Antwerp is one of the oldest and most famous cities within Belgium. It is also the largest city within this country; offering a metropolitan population of just over one million people. As it is located next to the largest natural port in the world (Antwerp Port), the city has always been an important centre for trade and culture. It was contested by numerous nations including France, Germany and Britain (during the First World War). Currently, Antwerp is known for many structures that have existed for hundreds of years and exhibit the unique architecture of the Low Countries. As it is also relatively tranquil, many choose to visit and enjoy the sights and experiences here.
The primary airport here is the Antwerp International Airport (ANR). It offers many direct flights to and from London. The average flight time between these two cities is just over one hour. Note that there are normally no connecting flights. The primary airlines to choose from include CityJet and Air France.
Things to do in Antwerp
If you are arriving here with your family or children, it is a wise choice to visit the world-renowned Antwerp Zoo. Built in 1843, it is currently the oldest zoo in the country and one of the oldest in the entire world. So, much of the Gilded Age architecture can be seen within its confines. 7,000 animals and 950 different species are housed here. Some rarer examples include king penguins, Asian elephants and Siberian tigers. Alongside these sights, you will note many original buildings such as an Egyptian temple and a tropical greenhouse dating from 1897 known as “Winter Garden”.
Should you encounter a rainy day or if you are simply looking to breathe in a bit of culture, be sure to visit the Royal Museum of Fine Arts. This massive and imposing building was created in 1884 and opened its doors in 1890. There are several famous national and international artists which are featured here. Some well-known names include Jan van Eyck, Marten de Vos, Anthony van Dyck and Auguste Rodin. Keep in mind that these collections will rotate on a regular basis. After your visit, you can get a breath of fresh air by strolling around the exterior gardens found around the building.
Summer and jazz have always enjoyed a welcome presence in Antwerp. This can be seen in an annual jazz festival known as Jazz Middleheim. It is held in a large outdoor park overlooking the city centre. Such famous names as Wayne Shorter, Archie Shepp and Dave Holland but are a few of the artists to have played here in the past. As it is held outdoors, obtaining tickets is normally not a problem. It is still a good idea to book ahead to enjoy the most amenable rates.