Antwerp is the second-largest city of Belgium and is most noteworthy for its charming medieval center and rich art scene which has attracted many great artists and fashionistas over the years.
Antwerp has a buzzing art scene and was once home to one of the most prominent Baroque painters of the 16th century, Pieter Paul Rubens. Now, you can explore the storied history and culture of the city through its many museums dotted around, as well as its booming fashion scene. But there’s so much more to this city than its strong connection to the world of art. The center of the city, for example, is a medieval wonderland, which is full of cobbled streets, ancient cathedrals, and quaint coffee shops. If you’re a fan of large open squares and magnificent, old architecture, then you’ll feel right at home in this Belgian city. Its main plaza rivals that of the capital, Brussels, and its riverside fortress is worth the price of entry alone. As a historically wealthy city, home to many bankers and well-off merchants, Antwerp is adorned with decadent buildings on almost every street of its old center.
Where to live in Antwerp
Expats who move here often fall in love with the city of Antwerp, due to its lively atmosphere, cultural diversity, and international flavor. There are many different neighborhoods to choose from in Belgium’s second-largest city, which range from the wonderfully historic city center to the busy port and the art-oriented Het Zuid in the south. As a large city, you’re likely to find all the amenities you need wherever you decide to live, and you can always hop on a bus or train to get around if you need to.
Best Neighborhoods in Antwerp
The best neighborhoods in Antwerp are the historic city center, Het Zuid, Het Eilandje, and if you’re looking for more of an escape from urban life, Deurne. Each of these neighborhoods has something unique to offer, be it a welcoming atmosphere and a variety of cafes and restaurants, easy walking to the port of the city, a buzzing art scene, or even a paradise of parks and waterways. There truly is something for everyone in Antwerp; you just have to figure out what it is that you want.
Amazing Apartments, Coliving Spaces and More
We've been rounded up the best housing options in Antwerp. All are available on flexible terms, so you can stay one month or as long as you want
Quick Facts About AntwerpWhile it may well be the second-most populous city of Belgium, it’s possible that you haven’t heard Antwerp mentioned in many conversations about Belgium, such is the magic of Bruges and the allure of the capital Brussels. But you may well be surprised to learn that Antwerp is not only worth your time but a must-visit city in the country. Here are some facts to help you get to know it a little better:
It was home to the great Baroque painter Peter Paul RubensOne of the most renowned Flemish painters and masters of the Baroque style, Peter Paul Rubens lived in what is now called the ‘Rubens House.’ His house was converted into a museum, and it’s well worth a visit.
There are three official languagesBelgium has three official languages: Dutch, French, and German. This can be confusing for visitors, and you’ll see examples of each language in street signs, on newspapers, and at restaurants. Though in Antwerp, the official language is Dutch, so this is the language you’ll want to brush up on if you want to master the local lingo.
Antwerp zoo is one of the oldest in the worldAntwerp zoo was first established in 1843 and is still running today. If you’re lucky to be around during the winter, there’s a special light festival here called ‘China Light.’ It’s just a short walk from the decadent train station too, which makes it the perfect next stop after your arrival in the city.
The Statue of Brabo explains the origins of the city’s nameThe Statue of Brabo in the city’s main square, ‘Grote Markt’ explains the origins of the city’s name, Antwerp. ‘Antwerpen’ is a word derived from the Dutch language, which literally means ‘to throw a hand,’ and the story goes that a hero called Brabo cut off a troublesome river giant’s hand and threw it in the river, giving the city the name.
Antwerp has the only museum to feature on the UNESCO World Heritage Site listA fascinating tidbit, the Plantin-Moretus museum of Antwerp is the only museum to feature on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list, which makes it unique. It’s the only printing workshop and publishing house still in operation today, so it’s highly recommended that you stop by.
The city is known as the diamond capital of the worldDiamonds are forever, as the saying goes, and Antwerp has forever been revered as the diamond capital of the world (or at least since 1447). The world-famous diamond district also happens to be very close to the train station, so make sure to swing by before you head off to your accommodation.
The train station will stop you in your tracksIf you visit Antwerp, we implore you to arrive to the city by train. Central station, or Antwerpen Centraal, is a truly magnificent building both inside and out. There is a large clock in the main hall, and the grandeur of the place is similar to that of Grand Central in New York.
Its cathedral is the highest in the Dutch-speaking worldAntwerp’s cathedral, called the Cathedral of Our Lady, towers above the city and is the highest in all of the Dutch-speaking world. Within the cathedral, there is a lot of art on display by Rubens and other famous painters, so it can be admired both from outside and from within.
Work in Antwerp
As a thriving Belgian city and the second-largest in the country, there are many top employers based in Antwerp covering a range of job sectors. Antwerp is a rapidly growing European city due to its large port, so it’s a great place to set up a business or find solid work and will be going forward. Some of the biggest employers in the Belgian city include the huge phone company Nokia, the large manufacturer of pharmaceuticals Pfizer, and the Spanish fashion chain Zara.
