On a budget and looking for the best free things to do in Antwerp, Belgium? If so then you have come to the right place.
Not only have I visited Antwerp a couple of times, but I always seek out all of the cheapest things to do in Antwerp while I’m here.
Yeah, I’m not a Rockefeller and I like to stretch my budget as far as humanly possible. Plus, Belgium isn’t exactly the cheapest country in Europe.
So, I save my money where I can and look for budget-friendly activities in Antwerp that everyone can enjoy.
Now, let’s swan dive into this epic guide on all of the best things to do in Antwerp on a budget.
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1. Admire Some Stunning Views of the City
In the charming district of Het Eilandje, hidden away amidst the historic docklands, is the Museum aan de Stroom.
More commonly known as MAS, this architecturally striking building was crafted using sandstone and glass.
It stands as a tribute to Antwerp’s storied past as a significant global harbor.
While entry tickets grant you access to a wealth of exhibits, select floors feature free admission.
Moreover, visitors can use central escalators to ascend to the top of the building. As you move from one level to the next, you get a fresh perspective of the city.
Then, once at the top, enjoy stellar views from an encased pedestrian promenade. Just be sure to bring your camera so you have photos to remember one of the best free things to do in Antwerp.
2. Visit Independent Bookstores
One of the coolest things to do in Antwerp is explore some of the city’s uber-charming bookstores.
Not only can you pick up an epic souvenir from Belgium, but you can chill and enjoy the low-key vibe of these amazing places – all without spending a dime.
One of my faves is Demian. The owner is wonderful and it’s just a cool place to hang out.
Luddites is also really awesome too. It’s part bookstore, part winery, and is filled with walls of stunning floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Yup, all my fellow book lovers should go NOW!
Pro Tip: Stad Leest is a great spot to add to any 24-hour trip to Antwerp since they have a killer selection of English books available.
3. Enjoy a Free Walking Tour
A walking tour is a quick and easy way to orient yourself to a new city in a short amount of time.
Yes, you will have to tip your tour guide. But, it’s worth it if you’re short on time and want to get a good overview of the city.
Now, many companies offer free walking tours of Antwerp. But, Legends Tours is one of the best companies in the city.
They are well-reviewed, have knowledgeable, English-speaking guides, and offer excellent, two-hour tours.
Just head to their website and book a daily tour at either 10:30 am, 12:30 pm, or 8:00 pm.
Then, meet your guide at Grote Markt and see why this company is #1 on TripAdvisor.
4. Relax at Conscienceplein
Take a stroll down a quaint, cobblestone path that takes you to Hendrik Conscienceplein.
This stunning square is named in honor of the Flemish author, Hendrik Conscience.
Here, you’ll see St. Charles Borromeo Church standing tall. It is well worth a visit since it is often referred to as the pinnacle of baroque architecture in the Low Countries.
Afterward, explore the square which is usually buzzing with life, since many cafés, restaurants, and street entertainers are all congregated in the area.
And if you’re not sure what to do in Antwerp at night, then grab a drink at De Zwaan. It’s one of the best bars in the city.
5. Do a Comic Book Themed Walk
One of the most unique things about Brussels and Antwerp too is that there are famous comic book-inspired murals everywhere you look.
That’s because fictional characters like the Smurfs, Lucky Luke, and Tintin were all created in Belgium.
In particular, Willy Vandersteen, the creator of Suske en Wiske, was from Antwerp.
So, it’s little surprise that the walls of Antwerp are adorned with ten vibrant cartoon murals.
Capturing the essence of the city, Brecht Evens’ De Oever mural was designed in 2012 and named “Color Parade”.
It spans an impressive 688 feet and showcases an array of vibrant figures like Pegasus, a Minotaur, and the Hindu god Shiva.
So, stop by and enjoy one of the coolest street art murals in Antwerp.
6. Marvel at the Incredible Architecture
One of the many reasons to visit Antwerp is the stunning architecture. It is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
There is no better place to see some exquisite buildings than on Cogels-Osylei, a charming residential street in the southern part of the city.
It links Zurenborg with Berchem and dates back to the 19th century since it is a place where affluent Belgian families, like the Cogels and Osy, built opulent homes.
Today the street showcases various residences with unique designs that include Art Nouveau, Neo-Renaissance, Neoclassical, and Gothic Revival architectural styles.
So, a leisurely walk along this serene, cobblestone street is easily one of the best free things to do in Antwerp.
7. Explore Park Spoor Noord
Head to the northern part of the city and enjoy one of the best free things to do in Antwerp.
This area is home to Park Spoor Noord, an oasis of greenery that was constructed in 2008 atop an old train yard.
This park has a repurposed warehouse that buzzes with activity from markets and events, as well as bars and food vendors.
There’s even a nice terrace complemented by a paddling area for kids and several public barbecues.
