5 Things To Do in Antwerp On a Day Trip
Is your younger brother/sister trendier than you? If so, Brussels can relate...enter Antwerp. Recognized for its deep Dutch influence, Antwerp could essentially be twinning with its über cool neighbors. Although there are plenty of things to do in Antwerp, on a day trip, sometimes is better to explore aimlessly.
Convenience is key for most travelers; so what's better than an active train station?! Ride from Brussels to Antwerp runs every hour on the hour, starting as early as 7:55 am to as late as 12:15 am. Icing on the pancake - you can commute for as low as USD $13. 40-minute ride too long? Upgrade to Thalys for USD $30 and reduce travel time to half.
1. Antwerp Central Station
Arriving at Antwerp Central station was a completely breathtaking moment. The world-renowned landmark is an extraordinary speckle of intertwined detail. I sat on a bench and just admired the architectural splendor. There was also something poetic about watching travelers getting on and off the trains. Sounds mundane but for someone that lives in the US, sophisticated train stations are a rarity. This could easily be at top of things to do in Antwerp for many people.
I headed to Antwerp's city center without an agenda. Roaming by foot led me to various restaurants, coffee shops, bars, ice creams parlors, and boutiques that surely made for lively perusing.
2. Meir Shopping Promenade
As I wandered the streets, I discovered Meir, the shopping promenade (I promise I found this place by accident but confess to taking my sweet time exploring). Lucky me, unlucky wallet, stores were liquidating their inventory to make room for collections for the upcoming season. Items were selling at 30 % to 75% off.
the best time to shop in Europe is during the last two weeks of June until end of July. In some countries, it will extend till the first two weeks of August but by then there won't be much left. The alternate sale season is during winter but who wants to shop when you're wearing six layers of clothing?!
3. Über lovely street: Sint-Jorispoort
After a vigorous shopping spree, it was time for lunch. My original plan was to try BUN, a Vietnamese restaurant I found on The Foodalista but they were closed that day. I used the city’s Free Wi-Fi (thank you Antwerp!) and searched for other options, finding a plethora of potentials. I opted for a dainty restaurant at the end of a street, right across BUN. There I was, amid an area of restaurants and bars filled with locals enjoying live music. I sat at a charming table facing a large window and quickly became known as Miss tourist when the waitress realized I could not understand the Dutch menu. Kindly and not surprisingly enough, she translated everything for me. Savoring mussels in white wine sauce while listening to live cello playing? Don't mind if I do!
Visual recap: I'm sitting at a table looking to my left, by a wide window covered in flowers, sprinkled with sunshine, listening to a live cello performance. Such moments are what I truly treasure from my travels.
Also nearby is the famous Het Gebaar but this requires advanced reservation efforts.
4. Grote Market
After lunch, I decided to head to Grote Market. This is the only place I subconsciously planned to explore. The Market was vivacious with live music (seeing a pattern here?) food trucks, a bounce house for kids, and pop-up shops selling baked goods, handmade products, and vintage items. I was too full from lunch otherwise would have devoured some baked goods; all of which looked mouth-watering decadent!
After exploring the little alleys of the city, I decided to call it a day around 7:30 pm. On my way back to Brussels, my sweet tooth got to me and enjoying a waffle became the task at hand. Every bite imprinted the taste into my memory bank. The perfect way to wait for a train, right?
5. Mingle with locals
Although I would have loved to stay longer in Antwerp, I could only explore it for the day. If you are short on time too, take a day trip; it can certainly have benefits! I've lived in many parts of the world but there's something special about the commuting in Europe. There's a beautiful appreciation to be had about arriving in a different country within an hour time span. Take advantage of this for as long and often as you can!
If you are planning a trip to this hip city, check out This Is Antwerp for hidden gems approved by locals.