A compact cultural hub where the past and present embrace, Antwerp's charms and attractions are endless. Cabana's insiders, Athena de Belder and Emma Becque, share tips for a memorable weekend in a true Belgian gem, home to masters of design including Axel Vervoordt and Dries van Noten.



Plantin-Moretus Museum, Antwerp © LUCID


A true Belgian gem where neoclassical architecture marries with dystopian brutalist structures, Antwerp is both steeped in rich history and looking to its future. Turn any corner in this beautiful city, and you might find a secret 17th-century church exhibiting old master paintings next to a modish fashion atelier presenting a rising star plucked from the local fashion school. Across all touchpoints, the past and the present embrace: age-old Flemish recipes inspire à la mode tasting menus, while interior designers use contemporary, minimalist palettes to champion the original features of 17th-century buildings now serving as hotels or residences.

For art and design lovers in particular, the unique attractions in Antwerp are endless, from a centuries-old glove store to an untouched 1600s printing house and a wine bar covered in silver serving a colorful tableau of nature-inspired cuisines. 


Hotel August, Antwerp; Vincent Van Duyson's first hotel project

Where to Stay

Hotel AugustA former Augustinian convent, Hotel August remains a blessed sanctuary in Antwerp's buzzing centre. Vincent Van Duysen's first hotel project, the space is ablaze with natural light, original timber and a sophisticated dose of minimalism. Highlights include the natural outdoor swimming pond and chapel bar, while the menu features a 'must-have' breakfast orchestrated by Michelin-star chef Nick Bri, who plucks ingredients from a sustainable rooftop garden.

Hotel Flora: A 15th-century Merchant's quarters enlivened by the vivacious scheme of designer Gert Voorjans across seven rooms. Thanks to Voorjans' magic touch, each unique space delights guests with a colorful concoction of stripes, silks, ruffles, and drapes. Remain indoors for an evening nightcap in the secret library bar, where you'll hear chiming bells from the neighbouring cathedral.

Botanic Sanctuary: A truly sumptuous Belgian gem within the elegantly-restored walls of a 13th-century monastery. Every possible amenity - from an excellent spa, swimming pool and apothecary, to a secret whisky den and a Michelin-starred chef - has been considered here, without ever compromising on design or the monastic simplicity of its roots. A stay here is refined, relaxed and spoiling.


 Hotel Flora, Antwerp, designed by Gert Voorjans


Hotel Pilar: A hybrid hotel, restaurant and shop in the epicentre of the artistic Zuid neighbourhood, with views of the Museum of Fine Arts and Antwerp's fashion ateliers from every room. Founded by two friends who champion the eclectic, a mixture of white brick tiles and walls serves as a canvas for antique lighting and a gallery of immersive modern art. Be sure to rise for their famed melted brie toast, served before 11:30am.

Au Lit, Jérôme: This 1895 former notary residence is a top secret B&B with interiors as charming as the host who welcomes you. Sleep beneath a cascading chandelier, soak in a roll-top bath and admire the owner's traditional Belgian decor. Located by the Groenplaats, Meir, and Grote Markt, this stayover is the perfect home-from-home experience in central Antwerp. Be sure to join their two-hour breakfast feast served upon Japanese cutlery in the historic morning room.


Botanic Sanctuary Hotel, Antwerp © Botanic Sanctuary


Where to Eat 

Le Pristine: This à la carte restaurant and bar, with interiors by Space Copenhagen, presents a fusion of Italian flair and Zeeland heritage. Its 17th-century baroque patio and overflowing courtyard offer a vibrant casual dining experience with impeccable dishes curated by three-time Michelin-star chef Sergio Herman.

Ciro’sClassic Belgian cuisine and a nostalgic interior: white tablecloths, wooden panelling, brass tableware and frilly light sconces have been untouched since Ciro’s’ inception. Regarded as an Antwerp institution, diners should brave the Flemish menu championed by locals. Be sure to book ahead.


Botanic Sanctuary Hotel, Antwerp © Botanic Sanctuary


Veranda: An upscale culinary tour in the old meat district near Park Spoor Noord. This hidden gem houses floor-to-ceiling cabinets of natural wines waiting to be paired with the colorful five-course tasting menu. A favorite is the deliciously pink deconstructed strawberry daiquiri topped with chilli oil and sheep's milk. 

Osaka: A futuristic space in Antwerp's theatre district with Japanese-inspired industrial interiors and a neverending menu of natural wines and flower-infused cocktails. Try the fig leaf ice cream with olive oil and the Korean spritz.

Desiré De Lille: A traditional Antwerp cafe where eager locals queue every weekend awaiting their excellent coffee and Belgian waffles. The most popular request is the Brussels and Lackman signature waffles. For the perfect Antwerp order, ask for a side of a local speciality called 'Smoutebollen', a Belgian abstract take on the doughnut.


Le Pristine Antwerp © Peter-Paul de Meijer


Cafe ’t BiekeCafe 't Bieke hosts Antwerp's most coveted tables. With an indoor-outdoor terrace overlooking the city's historic architecture, this small quaint cafe serves the best Belgian crepes and waffles in town. Endure the peak season lines, as the traditional sweet treats really are worth the wait.