How good is Antwerp for Digital Nomads or Remote Work
Remote work is changing how the global workspace operates. In a trend that is showing no signs of slowing down, remote work is rapidly on the increase all around the world—especially in a place like Antwerp. And about 25% of remote workers describe themselves as digital nomads—those who like to travel or stay in cities around the world while they work. So, how good is Antwerp for both of these growing movements?
Average Internet SpeedIn Antwerp, the average download speed is 34.7Mbps, and the average upload speed is 12.6Mbps. The download speed isn’t far behind the world average of 42.3Mbps, and the upload speed actually surpasses the world average of 12Mbps.
Work-friendly Coffee ShopsAs a growing economic force in Europe and a hotspot for business, Antwerp has a thriving coffee shop scene with everything from the quaint and cozy to the work-friendly. If you’re interested in what the top coffee shops are like, then here are a few: Viggo’s Coffee: Viggo’s Coffee is a great spot to enjoy a pastry or two and sip on an exquisite coffee. It has comfortable seating and even a long shared table if you need to brainstorm with a coworker. Caffenation: Caffenation is the place to go if you want an excellent coffee by some of the city’s best baristas. It’s well-rated by many travelers and a very friendly spot to get some work done. Normo Coffee: Normo Coffee offers up a quaint space to work away on a project, with delicious coffee brewed in whichever way you prefer.
Coworking SpacesAntwerp’s position as a growing European city and center of commerce means that it has the facilities for remote working, which is reflected in its coworking spaces. The top-rated coworking spaces in the city are the following: Friday Cowork: Friday Cowork is a very relaxed co-working space, considered by many to be the best in the city. There are fantastic facilities, great tea, and coffee, and you can even work in the garden if you need some fresh air. Humgy Central: Humgy Central offers a friendly environment and great value for money. The location is central, and the facilities are top-notch. Yutopya: Yutopya is an interesting prospect in the center of the city with great facilities, top internet speeds, and even a square with benches and trees. If you’re looking to escape the house to get some work done, and a coffee shop seems too distracting, then you’ll be able to get a lot done at one of these great coworking spots. All three are centrally located, making it easy to get to them from wherever you’re based.
Suitable Level for Digital NomadsAntwerp is not only a top city in Belgium but also in Europe. Its economy is flourishing and its reputation goes from strength to strength, not solely relying on its lively art scene. As a result, there couldn’t be a better time to move to Antwerp, especially since it’s still relatively unknown to many travelers. The vibe of the city is a mix of old charm and exciting modernity, so you should be able to find the pace of life you’re looking for here. There are also plenty of green spaces and bodies of water around, so should you need to escape the hustle of urban life, you can do so easily enough.
Visa RequirementsThere are a number of visas you can obtain to gain entry into Belgium, some of which are intended for short stays and others for longer ones leading to residency. The visas you’d be most likely to want to look into would be the tourist visa if you’re planning to visit the city for a month or two, or a visa D if you plan on staying for more than three months. After these three months have passed on this visa, you will then be able to apply for permanent residency following five years of continuous residence in the country.
Food and Drink in Antwerp
While Antwerp’s food and drink scene isn’t necessarily anything to write home about, it is still varied and has plenty to offer the hungry traveler. Grand cafe de Rooden Hoed is a great place to start if you’re interested in sampling local Belgian cuisine, as you’ll find a host of authentic Flemish dishes in this hugely popular restaurant. If you’d prefer a memorable experience, then perhaps you’d be better off going to Bourla, which is housed in a decadent building in the Graanmarkt of Antwerp. The food here is high quality, as is the service and the atmosphere. The nightlife and live music scene of Antwerp are lively, and there are many bars, pubs, and other venues to get your drink on at. The De Muze jazz cafe is a top venue for seeing live jazz in the center of the city while sampling some of Belgium’s best beers on tap. Korsakov is an interesting bar with a pool table and a wide selection of top beers. Finally, Paters Vaetje is a must-visit bar in the city, offering up a unique drinking experience close to the cathedral. Here is where you’ll find out why Belgium has such a great reputation for its beers.
Top 6 Things To Do in Antwerp
In Antwerp, you have a perfect blend of nature, water, and human made structures. This city blends green spaces and water bodies seamlessly into the urban environment and sits on a large port that conducts a lot of business. The city is home to great shopping, fantastic museums revealing the city’s culture and history, and a host of fun bars and restaurants to enjoy after a long day of walking.
Museum Vleeshuis | Klank van de Stad
Vleeshouwersstraat 38, Antwerpen
Comics Station Antwerp
Nello & Patrache Statue
Handschoenmarkt 3-21, Antwerpen
Zaha Hadidplein 1, Antwerpen
Vrijdagmarkt 22-23, Antwerpen
St. Anna's Pedestrian Tunnel