Antwerp is like a mistress, including all the perks and tricks that come with it. On a cold night, she’ll cradle you in her arms in a cozy café. But it’s during summer that she truly reveals her charms. Nothing stays concealed. When you’re on a sunny terrace, she reveals all her secrets to you. And you’ll be blown away.
In a centuries-old city where the river Schelde carves its way through the landscape, our Spotters selected the best summer spots in Antwerp for you. Whether it’s a park or the perfect bar, there’s something for everyone.
Have a run amidst the art at Middelheim Park
Middelheim park is in the European TOP 10 of art parks! Everywhere you look, you will find some (strange) art. The park is ‘overgrown’ with statues of animals, people, futuristic items, houses… and bright colors. This year, you will find fixed chairs where you can enjoy your time between all this crazy art. Don’t rush yourself through the park, take your time. And also keep your eyes to the sky: even the big trees are stages for inventive sculptures.
Personal tip: come here for your run! I visit this park weekly to have my run together with some sporty friends. Here you will meet many locals who fell in love with this beautiful green area in our town. — Emma Bocket
Buy some exotic lunch at the Vreemdelingenmarkt
Translation: The ‘strangers‘ market. Because of the combination of all the different food cultures, I think. Fresh fruit and veggies, exotic spices, olives, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, fresh fish and beautiful flowers. It’s my favorite spot in Antwerp to get supplies for my cooking/baking experiments for the upcoming weekend.
When you’re done shopping, go to the Moroccan stand where you can get salty pancakes (m’semen) filled with olives, roasted pepper, honey, and feta. Answer ‘yes’ when they ask if you would like some tea with that. Pretty sweet lunch! Not into that? Try the Dutch equivalent of a burger at a hamburger stand: a round beef patty (baked in butter), onions (baked in butter) and ketchup/mayonnaise/mustard on a ‘pistolet‘. And then there’s dessert of course. Big, fat Belgian strawberries. Available at every fruit stand. At their best around March/April, available until the end of September. Eat them with gusto while you’re walking around, enjoy the other shoppers jealous faces and watch as they hurry to the next fruit stand to buy their own fix. — Britt Marien
Sunny afternoons at Jardim
One thing I love about summers in Antwerp is the city’s concept of the many pop-up bars and places. Since the beginning of May, there has been a new pop-up bar at Het Eilandje. Like an oasis in the middle of the city, I come here to relax, take off my shoes and feel the sand between my toes. The wind is blowing gently, the music is pounding softly and Cubanista, my favorite beer at this place, is cooling me off.
The decor is colorful with many big sunbrellas that have an Indian touch. The atmosphere is very bohemian and perfect to enjoy the sunset at the Scheldebocht. You can order cocktails and delicious finger food. Jardim is only open when the weather is good and for events throughout the day, so make sure to check their Facebook page to be sure they’re open on the day you’d like to go. — Regina Janzen
Graffiti jungle at Park Spoor Noord
I venerate the urban art scene. The way it relates to the city and the life within while simultaneously adding to its splendor never ceases to spark my interest. You could easily declare that I am a “graffiti porn” addict. Aerosol art is the first thing that I look for whenever I visit a new town.
The vivid neighborhood “Dam” in Antwerp harbors one of our very own concrete graffiti jungles. Given the right weather conditions, you will come across a few daredevils at work under the bridge adjoining Park Spoor Noord or at the skate park. Be amazed as they show off their skills but beware, the open air gallery deserves your full attention too. There are a few incredible pieces on display. My favorite ones are done by Dome and Empty Belly. The latter can be spotted in Lisbon as well (ask Nuno for directions).
After consciously dodging the occasional wizard on his skateboard, rollerblades or stunt bike I often choose to enjoy a refreshing beverage at Bar NOORD. This large open-air bar is located in the heart of this green recreational area surrounding the graffiti hot-spot. Order a drink, buy a snack and scroll through all the photos you just took.
To get here, I for one tend to enjoy to walk from Grand Central Station, through our multi-cultural neighborhoods all the way towards the park. It helps to know that this spot is merely a stone’s throw away from the MAS and Felixpakhuis. Awaken the graffiti tiger in you! — Kevin Ducheyne
Artsy drinks and a night out at Het Bos
Het Bos is one of my favorite places in Antwerp because there is probably no spot as versatile as this one. It’s an artistic residence in the center of the city. It’s a place for artists, makers, musicians and art lovers. In its contemporary walls you can find the Bosbar, which serves from coffee to soup to tasty Bosbeer; a concert hall, exposition space, a stage for theater, performance, film or other shows, and space for creation and residence. It’s not possible to simply be rented, but Het Bos likes to work together with people who have a story to share.
You can find a vast program on their website and they organize many concerts, album releases, workshops, exhibitions, parties, and events of all kind. Powered by Boslabs, an artistic lab, and creative atelier, they organize free workshops for youngsters through all kinds of different art forms. It’s normally on Wednesday afternoons, but during vacation, it’s in the evenings.
Het Bos is always looking for volunteers who like to get to know the city and its artistic scene, so feel free to contact and visit! — Regina Janzen