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One Day in Antwerp: A Day in Antwerp You’ll Always Remember

Only have one day in Antwerp? If so then never fear because that is more than enough time to enjoy some of the best things to do in Antwerp.

Trust me, I have been to Belgium (and Antwerp) loads of times. And many of the best attractions in Antwerp are well-located near one another in this stunning port city.

So, if you only have 24 hours in Antwerp you can still see a ton of Antwerp landmarks in a short amount of time.

And that’s good news for you because with a day in Antwerp, you can still explore the city’s cobblestone streets, historic 16th-century architecture, and amazing Antwerp Central Station.

So, get ready because we’re about to dive into this one-day-in-Antwerp itinerary now!

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Is Antwerp Worth Visiting?

A view of the stunning guild houses in Market Square in Antwerp. This place is a must-see during one day in Antwerp.

Antwerp, Belgium is an amazing city in Western Europe that seamlessly blends history, modernity, and culture.

Known as Antwerpen in Dutch, and Anvers in French, this vibrant port city features a rich tapestry of experiences that you will enjoy during your 24 hours in Antwerp.

One of the main reasons you should visit Antwerp is so that you can walk down old cobblestone lanes and see stunning, 16th-century architecture.

In fact, some of this historic charm can be enjoyed at Antwerp Central Station, which is a stone and glass marvel that stands as one of the most beautiful railway stations in the world.

You can then head to the Cathedral of Our Lady as you explore the birthplace of Paul Rubens and taste delicious Belgian fries and Belgian chocolate.

Another reason to visit Antwerp for a day is that it makes for a cheap day trip from Brussels.

It can even be a perfect home base from which to explore some of the best cities in Belgium, including Bruges, Ghent, and Breda.

Is One Day Enough in Antwerp?

Aerial view of the port of Antwerp with many boats and the historic buildings that make up the city of Antwerp. You'll see this with 24 hours in Antwerp.

Yes, one in Antwerp is enough time if you want to take a quick trip to the city and see some of the major highlights.

However, to truly enjoy Anvers and all that it has to offer at a more relaxed pace, I would recommend planning a three-day Antwerp itinerary.

There are a lot of cool free things to do in Antwerp that are worth checking out.

This will give you ample time to take in the city’s vibrant culture, indulge in its culinary delights, and relax while immersing yourself in its tranquil beauty.

The Best Time to Visit Antwerp

The short answer is that any time is the best time to visit Antwerp.

However, the summer (June through August) is peak travel season in Antwerp. That’s mainly because the weather is nice and warm and sunny.

Personally, I hate crowds and love visiting in October. However, December is also a nice time to visit since you can check out the ice rink, holiday lights, and Christmas markets around Grote Markt.

That being said, Belgium’s weather can be very unpredictable. So, always come prepared with a rain jacket and umbrella, no matter the season.

Where to Stay in Antwerp

Even if you only have one day in Antwerp and are on a tight budget, you can still find the perfect Antwerp hotel for you. And some of my fave spots include:

  • Antwerp City Hostel (budget) – Well-located in the city center, the staff are friendly and the breakfast is really good (especially for a hostel). The WiFi can be MEH and the rooms are small, but views of Groet Markt are awesome.
  • B&B HOTEL Antwerpen Centrum (mid-range) – This well-reviewed, 3-star hotel sits near the train station and has a lovely buffet breakfast to kickstart your one day in Antwerp. You can also hit up the terrace and on-site bar before relaxing inside one of their spacious rooms.
  • Hotel Julien (luxury) – This posh hotel is situated near Groenplaats and is home to a rooftop terrace with sweeping views of the city. Rooms are also comfortable, with a full bath. Guests can also use a spa in the 16th-century cellars that features a steam bath and a sauna.

Where to Eat in Antwerp

You’ll be delighted to know that Antwerp has a ton of great restaurants. So, be sure to visit some of the spots listed below if you spend the day in Antwerp.

  • De Godevaart – I love this place because you get Michelin-caliber food but at a decent price. The plates are also like works of art and I’d 100% get the tasting menu. Good if you’re a foodie who loves fine dining.
  • Bourla – This lovely French/Belgian restaurant is affiliated with the theater of the same name. It also has a relaxed vibe with plenty of outdoor seating and old-world charm. I’d personally recommend the truffle spaghetti and beef stew.
  • Frituur n°1 – If you want to try some traditional Belgian fries during your one day in Antwerp itinerary then be sure to stop here. You’ll get your fries quickly and can sit down to eat this delicious snack in the surrounding area.
  • The Smallest Waffle Shop in the World – This is a great place to enjoy waffles in Antwerp since they serve amazing Liege waffles. Just know that Liege waffles tend to be sweeter since they have sugar inside.
  • Falafel Tof – This is THE place to go in Antwerp for falafel. it’s also an ethical cafe where they use ingredients sourced in an eco-friendly way. Get the hummus, falafel, and fresh lemonade.
  • Billie’s Bier Kafetaria – This epic gastropub is the place to get delish Belgian craft beer. The interior is also cute, but small. So, grab a table and order some meatballs baked in a cherry sauce for me.
  • Simply Marie – A cozy little cafe where the service is great and where you can order awesome comfort food like tomato soup with quiche. The hot chocolate is also really lovely.

