I love Belgium. That’s probably not something you hear everyday, right? After all, it doesn’t seem to be a country that is high on most travel bucket lists. But Belgium has amazing culture and beautiful cities combined with some of the best fries, chocolate, waffles, and beer in the world – how could you not love this country? And spending 24 hours in Antwerp further solidified my love affair that began when I first visited Belgium in 2015.
On my first visit to Belgium, I visited two of the more popular cities: Brussels and Bruges. And after spending four days in the country, I knew I’d be back. So, when Sebastian was working in the Netherlands last fall, we went on a little Belgian road trip to Antwerp and Ghent (more on that here).
THINGS TO DO IN WHEN YOU ONLY HAVE 24 HOURS IN ANTWERP
Let me just start my saying that it would be impossible to see everything Antwerp has to offer in 24 hours. However, if you only have 24 hours in Antwerp like we did, here’s a few highlights.
VISIT ONE OF THE WORLD’S MOST BEAUTIFUL TRAIN STATIONS
I had heard many times how the Antwerp train station is arguably the most beautiful in Europe. I first visited this train station back in 2015; however, my “experience” involved sprinting through the train station while narrowly missing my connecting train. So, needless to say, I was very excited to visit again … And it totally lived up to its hype. It is simply stunning.
EXPLORE THE ANTWERP DIAMOND DISTRICT
Did you know that roughly 80% of the world’s diamonds are traded in Antwerp? Which makes Antwerp the diamond capital of the world.
The diamond district is home to what seems like hundreds of diamond retailers. It is a fun place to browse, window shop, and experience the diamond trading culture in Antwerp. If you’re in the market for a diamond purchase, make sure you do your research. Many of the diamond traders in the city have a reputation of scamming tourists. That being said, there are still plenty of authentic spots worth visiting if you’re looking to make a special purchase.
PRO TIP: Many retailers are closed on one, or both, days on the weekend. Make sure you look at the hours ahead of time and plan accordingly.
VISIT MUSEUM AAN DE STROOM
Museum aan de Stroom is a really cool, modern museum that sits along the waterfront. We didn’t pay to explore all parts of the museum but instead made our way up to the top to take in the best views of the city.
If you have time, also spend some time exploring the picturesque harbour area around the museum.
STEP BACK IN TIME: GROTE MARKT & THE OLD TOWN
Grote Markt is located in the beautiful medieval town area, located right in the heart of Antwerp. The Grote Markt square is filled with beautiful buildings, and often is home to a variety of different markets.
Spend some time exploring the streets around Grote Markt to see some quaint historic streets. And don’t forget to stop by Antwerp’s most iconic church: Cathedral of Our Lady.
GO ON A SHOPPING SPREE ON THE MEIR
Did you know that Antwerp is the fashion capital of Belgium? I sure didn’t. But upon visiting, it became very clear how fashionable the locals are. And you can indulge in the local retail culture while shopping along the most popular shopping street in the city: The Meir.
WHERE TO EAT IN ANTWERP
Now, I know you’re going to be busy trying to fit all these things into 24 hours in Antwerp, but don’t forget to eat. After all, the food culture is a huge part of the fun when visiting Belgium.
BEST BRUNCH IN ANTWERP
Cafématic hosted the best brunch in Antwerp. They had an extensive list with lots of different brunch options, a cosy inside atmosphere and a spacious outdoor patio.
BEST DINNER IN ANTWERP
Looking for incredible pub fair and a huge Belgian beer selection? Billie’s Bier Kafetaria offers it all. With roughly 100 carefully sourced craft beers to choose from, this popular spot is the perfect spot for dinner, drinks – or both!
READY TO SPEND 24 HOURS IN ANTWERP?
And if you’re on a trip around Belgium, check out my 24 hours in Ghent city guide (where I spill the details on where I ate the best loaded fries of my life – this alone is a reason to visit Ghent).