Brussels may be the capital of Belgium, but the inhabitants of the City often think otherwise. Antwerp is without a doubt the capital of fashion and entertainment. You’ll find a nice combination of historic and modern architecture, amusing clubs, trendy shops, the best coffee bars, interesting museums and wonderful places to relax. At the beginning of the 20th century Antwerp was for two months in fact the capital of Belgium.
We already knew it was an absolute metropolis, tourists from all over the world go there to visit the beautiful sights. But the magnificent ‘biscuit city’ is much more than only the famous sights and cannot be discovered at a glance. The most beautiful and quiet places are best hidden. We have selected some hidden gems for you where it is nice and quiet and where the locals prefer to spend their time.
The ‘Vrijdagmarkt‘, an unknown place in the city. An oasis of peace and quiet in the heart of Antwerp, except on Fridays when a weekly flea market takes place here. One of our favourite places because you don’t hear any cars, busses or anything else. The ‘Vrijdagmarkt‘ is almost 500 years old and you’ll find several cafes and other small shops so it’s very quiet but lively.
You will also find the Plantin-Moretus museum which is a UNESCO world heritage site.
The ‘Lijnwaadmarkt‘ and The ‘Melkmarkt‘
If you walk around the Cathedral of Our Lady you come to the pleasant ‘Melkmarkt‘ where locals love to stay and enjoy the terraces. The famous jazz cafe De Muze plays live jazz and gives the ‘Melkmarkt‘ something charming with an artistic character.
What so many tourists don’t know is that the most beautiful view of the cathedral is just around the corner from the ‘Melkmarkt‘, on the ‘Lijnwaadmarkt‘. A picturesque place with a chocolate bar where you can enjoy delicious Belgian chocolate. Enjoy with some sweets on the terrace, with the beautiful view of the cathedral.
Every Saturday there is also an antique market here which you can visit.
The Hendrik Conscience Square
Through the most charming side streets of Antwerp, 350 meters from the ‘Groenplaats‘, you arrive at this fairytale square. You’ll find two iconic baroque buildings; the St. Carolus Borromeo’s Church and the Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library. This is definitely number one of the most quiet and most beautiful hidden places.
This hidden little square is just a 5-minute walk from the busy shopping street ‘Meir’. It is a great place to relax on one of the small terraces with a drink or to dine at the famous restaurant listed in the Michelin Guide; ‘Graanmarkt 13’.
Around the corner you will find the ‘Theaterplein’ and the ‘Oudevaartplaats’ where you can visit the weekly ‘Vogeltjes- en Vreemdelingenmarkt’ (Exotic market) on Saturday and Sunday.
The Botanical Gardens
One of the city’s best kept secrets is ‘Den Botaniek’ or the botanical garden. Nowhere else in Antwerp you can find so many species of plants and herbs as here. A green hidden gem for silent enthusiasts. The garden is also regularly used as a decor for poetry initiatives.
The ‘Vlaaikensgang’ or ‘Vlaeykensgang’
This incredibly cute and cosy alleyway from the 16th century is the oldest and – according to many – the most romantic alleyway in Antwerp. Where you now find beautiful houses, antiques, art and an exclusive restaurant, used to live the poorest of the city. Explore the ‘Oude Koornmarkt‘, see if you can find it, it’s so well hidden!
A hidden piece of history in the middle of the city that often many people don’t know about. A quiet spot hidden in the side streets of the city centre, next to the vibrant university district. Enjoy a stroll through the beautiful courtyard garden and orchard, between the cottages of the 16th century Beguinage and St. Catherine’s Church and escape the hustle and bustle of the city.