One day in Antwerp, Belgium: the best things to do

There’s no shortage of things to do in Belgium’s second-largest city, and certainly plenty to fill your time if you only have one day in Antwerp.

The city has a medieval centre, a stunning cathedral – the largest Gothic church in the Benelux countries – and a castle dating from the 1200s standing right next to the river. There’s also beautiful architecture, an impressive array of first-class museums, and an upmarket residential district where you can marvel at stately art nouveau houses. 

The city of Antwerp is also famous for its art, and Peter Paul Rubens lived, worked, and is buried here. It’s also the diamond capital of the world. This means this thriving port city is a fascinating mixture of the old and the new. 

On a visit here, you’ll also get to appreciate its illustrious maritime history. Even today, it remains Europe’s second largest seaport after Rotterdam, and stands next to the vast Scheldt River in the north of Belgium near the Dutch border.

So the hardest part might be deciding which of its fabulous sights you’re going add to your itinerary for one day in Antwerp.

This post will help you! 

It outlines all of the highlights you should put on your Antwerp itinerary and the best places to go to and see. It is designed to help you make the most of a full day in this historic city.

An aerial view of Antwerp city with the cathedral and river to the left
Antwerp city

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How to get to Antwerp

For a country that isn’t particularly big anyway, Belgium’s two largest cities – Brussels and Antwerp – are surprisingly close. What’s more, they are well connected by rail. The cost of a single, second-class (standard) ticket between the two – 8.40 euros as of January 2024 – is great value for money. 

You can catch regular trains from the three main stations in central Brussels, including Gare Du Midi, where Eurostar terminates, to Antwerp.

Depending on whether you catch a fast or slow train, you can arrive at Antwerp Central Station (Centraal Station) in less than an hour from Brussels Midi. This incredible neo-gothic railway terminus is probably one of the most awe-inspiring stations you’ll ever see. 

You can also take direct trains from Brussels-Airport-Zaventem to Antwerp Centraal Station. This is worth knowing if you are flying, because Antwerp’s own airport (located on the outskirts) is not very big and many more airlines fly in and out of Brussels. Trains usually take about 30 minutes and a single, standard ticket costs 13.60 euros (January 2024).

Note that if you want to explore Antwerp’s attractive Zurenborg district for its superb art nouveau architecture, among other things (see later), you can get out at Antwerp Berchem, the railway station before the central terminus. 

Tours to Antwerp

You can also visit Antwerp via a guided tour from Brussels.

This full day trip takes you by coach from Brussels to Antwerp for a walking tour around the sights, accompanied by a guide.

And this tour combines a trip to Antwerp with a visit to Ghent. You get three hours in each city which includes a guided tour, as well as some free time on your own.

How to get around Antwerp

Antwerp is a city that is easy to explore on foot. However, if you need it, the public transportation is well-connected and affordable to use.

However, if you are arriving at Antwerp Central Station, the best way to explore the city centre is on foot. You simply walk down the main street outside the entrance – De Keyserlei – past the many jewellery shops and keep going straight. 

Once you’ve crossed the large intersection and passed the statues of Flemish artists David Teniers (first) and Antoon Van Dyck (second), you should head down Meir shopping street. This is Antwerp’s main (and pedestrianised) place for retail therapy.

It will lead you to all the central attractions, including the Grote Markt (market square) and the city’s incredible Cathedral of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal). 

However, if you arrive at Antwerp Zuid or Antwerp Berchem to visit the attractions in these parts of the city, you’ll then want to pick up a bus or a tram into the historic old town. The public transportation in Antwerp is excellent and not too expensive. 

Walking tours

If you only have one day in Antwerp and want to see the highlights while also getting some information from a local guide, booking onto a walking tour is a good option.

This walking tour last for 2 hours and takes you around the city’s main historical sites.

And this tour combines a historical tour with the option to visit a couple of local pubs.

You can check out other walking tours here.

Bike tours

It’s also possible to take a leisurely cycle around the city sights.

