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Thursday 25 July 2024

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Belgium’s second city has a charm that’s all its own

The statue of Brabo in Antwerp's Grote Markt

A visit to Antwerp can yield some impressive treasures…

While it may not enjoy the picturesque reputation jealously guarded by cities such as Bruges and Ghent, or the cosmopolitan fabulosity that is Brussels, Antwerp – Belgium’s second city – does have a charm that is all its own.

Ignore the popular travel guide rants about its industrial and commercial nature, and knuckle down to the breathtaking beauty of the Grote Markt, the Groenplaats, the Cathedral of Our Lady and the Carolus Borromeus church among other picture perfect highlights, and you have a mighty metropolis that can still pack a punch. Reinvented by the young and trendy for all of us, Antwerp – or, literally, ‘thrown hand’ – boasts over 400 bars and night spots, and a plethora of eateries to invigorate even the most jaded of tourists and put that magical Belgian smile on your clock.

Most major attractions and many of the superb museums are within walking distance of each other, and the city is well served by its tram network. Taxis won’t set you back a fortune either if you fancy a bit of lazy decadence.

Taken on balance, Antwerp isn’t the finest Flemish city you’ll ever visit, but it is certainly not the dullest, and is worthy of full exploration. And let’s face it: any city whose name is derived from a legend where a local young hero like Brabo squares up to the loathsome toll-taking giant Antigoon, ripping off his hand and throwing it into the River Scheldt, has to be worth a look.

World Travel Blog especially recommends:

Taverne Rubens
Housed in one of the city’s great gothic buildings, this gem of a restaurant café will keep you coming back for more…
Find out more

The Chocolate Box
This superb café and chocolatier combined is the perfect place to take respite when exploring the city, whatever the season…
Find out more

The Irish Times
A proper Irish pub in the heart of the city, serving great beers on tap and in bottles, and featuring live acts every weekend…
Find out more

Grand Café Stadshuys
Overlooking the stunning Grote Markt, this charming little bar restaurant is perfect for just chilling with friends…
Find out more

Taste of India
If you fancy a curry as a change from chips and mayo, this conveniently situated Indian restaurant is a real treat…
Find out more

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