Where To StayAntwerp is not short of amazing and cheap places to stay from the reputable and chic B&B Atelier20 to the incredibly unique Sleeping Around. I chose Hotel Banks, a boutique hotel as close to the middle of everything as you can get. Banks features a cafe with art from local artist as well as a roof terrace and bar. The decor is modern with white linen and concrete walls. But my favourite thing about this place, and more than likely the reason I picked it, is their ‘happy hour’. Each evening they lay out a selection of drinks and tapas for guests to snack on for free and breakfast is included for every room.
Starting With The High StreetOk, let’s get the boring stuff out-of-the-way first. The High Street, or in this case Meir, falls straight ahead of the train station and has everything that any good high street needs including an amazing H&M Home! The higher end of the high street falls to the left (assuming you are walking from the train station) on Wiegstraat and turns into a fun little maze featuring & Other Stories, Cos, Rituals and Mac. Take a break: Culture Coffee, Sint-Katelijnevest. Not only do they have coffee but they also have cake. Some of which is gluten-free!
Heading Up the ChainFor those of you who wanting to buy designer, head onto Schuttershofstraat and Komedieplaats. Here you’ll find everything from Maje, Burberry, Chanel and Hermes. Eat: Cafe Imperial, Meir. I had Afternoon Tea there, but I do believe that they cook real food also.
Boutique HeavenSo now comes the juicy stuff! When you get past the high street you fall into Paradise and be careful here because you can get a little bit lost (still deciding if that was a good thing or not). Nationalestraat is lined with independent boutiques that sell the most delicious clothes. Today is a Good Day retails ethical brands such as People Tree and Armedangels and has a zebra outside. Stay has it all; jewellery, clothing and homewear. Deby Debo and Second Female were my favourite brands that I found there. For jewellery, I fell in love with Atelier Clash. A bit further down is Lila Grace which has some great pieces from Sud Express, Ichi and Yerse. Take A Break: Stay, Nationalestraat. Yes, that’s correct. My favourite boutique also has a cafe in the back for you to unwind.
The second street of joy is Steenhouwersvest which starts just across the road from Hotel Banks (told you it was in a good location), has more of a boho vibe and some amazing jewellery shops. There’s also an amazing book store called L’Stad Leest. Eat: The Atro, Oever. You’ll need to turn left off Steenhouwersvest and walk down a bit but it’s worth it. The third and last street of joy is Kammenstraat. Pick up some cute souvenir jumpers from Just Julia or spend a small fortune in Sienna and Lois; both are excellent options!
When You Are Done Shopping…Try some sightseeing! Antwerp is your typical European city with beautiful old buildings and churches for you to wonder around. It is also the home of the artist Ruben and his works can be found at his house and in the Cathedral of Our Lady. For modern art head to MUHKA or check out the very interesting looking Museum Aan De Stroom; they have an exhibition on at the moment about body art but the main focus of the museum is the culture and history of Antwerp. As it’s becoming more known for its fashion, Antwerp recently opened up a fashion museum, MoMu and their latest exhibition focuses on ‘reinventing the 20th century silhouette’ and features over 100 pieces from Balenciaga, Chanel, Comme de Garcons, Yoji Yamamoto and MMM.
Street ArtDespite the number of tour guides I asked, no one could give me a direct answer about why so much street art in this small city. But there is and it is incredible. Keep a look out whilst you’re out and about because they appear all over the city in the most random places.
I hope this guide is of some use to you and if you do decide to go, happy shopping!