In all honesty Belgium has never been at the top, or even really very present on my travel bucket list. It was a country you passed through on your way to Amsterdam and another destination on the Eurostar – but never somewhere I had really considered going. However with a couple of days off work mid-week, the Belgian Christmas markets in full force and rave reviews from my housemate and her family – three days in December in Belgium happened. And I fell in love.
For a small £80 and two short prosecco filled hours we found ourselves getting off the Eurostar in Brussels. A quick 45 minute train trip later and we were in Antwerpen. Antwerpen is small, so wandering around wasn’t hard – even though it was a brisk 5 degrees, brrrr. The Grote Markt is one of the key central squares and while it may be the mayor of Tourist-ville it’s still definitely well worth a visit. During our initial stroll it wasn’t hard to work out why Antwerpen is known as Belgium’s fashion capital. Boutique shops, stylish locals and stunning alleyways, lanes and streets combined with the friendly locals, the national blonde beer, rich creamy chocolate, fresh mussels and traditional frite’s – you simply can not fall in love with this place.
If you’re considering visiting this Flemish city, here’s a selection of our favourite spots;
Bruges – just under an hour on the train from Antwerpen Central Station and you’re in the town of Bruges. An absolute must see on any trip to Belgium. While touristy it’s picturesque and like something straight out of a fairytale. Christmas markets, ice skating rinks, architecture, chocolate and beer are all also highlights of this little place, but wandering around and soaking up the beauty is simply enough
Elfe Gebod, Eleventh Commandment – a unique restaurant-café in the old town of Antwerpen situated right next to the Cathedral. Delicious food, local beer and a gorgeous interior decked with angels, saints and religious statues
Sissy Boy – trendy home interiors, gifts and a spot of clothes shopping in the heart of Antwerpen’s fashion scene
Princess – top designers, stylish minimalistic interior, friendly staff and incredible dresses
Culture and events:
Mercado – Antwerpen’s newest, coolest cultural hotspot. Great for shopping, art, food or your favourite tipple
Cathedral – always a favourite of mine in any European city, the Cathedral shouldn’t be missed. A masterpiece of gothic architecture, Nicolas Rombouts Last Supper stained glass piece of art, the tallest church spire in Europe’s Low Countries and a mixture of Baroque and Neoclassical interior furnishings – its easy to see why this Cathedral began construction in 1352 but wasn’t completed untill 1520
Momu – a cool little fashion museum celebrating the Belgian love of fashion. We were lucky enough to attend the Rik Wouters & The Private Utopia exhibition which was a interesting showcase of Rik’s work, his relationship with his wife and the influences on his fashion design genius
After a few too many beer’s, a lot of laughs, too much shopping and a box of Belgian chocolate, we left the beautiful country of Belgium content, festive and happy – albeit a few kilo’s heavier.
Thank you Belgium, you were absolutely beautiful.