Thanks to one of our Members, Paul, for telling us about his visit to Antwerp in Belgium.
Antwerp may not be a place that springs to mind when planning a holiday, but you would be surprised at how much you can do there in a weekend.
First you need to get there. We chose to go from Southend with Flybe, flying Friday afternoon, but you can also go from London City Airport. Cost in our case was just taxes!! What is great about this is it's only 45mins flying time. On arrival quickest way into the city is via taxi, cost 18 Euros.
There is a lot of accommodation in the city centre so find one to fit your budget. A number of hotels do a good weekend rate. The city is compact and very easy to get around on foot, but you can also use the tram, metro and buses. A trip on the tram to view streets full of interesting build houses (situated between Draakplaats and Berchem station) costs 2 Euros and the ticket lasts for an hour, so you could travel anywhere within that hour.
Restaurants and bars are everywhere, so you can sample foods to suit your taste and of course Belgian beers and chocolates.
So what is there to see? This was the way we did it.
First stop was to the tourist office in Grote Market. Here we picked up good maps of the city and purchased a 48hr Antwerp City Card, cost 25 Euros (24hrs = 19 Euros). Great value when you consider that it gets you into many of the places I will mention for free, where the cost is usually 10 Euros.
Then off we went to see all these individually designed houses, via tram (No 11) as mentioned above. Then we took the tram back to Central Station which is an amazing building to look around and photograph.
From here we caught the hopNstop shuttle bus which you can use to give you a 40 minute trip around the city (free with your Antwerp Card). We got off at the Red Star Museum which is where two million people left for the USA. It is well worth a visit.
A short walk then to the MAS (Museum ann de Stroom). Here there are different collections on each floor, and on the roof you can get a 360 degree panoramic view of the city. Then it was a walk back into the city taking in the sights including different churches, and of course meal/coffee stops.
Sunday, and be aware that many retail shops are shut on this day, or so it seemed, started with a visit to the Print museum (Museum Plantin-Moretus). Again well worth a visit, there is a lot to see.
A short walk took us to Ruben's house (Rubenshuis) where you can walk around where he lived and worked and see some of his work. On the way we came across a market on Maria Pijpelinstraat where you can buy all sorts of goods, try a waffle and sit at a number of cafes and watch the world go by.
Afterwards we stopped at the Chocolate Line to look at and select some Belgian chocolates. We also visited the main cathedral which is open 1-4p.m. Then it was home to the UK.
I have only mentioned just some of the places you can visit, but there is so much more to see depending on your tastes. Plus of course there is the whole cultural experience of just being in such a beautiful city – I highly recommend it.
(Please be aware that all prices quoted are for 2015.)
Thanks to Paul for sharing his tips. What are your ‘must see' cities and sights in Belgium? Share with us on firstname.lastname@example.org.