The 10 most beautiful city parks in Antwerp.
Your own secret haven of quietness inside the city.
For both residents as for tourists it is very important: a park inside the city where you can escape the hustle of the city, to take your dog for a walk, to go hiking, running, cycling or just enjoying the rest and the beauty of nature, alone, or with your children. A city park is the city’s ‘green lungs’. Some city parks were built where the formerly fortress walls were located, others came along the river that crosses the city. We are going to take show you the 10 most interesting city parks in and around the city of Antwerp, capital of Flanders, and the second largest city in Belgium.
The main city park or “Stadspark”
Size: 11 hectares 14 acres
Location: The “Stadspark” is located in the center of Antwerp on the Rubenslei, Quinten Matsijs and the Van Eycklei.
This park is located right in the centre, is obviously the most known for both tourists as locals, and is as diverse as Antwerp itself. Young and old frequent this park, and girls in bikinis are sunbathing next to veiled women. This park offers something for everyone all year long.
The small children can enjoy themselves in the big playground and a special skate park is set for the more acrobatic youth. The park is also popular for joggers, coming here early in the morning before going to work. Throughout the year there are several events that take place, such as the Flemish Community Day or the crowded second-hand-market “goegekregen“, known to almost all locals.
The “Stadspark” is designed in a typical English landscape style. This style was extremely popular when the park was built at the end of the 19th century. At the entrance on the corner of the Van Eycklei and Rubenslei, an impressive monument reminds the victims of the First World War.
The Antwerp Zoo or “Zoölogie“
Size: 11 hectares
Location: Koningin Astridplein 20-26, 2018 Antwerpen
Right next to the magnificent Central Station, located on the Astridplein, is the Zoo of Antwerp. The zoo was opened on July 21st in 1843, making it the oldest zoo in Belgium and one of the oldest zoos in the world. It’s also the 5th oldest zoo in Europe, together with Tiergarten Schönbrunn (1752), the Paris Zoo (1794), London Zoo (1828), Dublin Zoo (1831), Bristol Zoo (1836) and Artis (1838). Among other things, due to the large number of historic buildings and the well-kept construction of the gardens, the zoo has been recognized as a monument since 14 January 1984.
Today there are 425 types of shelter in the zoo, and an annual 1.000.000 visitors enjoy the zoo and its beautiful park.
Middelheimpark and open air museum
Size: 24 hectares
Location: Middelheimlaan 61, 2020 Antwerp. (between Middelheimlaan and park Vogelzang)
In the Middelheim park you can admire over 300 sculptures. The museum originated from an idea of mayor Lode Craeybeckx (1897 – 1976). In 1950 there was an International outdoor sculpture exhibition held, that was such a great success that the city decided to make the exhibition permanent.
The park is divided into 2 parts: Middelheim-Hoog and Middelheim-Laag. In Middelheim-Hoog you will find mostly old artworks. You can also visit sculptures in the Braem pavilion built by Antwerp architect Renaat Braam, a former student of Le Corbusier. In Middelheim-Laag you will find more modern sculptures.
You will also find a castle, a 15th century farmhouse that was transformed into a Louis XVI-style castle, surrounded by a courtyard and only accessible by two bridges. The lawn behind the castle is unique because of some remarkable trees.
Size: 130 hectares
Location: Turnhoutsebaan 232, 2100 Antwerpen (Deurne)
This park just outside the city centre are 130 hectares of peace and relaxation for the whole family, walking along ancient trees, the rose garden and the ponds.
The Rivierenhof is a vivid park with numerous possibilities: it’s ideal for jogging, hiking, cycling and fishing. The park is since many years the home base for all kinds of sports clubs. The open air theater is a unique setting for music concerts and theater performances. You can enjoy some quietness in the rosary or get a drink or a bite in a café-restaurant in the historic setting of the Rivierenhof castle.
The Rivierenhof is also an ideal playground for young people. With the children’s farm, the fairytale playground, the fairy house, the sports fields, the adventure corner and the big lawns, parents and their children find lots of opportunities to escape the busy city life.
Size: 90 hectares
Location: Beukenlaan, Middelheimlaan
Nachtegalenpark is the collective name for 3 parks next to one another: Vogelzang park, Den Brandt and Middelheim (see above).
This large park is located south of the city center. The parks were formerly private property of wealthy Antwerp traders. In 1910, the city council decided to purchase the whole area.
