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DESTINATIONS

ANTWERP: THE PERFECT WEEKEND

Antwerp mixes medieval heritage with contemporary cool and is a shopper’s and gourmet’s delight. Everything’s within walking distance too. Here’s how to make the most of a weekend in this Belgian city.

Ford Vignale Lifestyle the view of a city and the tall building near the harbour

Friday

17.00 Getting there
Arriving by international train? Antwerp Central Station is an enormous, majestic, neo-Gothic palace, right in the heart of the city. Locals say it is the heart of the city.

18.00 Check-in
Hotel Julien (Korte Nieuwstraat 24). This stylish designer hotel is informal and friendly – a home from home. It’s popular with the fashion crowd. Boulevard Leopold (Belgiëlei 135). One of Antwerp’s finest B&Bs. Large rooms, stylish design, nice hosts and excellent breakfasts. Hilton Antwerp Old Town (Groenplaats 32). This is a Hilton but, first and foremost, it’s a classic grand hotel. Belle Epoque meets stylish sophistication.

19.00 Savour the 16th century
Almost all of Antwerp’s attractions are within walking distance. The cathedral has been the pride of the city since it opened in 1521 and its tower rises 123 metres above the city in the medieval district.

21.00 Savour the 21th century
Walk south to t Zuid, a trendy part of Antwerp filled with great restaurants. Try Fiskebar (Marnixplaats 11), one of the most praised restaurants in Belgium. Or on ‘t Eilandje, Balls & Glory (Godefriduskaai 30) for probably the best meatballs you’ll ever eat. Then stroll through ’t Zuid to one of the many trendy bars for a huge choice of Flemish beers.

24.00 Party on
Café d’Anvers (Verversrui 15), in a 16th century building, is one of the most famous clubs in Europe. Or try Sips (Gillisplaats 8), Antwerp’s most famous cocktail bar.

Ford Vignale Lifestyle food and chef preparing the food

Saturday

10.00 Breakfast with a view
Everything is fresh at Coffeelabs (Lange Klarenstraat 19). In summer, the rooftop is open, so enjoy the views of the old city too.

11.00 Hit the shops
Expensive brands, hip design, handcrafted items, flea markets – Antwerp has it all. Two must-visits: St Vincents (Klein Markt 13), which sells only high-end items from top brands; and Espoo (Vlaamsekaai 57), a big Scandinavian-style space with handcrafted designer items.

13.00 Picnic with a view
The MAS (Hanzestedenplaats 1) is modern architectural wow. You can learn all about Antwerp in this museum, enjoy breathtaking 360-degree views of the city – and have your own picnic there.

14.00 Antwerp’s famous son
Peter Paul Rubens is regarded as Belgium’s greatest painter. The Rubens’ House (Wapper 9-11), designed by Rubens, is a beautiful place to visit.

16.00 Harbour of creativity
Until October, the city is honouring its creative citizens with the ‘Born in Antwerp: harbour of creativity’ initiative. Check out Hangar 22 aan de Kattendok Oostkaai.

Ford Vignale Lifestyle shop with clothes and harbour of creativity

18.00 Cocktails, anyone?
Try The Dirty Rabbit (Gentplaats 1) for cocktails and an American road movie style interior.

20.00 Make a life-long memory
Restaurant The Jane (Paradeplein 1) is located in an old church and three-star Michelin chef Sergio Herman and his team cook on the former altar. It’ll be an evening you’ll never forget.

Sunday

11.00 Diamond city
Antwerp has been the diamond capital of the world for centuries. The diamond district is just behind the Central Station. Enjoy it, and if you want to buy, haggle.

13.00 Sunday brunch
Felix Pakhuis (Godefriduskaai 30) is perfect for brunch. Good food. Cosy atmosphere.

14.00 Antwerp by boat
A fitting finale: see Antwerp and its huge port from the water. It’ll give you a new perspective of the city: medieval and modern, the perfect mix.

Ford Vignale Lifestyle central station and fountain
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