-class city break.
Visit Antwerp, a city of old and new
When looking for accommodation in Belgium look towards Antwerp, the fashion capital of the country. This beautiful Flemish city, steeped in Low Country history, offers one of Europe's most fascinating old towns, featuring picture-postcard streets of colourful Flemish Renaissance buildings. Step out of the Old Town area to immerse yourself in the modern art scene, Antwerp's flourishing music scene and visit a number of world-class works of contemporary architecture. Whether you're looking to stay in a bed and breakfast in keeping with the history and culture of the Old Town area or are looking for apartment rentals in the trendy outskirt areas of Antwerp, you can browse one of the hundreds of rentals available to find the property which is perfect for you.
When to visit
Antwerp is most beautiful in late spring, early summer, though the city can be visited all year round and in all weathers due to its boasting a large amount of wonderful indoor activities such as shops, museums and art galleries. The city hosts a summer festival each year from June to August and hosts a cultural parade and celebration on the final Sunday of August, so these can be great events to attend. However, Antwerp contrastingly is particularly beautiful in the winter and hosts a large Christmas Market in the Grote Markt in the centre of the city.
How to get there
Antwerp, though a spectacular city break destination, also boasts a fantastic location, in the North of the country close to the Netherlands border. This makes it the perfect place to find accommodation in, to travel out and explore this scenic Low Country region, if you are planning a more extended break. Easily accessible on the Eurostar via the Belgian capital, Brussels, which though most prominent in size, is second to Antwerp in beauty. Antwerp is also located a short, less than 2 hour, drive from the Dunkirk ferry port if arriving from the UK. Antwerp International Airport, a little over 3 miles south of the city, can be reached in only one hour, from London City Airport, and is well-connected to the city, with a number of buses and trains running between the two every hour.
If you are already holidaying in Belgium, don't pass up the chance to travel to Antwerp, which offers a different feel to many of the other major cities. If you are staying in a holiday rental in Brussels then you can visit Antwerp in less than an hour by train, while you are only an hour and a half away in your holiday accomodation in Bruges.
Where to stay
If you want to be central, surrounded by and immersed in the history of the city and region as well as being near to the many historical and art museums and the oldest house in Antwerp, then this is the area to stay in. Holiday accommodation in the Old Town is in keeping with the stunning Flemish Renaissance decorative style of the area, so much so that after a long weekend you may find yourself slipping into 16th-century lingo and wearing a ruff. You will not need a kitchen in the Old Town, as these age-old streets are brimming with delicious eateries and fashionable restaurants and bars, which can cater to every travellers budget.
In stark contrast with the Old Town, the Southern District of Antwerp offers you a wide variety of bars, restaurants and clubs, and is a lively, vibrant contemporary neighbourhood. Shopping and fashion are central to this part of Antwerp, and there is no end of entertainment to be found here, with the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Photography Museum of Antwerp bringing contemporary culture to the area. Luxury accommodation can be found in this area, minimalistic, stylish yet comfortable apartments are what this area is known for.
St. Andrew's District
An up-and-coming district that is perfect for vintage clothing lovers, as it plays host to a number of flea markets, the St. Andrew's District of the city, in which the spectacular church the area takes its name from is located, boasts cheaper accommodation than the two previously mentioned neighbourhoods. A number of great hostels and bed and breakfasts can be found in this area, and though a little walk out of the centre of Antwerp, it is still well-connected via public transport and is a great place for a base slightly out of the city centre. The youth hostels in St Andrew's are especially great for backpackers who are travelling Europe, as you can wake up in a room which is only 2.8 km away from Antwerpen-Centraal station.
The Little Island
This district lives up to its name and offers visitors the chance to experience the city home to Europe's second-largest port in a unique way. Stay in a beautiful holiday home with a garden, or a contemporary newly built self-catered apartment with a view of the dockland areas, even more, beautiful in winter when cooking a hot Flemish stew and watching the snowfall on the colourful boats docked outside your window.
What to do
A ‘Rubens Tour'
Peter Paul Rubens, a world-renowned Flemish Baroque artist, working in the 16th and 17th century is to thank for many of the spectacular works of architecture and painting still found in Antwerp. Visit his house and studio, St. Charles Borromeo's Church where much of his work and influence can be found and the Cathedral of Our Lady, home to many of his works, to learn more about this great figure in Flemish history. Staying in accommodation in the Old Town area of Antwerp is recommended if history and art are high on your priorities.
Art Galleries in the South
The South of the city is host to a number of art galleries, the Photo Museum of Antwerp, the Museum of Modern Art and the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, but to name a few. The Museum of Modern Art, housed in a large contemporary building emblazoned with a three-storey high ‘HK,' two of the letters of the museum's abbreviated title ‘M HKA,' set amongst older buildings makes for a fabulous architectural contrast that sums up Antwerp as a city. Great luxury apartment rentals can be found amongst these sites, which are also located right next to the river Scheldt, which is great to walk along on a sunny day and takes you from the south of the city to the centre.
Port House and the MAS museum
Both of these stunning works of architecture, the Port House a spectacular futuristic ship atop a three-storey building, completed in 2016, and the MAS museum a 60 metre-high red stone and glass building, boasting the best panoramic view of Antwerp, are both situated at opposite ends of the ‘Little Island' area of Antwerp. These buildings are both easily accessed from self-catered apartments in the ‘Little Island' area and should be top of your list if you want to take in the views of Antwerp from above.