Here you can join a tour where you get bike rental and the services of a guide who will take you around the city. If you prefer to travel via wooden eco-friendly bikes, click here.

Alternatively, you can hire bikes here and make your own way around the city.

The Antwerp City Pass

Apart from Mondays (when most museums are closed), you may want to consider buying the Antwerp City Pass to allow you to see some of these.

You can buy this for 24, 48 or 72 hours. Pick one up at a number of places in the city, including the central station. Alternatively, it might be advisable to buy it in advance online.

The Antwerp city pass is excellent value for money as you can use all De Lijn buses and trams for free during your visit.

You also get free admission to 15 museums, and four churches, including the Cathedral of Our Lady. Three other attractions are also thrown in, including the De Koninck brewery. Moreover, you can get 10-25% discounts on other things including tours, and in shops and museums. 

A day pass will cost you 45 euros.

The Antwerp City Pass 

The 24, 48, and 72-hour Antwerp city card covers the following. You won’t be able to do all of these during your one day in Antwerp, but if you only went to a few things covered in this post, you would still save money.

The Antwerp City Pass

– Chocolate Nation
– Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library
– Eugeen Van Mieghem Museum
– FOMU – Photo Museum Antwerp
– KMSKA, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp
– MHKA – Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp
– MAS – Museum aan de Stroom
– MoMu – Fashion Museum Antwerp
– Museum De Reede
– Museum Mayer van den Bergh
– Museum Plantin-Moretus
– Museum Vleeshuis
– Red Star Line Museum
– Snijders & Rockoxhuis
– DIVA, museum for diamonds, jewellery, and silver

– Cathedral of Our Lady
– Saint Andrew’s Church
– Saint Paul’s Church 
– Saint Charles Borromeo Church

Other attractions
– Antwerp Canals walking tour
– The Antwerp Story in Het Steen Castle
– Brewery De Koninck

One day in Antwerp

I’ve listed below some of the top things you may want to add to your itinerary.

Although the city centre is fairly compact, some of the attractions you may want to visit are a little distance outside the historic centre – so do consider this when deciding what to focus on.

Marvel at the beautiful railway station

Dating from the early 1900s, Antwerp Centraal Station is one of the most visually stunning railway station buildings I think you’ll ever see. 

The outside of Antwerp Centraal Station - see this on one day in Antwerp
Antwerp Centraal Station

The entrance hall is cavernous and beautifully decorated. It also features a spectacular glass-domed roof. 

Inside Antwerp Centraal Station
Inside Antwerp Centraal

When you walk down to where the trains depart and take the escalators down to the lower platforms, you will be amazed at the sheer scale of this gargantuan structure. It’s almost cathedral-like in scale.

Standing outside, the bulb-shaped entrance building towers over its immediate surroundings. 

Top tip: To get really good pictures from the outside, pop through the gates of the zoo’s entrance next door. Then, walk almost to the ticket area, where you can look back and marvel at the station building and its long platforms. It is an architectural masterpiece.

Visit the Grote Markt 

Antwerp’s pedestrianised Grote Markt (market square) is in the heart of the city’s medieval old town and dates from the 1200s. 

The Grote Markt Antwerp
The Grote Markt

It’s a great spot to start your one day in Antwerp because there are many attractions around here. When I went in January, I could take lots of photos of the landmarks dotted in and around Antwerp’s main square as there weren’t that many people around, particularly in the morning. 

The Brabo Fountain

One of the main attractions here is the fabulous Brabo Fountain in the middle of the square.

Created by sculptor Jef Lambeaux, it is named after Silvius Brabo, a Roman soldier. Brabo apparently killed a giant called Druon Antigoon and threw his severed hand into the River Scheldt. 

The Brabo Fountain
The Brabo Fountain

Antwerp Town Hall

Although not as spectacular as Brussels’ Grote Markt, the square still has many attractive guildhall buildings.

The most noteworthy one is the 16th Century Stadhuis (Antwerp Town Hall) with its impressive architecture. Awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO, you can view the ground floor and marvel at its interior. 

