Antwerp – The most beautiful sights in one day (Belgium)

Categories: Travel reports, Europe, Belgium

We visited the city of Antwerp during our river cruise with A-ROSA SENA. We had never really had the city on our bucket list before – so we were all the more pleasantly surprised. Antwerp is a charming city that you should definitely visit. The alleyways in the old town with the Grote Markt, the town hall and the Cathedral of Our Lady in particular are a great place to visit.

Antwerp Belgium Header image

Things to know about Antwerp (Belgium)

Antwerp lies on the banks of the Scheldt and is the capital of the province of Antwerp. With a population of around 525,000 people, it is the most populous city in Belgium. Antwerp’s history goes back a long way and is characterized by its important port economy. In the 16th century, the city was a center of trade and art and played a decisive role in the Flemish Renaissance. During the Golden Age, Antwerp was a melting pot of cultures and nationalities, which can still be felt today in its rich cultural diversity.

Antwerp offers a wealth of sights, including the impressive Antwerp Central Station, which is considered one of the most beautiful train stations in the world. The Cathedral of Our Lady, a magnificent Gothic church with the famous painting “The Raising of the Cross” by Peter Paul Rubens, is another highlight. Antwerp is also known as a fashion metropolis and attracts shopping enthusiasts with the fashion zone around the Nationalestraat. The historic city center offers picturesque alleyways, squares and buildings that reflect the city’s rich past. Not forgetting the numerous diamond workshops and museums that have established Antwerp’s reputation as the world capital of the diamond trade.

Antwerp, Belgium, aerial view, drone, interesting facts

The city of Antwerp in Belgium

Antwerp with A-ROSA Cruises

We moored the cruise ship A-ROSA SENA directly at the cruise port near Steen Castle. In fact, it was only a 5-minute walk to the historic city center. These were the best conditions for us to explore the city on foot and on our own.

Activities in Antwerp

If you are looking for special activities in Antwerp, you can browse through the offers from GetYourGuide. There are always interesting tours and discounted tickets for the city’s most popular sights.

Sights & photo spots in Antwerp

The old town around the Grote Markt is relatively compact and can therefore be easily explored on foot and on your own. However, if you want to walk from here to the beautiful main station, you should allow some extra time. This is around 25 minutes’ walk from the market square (1.7 kilometers). We spent a whole day criss-crossing the city and have put together the most famous sights for you here.

Steen Castle

Steen Castle is a historic fortress located directly on the banks of the Scheldt. The name “Steen” is derived from the medieval word “steen”, which means “stone”, and refers to the striking stone building that dominates the castle. Steen Castle is one of the oldest buildings in Antwerp and dates back to the 13th century. Originally built as part of the city fortifications, it was rebuilt several times over the centuries and served various purposes, including as a prison and maritime museum.

Today, Steen Castle is home to the Steenscheepvaartmuseum (Maritime Museum), where the maritime history of the town is impressively presented. Visitors have the opportunity to explore historical ship models, maritime artifacts and information on the development of the port of Antwerp. A modern part of Steen Castle also serves as a cruise terminal today.

From the castle, you also have a great view of the river and the surrounding area.

Grote Markt

The Grote Markt is Antwerp’s central market square, lined with an impressive backdrop of historic buildings. We were particularly impressed by a series of magnificent townhouses from the 16. and 17th centurywhich represent the golden era of the city. Another notable building is the Stadthuis (town hall), which was built in Flemish Renaissance style and now houses the city museum.

For us, the Grote Markt is one of the most beautiful marketplaces we have visited on our travels so far. The scenery is really beautiful, especially as we hadn’t expected it 🙂 As in other places, it’s worth coming here early because there are still few (if any) tourists around.

Cathedral of Our Lady

The Cathedral of Our Lady, also known as Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal, is an impressive religious building in Antwerp and one of the most magnificent cathedrals in Europe. With a height of around 123 meters, it is the tallest Gothic church in the Benelux and an architectural masterpiece of the Middle Ages. The history of the cathedral dates back to the 14th century, when construction began. It took almost two centuries for the impressive building to be completed. The cathedral initially served as a Roman Catholic church, but was later converted to a Protestant church and then back to a Catholic church.

The Cathedral of Our Lady houses a rich collection of works of art, including masterpieces by famous Flemish painters such as Peter Paul Rubens. Its magnificent interior and ornate windows attract thousands of visitors every year. Opening hours are Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday from 1 pm to 5 pm. Adults pay 12 EUR admission.

