They call it the Diamond Capital.
It’s small, so that you can cover all of it in a day or two on foot or on the fun Velo bicycles (velo-antwerpen.be) provided free by the city. It’s in the centre of northern Europe: an hour’s train journey from Brussels, two hours from Amsterdam and three from Paris. The central train station itself is a real architectural monument that is worth a visit.
Antwerp is like a boutique: from the facades of the Art Nouveu buildings to the numerous fashion, design and art shops, and an entire street dedicated to antiques called Kloosterstraat: stop and admire number 46 (46kloosterstraat.com) with colourful bustiers that decorate every window of this building.
Not far away, at Marnixplaats,you can find the Fiskebar (fiskebar.be) where you go to eat delicious crab burgers. In the same building, call in at Vitrin (vitrin.eu), for an aperitif, also a classic meeting-place for young people after dinner.
Antwerp is also the birthplace of great designers like Ann Demeulemeester (anndemeulemeester.be) and Dries Van Noten (Nationalestraat 16 – driesvannoten.be) and a visit to their flagship store is a must if you find yourself in the city centre. And it’s not just a coincidence that the Dries shop is near MoMu, the ModeMuseum of Antwerp (momu.be).
A few addresses for a bit of specialised shopping? Think Twice for something vintage. Moose in the city (moose-in-the-city.com) if you are looking for the ultimate concept store, or at Your (your-antwerp.com), a great multi-brand, one of the few which also opens on Sunday.
Sushi addicted? These are the places for you in the city: ROJI Sushi (roji.be) at 26 Oude Koornmarkt, and the Sushi Palace (sushipalace.be), the name already tells you everything, so be careful, also with regard to the price! If you go there in the summer, you can’t miss the ZomerBar, located alongside the river Schelda, a truly relaxing oasis, for adults and children, with music, restaurants and beach, open from 3 pm until late at night.
Text and pictures by Emanuela Virago