Everyone knows the Meir and its shops, and the beautiful, historic centre of Antwerp. But the city has a great deal to offer those who prefer to stray from the beaten track. Why not give the bustling diamond district, the sophisticated Berchem or the trendy Eilandje a chance, for example? With a guide, you’ll discover the greatest places there and imagine you’re a real local. This is walking in Antwerp, but with a real difference!
Antwerp’s diamond district: a glittering neighbourhood
As you step out of the majestic station, you’ll walk right into Antwerp’s diamond district. The atmosphere is always busy, but friendly, as the diamond cutters and jewellers go from one transaction to another. The melting pot of various culture makes the neighbourhood even more interesting. You can find the best Indian restaurants right next to charming Jewish shops.
By the way, the diamond district isn’t only of interest to those who love all that gleams. You’ll be in your element there if you’re interested in history too. That makes a guided walk with a professional guide definitely a good idea! He or she will explain all about the heyday of Antwerp’s diamond industry in the nineteenth century. And you’ll discover why it saw a heavy setback after that … followed by a resurgence thanks to the ‘Diamond Master Plan’. Now, the neighbourhood is bustling like never before. The ‘Diamond Square Mile’, the international name for the district, accounts for an annual turnover in diamonds of no less than 25 billion dollars. A truly dazzling figure!
The gems of Berchem: art nouveau in Zurenborg
The walk along ‘The Gems of Berchem’ also begins at a station, but this time it’s Berchem’s turn, of course. From there, it proceeds immediately to the charming Zurenborg, with its imposing Cogels-Osylei. You’ll find some architectural gems in this street, including several houses in a typical art nouveau style. You’ll walk further towards the heart of Zurenborg: the trendy Dageraadplaats, with its extraordinary starry sky and trendy restaurants.
After that, you’ll end up in the Groen Kwartier, where you’ll find the former military hospital. Several years ago, this site’s chapel was transformed into the world-famous star restaurant ‘The Jane’. Who knows? Perhaps you’ll bump into the famous chef Sergio Herman…
Via the Helenalei – another street with some beautiful homes – it ends with a trip to the De Koninck Brewery experience centre. You’ve earned something refreshing to finish with after all that walking!
The Eilandje: the fun harbour feeling
No palm trees or white beaches at the Eilandje in Antwerp, but countless great museums and top restaurants. Antwerp’s oldest port area is no longer the centre of the harbour’s activity – that’s a bit further north these days – but you can still soak up the maritime atmosphere there. It’s only when you walk through this area of Antwerp with a guide that the old sailor’s stories truly come to life.
The expert will tell you more about the countless warehouses and hangars and lead you past various highlights. The beating heart of the Eilandje is, of course, the famous MAS (Museum aan de Stroom, ‘Museum by the River’), so named for a reason. After all, the gigantic building is right on the water, in the middle of the Willem Dock marina. But the Red Star Line Museum and the spectacular Port House also highlight the bond between Antwerp and the Scheldt very starkly.
- You can find the best Indian restaurants right next to charming Jewish shops in the Diamond District.
- Fan of architectural gems? Then the Cogels-Osylei in Berchem is not to be missed.
- On the Eilandje, you can still soak up the maritime atmosphere of the past.