Enjoy magical Antwerp this winter!
© Lebak Photography for ATYPISCH ANTWERPEN
For those who did not notice: Antwerp is listed in the Lonely Planet list of 10 best cities to visit in 2018! Along other cities like Seville, Detroit, Canberra, Hamburg and Oslo this is pretty impressive for the small, but lively city in the heart of Europe! Antwerp has been the capital of Flanders since centuries, and has many things to offer. But why wait until 2018 to visit Antwerp, when the city is currently transformed into a winter wonderland, with a white snow carpet on top of it, some cozy Christmas markets, thousands of lights and so much more! Come to Antwerp for Christmas and New Year, and spend the holidays in this enchanting city on the river Scheldt!
1. Drink a “Bolleke” in a proper pub
This is thé beer from Antwerp! It’s brewed by De Konick brewery, inside the city of Antwerp. It’s round-shaped glass gave it the nickname “Bolleke”. You can drink it almost everywhere in Antwerp, and you can order it as a “Bolleke Keuning”, as it is pronounced in the local dialect. If you want to visit the brewery, have a look at their website, or link to our previous post “10 Breweries In Belgium You Must Visit“. Cheers!
2. Go to Linkeroever for a winter walk along the Scheldt
The St. Anna Tunnel is a pedestrian and bicycle tunnel under the River Scheldt, connecting both sides of the river. The construction of the St. Anna tunnel started in 1931 and the tunnel was opened in 1933. On both the right and left bank you can still enter the tunnel via the authentic wooden escalators, which were unique at the opening.
After London, New York and Rotterdam there are now also “water-buses” in Antwerp. The water bus sails from the Steenplein to Kruibeke and Hemiksem, and they leave every hour at Steenplein. A single ride takes about thirty minutes, and moves around with a speed of twenty knots per hour, or about forty kilometers per hour. There is room for 125 passengers, including 50 bicycles. More info? dewaterbus.be!
3. Forget about the cold among the cactuses and exotic plants in the botanic garden
The Botanical Garden in the Leopoldstraat is a unique green haven in the center of the city. It has a history of more than two hundred years, and you will find a large number of exceptional trees and herbs here. In the glass house there is a large collection of cacti and otherexotic plants. Initially the garden with medicinal plants belonged to the Sint-Elisabeth hospital, but since 1926 it is managed by the city. Since 1950 the Botanical Garden was classified as a valuable landscape.
4. Explore the city on a red Velo city bike
Protect yourself against the cold, and move quickly through the city with the bikes of Velo Antwerp. With a day pass, a week pass or year card you make short trips between the different Velo stations. It’s the perfect means of transport to see the compact city in a short time! You can find all the info to register yourself on their website!
5. Watch a spectacular 360° film about diamonds in Koningin Astridplein
Antwerp is the worldwide capital when it comes to diamonds! The city has been the most important diamond trading center in the world for more than 500 years, and this is celebrated during ‘Antwerp Diamond Capital since 1447’. At present 80 percent of the world production of rough diamonds is traded in Antwerp. Although most diamonds are cut in Asia, diamonds are also cut in Antwerp. The stones cut in Antwerp are generally the largest, most special and most valuable gems. Fifty percent of the global trade in cut diamonds is once again distributed through Antwerp to all corners of the globe.
6. Leave a wish on the wishing wall in Suikerrui…
…and passionately hope that your wish will come true! What do you wish your family, friends, neighbours and all the people of Antwerp for the New Year? Leave a wish on the interactive wishing wall.
7. Take a stroll among the Galloway cows in Hobokense Polder
The “Hobokense Polder” is a nature reserve located in Hoboken, just outside the city center. It is 170 hectares big, and since 1995 it is reappointed as a natural area. On 23 December 1998 it became officially a nature reserve. In the reserve you can find wild Galloway cattle. The Galloway are often described as a very old and original breed. It would be descended from a horned and black cattle that originally lived in Scotland since the Celtic times.
