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Belgium

48 hours in Antwerp – A 2 day Itinerary

ANTWERP, BELGIUM - Architecture of the historic city center of Antwerp, in the Flemish Region of Belgium, after sunset

If you are looking for a city that is off the beaten path, Antwerp is a must-see destination. This Dutch-speaking city in Belgium has been around since the Middle Ages and has seen many historical events unfold before its eyes. With narrow medieval streets and Gothic buildings galore, Antwerp has plenty of charm to offer those who visit.

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, so it is no surprise that Antwerp has long been known as the diamond capital of the world. The city is home to many large diamond companies, as well as many smaller operations. If you are looking for some bling, then be sure to visit one of these companies during your stay in Antwerp.

The city is also home to many art galleries and museums, including the MAS museum, which houses many works by famous artists such as Van Gogh and Monet. Antwerp has a lot more to offer than just art though; it is also known for its fashion scene and delicious cuisine. The city is a great place to spend a few days, especially if you are interested in history and art. There are plenty of things to see and do, including strolling through the cobbled streets. There are also several fun ways to get around this city as well as some nice places to eat and drink.

If you are asking yourself “should I visit Antwerp?” the answer is absolutely, yes you should! Here is a suggested itinerary for those who want to see the highlights of this fascinating city with only 48 hrs in Antwerp.

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Where to stay for your 48 hours in Antwerp itinerary

If you want to be right in the middle of all the action, then check into Hotel Julien. It is just 15 minutes walk from Central Station and there is a tram stop (Antwerpen Melkmarkt) over the road. This means you can get around Antwerp city fast and easily so that you can make the most out of your two days in Antwerp. This chic, upscale hotel is housed in a pair of 16th-century buildings. Its central location also means that it is a short walk away from all of the major attractions.

The hotel has excellent reviews and is a popular choice for business travellers and tourists alike. It also has a rooftop terrace with panoramic views of the city. The rooms are comfortable, stylish and have all the things that you will need during your stay, including large beds, iPod docks and free Wi-Fi. Breakfast and parking are free, plus there are other luxury amenities on offer such as a hip bar for drinks and an airy dining room overlooking a fireplace. The spa offers guests a beautiful sauna experience along with massages and treatments like facials (fees apply).

ANTWERP, BELGIUM. Antwerp central station square with bus stops and Radisson Blu hotel on the background.

Day 1 in Antwerp

To begin your weekend in Antwerp, you should start by exploring the city. Go for a walk around the beautiful streets of Antwerp and you will be amazed by the old buildings, cobblestone roads and many canals. The day will consist of sightseeing several attractions and focus points that Antwerp has to offer. Including some of the most famous landmarks like Het Steen and the MAS Museum, which houses a collection of art from all over Europe.

It is recommended that you purchase the Antwerp city card. You can get a 48-hour pass for only 40 euros. The card then provides you with free access to lots of attractions in the city and many more discounts and advantages such as free transport.

Grote Markt

For your first stop on your 48 hours in Antwerp tour, head over to the Grote Markt. Situated in the heart of the old city quarter, the Grote Markt of Antwerp is a chic town square. It contains an extravagant town hall, numerous elaborate guild halls and many restaurants and cafés – not to mention plenty of history! The square has been the hub of Antwerp for centuries and it is still one of the most popular attractions of the city. Enjoy time around the square, marvel at the gothic architecture and browse the boutique shops. It is one of Antwerp’s most beautiful and historic squares, so it is definitely worth spending some time here!

The square is also a popular place to sit and enjoy a drink or visit the numerous bars in the area. So stop for a refreshment before you carry on to the next part of the city. If you happen to be in Antwerp around Christmas, the city holds its annual Christmas market and ice rink here. The market features a wide selection of gifts and souvenirs, plus lots of delicious food to enjoy. It is a must-see for the month of December.

Grote Markt of Antwerp, Belgium at twilight.