One Day in Antwerp Itinerary

1. Antwerpen Centraal

Stunning view of the glass ceiling and ornate gold clock that sit at the center of Antwerp Central Station.

Odds are that if you’re spending a day in Antwerp then you’ll be arriving by train.

If you are, then make sure that Antwerp Central Station is your final destination (aka Antwerpen-Centraal) since this building is routinely rated one of the five most beautiful train stations in the world.

Added Bonus? As you pull into the station, you’ll see gobs and gobs of fab street art.

Just be quick when snapping those photos because man does that train move fast (almost as fast as me grabbing food at a buffet).

Upon arrival, take some time to admire the Neo-Gothic facade of the building, which dates back to 1905, and the stunning Art Nouveau ceiling.

Enjoy the spacious main hall, stand beneath the ornately decorated, domed roof, and take as many photos as your camera can handle.

Just be aware that this historic grandeur extends only to this area since Central Station has received a fully modern makeover, with multilevel platforms that make traveling easier.

Pro Tip: Antwerp’s diamond district has been around since the 15th century and is located right next door to the station.

Also, if you’re feeling hungry after you’re journey then stop by Kleinblatt. It’s an old-school, Jewish bakery where everything is homemade and delicious.

My faves are the round raisin bread with powdered sugar, the cheese danishes, and the chocolate croissants.

2. Rubehuis

A view of the stunning garden and rear of the Rubenshuis museum in Antwerp.

Rubenhuis is the former home and studio of the acclaimed painter, Pieter Paul Rubens, who lived and worked here from 1616-1640.

Now, when I say home, I mean a baller mansion that dates back to 1611.

However, like with most buildings, this exquisite residence fell into disrepair and was expertly refurbished and redecorated with period-piece furniture and a priceless, 17th-century art collection.

Just be aware that while most of the furniture is antique, it didn’t actual belong to Rubens. So, treat this more like an epic gallery where you can see lots of cool paintings.

Also, grab a free copy of the museum highlights booklet so that you can better appreciate the works on display.

Finally, venture outside and explore the lovely baroque portico that leads out onto a well-manicured garden.

Pro Tip: Meier Street is great place to afterward to do a bit of souvenir shopping. You’ll also find the Flanders Fashion Institute (FFI), the Fashion Museum (MOMU), and the Fashion Academy here.

3. Grote Markt

Stunning guild halls all lit up in the evening that line Grote Markt in Antwerp.

Nestled in the Old City Quarter of Antwerp, Grote Markt (aka Market Square) is the epitome of old-world charm and architectural grandeur.

After all, this stunning area is adorned with countless 16th-century guild halls and is the place to see top Antwerp attractions like Antwerp City Hall and the iconic Brabo Fountain.

Built in 1887, this magnificent fountain beautifully illustrates Antwerp’s founding legend.

But, when winter comes along, Grote Markt undergoes a whimsical transformation, with an ice rink popping up in the center of the square.

A vibrant annual Christmas market also pops up during the holiday season, featuring a wealth of traditional Christmas foods and fun Belgian souvenirs.

Pro Tip: If you want to learn more about what to do in 24 hours in Antwerp, visit the tourist information center right near Grote Markt.

4. Cathedral of Our Lady

A view of the Cathedral of Our Lady Church all lit up with pink lights in the evening in Antwerp.

Believe it or not, the Cathedral of Our Lady is the most beautiful Gothic Church in Belgium. In fact, this church is so gorg that it took over 169 years to complete!

Now, before you go inside, snag a lovely shot of the church’s iconic spire as you look up Pelgrimstraat.

From here, head inside and stand in awe of the many treasures that lay before you.

After all, the interior is way more impressive than the exterior, at least in my humble opinion.

Not only is the interior lavishly adorned with late-baroque style decor but there are four intriguing, early Rubens paintings on display.

The church even has stunning, stained glass windows and an assortment of historic/modern statuary with various religious motifs that you’ll love.

Pro Tip: Please note that you’ll need to pay €12.00 per person to enter the cathedral during your 24 hours in Antwerp.

5. Groenplaats

View of the spire for the Cathedral of Our Lady and the Paul Rubens statue inside of Groenplaats in Antwerp.

Sure, the word ‘Groenplaats’ literally translates to ‘Green Place’ in English. But, this place is far from a quiet little park.

Instead, this vibrant square is filled with activity since it serves as the meeting point for several main streets in Antwerp.

Now, one of the area’s major highlights is a statue dedicated to the painter, Paul Rubens. It pays homage to the city’s rich artistic heritage and is a must-see during one day in Antwerp.

Next, take in the magnificent view of the Cathedral comes into sight and stop at one of the surrounding bars or cafes so that you can people-watch and take in the view.

PSST… it’s worth noting that Antwerp’s main cemetery once stood here. At least, that was until the 18th century, when laws prohibited cemeteries within the city’s walls were abolished.

