Things to do in Antwerp
The best things to do in Antwerp involve a lot of eating, drinking, and shopping, with breaks to soak up the city's Old World charm. Put these spots on your list as you map out what to do in Antwerp during your visit:
Visit the Cathedral of Our Lady. The spire of this Gothic cathedral, also known as Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal, can be seen from pretty much any vantage point in the city, and took 169 years to build. Inside, you can see many paintings by Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens.
See the Museum Plantin-Mauritus. Once the home of the world's first industrial printing press, this museum features beautiful medieval architecture and a look into the early technology of publishing, especially of bibles. The Museum is also home to a number of Rubens paintings.
Snack like an Emperor at Paleis op de Meir. Napolean slept here when it was the Koninklijk Paleis, in 1811. Today, it's a fabulous palace to tour - and make sure you stop at the in-house chocolate shop, where you can watch the candies being made.
Do some serious shopping. The fashion designers that put Antwerp on the fashion map - collectively known as The Antwerp Six - include Ann Demeulemeester and Dries Van Noten. To tap into their aesthetic, browse the boutiques on Nationalestraat and Huidevetterstraat, or at the gallery-style Walter on Antoniusstraat.
Want to buy diamonds, or least ogle them? One of the best things to do in Antwerp is to window-shop along the streets of Diamantwijk, a neighborhood near Central Station. At Diamondland, on Appelmansstraat, you can see watch cutting demonstrations and hear explanations in English. Keep in mind that many of these shops are closed on Saturdays. And if you do end up buying, you'll likely get a deal, as prices are often up to 30 percent lower than what you’d find elsewhere
Plan a kid-friendly stay in Antwerp. Aside from taking a chocolate lovers tour around the city, take your family to the Antwerp Zoo, one of the oldest zoos in the world.
A daring shoe store located near the Nationalestraat.
A well-edited collection of 20th-century ceramics and furniture, plus the odd Pucci foulard.
The houses in Zurenborg - along Cogels-Osylei, Transvaalstraat, and Waterloostraat - are unique in Europe; more than 150 are designated landmarks. They range from weird (Tyrolean half-timbering in Flanders?) to the glorious (hand-painted Art Deco tile façades).
The association vets dealers and has strict membership criteria—to be eligible, you have to have been in the market for at least 10 years.
A fuchsia-and-black jewel box filled with froth dresses and accessories.
For years the Zuid district was considered up-and-coming, now this glamorous nexus is considered permanently chic.
Here, an exhaustive history of the diamond trade is offered but most come for the dark corridors that hold brightly lit cases filled with 19th-century regal diamond diadems, bravura tiaras, and other staggering works of art.
A jeweler?A metalsmith?An art gallery?Call it what you like, but definitely stop by. The pieces - made of sterling silver or hand-hammered 18-karat gold - are set with roughly tooled semiprecious stones and pearls.
Find Katz in his Appelmansstraat digs, a chic showroom with a massive marble fireplace and an imposing chandelier. "You must consider your jeweler as you would your doctor," he says, stressing the importance of trust between buyer and seller. "He is the expert!"
Friday morning see an antiques auction in the Vrijdagmarkt (Friday Market).
The exhibition space and salesroom lets the public observe cutters and setters through windowed booths.
The sister-owned store stocks their paired-down women's line.
Diamond House sits the heart of Antwerp's jewelry district.
This mini department store stocks a very un-Antwerp lineup of blingy Italian brands in a space that's the apotheosis of the Antwerp aesthetic: neutral and burnished, simultaneously rich and plain. A cocktail at the adjacent Martini Bar is de rigueuer.
The antique-jewelry shop is just down the street from Dries Van Noten's fashion flagship.