Cathedral Of Our Lady

Whilst in the area of Grote Markt in the morning, get up close to the phenomenal Cathedral Of Our Lady. Take lots of pictures of this masterpiece of Gothic architecture that was originally started in 1351. Work on the cathedral carried on until 1521 when construction was then ceased. It has still never been completed. The cathedral is a stunning example of gothic architecture and it is one of the most important Gothic buildings in Belgium. It is also one of Antwerp’s top tourist attractions.

ANTWERP,BELGIUM - View at the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp. Antwerp is a city in Belgium, and is the capital of Antwerp province in Flanders.

Het Steen

After a few hours admiring Grote Markt and the surrounding streets, take a short walk down to the water where you will find Het Steen. This is a medieval fortress and UNESCO World Heritage Site that was built between 1200 and 1225. Its original purpose was to ensure that the Dutch could control access to their primary waterway (Scheldt River) and defend themselves against Viking invasions. It is one of Belgium’s best-preserved citadels and is a breathtaking building to experience.

Entry into Het Steen is free with your Antwerp City Card, or alternatively 7 euros per person. There is plenty to do here and one of the attractions inside is The Antwerp Story. Go on a journey through Antwerp’s history. Travel from one room to the next, learning about this remarkable city and its people. This experience is also free entry with an Antwerp City Card.

ANTWERP, BELGIUM. Het Steen, medieval fortress in the old city centre of Antwerp, Belgium.

MAS Museum

The MAS Museum also known as Museum aan de Stroom is located on the banks of the Scheldt river. After ticking Het Steen off your list, you can go for a stroll along the waterfront towards MAS Museum. There are lots of interesting buildings and monuments to see on the way. Grab some lunch or a quick bite during your walk there or once you arrive there is a delicious bakery on-site called Dellafaille MAS.

The MAS Museum is a very modern, interactive museum that explores the world of art and design. There are lots of interactive exhibits here and there are also some temporary exhibitions that change every few months. The Museum opened in May 2011 and is the largest museum in Antwerp, Belgium. The museum is free to enter with an Antwerp City Card or you can pay 12 euros per person.

ANTWERP, BELGIUM - MAS (Museum aan de Stroom - Museum by the River) on river Scheldt. Opened in 2011, is the largest museum in Antwerp and an example of postmodern Art Deco architecture

Antwerp Nightlife

After your first busy day sightseeing the likes of Grote Markt, Het Steen and the MAS Museum. Head back to your hotel for a moment to relax and recuperate. Maybe take a massage from the spa or enjoy the mini-bar in the room before heading back out into the city at night. If you are looking for a place to eat, try one of the many restaurants in the city. There are plenty of places to choose from and most have menus in both English and Dutch.

If you are looking for some entertainment, there are plenty of bars and clubs to choose from. The nightlife in Antwerp is quite popular and can be a lot of fun if you know where to go. There are many different areas in the city to enjoy. The city of Antwerp has a student population of 15,000 and is thus lively around the clock. The docklands are currently the centre for clubs but good bars and cafés can be found all over town, with many tucked in the historic centre.

ANTWERP, BELGIUM - Restaurants in the old town of Antwerp, in the Flemish Region of Belgium, in the night

Day 2 in Antwerp

The second day of your two days in Antwerp will contain lots of diamonds! You will visit the Diamond District and see some beautiful pieces of diamond jewellery. You will have a chance to look at some of the world’s most valuable diamonds as you walk through the museum. You will also learn about how diamonds are formed on your guided tour. Following this, you will get to experience and learn about the famous painter, Peter Paul Rubens on a visit to his home and workshop. This second day on the Antwerp itinerary is just as jam-packed as the first, so be sure to start fully rested.

Private Jewellery and Diamonds Walking Tour

Diamonds are very much a part of Antwerp’s history and identity, so it is no surprise that there are plenty of places to see diamonds in action. After your breakfast on the morning of your second day, take a walk over to Antwerp’s fashion and diamond district. From here, you can take a guided walking tour that will take you to some of the most famous diamond dealers in Antwerp, where you will get the chance to see how diamonds are cut, polished and valued.

