Outstanding fish restaurant in Antwerp - pretty central location on Marnixplatz. Simple no nonsense setting with a wide range of fresh fish. Menu changes daily and is displayed in Flemish on blackboards. Don't worry though, the young staff will translate everything.
Reasonably priced food and drink. Booking is a must. We went on a Tuesday evening and it was packed.
An old style house, close enough to walk to Antwerp city centre, visit museums and eat Belgian chocolates, while being the sort of place where you don't feel the need to go out. Each room is individually furnished so it feels your own - a terrace, a luxury bathroom with particular style. There are DVDs to enjoy and little touches of luxury; special bath salts, complimentary liquors and a fridge with champagne and wines. It feels private but welcoming. Breakfast is champagne on the house with varying home made treats which make it extra special. The hotelier is warm and friendly without being intrusive. It feels a mile away from home while being easy to get to, in a city unimpacted by tourists and where you can be yourself. Don't forget to enjoy moule frites, see Ruben's house, browse the old quarter, eat plenty of chocolates and go to Cafe Jazz for some live music with Belgium beer. Perfect!
Great snack and coffee house.
Very cosy with lots of vegetarian snacks and organic and fairtrade products. Plus the capuccino is great!
Den Engel is one of the oldest bars in Antwerp, very basic and patronised by the odd rum sort (not that it's dangerous or anything), like all good pubs should be. Like most bars in Antwerp it serves the local brew which is called De Konninck. Beers in Belgium are ordered by the name of the glass they are served in. In De Konninck's case it's a "Bolleke", a round glass which can be comfortably cupped - I think that says it all. To order one in pukka try "een bolleke alsjeblieft". The locals will appreciate the effort.
Dank u wel.
This museum is just the right size for an afternoon visit and includes some of the best Flemish 'primitives' I've seen. It includes a fabulous Eve by Cranach (better than the version in Florence) and a spectacular Judith.
For a drink return to the Grote Markt and look at the Town Hall. To your right on the corner of Wisselstraat there is a wooden floor and benches bar that is the best and friendliest in Antwerp.
Avoid the port at night unless you like a fight. Don't even think about the red light district. It is divided into sections according to race/nationality and is extremely violent - it makes Amsterdam's look like a children's playground.
Close to the cathedral in a quiet back street. Lovely luxury hotel in an old house with big rooms and good service. Approximately £100 a night for good size double.
Zand 13-19, 2000 Antwerp; www.hotel-sandt.be/ENG/home.htm
Organised every year in late June by Bier Passion magazine, this is a celebration of Belgian beer and brewing, where it's possible to enjoy a choice of several hundred beers.
You'll meet beer-lovers from all over the world at this event which has out-grown two venues since it was first organised in 1999. It is now held on the Groenplaats in the heart of the city. It IS a commercially-organised event, so there are some beers from the mass-produced, not-very-interesting end of the market, but even so there are more craft-brewed beers than any one person can sample in a weekend.
On the Groenplaats. Bier Passion magazine's website is www.beerpassion.com
After its beer, Belgium is most famous for chocolates. If you're a chocoholic visiting Antwerpen, you'll want to try the city's own chocolate speciality; Antwerpse Handjes (little Antwerp hands). Some are chocolate all-through, others have various fillings, but all are in the shape of the familiar hand that's the symbol of the city.
The reason for the hand is a legend that a giant called Druoon Antigoon lived on the banks of the River Schelde on the site of what's now Antwerpen and he used to extract a toll, punishing anybody who refused to pay by cutting off one of their hands. He was finally defeated by a Roman soldier, Silvius Brabo (often claimed to be a nephew of Julius Caesar) who symbolically cut off Antigoon's hand and threw it into the river. Thus, according to the legend, the city was named after Brabo's throwing of Antigoon's hand into the Schelde, from the Dutch hand (as in English) and werpen (English: throw).
Available in shops all over the city.
One of the world's classic beer bars, Kulminator's beer list runs to over 400 beers including a lot of vintage beers, some as much as 20 years old. The five-year-old bottle of Gueuze de Neve I bought here was the most delicious beer I've ever tasted (and I've tasted quite a few). The one down-side is that the last couple of times I've visited, the place has been infested with clouds of irritating flying insects, so I'd suggest only visiting in the winter, when with luck they won't be there.
Vleminckveld 32, Antwerpen Tel: 03/232.45.38
Chips were invented in Belgium and this is the best place I've found in the country to get them.
It isn't somewhere to go if you're in a hurry; in true Belgian fashion the chips are part-cooked first, then refried when you order them for that perfect "soft inside, crisp outside" texture.
As you'd expect in Belgium, mayonnaise is the usual dressing for your chips, but they have a wide range of other sauces, some with "interesting" names, like "mammoth". Personally I don't like sauce on my chips so I just sprinkle some of the tasty salt/paprika mixture on them.
If only the suckers buying junkfood from the nearby McDonald's knew what they were missing.
A small bar popular with the locals, between the main shopping area and the market. The Oud Arsenaal specialises in Lambic and Trappist beers; it's probably your best bet in the city if you want to try the rare Westvleteren Abt (deservedly voted the world's greatest beer in 2005.) This is a very friendly bar, the couple who run it have amazing memories for faces; the first time I visited Antwerpen I spent an evening there, then when I came back six months later they recognised me at the Beer Passion Weekend and came over to say "hello". Guest beers change frequently and there are often special offers (I had a wonderful evening here drinking bottles of Hercule at only EUR2.20 each.) They also have a special beer, Arsenaaltje, brewed for them by the local De Koninck brewery. The only downside to the Oud Arsenaal is its opening hours. It closes early in the evening (about 7:30 or 8:00) but it's worth a visit while it's open.
Maria Pijpelincxstraat 4, Antwerpen Tel: 03/231.84.76
My favourite bar in Antwerpen, 't Waagstuk may not have the most extensive beer menu in the city, but what's on the menu never disappoints. There's always a good selection of Lambics and Trappist beers and a regularly changing guest beer on tap. Decent food too, with a reasonable selection suitable for vegetarians.
Stadswaag 20, Antwerpen, about 5 minutes' walk from Meir, the main shopping street. Telephone: 03/225.02.19 Website: www.proximedia.com/web/waagstuk.html
A former army camp used by the Nazis to imprison and murder victims. Incredibly moving but fascinating place and reminds us that not all concentration camps were miles away in eastern Europe. Well worth a visit if you have the time and a car.
Approximately 15 miles south of Antwerp, off the A12 road to Brussels, near Willebroek
The house Rubens had built for him, where he lived and worked for many years. Contains many artefacts and works associated with him and is itself of great architectural interest. A pity the visitors' centre had to be built right in front of the building, thus ruining the view of the place.
Wapper 9-11, Antwerpen Tel: 03/201.15.55 Website: museum.antwerpen.be/rubenshuis/index_eng.html
An excellent little beer shop owned by the same people who run the Oud Arsenaal bar. This is where I always go to fill my suitcase before setting off for home on the Eurostar (lucky it's got wheels!). Stocks lots of beers you'd struggle to find anywhere else, with a great selection of Lambics especially. Friendly and helpful service.
Oude Vaartplaats 12, Antwerpen. Tel: 03/232.97.54
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