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A winter weekend in Antwerp

Immerse yourself this winter in cozy and atmospheric Antwerp with twinkling lights, radiant decorations and warming fire pits. This city guide will help you make the most out of your city trip filled with culture, art, good coffee and great vegetarian gastronomy. Find all food and travel tips here:

Flower shop "Bloemen van Cornelis" at Sint-Jorispoort in Antwerp

Winter fun in Antwerp

Get in cozy winter mood while skating circles around the statue of master painter Rubens. The ice-skating rink in the heart of Antwerp is bustling with festive energy, shimmering lights and Christmas carols.

Ice-skating rink at Groenplaats Antwerp during Christmas 2021

Ice-skating rink at Groenplaats Antwerp during Christmas

Every year during the holidays a wonderful light festival takes place at the Zoo of Antwerp. This years theme is Alice in Wonderland which runs until the 16th of January. Especially children will love to experience this colourful dream world where the impossible is possible.

Alice in Wonderland Light Festival at Antwerp Zoo

Alice in Wonderland by China Light Festival at Antwerp Zoo

Impressive views of Antwerp are assured while entering the 55 meters (180 ft) tall Ferris Wheel 'The View'. On one side the historic city stretches out in front of you, and on the other side you can look over the river Scheldt for miles and miles.

Ferris Wheel The View in Antwerp

In front of the Cathedral of Our Lady stands a life size nativity scene and a tall Christmas tree. The color of the lights match beautifully with the soft and warm light of the cathedral, making it a wonderful whole.

Christmas tree at Handschoenmarkt in Antwerp

At the Handschoenmarkt you will also find the beautiful statue of Nello & Patrasche, the young orphan boy (Nello) and his stray dog (Patrasche) known from the novel 'A dog of Flanders'. Their world-famous (but unfortunately) sad story ends on Christmas Eve inside the Cathedral. This lovely statue was made by Belgian artist Batist Vermeulen. (I took the photo below during Christmas 2020).

Statue of Nello and Patrasche in Antwerp

But the climax of all Christmas decorations are for sure the sparkling Christmas tree and radiant City Hall at the Grote Markt. Warm yourself at one of the fire pits, kiss your loved ones under the mistletoe and listen to live broadcasted music from Joe Radio who have set up their Xmas House on this square. Winter magic to the fullest!

Antwerp City Hall during Christmas 2021

Christmas tree at Antwerp City Hall

See and do in Antwerp

The Visitor Center of Visit Antwerp has recently opened its doors inside the beautifully renovated building 'Het Steen', Here you can experience 'The Antwerp Story', which is the perfect activity to start your city trip. Spread over 11 rooms, you will get a great introduction on Antwerp's neighbourhoods, museums, sights and its inhabitants. There is also a panoramic roof terrace which can be visited for free.

Wooden maquette of Antwerp City Hall at 'The Antwerp Story'

Lonnies Planet at 'The Antwerp Story' Het Steen in Antwerp

The fashion museum MoMu is not your average fashion museum. With the exhibition E/MOTION, the museum looks back on events from the past three decades and asks questions about how fashion can reinvent itself as an industry, as well as the role that fashion designers can play in the future. To me it was a powerful exhibition where global crisis, politics and society play a major part.

Walter Van Beirendonck at MoMu Antwerp

E/MOTION Fashion in Transition at MoMu Antwerp

E/MOTION 'A New Era' at MoMu Antwerp

The M HKA (Museum of Contemporary Art) exhibits a large international collection with an emphasis on Eurasia. Here you can find artworks from artists who come from regions where the art scene is still relatively unknown; like for example China, India, Magreb (Northwest Africa) and Central-Asia.

MHKA Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp

Artwork 'mothers tongues & fathers throats' at MHKA Antwerp

Lonnies Planet at Museum of Contemporary Art MHKA in Antwerp

The FOMU (Photo Museum) is one of the most prestigious and leading museums of photography in Europe. It has a permanent collection of 3 million objects, and various changing exhibitions throughout the year.

'Double Bind' by Belgian photographer Max Pinckers is one of the current temporary exhibitions which runs until the 13th of March 2022. Max explores the boundaries of documentary and reveals its manipulative nature.