Park Vogelenzang was built in typical English landscape style. The pond in park Vogelzang is in the form of a whale. The park is a real family park, you can enjoy beautiful trees and untouched nature along many hiking trails. There is a large playground and a small zoo for the childrenand you can go for a snack and a drink to one of the restaurants in the park.
Park Den Brandt has something romantic, with the fairytale castle and the English cottage. Numerous couples have had themselves photographed next to the statue of the dancing nymphs. On a sunny Sunday afternoon you will hear all the languages of the world, from locals, expats and cosmopolitan people. Every two years you can visit the festival “Jazz Middelheim”, with internationally regarded jazz-musicians .
Park Rail North
Size: 19 hectares
Location: Ellermanstraat, 2060 Antwerpen
During the construction of Park Spoor Noord, the city has deliberately chosen for an environmentally friendly concept. Some aspects that make this park highly ecologic are:
- The use of FSC wood (Forest Stewardship Council): this label is only given to wood from responsible forest management in terms of the environment, indigenous people and labor rights.
- reuse of materials: part of the new trails in the park were constructed with material from the former railway area.
- There was chosen for LED lighting in the park. The lights only shine in places where visibility is important for hikers and cyclists.
- A custom drainage system
- The trees are a mix of slow-growing trees and fast-growing trees. After a number of years, the rapid growth is removed, as far as possible for transplantation. The slow-growing trees are thus given the opportunity to grow into healthy, massive and characteristic trees, which can be more than a hundred years.
The park is known for it’s enchanting summer bar, you can watch movies on summer evenings, there are many exhibitions, markets, and of course the famous child-friendly swimming pond and fountains.
The Botanical Garden or “den Botaniek“
Size: 8,3 acres
Location: Leopoldstraat 24 2000 Antwerpen
The botanical garden is probably the only one blooming all seasons. Nowhere else in Antwerp you will find so many herbs and plants together. Flaming over the winding paths along the flower parcels, you immediately forget the busy city, while still nearby.
The garden exudes the atmosphere of the past. Pharmacist Peter van Coudenberghe (1517-1599) presented a unique herb and plant garden for the nearby St Elisabeth Hospital. He used more than 600 different plants to prepare medicines with it. Thanks to the efforts of physician and botanist Claude-Louis Sommé, the garden grew into an important domain for scientific research. Today you will find about 2000 plant species, several of which are protected by law.
In the conservatory you have a large collection of cacti and alien plants. In the garden itself are beautiful trees and bushes and a sea of flowers. The pond and frog pool have recently been completely renewed. Just before the frog pool you will find the artwork ‘Greening II’ donated by artist Monique Donckers. The original archery gallery was also put in a new garment. In the exam periods, the garden is popular with students.
The Hobokense Polder or Polderbos
Size: 170 hectares
Location: Scheldehoevelaan, Schroeilaan 2660 Antwerpen (Hoboken)
This park is actually a 170 hectare nature reserve. Here you will find a vast and beautiful nature, wild cattle and various birds. Every third Sunday of March to Novembre there is a walk accompanied by a nature guide. The plants and the trees are carefully maintained by nature enthusiasts and scientists. Large grazers are also used in nature management such as Galloway cattle and conic horses. The are viewing huts from which you can observe or photograph birds, and while walking you will find that this nature park is also an important habitat for amphibians.
This gigantic park, on the south side of the city, is an ideal place if you like walking for hours, and enjoying the beautiful scenery of the local nature and landscapes in Antwerp.
Size: 3 hectares 49 acres
Location: Desguinlei, Karel Oomsstraat 2018 Antwerp
This small park in the city is a hidden treasure. Even many locals may have been passing Domain Hertoghe for years, without ever having noticed it or having entered. Because so few people know the park, it is always quiet. The fence around Domain Hertoghe may give the impression that it is a private domain, but nothing is less true. Everybody can come and enjoy the peace and quietness here. A path leads through a dense forest to a central open space where ancient trees surround the rolling lawn. Many of about 130 trees – including some very valuable specimens – are also classified. Yoga or Tai Chi lovers can practice on the big lawn undisturbed: besides a single hiker with a dog, you almost always have the empire here for yourself.
Hof van Leysen
Size: 2 hectares
Location: Markgravelei 2018 Antwerpen
The park space “Hof van Leysen” is a beautiful piece of green on the southern side of the city. For casual visitors it’s a surprise, but for the neighborhood it’s a famous green spot.
Picnic, mini-football or just a cozy chat: children with their parents, pupils and elderly residents enjoy in this park the nature and its tranquility. Sports and games or a moment of reflection are reasons to visit this park.