City breakers might want to a look at this hidden gem closer to the UK than Paris or Amsterdam – and is often ranked as one of Europe’s best destinations.
From the moment you step off the train at Antwerp, in Belgium, you’ll be greeted by the stunning architecture of the beautiful Beaux-Arts railway station.
The pretty Low Countries settlement, that is closer to London than Newcastle, enjoys some of the finest Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance-style buildings in Europe.
It also plays host to a thriving diamond quarter through which 85 percent of the world’s rough-cut diamonds pass each year, making an industry worth over £44billion.
As well as precious stones, Antwerp’s port also handles thousands of tonnes in goods from around the world making it the second largest port in Europe behind Rotterdam.
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If global commerce isn’t your thing, then why not head to one of the cultural gems that festoon the city, including the world-famous Antwerp Jazz Club, founded in 1938.
The music venue offers free lectures on the history of jazz as well as blues concerts and performances.
To continue a foray into a chilled-out vibe, the Grote Markt in the centre offers a café culture ambience with music and fine Belgian beers surrounded by historic buildings.
Antwerp is also a rising fashion city with aspirations to rival London, Paris and Milan in displaying the latest must-have garments. The Royal Academy of Fine Arts trains some of the finest designers and artists in the world.
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If you’re only visiting for a short time, you might only want to visit one museum: Museum aan de Stroom, or otherwise known as MAS.
Described as looking like a stack of Lego bricks, this new attraction boasts everything from Flemish art to a random photographer with modern art, MyLondon reports.
The MAS is also home to the three-Michelin starred restaurant Zilte, described as synonymous with the taste and smell of the sea”.
Culinary tourists will be spoilt for choice in Antwerp with a variety of Japanese, North Africa and Italina food on offer, as well of course as the Belgian beers.
For people who don’t want to see the city on foot, it’s also helpful to know Antwerp was voted the world’s third best city for cyclists in a poll this year.
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