Main station

Antwerp Central Station, known as “Antwerpen-Centraal”, is an architectural jewel and one of the most impressive railroad stations in Europe. This train station in the heart of Antwerp is not only an important transportation hub, but also an impressive example of Flemish Renaissance architecture. The station was originally built in the late 19th century and was extensively restored in the 2000s to preserve its splendor and historical significance. Its imposing façade, which is adorned with countless statues and ornate details, and especially the large entrance hall really impressed us.


Did you know that there are no bridges over the River Scheldt in Antwerp? Actually very unusual for such a large city. As early as 1874, there was a broad consensus among Antwerp residents about the need for a connection between the left and right bank of the city. And there were also plenty of plans to build a bridge, but these were repeatedly rejected. Especially because a bridge would obstruct shipping traffic too much.

In 1931, the decision was made to build a tunnel. The Sint-Annatunnel, also known as the pedestrian tunnel of Antwerp, stretches under the river Scheldt and connects the two banks with a length of 572 meters. The tunnel was opened in 1933 and is accessible for both pedestrians and cyclists. What makes the Sint-Annatunnel particularly unique is its original construction and historical charm. The two tunnel tubes are fitted with wooden cladding and old escalators, making the tunnel a journey into the past. To this day, most parts of the entrance buildings are still in their original condition. From the warning signs to the fences.

Rubens House & Museum

The Rubens House in Antwerp is a museum and impressive memorial dedicated to the life and work of the famous Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640). The building itself, a magnificent town house in Flemish Renaissance style, served as Rubens’ home and workplace for much of his life. The museum houses an extensive collection of works of art, including many masterpieces by the painter himself, as well as numerous antiques and personal items. Visitors have the opportunity not only to admire the master’s art, but also to explore his impressive estate, which has been artfully restored and offers an insight into the life and creativity of the great painter. Admission costs EUR 8 for adults.

More photo spots & sights

On our way through Antwerp, we discovered many more sights, beautiful alleyways, statues and imposing buildings.

The Vlaeykensgang, for example, is one of the oldest streets in the city. This picturesque alleyway is located in the heart of the old town and gives visitors the feeling of being transported back in time. The Vlaeykensgang is known for its historic flair, the cobblestones and the characteristic houses with their pretty facades adorned with ivy and flowers. The alley was laid out in the 16th century and was originally a residential area for fishermen and craftsmen. Today it is home to small stores, galleries and restaurants.

If you like shopping, the Meir is the place to be. The Meir is undoubtedly the most famous shopping street in Antwerp and one of the busiest shopping streets in Belgium. This wide street, lined with historic buildings, stretches from Antwerp Central Station to the city park. Here you will find a variety of stores, including world-famous fashion brands, luxury boutiques, department stores and jewelers. The Stadsfeestzaal shopping center, which is housed in a gold-decorated Art Nouveau building, is particularly beautiful.

A map of the sights of Antwerp

We have marked all the important sights & photo spots on the following Google MyMaps map. We also walked around the city using this map.

Antwerp Belgium Map Sights

Map of the sights in Antwerp

Is Antwerp worth a visit?

We definitely think: YES🙂 Especially the Grote Markt with the magnificent town houses from the 16. and 17th century, the large town hall and the Church of Our Lady is a great photo opportunity. But we also felt at home in the city and enjoyed walking through the small alleyways and large shopping streets.

All travel reports of our river cruise with A-ROSA

Our 7-day river cruise "Rhine Experience Amsterdam & Rotterdam 2023" with A-ROSA SENA took us through 3 countries from Cologne via Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Dordrecht to Antwerp. A really great trip with major cities, natural highlights and UNESCO World Heritage Sites - a perfect combination for us.

A-ROSA Sena travel reports » A-ROSA SENA - Rhine Experience Amsterdam & Rotterdam 2023
» Amsterdam - The most famous sights and photo spots
» Haarlem - Sights & photo spots - A day trip from Amsterdam
» Rotterdam - The most beautiful sights & photo spots
» Dordrecht - Sights & our tour of the city
» Kinderdijk - The 19 windmills of Kinderdijk in Holland (UNESCO)
» Antwerp - The most beautiful sights in one day
» Cologne - The most beautiful sights & photo spots