|Antwerpen has the prettiest train station that I think I have seen in Europe!|
We always get asked what our favorite cities are in Belgium, and the answer always starts out the same. First and foremost, we are in love with Bruges. The preserved medieval city seems almost too beautiful to be real life; it feels more like a movie set than a place people actually call "home." As soon as I saw Her, I knew that I wanted to live close to Bruges (check out Bruges here, here, and here). So, yeah, Bruges would be our #1 place to visit in Belgium, but then of course there are other fantastic cities like Ghent and Antwerp that cannot be missed when visiting the land of strong beer and rich chocolate.
Antwerp (English) - Antwerpen (Dutch) - Anvers (French)
When visiting Antwerp, it's not uncommon to see the city spelled all three different ways, but the most often used version is the Dutch one. According to legend, Antwerpen got Her name after the mighty giant who used to demand a toll for passage into the port city. Those who refused to cough up the money would pay by having their hand cut off and thrown into the river. Eventually the money-hungry giant was killed and his own giant hand cut off and thrown into the river, thus giving the city the name "hand-werpen" ("to throw" in Old English). Eventually that evolved into the modern day name of Antwerpen. You'll see hand statues and hand illustrations all around the city if you keep your eyes open for them.
Chris and I enjoyed a lovely weekend in Antwerpen checking out a few local restaurants, meandering through annual fall festivals, sipping sangria at the city "beach," and getting acquainted with Belgium's second largest city. While Antwerpen is not as visually stunning as Bruges and Ghent, it does have an artistic vibe that invites one to stop, relax, and stay a while.
Planning a trip to Antwerpen? Here are some of our city notes:
- Leopold Hotel. Comfortable and affordable, and about a 10 min walk from the center.
- MAS museum - Modern, new museum with a great view of the city. The view is free!
- Cafe Noir - Great, hidden little place for lunch or coffee, and they have bagel sandwiches!
- Caramba - Mexican food in Belgium! The margaritas were more impressive than the food.
- De Muze Jazz Cafe - An amazing setting in the center with live jazz. Check out their schedule.
- St. Anna Pedestrian Tunnel - Just trust me, this is an experience, and the only way to walk/bike to Sint Anneke beach from the center of Antwerpen.
And of course - a few pictures from our weekend in Antwerpen. Thanks for reading!