Antwerp City Hall
Antwerp City Hall

Walk around Antwerp Cathedral 

From the Grote Markt, you can’t miss Antwerp’s monumental Gothic cathedral standing in the adjacent Handschoenmarkt. The spectacular Cathedral of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwenkathedraal) is one of the defining landmarks on the city’s skyline, thanks to its spire which takes it to 123 metres high. 

Antwerp Cathedral at night
Antwerp Cathedral

It is possible to climb the tower. But, as I discovered when I visited, you need to book a special guided tour in advance through the city tourism office.

Top tip: if you don’t remember to do this, or can’t get onto a guided tour, and still want a fabulous view over the city, head to the MAS museum (see later). 

When you look up at it, it is hard not to be impressed by this awe-inspiring Gothic masterpiece, which apparently took nearly 200 years to complete. It’s worth walking around the entire outside to fully appreciate the work that went into this city landmark.

You have to pay to see the cathedral’s interior. But here you’ll find, among other things, four paintings by Rubens, including the ‘Descent from the Cross’. 

Incredibly, it is also possible to taste the cathedral’s own beer on the site. Just look out for signs to De Plek, in the former St John’s Chapel. 

Admission to the cathedral for adults is 12 euros; there are slight discounts for students and adults aged 60 and over. Children and young people (under 18 years of age) get free admission.

Photograph Vlaeykensgang 

This tiny 16th Century street – located through a small gate at 16 Oude Koornmarkt – is a two-minute walk from the cathedral and Grote Markt. 

This is definitely something to add to your itinerary when visiting the old quarter of Antwerp. The Vlaeykensgang features antique shops, galleries, and some notable restaurants, including Sir Anthony van Dyck.

Although the street is very near the main square and cathedral, it’s really easy to miss this if you don’t know where to look. However, a small street sign points to the entrance. 

Top tip: visit early in the day or low season if you plan to take photos. This medieval alleyway features a narrow courtyard and so it quickly fills up with tourists, making it difficult to take photos without people intruding in the shot. 

Learn about the history of Antwerp in Het Steen Castle 

As you wander down to the riverfront from the Grote Markt, you may be pleasantly surprised to stumble across this curious landmark: an early 13th Century castle that is home to a fantastic tourist attraction called The Antwerp Story. This will interest both adults and children.

Het Steen Castle
Het Steen Castle

Het Steen is the oldest preserved building in Antwerp. So it’s probably fitting that it should provide the setting for this attraction. It takes visitors through 11 rooms that provide details on the different areas of the city, the city’s famous residents, and the museums you can explore.

You end the tour on Het Steen’s roof terrace. Here you can look out over the city, harbour, and river. You can also visit this for free.

The castle also houses the Het Steen Visitors Centre, where you can purchase tickets for walks and cultural events. 

Take a look at the legendary Giant’s Hand 

If you are wandering down Meir Street doing some window shopping in the retail stores lining Antwerp’s main commercial street, you will come across this popular piece of street art.

This giant sculpture – the severed hand of giant Druon Antigoon – has become a popular attraction. But you may well find it is not easy to take photos as young children often climb on it. 

It is a good spot to stop and watch the world go by. Also, if you stand facing in the direction of the river, you’ll see the tall Boerentoren (KBC Tower). This became Belgium’s first skyscraper when it opened in the 1930s.  

See some of the city’s art nouveau buildings

As you wander around during your one day in Antwerp, you will get a flavour of the rich diversity of architectural styles that the city offers. 

However, if you are particularly interested in seeing a high concentration of art nouveau buildings, you should visit the residential district of Zurenborg. This well-to-do area not only sports some grand buildings in this architectural style, but also superb neoclassical houses.

The district is a five-to-ten-minute walk from Brussels Berchem railway station. Cross the bus station and the tram tracks, and very quickly, you’ll come across several interconnected streets. This includes Cogels Osylei, where you will find long avenues showcasing spectacularly decorated grand houses that reflect the wealth of its owners.

