Luxury holidays in Antwerp

While the city’s proud heritage is on permanent display, thanks to stately 16th-century guild houses, noble churches and an enviable collection of fleshy masterpieces by home-grown artistic genius Rubens, the modern illustrations of Antwerp’s talents seem less well known. In recent decades, Antwerp’s prestigious Royal Academy of Fine Art has produced a new generation of designers that have helped transform the city into one of the most exciting in Europe – a cutting-edge fashion centre to match the continent’s best. The streets to the south of the Gothic cathedral are lined with boutiques and showrooms to satisfy even the most demanding fashionista. Nor are the city’s creative skills limited to cloth cutting; the Belgian love of gastronomy – paired with an almost monastic dedication to fine beers – is legendary. With its slinky cocktail lounges, chic restaurants and irresistible moules and frites, Antwerp offers an experience of Rubenesque sensuality.

When to go

Antwerp is a year-round destination with a mild climate. Like many European cities, you’ll find just as many tourists as locals in high summer. As Antwerp is a centre of fashion, you might want to time your visit to coincide with the start of the buying season (spring or autumn).

Getting there

  • Planes

    Though there are no direct flights from the UK to Antwerp, but BA, Virgin and Lufthansa all fly to Brussels which is about 40 minutes away by train and just over an hour by car.
  • Boats

    You can take a boat trip all the way to Brussels or out into the nearby Dutch countryside. Boats depart from the quay on Steenplein.
  • Trains

    Eurostar takes two hours from London to Brussels Midi, where you can catch a connecting train to Antwerp from the same station (you can book a connection through Eurostar’s website, www.eurostar.com – Eurostar tickets are valid to/from any Belgian station). Antwerp’s Central Station is a spectacular turn-of-the-century monument to the age of steam.
  • Automobiles

    Hiring a car isn’t necessary as Belgium has a good train network connecting its major cities and besides even its largest urban areas are easily walkable and bicycle-friendly.
  • Taxis

    You can flag down taxis in the street, but you’ll probably have more luck at a taxi rank. It may be easier to ask your hotel or restaurant to make a booking for you, or ring cab firm Antwerp-Tax (+32 (0)3 238 3838).