Antwerp is a goodie bag of cultures and surprises. Situated in the north of Belgium’s Flemish region on the Netherlands border, the primary language here is Dutch. But most of Antwerp’s half a million residents also speak French with a lesser percentage conversing in German and English too. It also houses one of the world’s oldest zoos and cuts 80-90% of the world’s rough diamonds. How can you decide where to stay in Antwerp when every corner of this wharfside city has its own charming quirks?!
Well, Antwerp Belgium is one of the biggest cities in the country so there are better places to stay within walking distance of the top attractions. If you’re on a budget, the best area to stay in Antwerp for you will be different from those who want to stay in luxury hotels in Antwerp. And if you are travelling with family, you will probably want to stay in apartment accommodation in Antwerp in a quiet neighbourhood. Luckily, Antwerp offers a neighbourhood to suit every traveller’s needs.
This guide will list the best neighbourhoods in Antwerp for nightlife, shopping, history, nightlife, and theatre. It will also reveal all the best apartments, hostels, and hotels in Antwerp to suit various pockets. And it will also tell you where to stay in Antwerp Belgium 2023 if you’re travelling to the city for the first time or visiting with young kids.
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Antwerp Old Town – Where to Stay in Antwerp for First Timers
Some of the top things to do in Antwerp are visiting the Grote Markt, the Cathedral of our Lady Antwerp, and The Rubens House. Where will you find all of these attractions? In Antwerp Old Town (or Antwerp city centre) in the heart of the city. It’s situated to the east of the River Scheldt which flows through the city. If you want to know where to stay in Antwerp for first-timers, this is the best neighbourhood.
Staying so close to all the best museums and notable sites will enable you to spend as much time as possible actually seeing them rather than travelling to and from your hotel. However, there are lots of tram stops in Old Town to help you get from A to B as efficiently as possible. This part of town has the highest number of accommodation options. So no matter your budget, you’ll find plenty of apartments, hostels, and hotels in Antwerpen, Belgium to suit your needs.
Where to Stay in Antwerp Old Town
Antwerp Central Station – Where to Stay in Antwerp on a Budget
You might think that accommodation close to a central transport hub would be expensive. But in Europe, it tends to be the opposite. If you want to know where to stay in Antwerp on a budget, it’s in the Antwerp Central Station district. Yes, Antwerp’s train station is so notable that it gets its own district! But because it’s quite small, many people consider it part of Chinatown. It’s situated to the east of Old Town on the other side of the N1 highway.
Antwerp’s Central Train Station is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world. Its architecture has flourishes of the neo-renaissance and art deco styles with tiled floors and ornate glass domed ceilings. Even if you’re not travelling to and from Antwerp by train, you need to stop by! Other things to do in this district include visiting the Antwerp Zoo and sampling some of Belgium’s most delicious sweet treats at the Chocolate Nation experience.
In terms of cheap accommodation, Antwerp Central Station doesn’t have as many hostels or budget hotels as the Old Town. But staying next to the train station has its advantages as you can travel quickly and cheaply anywhere in the city. Plus, you’d be staying in Chinatown! Delicious, cheap food is right on your doorstep.
Where to Stay in Antwerp Central Station
Jewish Quarter – Best Antwerp Neighbourhood for History
Just south of Antwerp Central Station and nestled between the Zoo and Stadspark is the Jewish Quarter. This is also known as the Diamant or Diamond District because of its notoriety in the precious jewels industry. It’s in this district where you will find streets with a wide assortment of architectural styles from different eras all cobbled together. It’s one of the best places to stay in Antwerp if you love historic neighbourhoods.
As you’d expect in a Jewish Quarter, there are Jewish community stores, synagogues, and kosher supermarkets. Unsurprisingly, there are also dozens of jewellers lining every street. And unless you’re in the market for a flashy piece of jewellery, you might be most interested in taking a walking tour of the area with a local, knowledgeable guide to learn more about this neighbourhood’s past. Most of the accommodation options in this district are popular chain hotels. So if you collect points with a hotel group or have a membership, this is where you should start your accommodation search.
Where to Stay in Jewish Quarter
Theatre District – Where to Stay in Antwerp for Entertainment
The Theatre District (also known as Theaterbuurt or the Latin Quarter) is west of the Jewish Quarter and right next to Old Town. This is a vibrant neighbourhood brimming with theatres and other performance spaces where you can watch plays, musicals, and concerts. If you plan on catching several shows during your trip to Antwerp then you don’t want to leave the theatre late at night and have a long taxi ride back to your hotel. Staying in the Theatre District is ideal!
Some of Antwerp’s best theatres include the Opera Antwerpen and the Theater Elckerlyc. At the Opera House, you can catch operas and orchestral performances and Theater Elcklyc specialises in plays. Bourla Theatre is another option and Hetpaleis programmes a mix of more experimental and modern performances.
In regards to apartments, hostels and hotels, Antwerp Theatre District mostly offers mid-range hotels. But there’s plenty of parking in this district so if you’re driving to Antwerp then this might be the best neighbourhood for you to stay in.
