Antwerp, Belgium
Annick, 46
City Guide/Photographer
see her Antwerp city guide

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Do’s and don’ts in Antwerp (Ex: Tipping: yes/no, touching strangers: yes/no, safety tips etc.):

Tipping is appreciated but not necessary. Belgian people are less outspoken like for instance The Dutch. But then again Antwerpians are the most outspoken of our country. And we like to joke about.

What are the Antwerp spots a first-time visitor can’t miss?

Het Steen, the Butchers guild house, the Cathedral of our Lady, Conscienceplein, Central Station.

Your all-time favorite musicians:

David Bowie, Jacques Brel, John Coltrane

What do you do and why do you do it?

Showing people, even locals, the real Antwerp. I love giving them new experiences and insights into this beautiful town. Each cobble-stone, brick, corner has it's own story.

What’s the one place in Antwerp you think is underrated?

Antwerp Seefhoek! It is a very vibrant neighborhood where more than 100 nationalities can be found. They all have their own shops and I can't stop going in and out them discovering new fruits and vegetables, spices, types of rice, cheese, the list is endless. And their cheap! I once made a family Christmas meal for 6 with 5 courses costing me only 20€. The people are super friendly and will happily explain how to use certain ingredients.

If you had unlimited resources and one weekend in Antwerp, what would you do?

OK here goes: I would arrive at Antwerp airport in my personal jet. My hotel? Not a hotel! I would book the Graanmarkt 13 appartement, and have lunch there as well. The chef is brilliant with vegetables and keeps bee-hives on his rooftop garden in the summer. Oh and they have a women's boutique as well! Then I would go shopping in the fashionable Nationale street. And dinner at the Jane's located in the chapel of the old military hospital!

Drunk and hungry - where do you go in Antwerp?

To a frituur of course to indulge on fries with mayonaise! Frituur nr 1 is located in the Hoogstraat and absolutely has the best fries in the whole town. If you're lucky you will be served by Maria who is a local legend and has been working there all her life. She can be a pretty course joker, but she will serve you the fries with love.

It's freeeeezing out - what should a visitor do?

Go shopping at the stadsfeestzaal. It looks like a palace and has been recently restored. Great spot for Instagram pictures and on the top floor you can find various pop-up shops from local designers.

Where do you take your guest when you want to impress?

Zurenborg! My district. I have been living there for over 30 years and love it. I parade them through the ecclesiastical architecture of the Cogels-Osylei and surrounding streets telling them all the gossip I know from the famous people living there.

You’ve been working hard and wanna treat yourself to something nice in Antwerp - what do you do?

Buy books! Look for them on my map in the category "shops".

Which local creators do you admire?

Dries Van Noten and Essentiel. I cannot afford the clothes when in season. But hey! No worries! Two times a year they have a stock-sale look out for them by googling Antwerp Stocksales. Essential even has a permanent outlet shop. Check my map :-)!

Special views that mainstream tourists don't know about:

The view on Antwerp from the left bank is amazing. Go there via the passenger tunnel and you will marvel at the original wooden moving staircase from the 1930's.

Tomorrow’s your last day in Antwerp. How do you spend it?

I plan my next holiday to Antwerp of course!

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Gaëlle Cools