It’s definitely worth spending time wandering around this neighbourhood. Although I didn’t stop for long, I also saw some lovely cafes here, which you could pop in for a refreshment after exploring. 

You can also find some stunning art nouveau buildings in the ‘t Zuid district. These include the Liberal people’s house Help Yourself (Help U Zelve), which is particularly notable for its amazing mosaics.

See The Rubens House 

Standing on the left-hand side of the broad pedestrianised Wapper just off Meir Street, you’ll find an attractive house. This once served as the home and studio of the world-famous Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens. 

The museum is currently closed while an extensive renovation takes place of the house and its garden. According to the Visit Antwerpen site, the plan is to reopen the museum in 2027 to mark the artist’s 450th birthday. 

In the meantime, the museum will double in size thanks to the opening of a new reception building right next to the original house and garden this year. When the new museum does open to the public this year, the reception building will act as a new visitors’ entrance.

View some of Rubens’ art

For anyone that does want to see some of Rubens’ paintings during one day in Antwerp, and before the museum reopens, you can view three of his works in the Cathedral of Our Lady. There is also an extensive collection of his artwork, including the ‘Adoration by the Magi’ in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (see later). 

Antwerp's Royal Museum of Fine Arts
Antwerp’s Royal Museum of Fine Arts

The Visit Antwerpen page on Rubens House also outlines other landmarks in the city that showcase his work. You may even want to visit his burial chapel in St James’ Church. The tourist site also provides details on guided Rubens walks. 

See Antwerp’s Royal Palace 

The Antwerp Royal Palace is another top attraction located on the Meir. It is only minutes from both The Rubens House and the Giant’s Hand.

The previous owners of this splendid rococo-designed palatial building, which dates from the 1740s, include none other than Napoleon Bonaparte and Belgian King Leopold II. 

You can get information on visiting here. Guided group visits take place on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.

And for those with a sweet tooth, you can nip into the Chocolate Line shop in the building and marvel at the fabulous range of delicious chocolates on sale.

Visit a museum

You are really spoilt for choice when it comes to museums in Antwerp. The challenge is managing your time during one day in Antwerp so you can make the most of what’s on offer. 

Two that I would strongly recommend putting on your itinerary – largely because both house exceptional collections and are located close to one another – are Museum aan de Stroom and the Red Star Line Museum. 

A leisurely 15-20 walk from the Grote Markt, these museums can be found in a docklands area that has been regenerated close to the River Scheldt. If you don’t fancy walking, you can also catch tram number 7 (Mortsel – Eilandje) from Meirbrug in the centre and get off at the final stop called MAS.

Museum aan de Stroom

Also known as MAS, this 10-storey almost cube-like structure has become significant in showcasing Antwerp’s cultural heritage alongside that of the outside world. Inside you’ll discover an amazingly diverse collection of artistic, cultural and historical artefacts.

The Museum aan de Stroom or MAS
The Museum aan de Stroom

The impressive building was designed by Dutch firm Neutelings Riedijk Architects and is an iconic deep-red and glass covered building. It stands on the site of the former 16th Century Hanseatic House and features a mixture of permanent and temporary exhibitions that are accessed via escalators and stairs. Note that there are no lifts here.  

This fabulous museum is very popular with tourists. This is probably in part because you can visit the outside rooftop for free and enjoy spectacular views over the city. 

However, I’d thoroughly recommend popping into the exhibits, even if you only scratch the surface. When I visited in January 2024, I paid 10 euros, which gave me entry into all the permanent exhibitions. 

I spent an hour or so in the ‘City at War’ section on floor 4. This covers Antwerp during the Nazi occupation in World War II. MAS’s other permanent exhibitions include one entitled ‘freight’ on floor 6 that covers the port, people, cargo. There is also art from pre-Columbian America on floor 8. 

I could easily have spent a lot longer here. There are so many fascinating interactive multimedia exhibits to keep you occupied for literally hours. There are also various temporary exhibitions to wander through. I will definitely go back when I can.