Where to Stay in Theatre District Antwerp
Het Zuid – Best Antwerp Neighbourhood for Nightlife
Do you adore evening entertainment but would rather be dancing than watching other people dance? Het Zuid is one of Antwerp’s southern neighbourhoods on the banks of the River Scheldt and it has all of the best bars and clubs. It underwent a lot of redevelopment and regeneration in the 1980s so today it’s one of the cooler, more fashionable neighbourhoods in Antwerp.
Some of the best bars in Het Zuid are Bar Zar, De Vedet, and Vitrin which are all within walking distance. While Belgium is mostly known for its strong beer, most of the bars in this Antwerp neighbourhood are cocktail or wine bars. There are lots of accommodation options in Het Zuid, mostly mid-range hotels. But there are a few more upmarket boutique hotels if you want to spring for somewhere a bit more comfortable on your Antwerp city break.
Where to Stay in Het Zuid
Het Eilandje – Best Antwerp Neighbourhood Off the Beaten Path
As already mentioned, Antwerp isn’t just a city with a river but it’s also an important port city. Both ferries and cargo ships have sailed in and out of Antwerp since the 12th century and it’s one of the main reasons why it grew into Belgium’s second city. The Het Eilandje district in Antwerp is north of the Old Town where the port is and not many visitors stay there. But if you want to experience an alternative side to Antwerp then it’s the perfect neighbourhood for you!
And it’s not like there isn’t anything to do there. If you love ships and maritime history, you should check out the Red Star Line Museum which tells the story of three million Belgians who emigrated to the US using this shipping route. There are also several parks, bridges, and nice restaurants like Het Pomphuis too. This neighbourhood is on Antwerp’s tram route so you’ll be able to easily travel to other parts of the city. Most of the hotels in the Het Eilandje district have modern, minimalist decor as they’re more popular with business travellers than tourists. But these swanky hotels will also make great off-the-beaten-path bases for your city break.
Where to Stay in Het Eilandje Antwerp
Family Friendly Hotels in
Holiday Inn Express Antwerp City – North, an IHG Hotel
Sint Andries – Where to Stay in Antwerp for Shopping
The English alternative to Sint Andries is St Andrews, but no one calls it that. Sint Andries is a small neighbourhood just south of the Old Town by the river. Some might mistake it for being part of the Old Town but it’s slightly cooler and more eclectic. It’s known for its vintage shops, antique stores, and local Belgian designer boutiques. If there’s anything you want to buy in Antwerp (except diamonds) then Sint Andries is the place to find it. And if you don’t want a long walk back to your hotel carrying tons of shopping bags every day, you should stay in the local area.
Some of Sint Andries’s best vintage clothing stores are Think Twice, Labels Inc. and Elan Mid Century Vintage. Music lovers should head to Chelsea Records and if you’re a true fashionista, check out ModeMuseum. Its exhibits include the history of fashion couture as well as examples of quirkier, more eccentric fashion through the ages. There are some fantastic mid-range hotels in this neighbourhood so you have more money to spend on new threads and accessories.
Where to Stay in Sint Andries
Zurenborg – Where to Stay in Antwerp With Family
Zurenborg is one of the largest neighbourhoods in Antwerp in the east of the city next to the main highways. It has a more residential feel than the other Antwerp neighbourhoods so it’s much quieter than some of the other districts like Old Town and Central Station. Zurenborg also seems a bit safer too as there is less nightlife. That’s why it’s the perfect choice if you’re wondering where to stay in Antwerp with family, particularly if you have younger kids.
It’s a short tram ride away from Stadspark which has lots of children’s play areas and where you can enjoy a picnic. In Zurenborg, there are lots of nice cafes and breakfast restaurants like Salt & Mint and Zeezicht. There are a couple of annual music festivals that take place in the southern part of the district like Zomerfabriek and Zomer van Antwerpen. But as long as you’re not staying in Antwerp during these festivals then you don’t have to worry about noise. Despite it being a residential area, there are still some great hotels and apartments in Zurenborg. Apartments are ideal when you’re travelling with family so you can sleep in separate rooms and cook meals at home.
Where to Stay in Zurenborg
Berchem – Where to Stay Near Antwerp Airport
Antwerp International Airport is easily accessible to the centre of the city by train. But if you have an early flight or are just passing through on a layover, you might prefer to stay closer to the airport than the centre. Bercham is the ideal neighbourhood as it’s located just west of the airport. Three buses connect Bercham Station with Antwerp International Airport (leaving every 12 minutes during the day) which is only a 10-minute journey.
There aren’t tons of landmarks and attractions in Bercham though there are some restaurants, bars, and parks. There are a few hotels near the train station and E19 highway which is great as you’ll be close to all the transport links you could possibly need.
Where to Stay in Bercham
Added Extra: Areas to Avoid in Antwerp
There aren’t too many no-go areas in Antwerp. Some of the streets around Central Station and Bercham Station have the highest number of pickpockets. But as long as you take all the usual precautions of not leaving your valuables unattended and visible then it’s no less safe than any other big city in Europe.
De Coninckplein is a neighbourhood just north of Chinatown which has a bad reputation for being the main hangout of drug dealers and gangs. But this is based on criminal activity from decades ago. Today, it’s somewhere where you might not want to walk around alone at night but it isn’t as dangerous as some might think.
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