The Private Jewellery and Diamonds Walking Tour will take you to the fashion heart of Antwerp, where your private tour guide will introduce you to local designers whose passion for beauty and precision has attracted customers from around the world. You will not only get a glimpse into their workspaces but also learn about how they keep artisanal traditions alive. If you love jewellery, a walking tour through Antwerp’s diamond district is the best way to see the city truly sparkle. The tour lasts approx 2 hours.

Close up shoot of jeweler loupe that usually used for inspecting gemstone, diamonds, jewelry, etc

Rubens House

After your diamond tour, take a quick walk over to Rubens House. Peter Paul Rubens’s paintings are on display in some of the world’s most prestigious museums but only in Antwerp can you visit his home and workshop. The Rubens House is one of the most famous artist residences in existence and is filled with paintings, sculptures and furniture created by the famous painter Peter Paul himself. This is a must-see attraction for any art and culture enthusiasts.

ANTWERP BELGIUM - Exterior view of Peter Paul Rubens House. Rubens is famous Flemish Baroque painter and lived in this building until his death.

Meir

Finish off your afternoon with a spot of lunch and shopping in Meir. Known as “the Fashion Mile,” Meir is the main shopping street in Antwerp, Belgium. It is the country’s most important retail destination and a fantastic street for those that love a bit of retail therapy. The street has been mostly pedestrianised since 1993 and many have said it even rivals 5th Avenue in New York City! The street is lined with some of the world’s biggest fashion houses, including Chanel, Dior, Versace and Louis Vuitton. The shopping experience here is truly world-class and will leave you spoilt for choice. At the end of the day, you will walk away with a new wardrobe and a smile on your face!

ANTWERP BELGIUM - Statue of the famous 17th century painter Anthony Van Dyck on the Meir the main shopping street of Antwerp Belgium.

Evening Walking Tour: The Dark Side of Antwerp

To finish off your second day in Antwerp, scrub up, grab your dinner and then enjoy an evening walking tour at 8 pm before heading to a few bars before the night ends. Get off the beaten path and discover Antwerp’s dark side with a local guide. This Evening Walking Tour: The Dark Side of Antwerp is great for anyone looking to get away from the touristy trail, while still exploring some lesser-known spots of note in this historic city. During the 1.5-hour tour, you will discover unique sights and hidden gems of the city from a different perspective.

Areas that are explored include the Red Light District, Grote Markt, The Old Port, The Stone Castle, the rooftop of the MAS Museum, St. Paul’s Church, plus a modern area called “The Island”. Your personal tour guide will share their knowledge and passion for the city, while also explaining the history behind each location. You will learn about the fascinating past of Antwerp, its architecture and its people.

ANTEWERP BELGIUM - Het Steen The Stone Castle in Antwerp Belgium. Antwerp is the capital of Antwerp province and the most populous city in Belgium

Conclusion

A weekend in Antwerp is a must for anyone who wants to take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It is a great opportunity to explore one of the most beautiful cities in Belgium, with plenty of things to do and see. There are many great places to stay, including hotels that offer free parking, so you will not have any trouble finding somewhere comfortable to rest your head after an exciting day exploring.

It is a beautiful city with a rich history, as it is quite small you can easily do it in 48 hours. However, if you want to make sure you do not miss anything, make sure you get up and get out early! The city is filled with history and culture that will delight any traveller with an interest in art and architecture. The above itinerary will give you the best two days in Antwerp possible but there are many more things to do on top of what has been outlined.

Recommended tours in Antwerp

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48 hours in Antwerp - A 2 day Itinerary 48 hours in Antwerp - A 2 day Itinerary 48 hours in Antwerp - A 2 day Itinerary

Article written by:

Hi, my name is Samantha, Finance Managing Guru by day, Travel Blogging Enthusiast by... well... day too! Haha! Travelling King is the destination hotspot for the wannabe traveller! Showcasing affordable, luxurious getaways for the budget conscious! With the combination of my financial knowledge and travelling experiences I aim to show you, with a little planning, the right budget and a realistic goal you can fulfil your travel fantasies and explore the world whatever your budget or desires may be!