10 Hidden Secrets of Antwerp
We’ve partnered with the author of best-selling book ‘500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels‘, Derek Blyth to bring you tips for exploring the hidden secrets of Antwerp. Exclusively for Park Inn by Radisson, Blyth shows us some of the city’s best spots. Follow for more in this series of curated tips by Derek Blyth for Park Inn coming soon. Check out this blog about the 5 most colourful spots in Brussels and 10 hidden secrets of Leuven.
Escalators in the MAS museum take you up to the roof terrace on the tenth floor. As you rise through the building, the views become increasingly spectacular. Once you are out on the roof, you can see the old town, the massive port area and the Eilandje neighbourhood around the MAS. Best time to visit is just before sunset.
Hanzestedenplaats 2, Antwerp, +32 (0)3 338 44 00, www.mas.be
A vibrant Jewish community lies hidden down the quiet back streets near the Park Inn. Here is one of the few places in Europe where Yiddish is still spoken. You see men dressed in Orthodox black costumes, busy kosher restaurants and small Sephardic synagogues. The Orthodox Jews in this tiny quarter preserve ancient traditions that have died out elsewhere in Europe.
This grand avenue in an Antwerp suburb has some of the finest Art Nouveau and eclectic architecture in Belgium. The main street Cogels-Osylei is lined with buildings in every style imaginable, from mock Greek temples to Art Nouveau. The exuberance continues in the surrounding streets where wealthy locals built grand houses decorated with turrets, balconies and ceramic tiles. This used to be a forgotten district with few restaurants, but the squares De Dageraadplaats and Draakplaats are now lively urban eating hubs. A short taxi ride or tram trip from the Park Inn.
Locals have been coming to the street auction on the Vrijdagmarkt in Antwerp since the sixteenth century. This is a fascinating event where dealers sell off old office furniture from bankrupt firms, ornaments once cherished by someone’s grandmother, and plastic bin bags filled with miscellaneous junk. The auction begins early on Friday morning around an ancient statue of St Catherine.
Vrijdagmarkt, Antwerp, from 9.00 to 13.00
Many people don’t realise you can walk under the River Scheldt in Antwerp. Just over half a kilometer long, the white tiled Sint-Anna tunnel was built in 1933. You find the entrance in an Art Deco brick building behind the basketball court on Sint-Jansvliet. A creaky wooden escalator takes you down to the tunnel level where you can walk to the other side in about ten minutes. Here you get a fantastic view of the city skyline.
MARK began as a pop-up shop in an Antwerp shopping arcade, but this unusual concept store eventually put down permanent roots in the summer of 2017. The idea was conceived by three local businesses specializing in bikes, books and design. They came together to create a stunning space filled with house plants, bike accessories, gifts, notebooks, children’s books and travel guides.
Kleine Markt 16, Antwerp, +32 (0)3 336 48 11
De Kat is one of those old Antwerp bars where nothing much has changed in a hundred years. It still has the original wood panelling, mirrors and tiled floor. This is the perfect Antwerp bar to taste the local De Koninck beer served in a round glass known as a bolleke.
Wolstraat 22, Antwerp
This new coffee SANBA, lunch and co-working spot in Antwerp’s Eilandje district opened in 2017 in a brick building once owned by the Red Star Line. The carving of a United States eagle on the front dates from the time when passengers’ luggage was stored here. The ground floor has been given a relaxed Nordic look using rough concrete, hanging plants and mirrors. Drop in at lunchtime for a bowl of homemade soup or take a break from work with a coffee on the terrace.
Rijnkaai 22, Antwerp, +32 (0)468 13 38 88, www.sanba.be
This little restaurant in the heart of Antwerp’s Chinatown doesn’t look too promising. It has old furniture, paper tablecloths, and stacks of wine boxes left lying around. But don’t be put off. This is the real thing, full of noisy Chinese people who work in the neighborhood. You are handed a menu with a long list of specialties, including 34 dim sum dishes made by a dedicated dim sum chef who learned his craft in Hong Kong. Just five minutes on foot from the Park Inn hotel.
Van Arteveldestraat 65-67, Antwerp, +32 (0)3 225 06 54, http://www.fongmei.be/
Mayer van den Bergh
This forgotten art collection occupies a beautiful 19th-century mansion in central Antwerp. Overcome your caution and you will discover one of the finest private art collections in Europe. It was assembled by Frits Mayer van den Bergh, a rich art collector who died at an early age, leaving everything to his mother. The collection includes Pieter Bruegel’s haunting painting Dulle Griet as well as a tiny sculptured head of Blanche de France, daughter of the King of France, who died before she was three years old.
Lange Gasthuisstraat 19, Antwerp, +32 (0)3 338 81 88, www.mayervandenbergh.be
Park Inn by Radisson
If you are visiting Antwerp then you should consider making Park Inn by Radisson your home base. The Park Inn by Radisson Antwerp is conveniently located across the street from Antwerp Central train station making it easily accessible by rail and car.
Similarly, the Park Inn by Radisson Antwerp Berchem is perfect for those who want to be close to public transport and the airport, while still being close to the heart of the city.