In November 2011 I went to Antwerp for a long weekend. I wholeheartedly recommend visiting Antwerp and you could easily spend a week there without tiring of its charms (and if you did you could easily visit Brussels, Bruges or elsewhere within an hour).
Here are my top 5 things to do in Antwerp. (They are all equally placed).
1. Plantin Moretus Museum: Christophe Plantin set up in Antwerp as a Printer and 10 generations later his work was still going strong with bookbinding and cartography added to the family business. Because of this family dynastic line which remained unbroken for so long there is a unrivalled wealth of original material from the lead type (some of which is still in its original wrapping) and a list of banned books that were not to be sold as well as illuminated books, fine etchings and engravings and furniture and home furnishings. Peter Paul Rubens was a great family friend and his portraits of the printing family are hung in the family house. I would go as far to say that this held far more overall general interest than the Rubenshuis. Rubenshuis is not in my top 5 you’ll notice.
2. Sample Belgian beers. So full of flavour! Westmalle and La Chouffe were two of our favourites.
3. Sample Belgian frites at Frituur No1 and try the different sauces. Fritessaus and Andolouse were two that I enjoyed. Steer clear of the Special which has the so called delight of diced raw onion thrown generously over your chips. Even with the effects of multiple strong Belgian beers to aid my digestion I didn’t care for this.
4. Sint Anna Tunnel and the river Schelde
5. The views from the top floor of MAS
There are a few things I didn’t get to do and if I go back I would like to go to the contemporary art gallery…… And the other gallery that at the time of our visit was closed for refurbishment. If I were able to go in springtime or autumn it would be interesting to go to the zoo too. I missed out on eating in restaurants in Antwerp but they looked fantastic. There were a few streets off the Grote Markt lined with warm cosy looking eateries and had my hosts not been offering home cooking it would have been fantastic to spend a few leisurely hours promenading up these streets choosing which one to patronise.