Solo exhibition of Max Pinckers at FoMu Antwerp

'Masculinities: liberation through photography' is one of the other current temporary exhibitions, which also can be seen until March the 13th. This group exhibition examines the masculine in all its complexity, touching on themes of queer identity, power and patriarchy, hyper masculine stereotypes, the black body, fatherhood and the female gaze.

Youri at FoMu in Antwerp

Coffee in Antwerp

Buchbar is a cozy bookstore and coffee bar in one, where you can enjoy vegan sweets, a daily soup or several kinds of grilled sandwiches. Their sweets are inspired by the favourite pastries of famous authors. For example, think of a coconut cake based on a recipe from Emily Dickinson or Jack Kerouac's apple pie. Their specialty coffee comes from Antwerp based roastery Normo.

Filter coffee at Buchbar in Antwerp

Vegan cookies and books at Buchbar in Antwerp

The plant based specialty coffee bar 'Caffénation goes Koco' is the latest addition to the well-known Caffènation 'family'. It shares it roof with the Belgian denim brand 'Eat Dust', therefore the slogan of Koco is 'Eat dust, drink coffee'.

Coffee at Caffènation goes Koco in Antwerp

Caffènation goes Koco in Antwerp

Coffee bar 'Caffènation goes Koco' at 'Eat Dust' in Antwerp

Vegetarian lunch and dinner in Antwerp

Camion is a vegan lunch, dinner, coffee and natural wine bar where it's all about sharing great food. Every time we go there we are surprised by the wide variety of flavours, freshness and the originality of the menu. Does a salad of roasted Jeusalem artichoke, whipped cashew cream with caramelised carrots, buckwheat risotto with marinated mushrooms and vegan steak tartare sounds good to you? Then make sure you book your table here in time!

Lunch at vegan restaurant Camion in Antwerp

Camion gekapt tartaar lunch in Antwerpen

Salad of Jerusalem artichoke at Camion Antwerp

Interior of vegan restaurant Camion in Antwerp

Grandeux is located in a monumental former bank building with high ceilings and large windows with beautiful wrought iron. This place feels historical and contemporary at the same time because of its modern interior. The Mediterranean inspired menu contains (sharing) dishes ranging from fish to meat, but with lots of tasty vegetable dishes to choose from too. Here great care is taken in selecting quality ingredients from the right suppliers. We truly enjoyed every bite of the ravioli with truffle, straciatella di buffalo with organic vegetables, truffle pie and fresh pasta with porcini mushrooms.

Vegetarian dinner at restaurant Grandeux in Antwerp

Vegetarian dinner at Grandeux in Antwerp

Dessert at restaurant Grandeux in Antwerp

Interior of restaurant Grandeux in Antwerp

The location of Fiera is probably one of the most striking in Antwerp, as it is adjacent to the 16th century former stock exchange building. A lot of attention and care has been taken down to the smallest detail. And the staff makes you feel truly welcome, while being very friendly and knowledgable about the food and wines. Most of the dishes contain meat or fish, but as a vegetarian you definitely won't be disappointed here. The roasted eggplant with baba ganoush and the pasta with fresh summer truffle and mushrooms were insanely delicious.

Restaurant Fiera at Schippersbeurs in Antwerp

Vegetarian lunch at Fiera in Antwerp

Interior of restaurant Fiera in Antwerp

Vegetarian pasta with truffle at Fiera Antwerp

Bar at restaurant Fiera in Antwerp

Dessert at Fiera in Antwerp

Kitchen at restaurant Fiera in Antwerp

Hotel in Antwerp

The charming Hotel 't Sandt is situated in a 17th century patrician house, which radiates a lot of warmth and luxury. Each of the 29 rooms has its own theme and look inspired by exotic faraway places. We've stayed at 'The Raffles' which has features of the famous hotel chain in Asia. The spacious room, spotless bathroom, pleasant lobby and extensive breakfast buffet make this the ideal hotel for a weekend in the historical heart of Antwerp.

Hotelroom The Raffles at Hotel 't Sandt in Antwerp

Room The Raffles at Hotel 't Sandt in Antwerp

Bathroom The Raffles at Hotel 't Sandt in Antwerp

Lonnies Planet at Hotel 't Sandt in Antwerp


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Please note: I was invited by Visit Antwerp to experience 24 hours in Antwerp.


Christmas lights at "Cathedral of our Lady" in Antwerp

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