The museum is open from 10 am until 5 pm from Tuesday to Sunday.

The Red Star Line Museum 

I also paid 10 euros to enter this incredible museum, which focuses on the Red Star shipping line that once had Antwerp as its European port. This is about a 10-15 minute walk from MAS. I barely scratched the surface, and like MAS will be back to explore this museum again when I have more time. 

When you purchase your ticket, pick up the fantastic (and free) red and white information book that comes with it. This gives you a wealth of material.

The museum is housed in the former control station for the Red Star Line’s steerage passengers.

The Red Star Line Museum - this is worth visiting with your one day in Antwerp
The Red Star Line Museum

The information panels in the museum provide fascinating information on the Red Star Line’s story. This includes how around two million passengers travelled on the line from the city between 1873 and 1934 to North America. Renowned scientist Albert Einstein and composer Irving Berlin were among the many passengers.

Inside, you also learn about the founders of the passenger line and how many ships left (at its height, two ships left every week). There’s also information about the medical examinations undertaken to ensure the passengers weren’t carrying diseases like cholera and typhus, what life was like on board, and the immigration checks on arrival. 

There are so many interesting details to absorb. You really need a couple of hours in here, at least, to do the museum justice. 

The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10-5pm. You can also access the modern observation tower, which apparently provides visitors with impressive views. 

The Museum Plantin-Moretus

If you are going to fit in another museum, other than the above, then arguably the one you should add to your itinerary is the Museum Plantin-Moretus. This is located in Vrijdagmarkt, about a ten-minute walk from the cathedral and Groenplaats. The building dates from medieval times, and there’s a great courtyard. 

The outside of the Museum Plantin-Moretus
The Museum Plantin-Moretus

The museum is the original home and studio of the Plantin-Moretus publishing family. It’s also the site of the world’s oldest printing presses. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the first museum to be included on this esteemed list.

The incredible collection here contains over 600 manuscripts from the 9th to 18th Century, and 25,000 old works printed before 1800. There are also more than 20,000 drawings dating from the 1500s. 

Fans of Rubens can also view several of the artist’s paintings, which are on display here while The Rubens House is being renovated. 

Tickets cost 12 euros for visitors aged 26 and over. There is a slight discount for other groups, such as 18-25 year olds. Visitors under 18 years of age and others, such as Antwerp City Pass holders, get in free. 

The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 5 pm.

The Royal Museum of Fine Arts (KMSKA)

Antwerp is home to several art museums, but this one is particularly popular with art lovers. The Royal Museum of Fine Arts (better known as KMSKA) is one to visit if you are in the Zuid district.

If you’re in the area you could also check out the photography museum FOMU and more contemporary art at M HKA.

KMSKA is housed in a monumental neoclassical building that stands in the centre of Leopold de Waelpaats. It holds a phenomenal collection of artistic masterpieces spanning seven centuries. Highlights include works by Rubens, alongside international artists such as Fouquet, Rodin, and Chagall. 

The Royal Museum of Fine Arts
The Royal Museum of Fine Arts

Adult tickets cost 20 euros. Visitors aged 18-25 pay 10 euros while anyone aged less than 18 years of age gets free admission. The museum is open from 10-5 pm Monday to Wednesday and on Friday; 10-10pm on Thursday; and 10-6pm at weekends.

See the animals in Antwerp Zoo 

If you are visiting for one day in Antwerp and are bringing your children, you may want to consider popping into the city’s zoo. This is one of the oldest in the world and is right next to Antwerp Central Station. 

The entrance to Antwerp Zoo
Antwerp Zoo

Antwerp Zoo is open 365 days a year. It features animals from around the world, including lions, apes, giraffes, penguins, hippos and koalas, among many others. You’ll also find several spots where you can grab something to eat, whether a snack at the Grand Café Flamingo or something more substantial at Savannah restaurant. 

You can also attend keeper talks at various times (e.g. on elephants at lunchtime and sea lions mid afternoon). However, note that the website suggests that these talks are only in Dutch. 

