The biggest city in the Flanders region, Antwerp is one of Belgium’s most famous cities. The home of the world’s largest port, Belgian fashion and plenty of culturally significant buildings, the affluent, trendy Antwerp could rival Paris with its boutiques and history.
Surrounded by water, this city really has something for everyone. From exquisite cuisine to delightful wildlife, there’s plenty to see and do here.
It’s also a popular destination for gay holiday makers, who come for the food and stay for the dance parties; some of the biggest gay clubs in Belgium can be found here.
After Brussels, Antwerp has a great gay scene to offer travellers with cute cafés, sophisticated bars and plenty of hot guys!
It’s Antwerp’s dance clubs, however, that are renowned in this region. Cargo Club (RED & BLUE) is the biggest and most famous, taking place every Saturday. There are plenty of other gay options, including Gay Cruise Clubs and Gay Saunas should these take your fancy.
As one of the most gay friendly cities in the world, Antwerp Gay Pride is one of the best in Europe. Taking place in August, you’ll find plenty going on including a festival, dance parties and more.
Antwerp has its own small airport, Antwerp International Airport, with flights to and from several European destinations. To get into town from the airport you will need to take the number 51, 52 and 53 buses to Antwerp Berchem railway station. From there you will then have to take tram 9 (Eksterlaar – Linkeroever) to get into the city centre. The journey should take around 20 minutes and costs €3.
For more flight options and for guests travelling from further afield, Brussels Zaventem Airport, Belgium’s main airport, is a good call. You can travel to Antwerp direct on either a bus or train from here.
The beautiful Antwerp Central Station, a tourist destination in its own right, is served by national and international trains, with connections to the Netherlands, Germany, France and the UK.
Use the Central Station as a base. It’s easy to walk round most of Antwerp, with easy-to-navigate street signs and pedestrianised streets ensuring you don’t get lost.
Sightseeing buses are great for tourists, but for cheaper travel take the local bus or tram. Company De Lijn run both. €3 for an individual ticket that lasts up to an hour or €6 for a day pass (more expensive if you buy on public transport and only valid on selected routes).
The Flanders region is famed for its flat, easy-to-ride terrain, so hop on a bike and scoot across the city. Antwerp is the ideal spot to cycle round, and the city’s Velo service allows you to hire one for a day or week, depending on the pass you buy.
Diamond stores and fashion boutiques make this a trendy, upmarket place to stay, which can mean accommodation prices are slightly dear.
Hotels in the city centre, particularly near the old town, are more expensive. Staying near the station is cheaper, as is to the North of the city, which brings you closer to some of the bigger gay bars.
For our list of gay-recommended hotels in Antwerp, visit our Gay Antwerp Hotels page.
Museum aan de Stroom – the MAS museum is one of the best museums in Belgium. Located in an iconic building, here the city and the port meet to share with visitors the important history of Antwerp’s connections to the sea.
What’s more, from the top of the building guests can glimpse stunning views of the city. Take your camera if you happen to travel up, it’s simply breathtaking. The viewing gallery is free but you have to pay to enter some parts of the museum.
Grote Markt – from the impressive water fountain to the stunning verandas of the shops and restaurants, the Markt is the central hub of Antwerp’s old town. Beautiful in the summer, you’ll find plenty of things to see and do here. Great food options can be found here.
Cathedral of Our Lady – the impressive tower of this Gothic building, completed in 1521 after 169 years of construction, is just one of the standout attractions here. The Cathedral boasts an impressive art collection, including paintings from the legendary Flemish Baroque painter Rubens.
Rubens House – if you love art, do check out The Rubens House, which allows guests to discover more about the famous painter’s family, work and collections.
Antwerp Zoo – one of the oldest and most loved zoos in Europe, there’s everything here from penguins to hippos. The luscious gardens and buildings make it the perfect spot for a day out with family or friends.
Steen Castle – walk along the waterfront and take a pic with the Steen Castle in the background, Antwerp’s oldest building. The main tourist information point for the city can be found here.
MoMu Fashion Museum – major exhibitions on Belgium and international fashion take centre stage here; a reminder of the important legacy Antwerp has made to worldwide fashion.
Like most European cities, Antwerp will warm up and get busy during the summer months. Early Spring can also be hot (and cheaper), which is why you’ll find April and May good dates to visit.
It’s worth noting that shops, apart from the first one of the month, are closed every Sunday. Attractions are still open, but if you’re hoping for a bit of retail therapy be cautious when booking.
In the summer, the Summerfestival and Vlaanderen Feast! are packed during July, whilst the Christmas markets are big draws in November and December.
Don’t forget, the Gay Pride Parade in August is worth going to. It’s considered one of the best in Europe.
Belgium is within the European Schengen visa area. If travelling from outside Europe, check to see if you require a Schengen visa.
Belgium is a member of the Eurozone. Cash dispensers are widely available. You may be asked for photo ID if paying with a credit or debit card in a shop.
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