Antwerp: A Weekend Journey of Discovery in Belgium

by Carol Ranas
9 minutes read
For my son’s spring break vacation, we decided to have a quick getaway to a nearby city. We decided to check the city of Antwerpen. Antwerp (or Antwerpen) is a city of old-world charm, artistic treasures, and culinary delights. It is also a city that beautifully blends its rich history with a modern, cosmopolitan vibe. Most Dutch people spend their weekends in this city being it is just a few hours away from the south of the Netherlands by public transport. 
Antwerp Train station Be Carol
Day 1: Arrival and Appreciation
We began our adventure by train from the Netherlands. From Amsterdam Central to Antwerpen Central, it was a quick 3-4 hours train ride. We arrived at the magnificent Antwerp Central Station, a true gateway to this Belgian gem.

Antwerp Central Be Carol

As we disembarked from the train, the opulent Antwerp Central Station immediately stole our hearts. It’s often touted as one of the world’s most beautiful railway stations, and I wholeheartedly agree. The stunning architecture and intricate design set the stage for my adventure. We opted for accommodation nearby so we could take our time admiring the Central train station. 

Antwerp Cathedral of Lady Be Carol

From there,  we ventured into the interesting Belgian cobbled streets leading to the Cathedral of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal). The Gothic grandeur of the cathedral was nothing short of awe-inspiring. It was still quite cold yet the atmosphere was welcoming. We had a quick snack at the Frites Atelier, a fries shop to experience Belgium’s fries. Did you know that French fries originated in Belgium and not in France?

The afternoon was devoted to wandering the cobblestone streets around the Grote Markt (Grand Place). The historic guild houses, each with its unique charm, provided a picturesque backdrop picture. As the night enveloped the city, we decided to have a warm bowl of Ramen at Takumi for a comforting Asian food.
Antwerp Takumi Ramen Be Carol

Day 2: Shop ‘Til You Drop and More Grandeur

The second day was all about retail therapy. Antwerp’s shopping district beckoned, offering a mix of trendy boutiques and high-end stores. As we strolled along Meir Street, I couldn’t help but indulge in some retail therapy. It was a shopping paradise!

Antwerp Shopping Street Be Carol
Lunch was a delightful affair in the heart of the city’s Chinatown. Being a lifelong lover of Asian cuisine, I was craving flavors from home, and Antwerp’s Chinatown did not disappoint. The aromatic dishes, bustling atmosphere, and warm hospitality made me feel right at home. We tried a Chinese store and had some hand-pulled noodles. 
Antwerp Chinatown Noodles Be Carol
We encountered some difficulty with most stores in Chinatown because they only accept Belgian bank cards. We asked around three restaurants and settled for the one that accepted our Dutch bank card. We went to a money changer and exchanged some cash using a money changer store at a competitive rate. If you plan on eating in Chinatown, it’s best to carry some cash.
For dinner, We found a Beer Garden nearby and indulged in some of the finest beers Belgium has to offer. Belgium has one of the best beers in the world namely, Stella Artois, Hoegaarden, Chimay, etc..
Antwerp Beer Garden Be Carol

Antwerp Beer Garden Bites Be Carol

Day 3: Wild Encounters and Family Fun

Our last day in Antwerp was spent at the Antwerpen Zoo. Antwerp Zoo is a place teeming with fascinating wildlife. It was a day of exploration and discovery, making it perfect for families (like us!)and wildlife enthusiasts. The zoo’s rich history and its commitment to conservation were truly admirable.

Antwerp Zoo Be Carol
We spent half of our day at the zoo, mainly because the temperature was low and it was getting chilly walking around the zoo. There were not many animals out to see because they were still hibernating. We did see some apes and a few birds.
In the afternoon, we ventured to Plopsa, an indoor theme park where my kid had loads of fun. It was a family-friendly attraction that brought smiles and laughter to both young and young-at-heart visitors. It was a three-story park, with rides, games, and a food court, perfect for moms and dads to it for a cup of hot drink while the kids play. 

Our trip to Antwerp was short and sweet, yet we were still able to enjoy the city. All the places we visited were within walking distance of the central train station and our accommodation. It was tiring to wander the city in the cold, yet Antwerp had a lot of food choices that warmed up our bodies like Luikse waffles, coffee, fries, beer, and Asian comfort food. Here’s a quick video of all the yummy things we devoured in Antwerpen.

@carolranas Weekend away in #Antwerp involved a lot of FOOD!! Ate a lot of food and left no crumbs.. #teamperez #travelmemories #foodie @imsosh ♬ Candy (edit) – Robbie Williams

So, whether you’re an architecture enthusiast, a food lover, a shopaholic, or simply seeking family-friendly adventures, Antwerp is a city with something for everyone. It’s a journey filled with architectural grandeur, culinary delights, and the zest for life. Until next time, Antwerp! 🚆🏛🍜🛍🎢🌍

What did I miss in Antwerp? 

Let me know in the comments so I can plan another trip back. ^_^

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