You can book tickets for the zoo here.

Try some Belgian food and drink

It’s impossible to visit any Belgian city without trying some of the country’s great food and drink. Antwerp is no different.

Whether tucking into a tasty Belgian waffle, gorging on delicious rich Belgian chocolates, or snacking on chips or French fries, you’ll find many places in the city to satisfy your hunger pangs.

Chocolate and beer lovers may particularly be interested in the following.

Belgian chocolate

Antwerp is home to Chocolate Nation, apparently the world’s largest Belgian chocolate museum. So it’s the perfect place for chocoholics. It is just a short walk from the central station. 

There’s also the Chocolate Line in the Royal Palace. And for other places in the city to try out the chocolate, click here.

Belgian beer

Belgian is one of the world’s most impressive producers of beers, with literally hundreds of different varieties.

So while you are in Antwerp – and if you have time – why not check out the De Koninck Brewery?

If you have the Antwerp City Pass, a visit to brewery is included. If you don’t have the pass, you can pay separately to enter.

However, it’s not the only brewery in town. Some others you might want to consider include Huisbrouwerij ‘t Pakhuis, Antwerpse Brouw Compagnie, and Bieren Cabardouche. 

You can also book guided beer tours while you are here.

Word of warning: Belgian beers generally have high alcohol content, so be careful how many you knock back, pace yourself, and drink plenty of water! 

Around the city you’ll also find many great bars and cafes selling local, regional, and national beers. Some you may want to consider visiting are Café Kulminator, Café Den Engel, and Beerlovers Bar.

Shop on Meir

If you want to fit in some retail therapy during your one day in Antwerp, the best place to head to is Meir Street. It is home to a variety of well-known international retail chains. These are often housed in grand 18th and 19th century buildings that line both sides of this long pedestrianised boulevard. 

Or if you are particularly looking for designs, you may also want to head to the Modebuurt district which is Antwerp’s Fashion District. This is based around Nationalestraat.

You may also want to check out the huge Galleria Inno, which is spread over multiple floors and is to the west of the Central Station. Next to Galleria Inno, you’ll see the entrance to the city’s previous Festival Hall (known as Stadsfeestzaal). This is a large shopping mall with a bar and multiple shops.

Wander through the Diamond District

As you leave Antwerp’s Central Station and walk toward the historic old town, it’s impossible not to notice the large concentration of expensive jewellery stores with glittering diamonds, jewellery, and silver on display in their windows. 

Just to the southwest of the station, there is also an actual district called Diamant, also known as the Diamond Square Mile. This is where the main business of trading uncut diamonds takes place. As you’d imagine, security outside the exchange buildings located in this district leaves nothing to chance. 

You should take the time to walk around Diamant. You can even book yourself on a free diamond and jewellery tour here.

Take a day trip

You’re unlikely to be able to take a day trip out of the city with just one day in Antwerp.

However, if you’re here for longer, you could use Antwerp as a base and explore other cities in Flanders. I’d particularly recommend Bruges, Brussels, Ghent, Leuven, and Mechelen. 


Bruges is one of Belgium’s most popular tourist destinations. The entire historic centre has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s not difficult to see why when you visit.

It’s packed full of impressive medieval buildings, including the iconic Belfry of Bruges. There’s also the scenic Rosary Quay and the famous canals on which you can take a boat ride.

Rosary Quay in Bruges at night
Rosary Quay in Bruges

You can read about the top things to put on your itinerary if you are spending a weekend here.


Antwerp and Brussels are pretty close geographically. You can get a train from Antwerp Central Station to Gare de Bruxelles-Central in less than an hour. From there, it is a short walk down to the city’s main focal point, the elegant Grand Place, the city’s magnificent central square.

Being Belgium’s capital city, there is a wealth of attractions to see here. You may even want to consider the hop-on hop-off bus to maximise your time in Brussels.

I’ve written a one day guide to Brussels that outlines the top things to put on your itinerary, which you can view here.


