A budget traveler loves destinations where it’s possible to explore the city and its’ sights by foot or bike. Here is the list of places I visited during my very short stay in Antwerp. All the items on the list are within a walking distance from each other and inexpensive to visit. Antwerp is a beautiful city full of history where you can easily find interesting things to see and do.
The Cathedral of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal) is the biggest Gothic style church in The Low Countries. The steeple of the cathedral is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site and it’s the highest in The Low Countries. The cathedral is located in the centre of Antwerp, next to the Grote Markt and the entrance to the cathedral costs 6 €.
On the banks of the River Scheldt you can find Het Steen, a fortress that was originally built as a gate. Between the years 1303 and 1827 the fortress was operating as a prison and after as the museum of archeology and the maritime museum. Today Het Steen is housing a cafe with beautiful views to the river.
Museum aan de Stroom a.k.a. MAS is one of the many museums in Antwerp. The beautiful building has an open roof terrace with amazing views over the city. The roof terrace is accessible until the very late evening and completely free of charge. Galleria style museum is presenting the history of Antwerp by pictures and stories. You only need to pay for the entrance if you want to visit the galleries.
St. Anna Tunnel
The pedestrian tunnel is a great way to get to the other side of the river Scheldt. St. Anna tunnel, opened in 1933, is 572 meters long and goes approximately 31 meters below the ground level. You can get into the tunnel either by elevator or using original wooden escalator.
Even if you weren’t planning to continue your trip by train, the central station of Antwerp is worth visiting. The building is absolutely stunning. Right next to the station you can find the Antwerp Zoo, which is one of the oldest Zoos in the world. The shopping streets go all the way from the station to the historic centre of Antwerp.
Grote Markt and the historic centre
The main square of Antwerp is obviously located at the heart of the city. The town hall, decorated with dozens of flags of different countries, is located at the edge of the square and around you can find the cathedral, beautiful Renaissance style buildings, cafeterias, pubs and chocolate boutiques, among others.
Antwerp is the promised land of markets and on the streets of the centre you can find stands full of cheese, vegetables, pastries, chocolate, fudge… and obviously Finnish woolly jumpers and woolly socks, directly from Pori, the nearest town to my home. And an Iittala store – glassware from Finland.
When wandering the streets of Antwerp, I also found an area where I didn’t want to take my camera out of my bag – a red light district. Personally I saw this sort of area for the very first time in my life, and I have to say I had a little bit confused feelings walking along those streets. In case you go to this district – on purpose or by accident as I did – I would suggest to keep your cameras and phones in a safe place. There were some dodgy people hanging around the area.