Butchers Coffee: The local hot spot for breakfast. Friendly, expert baristas can whip up a treat in minutes. For a sit-down experience, order the poached pear and buttermilk pancakes served with a dollop of salted butter and maple syrup.


Axel Vervoordt Gallery, Kanaal


Where to Shop

Antwerp Antique District: Antwerp is a serious destination for art and antique shopping, both flea market finds and highly collectible treasures. The districts of Leopoldstraat and Mechelsesteenweg are full of antique dealers and interior design studios, while Kloosterstraat 'Antique' Street is well worth a wander too.

BrocantwerpenGrote Markt square plays host to Brocantwerpen, Antwerp's in-the-know flea market, around 10 times a year. You'll find anything and everything here among hundreds of eagle-eyed brocanteurs.

Dries van Noten Modepaleis: This listed building (Het Modepaleis), constructed in 1881, was once the home to a gentleman’s outfitters who was notably a good friend of Dries' grandfather. A fashionista storybook full of history, the exhibition of garments is complemented by the wooden counters, curved windows, hand-carved pillars, and signature scent of woody oak notes. You won’t want to leave!


Plantin-Moretus Museum, Antwerp © LUCID 


Graanmarkt 13Founded by husband and wife team, Tim Van Geloven and Ilse Cornelissens, visiting Graanmarkt 13 feels like stepping into your best friend's wardrobe. Camouflaged within a leafy-lined neoclassical Belgian townhouse, the atelier sells primarily Belgian designer pieces. Above the store, the couple's four-bedroom apartment is rentable, and the building's basement houses The Restaurant - each emitting the same understatedly sophisticated style.

Philip’s Biscuits: Complete with a blue bow and perfectly appointed box, each artisanal Antwerp biscuit is made fresh by hand in front of its customers. Select the Antwerpse Handjes for the ultimate Belgian cookie experience.

Ann Demeulemeester boutiqueLocated in an 1880s Beaux-Arts building, this revamped, renovated store, once a school, blends fashion and homewares with Demeulemeester's admiration for interior design. 



CopyrightFlecked marble slabs, totems of books, and 1960s-style formations are the ingredients for this sublime bookstore in Antwerp. Copyright is the go-to hangout for brushing up on your architecture, art and fashion knowledge. A modern-day library for all things culture, the space conveniently sits within the ModeNatie building, part of The Fashion Museum in Antwerp (MoMu).

Ganterie BoonYou can’t visit Antwerp without visiting this family-run glove emporium, renowned for its exquisite craftsmanship. Here, every glove tells a story. Amidst the Art Deco charm, let the experts 'glove-match' you while you swoon over the oak wood panelling and library of color-coded lamb skin fabrics.


Royal Museum of Fine Arts © Karin Borghouts


What to See & Do

KMSKA / Royal Museum of Fine Arts: A temple for Flemish artistry situated along the River Scheldt. Recently reopened after an 11-year renovation, its vast orange gallery walls summon visitors to relish in works by local hero, Sir Peter Paul Rubens, and others from Fouquet and Bruegel to Salvador Dalí.

The Cathedral of Our Lady: Take a morning stroll to the iconic Cathedral of Our Lady, an architectural marvel that's testament to the city's golden age. This Gothic masterpiece showcases Rubens's artistic genius through spectacular altarpieces and reflects the rich history of Antwerp, once a bustling hub of international trade.

Axel Vervoordt Gallery: Axel Vervoordt melds brutalist art with naturalistic forms in his Antwerp-based gallery and residence, Kanaal. His flagship space - 20 minutes outside the city - is a former distillery, reborn as a cultural hub and sharing prolific, thoughtful designs by major artists, including Tatsuro Miki, James Turrell and Anish Kapoor.


Courtyard, Hotel Flora, Antwerp 


The Museum Mayer van den BerghThis historic house museum, which opened in 1904, tells the story of passionate art collector, Fritz Mayer van den Bergh. Inside, a diverse assemblage reveals Mayer's keen eye for late Gothic art and his ambition to create a dedicated space for his treasures - a dream ultimately realised by his mother - honoring his profound legacy as an art connoisseur.

Plantin-Moretus Museum: This intriguing museum transports visitors to the golden era of the Plantin publishing house, pivotal in 16th and 17th-century Catholic Europe. A testament to the art of printing, it showcases religious texts and treasures, like an Arabic dictionary and ancient atlases, and original hand-operated presses.


Museum Mayer van den Bergh © Ans Brys


Modemuseum: Founded in 2002, Modemuseum is an archive of style showcasing the groundbreaking work of Antwerp-trained fashion designers, including Martin Margiela and Dries van Noten, through captivating, thematic exhibitions.

RubenshuisThe house museum of Sir Peter Paul Rubens, where visitors can peek through a window into the life and style of the acclaimed artist. A curated tour tells the story of his works, and those of his contemporaries, while the Flemish mastery continues into the landscaped city garden, where historic sprouting tulips and wildflowers bloom amidst the artist's beloved secret studio. The outdoor grounds will reopen this summer (2024) and are a must-see in Antwerp.


Chapel, Botanic Sanctuary Hotel Antwerp

Join the Cabana family