Like Antwerp, Ghent also features a historic centre that contains sights that have been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status.

You’ll find lots of stunning medieval architecture here. One of the top landmarks is St Bavo’s Cathedral, which is where you’ll find the ‘Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’ (or Ghent Masterpiece). This is one of the world’s most celebrated artworks created by the Van Eyck brothers.

You can read about the 15 things to put on your itinerary during one day in Ghent here.


Leuven is one of Belgium’s hidden gems. It is home to arguably one of Belgium’s most eye-catching town halls, the Stella Artois brewery, a prominent university scene, and some truly stunning architecture.

The Town Hall in Leuven
Leuven’s stunning Town Hall

That’s just a taster of the many things that this fantastic city has to offer.

You can read about the 20 top things to do in Leuven here.


Located on the Antwerp to Brussels train line, Mechelen is another city you may consider visiting for a day.

It’s the closest of the destinations above to Antwerp, and there is a lot to recommend it, not least Belgium’s most important cathedral – St Rumbold’s – plus a superb central square.

To find out what else this often overlooked city has to offer, you can read the 24 top things to do in Mechelen here. 

The best time to visit Antwerp

The climate

Antwerp is a city that you can visit year round. Due in part to its close proximity to the coast, the climate is generally mild for most of the year. However, temperatures can soar at the height of summer, climbing into the mid-20s Celsius in July and August.

It can also be very cold in the winter. Although temperatures rarely go below 0 degrees Celsius, they can hover around this in January and February.  

I last visited in the winter, and while it was dry, it was also perishingly cold. This isn’t a problem if you want to visit the many excellent museums and other indoor attractions. But is worth thinking about if you plan to spend a lot of time outside exploring the city’s different districts during your one day in Antwerp.

Having said that, if you’ve purchased the Antwerp City Pass and it’s really cold or wet, you can hop on and off public transportation.

On the plus side, the footfall was significantly reduced compared to when I previously visited in the spring. Consequently, I could take photos without having to fight for good camera angles with large tour groups and school outings.

Accommodation costs will also be much less if you travel to Antwerp during the low season and plan to stay overnight.


In the winter, Antwerp hosts an annual Christmas market. With the medieval buildings lit up and Christmas lights on, this can be a magical time of year to spend one day in Antwerp.

Typically, you can visit Antwerp and enjoy this annual festivity from the early December to early January. 

There is also an ice rink in Groenplaats during this time.


For such a buzzing, vibrant city, Antwerp showcases a wide range of festivals and events throughout the year. In some cases, these may change from one year to the next. So if you are only spending one day in Antwerp, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on websites that advertise what’s on. 

This site gives you a flavour of what’s on in 2024. This includes a huge craft beer festival – after all, you are in Belgium where hundreds of different beers are brewed! You can also find out more from this site. 

Is Antwerp worth visiting?

If you are staying in one of the other major cities in Flanders, such as Ghent, Leuven, or Mechelen, or even using Brussels as a base, you should seriously consider building in a day trip to Antwerp. A train journey from any of these destinations won’t take long, and a return train fare is reasonably priced.  

Hopefully you’ll have gleaned from the above that Antwerp is definitely worth a visit. There is so much to see and do, and the challenge will be fitting it all in during one day in Antwerp.

Fortunately, most of the top sights are located in or around the historic centre. So if you manage your time well, you can include most of the top sights highlighted in this post. 

As mentioned earlier, Antwerp offers a fabulous mix of old and new – medieval architecture and artistic masterpieces, as well as shopping outlets showcasing the latest fashion designs. It really does have something for everyone.

One day in Antwerp

I hope you enjoy your one day in Antwerp and agree that it’s a beautiful city and a great place to go to, especially if it is your first visit here.

For other places to go to in Belgium, check out my posts here. There are also lots of ideas for short breaks elsewhere in Europe, including in Switzerland, France, Portugal, Greece and the UK.

Written by Nick Warburton, with Emma Marshall

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