The rest of the park is filled with grassy areas that are perfect for a picnic, throwing the frisbee, or going for a bike ride along one of the paths here.
8. Visit One of the City’s Five Main Churches
What you might not know is that Antwerp is home to a ton of really magnificent churches, some of which are free to visit.
They are well located near one another and are easy to visit if you are planning a quick Antwerp itinerary.
The churches that are always free to visit include St. Andrew’s Church, St. Charles Borromeo Church, and St. James’ Church.
In contrast, you have to pay €8.00 to visit the Cathedral of Our Lady and €5.00 to visit St. Paul’s Church. But, if you visit St. Paiul’s Church on the first Tuesday of the month then you can enter for free.
You can also visit both churches for free if you purchase an Antwerp City Card.
9. Take a Stroll Down Kloosterstraat
One of my favorite budget-friendly activities in Antwerp is to take a quiet walk down Kloosterstraat.
This beautiful street is filled with cool stores, fun art galleries, and charming buildings with old-world interiors.
You can even stop by on a Sunday and do a bit of window shopping since many of these places are open
10. Visit the Vlaeykensgang
Antwerp is a city with an extensive history that dates back to the 4th century. But, this urban metropolis only started to come alive during the Middle Ages.
This is when there was a sharp increase in the size of the population and in the construction of buildings that continue to be historic Antwerp landmarks.
So, walk along Vlaeykensgang and get ready to travel back in time. It is an ancient passageway that feels like a living time capsule.
It links Pelgrimstraat, Oude Koornmarkt, and Hoogstraat and is filled with antique stores, art galleries, and restaurants that are well-located near the Cathedral of Our Lady.
Feel free to sit on one of Vlaeykensgang’s many benches and listen to the music created during one of the Cathedral’s regular bell concerts.
Just start at Oude Koornmarkt 16 and enjoy all that this cool passageway has to offer.
11. Enjoy the Incredible Art Scene
Sure Antwerp is about half the size of Brussels. But, it is filled with incredible art institutions like the FOMU photography museum, the MAS, the Rubenshuis, etc.
Therefore, Antwerp has a robust and diverse art scene that you can enjoy for free on the last Wednesday of the month when visitors are treated to complimentary admission to five of Antwerp’s major museums.
These include the Museum Mayer van den Bergh, the Museum Plantin Moretus, the Museum Rockox, the Red, and the MAS.
However, if you’re not visiting Antwerp at that time of the month, then you can always check out various local art galleries for free.
One of my faves is De Zwarte Panter. It sits inside a historic chapel from 1968 and is the oldest art gallery in Antwerp. Relax in the beautiful courtyard and enjoy lots of great art.
Gallery Sofie van de Velde is also nearby and features unique contemporary pieces. Afterward, go for a quick walk through Nieuw Zuid and visit Plus One Gallery with its avant-garde collection.
Pro Tip: Other cool galleries in the area are Stieglitz 19 for contemporary photographs, Keteleer Gallery for works from emerging artists, and Leonhard’s Gallery for unique exhibitions.
12. Relax by the River
Perched along the banks of the Scheldt River, Antwerp offers spectacular views of this natural landmark that are particularly lovely at sunset.
Locals and visitors alike enjoy the soothing breeze from the river and can bask in the sun near Steen Castle or at the artificial beach, Saint Anneke.
However, the most serene spot of them all sits across the river at Noordkasteel.
Sadly, you can’t swim here due to dangerous currents and poor water quality. But, you can enjoy the tranquility of the area and one of the best free things to do in Antwerp.
13. Explore an Outdoor Museum in Middelheim Park
Middelheim Park sits in the southern part of the city and stands out as one of the best parks in Antwerp.
Its well-designed grounds feature serene ponds, charming bridges, and benches that are perfect for relaxing after a long day of traveling through Brussels and Antwerp.
Additionally, the park is renowned for its open-air art collection, which is the largest in the area. This park also features a cool museum that welcomes visitors, free of charge.
Inside the museum, you can explore a series of rotating exhibits, often connected to larger outdoor displays.
The park’s excellent outdoor gallery features works by celebrated artists like Antony Gormley, Ai Weiwei, and Rodin.
Pro Tip: Use the museum’s free app to learn more about the art on display.
Map of the Best Free Things to do in Antwerp
Free Things to Do in Antwerp FAQs
Is It Safe to Walk Around Antwerp at Night?
Antwerp is a very safe city, even at night. The people are friendly and the streets are well-lit in the evening. Many places are also filled with people, which makes it even safer.
Where to Avoid in Antwerp?
Areas to avoid in Antwerp are anywhere around De Coninckplein, Seefhoek, Borgerhout, and the Schipperskwartier.
However, these areas are fun and filled with activity and well worth visiting during the day.