8. Hop on a random tram and enjoy the surprises along the way
The tram forms the backbone of public transport in the city of Antwerp. Its network is 75 kilometers long and exists of 14 tram lines in seven of the nine districts of Antwerp. This makes it the second largest tram network in Belgium, after Brussels. Trams have been running continuously in the city since 1873, and they cross Antwerp, Mortsel, Zwijndrecht, Melsele, Wijnegem and Boechout.
9. Explore Antwerp in an original manner during a game of City Golf
City Golf is a tourist city walk where the sights and identity of the city are discovered in combination with playing city golf at the most beautiful places in Antwerp. In contrast to classic golf sports, City Golf does not play towards a hole, but towards a target. This target can be a statue, fountain or obstacle that can already be found in the city. Discover the most infectious stories about the city during a City Golf tour!
10. Sip a decadent hot chocolate with lashings of whipped cream
Every year the Christmas markets offer lots of food, drinks, craft products and original gadgets. The market is shaped in a chain from Groenplaats across the Grote Markt to Steenplein. The exhibitors on the Christmas market offer a mix of traditional and new things. The Christmas market is also the place to eat and drink something: from winter delicacies such as glühwein, jenever, smout dumplings and waffles, to vegetarian and exotic dishes: you do not have to suffer from hunger or thirst!
Locations: Groenplaats, Grote Markt, Suikerrui, Steenplein
11. Sunday shopping
Shopping in Antwerp is true experience, and the range is very wide: fashion, design, antiquities, delicacies and vintage. You will find it all within walking distance in a city that is both hip and historic, cool and classic, trendy and traditional. In addition, you can enjoy numerous restaurants, cafés, museums, sights and hidden places in Antwerp. Before you go shopping, you can visit a museum and after your shopping you end your day in a local accommodation.
Traditionally the shops in the center are open every first Sunday of the month, and in December we can offer you some extra days: 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31 December 2017.
12. Take a spin in the giant Ferris wheel to enjoy the most amazing views of the city
With a height of 55 meters, the Ferris wheel on the Steenplein guarantees some magnificent views over the skyline of Antwerp. During the day or in the evening, a ride in the Ferris wheel is always a special experience. Don’t get scared by the winter weather, because the small cabins are nicely closed.
13. Choose the best winter sweets
Antwerp is known for its many desserts and sweets. Try all the best the city has to offer, and pick your personal favorite! From the Christmas markets, to the local bakeries, and so many other places: the city has so much to offer, that we can’t even tell you where to start…
14. Steal a kiss under the mistletoe
A special place for special kisses: for centuries many magic powers have been assigned to the mistletoe. A kiss under the mistletoe would bring love and happiness. Artist Jesse Agten made a special place with stretched fabrics, where you can kiss the love of your life.
Place: Grote Markt
15. Print your own Christmas cards in Museum Plantin-Moretus
Christmas is a very special occasion for the museum and the family Plantin-Moretus. With a unique 18th-century Neapolitan Christmas crib, a huge and nicely decorated Christmas tree and Christmas decorations, the house is in the right mood. You have the opportunity to learn about old press techniques, and use your knowledge to design your own Christmas cards.
16. See Queen Elisabeth’s tiara sparkle in the MAS
The engagement ring of Mary of Burgundy, the impressive Mary’s crown of the Antwerp Cathedral, the imposing Russian tsar’s crown of the Romanovs, the diadem of Cartier that Queen Elisabeth of Belgium wore and the bling bling of popular hiphoppers of today. Each and every one of them shows how diamonds shape our desires. The exhibition ‘Schitterend Verlangen’ shows how people give diamonds all kinds of meanings. Visit the Expo in the iconic MAS museum!
17. Score some amazing gifts for your loved ones
Go shopping for the holidays in some of the most original shops and pop-ups, like De Nieuwe Natie, and many others.
18. Spot François Pompon’s polar bear in the Middelheim Museum
The Middelheim Museum is a 30-hectare sculpture park in the Middelheim sub-park of the Nachtegalenpark near Antwerp. An elegant work that immediately attracts attention, a true audience favorite. With this work, François Pompon achieved his first success in 1922 at the Salon d’Automne in Paris. The Middelheim Museum has its third copy; the original is in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.