6. Plantin-Moretus Museum

Well-located next to the Ruben’s House (more on that next), Plantin-Moretus Museum is a true book lover’s paradise.

Easily one of the best museums in Antwerp, this fantastic place is home to, wait for it, the world’s OLDEST printing press. Yeah, I might have squealed with delight more than once. 

But that’s not all that this medieval UNESCO World Heritage Site has to offer. It also contains priceless manuscripts, original type sets, a library from1640, and a bookshop from 1700! 

There are even some Moretus-published books that are illustrated by Pieter Paul, along with priceless works of art that were created by Rubens, Jan Moretus, etc.

Yup, a perfect stop during your 24 hours in Antwerp for anyone who has the slightest interest in history.

Pro Tip: This facility is pretty big. So, I would plan on spending between 2 and 3 hours here if you can.

7. (Optional) Het Steen Fortress

A short walk away from the Grote Markt, the imposing Het Steen fortress majestically sits on the banks of the Scheldt River.

This is the oldest building in Antwerp. It dates back to the 13th century when it was initially erected to defend the city and control access to local waterways.

Nowadays, it stands as one of the top tourist attractions in Atwerp. So, during your one day in Antwerp you can stop by the visitor center, a museum, and a viewing deck at the top of the castle with epic views.

While admission to the visitor center and viewing terrace is free, you will have to pay to see the “Antwerp Story”, a fascinating museum with interactive displays about the city’s history.

8. Sint-Pauluskerk

In the vibrant city of Antwerp, there lies a hidden gem that houses treasures of great historical and artistic value.

This Antwerp hidden gem is Sint-Pauluskerk Antwerpen. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful churches in the city and is where a painting by Caravaggio was once stolen.

It is even home to Calvary Mountain, which is adorned with dozens of life-sized statues that are nestled in a secluded courtyard.

So, step inside and enjoy your free visit. Also grab a comprehensive walk-around guidebook.

This way you can learn all about the church’s treasury, adjoining cloisters, and a mechanized altar that features a rotating display of paintings.

9. Check out the View from the MAS Museum

The modern, brick, square building that is the MAS Museum on the water in Antwerp. It has some of the best views in Antwerp.

The MAS Museum Aan de Stroom, a relatively new museum that gives you a fresh look at and a better understanding of the city of Antwerp.

While exploring the 500,000 artifacts in the museum’s collection (kept in a second-floor repository open to the public), you’ll get a better feel for city’s modern identity, and how it fits into the outside world.

Now, throughout the building’s ten floors, you’ll find impressive and informative, big-theme exhibitions that use the museum’s artifacts to educate the public and tell a story about a particular topic of interest.

But they saved the best for last! Because once you ascend the final escalator to the tenth floor, you’ll be treated to a stunning, panoramic views of the city.

It’s a magical way to end a fantastic day in Antwerp.

10. Grab a Beer at Het Elfde Gebod

Hidden in the shadows of Antwerp’s Cathedral, this is one of the most unusual bars in the city.

I mean, It’s name translates to the ’11th Commandment in English. So, when you step inside you’ll find pulpits, ornate crosses. crazy stone sculptures, church murals, angels, and more.

These works have been expertly collected over many decades and are a sight to behold while drink an authentic Belgian craft beer.

Map of One Day in Antwerp Itinerary

Map of this one day in Antwerp itinerary where blue dots represent each stop on this itinerary.

One Day in Antwerp Itinerary FAQs

How to Visit Antwerp in One Day?

To visit Amtwerp in one day try:

  • Visiting Antwerp Central Station
  • Explore the Diamond District
  • Check Out Rubens House
  • Go shopping on Meir Street.
  • See the Cathedral of Our Lady
  • Explore Grote Markt
  • Visit Plantin-Moretus Museum
  • And more!

Is Antwerp Nicer than Brussels?

Antwerp and Brussels are equally nice. But, if you prefer to visit a place with hictorical, political, and cultural significance then check out Brussels.

Otherwise, if you like a city with a vibrant atmosphere then visit Antwerp.

Where to Avoid in Antwerp?

In general, Antwerp is very safe. However, nieghborhoods to avoid at night are Seefhoek, Borgerhout, the Schipperskwartier, and the area around De Coninckplein.

Is Antwerp a Walkable City?

Yes, Antwerp is a very walkwable city since the major attractions in Old Town are well within walking distance of one another.

Additional Belgium Resources You’ll Love

There you have it! That just about wraps up my one day in Antwerp itinerary.

Did your picks for the best things to do in Antwerp make the list? If not then let me know now!

And if you found this post useful, be sure to join our email list and our amazing Facebook group now!


Thursday 22nd of August 2019

This is amazing, I am looking at a very quick trip to Antwerp just to get a feel of the place. Have limited time, I think you've put it all out very well. Thanks!


Saturday 24th of August 2019

My pleasure! I hope that you enjoy the city as much as I did. Such a cool place.

Maria Frank

Tuesday 9th of October 2018

You really passed a great day. Nice captures also. Thanks a lot.


Tuesday 9th of October 2018

Thanks for reading and leaving a comment! It's an amazing city.

Comments are closed.