Antwerp city centre
local perspective

Six reasons why Antwerp is worth visiting

Missy Cahill

Contributing writer

Antwerp is one of those underrated gems of a city. So often travellers head straight to Brussels, Bruges or Ghent on their visits to Belgium, and in reality, they skip over one of the best kept secrets in Western Europe.

Antwerp is a port city with an incredible history. Thanks to its proximity to the water, Antwerp grew throughout the middle ages and became a city of enlightenment. Now you can find an ethnically diverse and vibrant city with a fantastic history.

Brabo fountain in front of the town hall on the Great Market Square of Antwerp, Belgium

1. The diverse food

Antwerp is home to over 150 different nationalities, making it an incredibly diverse and ethnically rich city. Thanks to its incredible diversity, it is home to delicious ethnic food and restaurants. Antwerp has an incredible culinary scene, ranging from Ethiopian to Nepalese and much, much more. Bogerhout is home to a large Moroccan population and is a must when trying to find authentic Arabic food - and the dessert shops are unreal.

The whitewashed exterior of De Koninck Brewery in Antwerp

2. The beer

Belgium has a lot of things that it is famous for but perhaps its beer is a front runner. Antwerp has a fantastic beer scene. The De Koninck Brewery and Museum is an absolute highlight for any visit to Antwerp.

Located in Berchem, you get to drink your free ‘Bolleke’ as you tour around the museum and learn about the brewing process. It’s highly interactive and hilarious. Admission also includes three tasters in the bar at the end of the tour.

An outdoor terrace in Antwerp, Belgium

3. Outdoor terraces

Belgium is not known for its glorious weather. Usually, the forecast is for grey overcast skies and a bit of rain. Welcome to Western Europe! But just because the weather is rubbish, it doesn’t mean that you can’t go out and enjoy a nice cold beer.

Antwerp has terraces strewn all over the city, usually under large umbrellas and heaters, and even the occasional blanket. Finding the perfect terrace is a matter of preference, but my favourite has always been at Bourla Theatre under the canopy of large oak trees.

Loaded Belgian frites

4. Frites

Chips or fries are a staple in Belgium. As some who is Irish, and therefore an automatic connoisseur of potatoes, I rank Belgian Frites very high on the potato scale. The difficulty is trying to find your favourite frituur (aka chip shop).

One of the best frituurs was created by Dutch chef, Sergio Herman who established Frites Atelier. Here, you can find your fries loaded with artisanal toppings that take your frites experience to a whole new level. Trust me, you won’t be able to stop thinking about them.

Filled Belgian chocolates

5. Chocolate

I never thought that I would be pretentious enough to have my own favourite chocolatier. But it’s true about living in Europe, you start collecting favourite cheese shops, bakeries and now chocolatiers. Like Swiss chocolate, Belgium is notorious for its delicious chocolates that can be found everywhere. The praline was invented in Belgium, so you know you are in safe hands when trying to find your favourite chocolatier.

When exploring the area around MAS, you will have to drop into IN CHOC by Tom Coosemans and thank me later. Tom has created the most incredible chocolates I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. He uses unique flavours like Yuzu and Kalamansi and creates art. Opening a box of chocolates by Tom is like Christmas arriving early. Unforgettable.

Antwerp's famous Caffenation cafe

6. Coffee

Did you know that Antwerp holds the most coffee beans at any one time than anywhere else on earth? This is due to Antwerp port where thousands of tonnes of coffee pass through on a weekly basis.

The coffee scene in Antwerp is fantastic. One of the best coffee shops is a small franchise called Caffenation which has two locations in Antwerp and one in Amsterdam. It’s safe to say that I am wholeheartedly addicted to Caffenation and my bank app likes to ask me on a regular basis if I know how much money I am spending there. It truly is phenomenal.

Planning a trip to Antwerp? Stay at Hotel FRANQ, a boutique hotel in the heart of the city.

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Missy Cahill

Author - Missy Cahill

Missy Cahill is a travel blogger and former school librarian. Originally from Dublin, Ireland, she took a very healthy dose of wanderlust and has lived in China, Laos and Belgium.

Last Updated 20 April 2024

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