So, what happened? The answer might be more obvious than you think.
The city of Antwerp is a real beauty. Larger and more spacious than the neighboring cities of Ghent and Brugge. Antwerp has a unique big-city feel for a relatively small city.
A little about Antwerp…
The city of Antwerp is in northern Belgium. It is a part of, what I see as, the triangle of three major cities in Belgium; along with Ghent and Brussels.
It’s the second-most populous city in Belgium, having roughly 510,000 people living in it.
The city of Antwerp speaks Dutch. Thirty minutes away in Brussels’ territory, you’ll find French speakers.
Antwerp is a port city that got its name from old folklore about a giant named Antigoon. He lived near the Schledt River and blocked the city’s port to all passing boatmen. Those who couldn’t pay to enter would get their hand cut off. Thus, hand-werpen (dutch for “to throw”).
Antwerp is known for its diamonds and fashion, mainly. As well as their world-class Central Station, which rated #2 in Europe and #3 around the world.
They also have a high Jewish population. Mostly Jewish expats from New York who marry other Jews in Antwerp.
I couldn’t tell you which city I prefer if I had to choose from Ghent, Brugge, or Antwerp. Depending on the reason for your trip, I would tell you to travel to all three.
They all have their similarities, though as soon as you enter Antwerp, you get a different feeling. It is more spacious and less biker-friendly than Ghent. Public transportation in Antwerp gets you almost anywhere with minimal walking.
There is no particular city center like there is in the rest of the main Belgian cities. That confused me a bit, but it didn’t make it any more difficult to navigate.
Antwerp is a city for everyone. Whether you’re a shopper, sight-seeker, adult on business, or student on a budget. It has the right vibe for everyone.
It is not a break-the-bank city, but it is not the cheapest city in the world either. Here are some useful price guides for a majority of the city:
The train from almost all neighboring cities to Antwerp will cost between $6-$11 for a one-way ticket. A bus or tram ticket will cost you about $1.75 for a one-hour duration.
A seafood entrée, which is an Antwerp specialty, on average will cost you between $11-$15. It’s easy to find a cheaper meal, though. Belgian fries or a kebab anywhere in the city will set you back less than $5.
World-famous Belgian chocolate will cost you around $2.20 for five measly pieces. But their liquor crème-filled, trademarked dark chocolate is a must.
A hostel around the center of the city, although choices are limited, will cost you quite a bit at $25 for a night.
It can get quite cold in the winter, as it can anywhere in the country. But, during peak tourist season, it remains comfortable around 80 degrees all summer.
Other recommended attractions, restaurants, and bars in Antwerp:
Antwerpen Zoo- one of the oldest zoos in the world.
Antwerp City Hall — in the main square, you can’t miss it.
Antwerp Central Station- as mentioned above is world-class.
Cathedral of Our Lady- one of the more impressive architectural feats of the city, dating back to Medieval times.
16th Century Guildhouses- this neighborhood at the Grote Markt is worth your time.
Statue of Brabo and the Giant’s hand- in front of City Hall with an interesting story behind it.
It is true, Antwerp used to be the richest and most cultural in the whole world. So, what happened? That’s fairly easy to explain: Industrialism.
In conclusion, Antwerp is a beautiful city. It didn’t necessarily make an extraordinary impact on me, though. Did I enjoy my stay? Yes. Would I go back if presented an opportunity? That remains to be seen, though probably not.
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