Antwerp has a flourishing shipping and trading industry due to having the largest port in all of Europe. This economic powerhouse is also home to the Antwerp Fashion Academy, which has been continuing to develop new talents in the designing world since the 1980’s. Antwerp has also been dubbed the “world’s leading diamond city” as this is where over 70% of all diamonds are traded. So if you have some serious diamond shopping to do, this is the right spot! Browse around the selection of shops at the diamond district near the Railway Station and get acquainted with this precious stone. At night, Antwerp has no intention of making you retire early. With its wide selection of groovy restaurants and bars, the city is a lively companion until the wee hours.
The well-known baroque painter Pieter Paul Ruben was born and raised in Antwerp, and today, the city honors him by turning his former residence (Rubenshuis) into one of Antwerpís most important and popularly visited museums that showcases his life’s work. Another impressive museum you should visit is the MAS or Museum aan de Stroom. Aside from telling a great story about Antwerp’s history, the museum’s 60-meter high tower is an excellent example of Avant-garde architecture. After browsing the museum collection, proceed to the top of the tower to get your memorable 360∞ panorama of the city.
Despite having a penchant for the new and contemporary, Antwerp has managed to preserve its medieval center. Here, you will find delight just walking around the cobbled streets, sipping coffee at quaint cafes and admiring the 16th to 17th century buildings and monuments that abound. The market square in particular, is populated by medieval guild homes that are commonly seen in old Flemish towns. Other must-see landmarks include the Gothic-Renaissance style city hall, the exquisite fortress beside the river and the magnificent Gothic Cathedral of Our Lady. Standing at more than 400 feet, this is one of the biggest Cathedrals in Northern Europe. Inside, you can find some of best paintings of the artist Ruben.
If you want to explore the center at a fashionable and relaxed pace, go for a horse and carriage tour. Another sightseeing alternative is the city’s own version of a hop on/hop off double-decker tour bus aptly called the Antwerp Diamond. This bus tour brings you to seven of the best known spots and is a great introduction to the city.
One of the prime attractions in the city is the Antwerp Zoo. Founded in 1843, this zoo is the oldest in the country and one of the oldest in the world. Located at the heart of the city, the zoo houses about 5000 animals who call the zoo home. After admiring these creatures, you will also want to explore its lovely garden area.