If you like more to see more city parks in Antwerp, have a look at our previous post “the 10 most beautiful city parks in Antwerp“.
19. Take the train to Antwerp and arrive in the world’s most beautiful station
Antwerp Central Station (also known as the Central Station, the Middle Station or the Railway Cathedral) is the central station at the Koningin Astridplein in Antwerp. From 1873 until the beginning of 2007 it was a so called “head station”, a station where all trains had to turn. On 23 March 2007, a tunnel with two passing tracks was opened under the station and part of the city of Antwerp.
20. Enjoy food and drinks in the Mercado food market, the Christmas market or one of Antwerp’s many trendy bars
The old post office on the Groenplaats in Antwerp is the setting for Mercado. Whoever enters through the old post office door, enters a wonderful world full of smells and tastes. You can enjoy delicious street food – from Malaysian dishes in a banana leaf to sushi wrappers – and enjoy the atmosphere. It’s only one of the many places where you can have a taste of Antwerp’s culinary dishes.
21. Sing along with the singing Christmas tree, no matter how funny this may sound
Never heard a Christmas tree sing before? Grab your chance and be enchanted by the angelic voices of children’s choirs. Where? On the Handschoenmarkt on 18th to 22nd of December, 16.30 to 18.30, or December 23rd and 24th, from 14h to 16h!
22. Go see China Light in the ZOO
China Light ZOO opens its doors again. Until the 14th of January you can enjoy the most beautiful edition of the Chinese light festival in the Zoo of Antwerp. Experience a fairy-like evening among hundreds of light objects and enjoy a snack and a drink, while walking through the Zoo of Antwerp!
23. Sip from a coffee in one of the local roasteries
The port of Antwerp has been a major hub for coffee merchants for several centuries: from all over the world, ships brought huge cargos of green coffee beans here. The city is also second to none when it comes to coffee storage and warehousing. From the most exotic and rare coffee types, roasters and dealers choose their own blends. The best coffee bars and roasters you can find in this post!
24. Slide down the tubing slope
25. Get lost in the city’s streets and admire the Christmas lights
Winter in Antwerp is always a special occasion, and this year Antwerp welcomes you to an extra magical winter wonderland. You will feel the enchantment of the city as you wander through the streets at night.
26. Show off your skating skills to Rubens
The piste on the Groenplaats is one of the most beautiful in the Benelux with 1,200 m² of skating fun. You skate jobs under the watchful eye of Rubens or take a drink in the winter bar. The little ones can learn how to skate with a penguin as a skating aid. Elsewhere? On the terrace of the winter bar with a view of the cathedral you catch your breath with a nice drink.
27. See the fireworks on New Year’s Eve
Unique firework extravaganza on New Year’s Eve! This year, the Antwerp fireworks will be launched from a pontoon near the Zuiderterras and the pedestrian tunnel. The pyrotechnic spectacle will last 20 minutes. The firework will be combined with festive music. You will be able to watch the entire fireworks show from both quays along the Scheldt.
28. Go say hello to Nello and Patrasche in front of Antwerp’s cathedral
The story of the little boy Nello and his dog Patrasche is world famous and the story is set in Hoboken and Antwerp. Nello and Patrasche are the main characters from the English novel A Dog of Flanders from 1872. Among others, the Cathedral of Our Lady and the paintings by Rubens play an important role.
29. Search for Ursa Major under the starry skies in Dageraadplaats (even on cloudy days)
The Dageraadplaats remains one of the most pleasant squares in Antwerp, and is a place where cultures come together and where everyone immediately feels at home. The lights above the square let you feel like being under a blanket of stars, and they are exactly shaped like the real galaxy that we can see every night high above.
30. See circus artists perform breakneck stunts at Wintervuur
Wintervuur (translated “winter fire”), brings contemporary circus, theater performances, concerts and special fire installations to Spoor Oost from 28 December to 6 January 2017. For a more detailed line up of all the activities taking place, surf to wintervuur.be