Last Updated on 20.08.2023 by Iliyan

If you’re planning to spend one day in Antwerp and you’re not sure where to go – this post is exactly for you. Antwerp is the second biggest city in Belgium (after Brussels), but it is off the beaten path. However, the city is perfect for day trip from Brussels, makes for a great city break destination.

If you arrive in the city by train, the first thing that will visit is the wonderful train station. Do you know that it is present in the top positions of absolutely all charts for most beautiful stations in the world? It is called “The Cathedral of the Railway Stations” and it’s something more than just a regular station.

One day in Antwerp: The best places to visit

Antwerpen-Centraal railway station (Antwerp Central)

The central railway station, known also as Middenstatie (Middle station) was built between 1895 and 1905. It is like a substitute of the original terminal of the railway line Brussels – Mechelen – Antwerp. It was built by a steel platform and a brick building in eclectic style. The interior is richly formed with over a 20 different types of marble and stone. Between 2000 and 2009, the station was completely modernised and expanded. Quite often it is the arena for exhibitions, fashion events and other attractions.

Antwerpen-Centraal railway station
Antwerpen-Centraal railway station

Meir Shopping Street

Meir Shopping Street connects the Antwerp Central Station with the Antwerp City Hall. It is one of the busiest shopping streets in all of Belgium.

Meir Shopping Street
Meir Shopping Street

In addition to the magnificent architecture, the main shopping street boasts numerous branches of the large international chains, restaurants and souvenir shops.

Meir Shopping Street
Meir Shopping Street

Grote Markt

The central square is an architectural treasure and it is seated in the heart of the old city neighbourhood. Here are located also a significant number of fine buildings, each one of them more and more beautiful and elegant than the other. They are called also “The Guild Halls”. While they were burned in 1576, the original building was reconstructed in the traditional Flemish Renaissance style.

One day in Antwerp
The Guild Halls

Next to them is the impressive Renaissance building of the municipality. The town hall has been included in UNESCO’s list for world heritage in 1999. The building has a long history and it is a bright example for a Renaissance architecture in the Low Countries.

The Town Hall in Antwerp
The Town Hall

Unfortunately, during the time when I visited Antwerp, the building was in the process of reconstruction. Aside from that, the day matched with the UCI Trials World Cup Antwerp. The participants from different nationalities competed for two days in this hard race.

UCI Trials World Cup in Antwerp
UCI Trials World Cup in Antwerp

Brabo Fountain

The Brabo Fountain depicts the legendary Roman soldier Silvius Brabo after his defeat of the giant Druon Antigoon. It’s fascinating to learn the legend behind this statue. Once there was a giant named Antigoon who forced passing boats on the Scheldt River to pay a toll. If the they refused, he cut off one of their hands and thrown in the river.

One day, the Roman soldier Silvius Brabo refused to pay the toll, cut off the hand of the giant and threw the giants hand into the River Scheldt. However, the fountain reflects the moment when the Brabo throws the giant’s hand into the river.

One day in Antwerp
Brabo Fountain

Cathedral of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal)

Another interesting landmark is the Cathedral of Our Lady, which is at a close distance from the main square. This is the largest gothic church in Belgium with 123 m. height. Its construction continued for 169 years before it was completed in 1521. Inside you will find some of the masterpieces of the painter Peter Paul Rubens. The visit is free for people, living in the Antwerp province and it costs only 12 € for the rest.

The Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp
The Cathedral of Our Lady

MAS Museum Aan de Stroom

The Mas is a new museum that opened its doors in 2011. It is housed in an impressive building, both inside and outside. It houses a great collection of more than 470,000 items, most of which are kept in storage. There are also many exhibitions, both permanent and temporary. You can see fascinating collections of Belgian art, and go into the history of Antwerp, global trade and exchange, and cultural heritage. Access to the roof terrace is free to visit, where you can get a stunning panoramic view from the top of the museum.

Bourse of Antwerp

Antwerp is the undisputed diamond capital of the world with over 500 years of experience trading in diamonds. The bourse at Antwerp was first opened in 1531 as the world’s first purpose – built commodity exchange. However, it was burned down twice, but it was reconstructed in the 19th century. In 1997, the building was completely abandoned for almost 20 years. Following an intensive renovation, visitors can visit and enjoy the stunning interior. Nowadays, the Handelsbeurs is a place with restaurant, luxury hotel and public passage.

Is One Day in Antwerp Enough?

One day in Antwerp is pretty much enough to visit the best places in Antwerp. It is a beautiful compact city with a picturesque historic centre, awesome railway station, stunning cathedral and incredible architecture. However, you can definitely visit all of the in one day.

Is Antwerp Worth Visiting?

I would say Antwerp is absolutely worth visiting. It is an interesting place full of cultural heritage, beautiful architecture, history, and diamonds. I highly recommend staying in Brussels, so you can do many day trips to Ghent, Leuven, Villers Abbey or Namur.


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