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Antwerp in One Day

What would be the "must do" recommendations? I am arriving in Antwerp mid morning and leaving the next morning in mid-March and staying near the MAS (Museum aan de Stroom). Is it possible to walk from the central train station? Any restaurant recommendations near the hotel or near one of the "must do" sites? Not looking for anything fancy, will be traveling solo. Thanks for your help.

Posted by
4656 posts

The MAS is definitely not within walking distance of the station, it's in a redevelopment area a bit north of the centre. I don't know the area that well as when I was in Antwerp a couple of years ago it was still under construction.

Definitely have a look at the cathedral and the area around it, and I would also recommend the Rubens house and/or the Mayer van den Bergh museum.

Posted by
4702 posts

I encourage you to describe your interests -- Antwerp has a lot to see, and the answer depends. Please note that google maps can tell you the walking time from Centraal Station to the MAS. MAS is an excellent and important museum, but not a lively location. Well, unless you consider the Red Light street (night-time only, invisible in daytime) nearby, Schippersstraat. (Quite safe, but not exactly attractive for a solo female.)

Antwerp has excellent Trams, and a 24 hour pass will serve you well. I personally don't care for Rubenshuis because there is almost no " art " there. It 's a problem that the superb KMSKA museum is closed for renovation.

Posted by
4656 posts

"No art" in the Rubenshuis? I remember visiting there and seeing at least a couple of paintings in each room and two large rooms entirely devoted to displaying art.

Posted by
4702 posts

I should have said, "virtually no important paintings by Rubens and very little by him at all."

Posted by
1005 posts

The MAS is too far away from the train station on foot. Take a bus, taxi or tram (bus #17 is easiest since you can go direct from the station without a transfer). I'd consider visiting the Red Star Line Museum, which is north of MAS and is a new museum about emigration to America. I also enjoyed the ModeMuseum in the fashion district, and I'm not really into fashion--it was fun and entertaining. I was traveling solo and I ate at Pelgrom, which is in a brick cellar on Pelgrimstraat near the cathedral--lots of character and good food without any pretentions.

I would stay away from the Red Light District if you are a single woman--not that it's dangerous, but I found it rather depressing--lots of desperate, lonely men. It's nothing like Amsterdam's tacky, tourist-infested Red Light District. But this is just my impression.

Posted by
15 posts

Thank you all! I especially appreciate the tram information, tips on a good restaurant and different sites. I will definitely add the Red Star Line Museum….. and I did not know about the Red Light District, so thank you very much!! I look forward to my quick visit in Antwerp.

Posted by
12040 posts

Funny thing about the Red Light District. On my first visit to Antwerp with my wife (before we married), she made a point of showing me the district. I didn't find it so much depressing as sleazy and rather threatening. Antwerp's has one of the largest ports in Europe, and we all know what usually goes hand-in-hand with sailors on shore leave...

Posted by
4702 posts

Liz, you haven't really gotten many concrete suggestions. I held off because you didn't offer any indication of whether your interests lie towards Fashion, Art, Architecture, Churches, World Wars, Dining, Night Life, or what. You can't do it all in one day, even with a transit pass. Given that you only have 24 hours, I'd suggest you consider the following to be among the "must-dos":
UNESCO WHS Plantin-Moretus (printing and engraving) museum
Mayer van den Bergh (Renaissance art); If you take my advices and skip Rubenshuis, continue down this street to the atmospheric Maagdenhuis Museum (foundling house and history museum), botanical garden and old stock exchange nearby.
MAS museum (unifies several previously separate town museums)
Red Star only if interested in Emmigration or the newest thing in town ... I doubt it's as good as the MAS
Desiree de Lille (corner stand or mid-block sitdown) for waffels or, better, smoutebollen (beignets hot from the fat)
same street area: Burie chocolate, Goosens bakery, Lombardia hippie lunch
Cathedral of Our Lady (the main one, and two adjacent squares, Groenplaats and Grote Markt (TI office in Grote Markt and Centraal Station)
Riverside walk from Grote Markt, touristy restaurant streets nearby, to St. Paul's Church if desired
Gracious shopping street Meir and early "mall", Stadfeestzaal.

I consider the MAS (your hotel neighborhood to be walkable from Grote Markt, but I'm a NYC native (big walking city.) The interesting route is medieval Melkmarkt to Falconplein, but it doesn't really matter. Your hotel area is slowly gentrifying, but isn't there yet. The old port limits foot routes, so ask at the desk for interesting routes to downtown or bus and tram stops. There is a fascinating old warehouse renewal opposite the MAS that was threatening to become a restaurant and bar center, but I don't know if that happened. I personally think you are staying too far North for interesting and busy evening strolling.

There is so much more to see. For example, the Modern Art and Photo museums are both good, but out of the way for a 24-hour visit. Also 100 Art Deco/Nouveau exteriors to see in the Cogels Osy-Lei, but a 15-minute tram ride from downtown.

Posted by
1464 posts

Tim, you are very well informed about Antwerp, good advice for Liz. I want to add the following: a visit to the diamand district just next to the main railstation as Antwerp is the world’s most important tradingplace. You can walk through the Hoveniersstraat to feel the trading vibe or do a guided tour. More info see: www.visitantwerpen.be
Red Star Line museum is also of interest just because of one very famous passenger, you will see. Stadfeestzaal is also nice for a drink. For architecture the Cogels-Osylei and surrounding streets (Zurenborg district) is indeed very interesting, quiet and very well preserved, one of my favorit places in Antwerp.
Antwerp is a good place for exploring, actually your visit of 24 hours will be a bit to quick I think, but anyway enjoy your stay!

Posted by
15 posts

Tim and Wil,
I apologize for my delay in thanking you for your advice. All excellent! I will be in Antwerp on Tuesday and take your advice on activities and highlights..... and food. Thank you very much!
Liz

Posted by
15 posts

Tim and Wil,
I apologize for my delay in thanking you for your advice. All excellent! I will be in Antwerp on Tuesday and take your advice on activities and highlights..... and food. Thank you very much!
Liz