5 Unusual places to see in Antwerp (Flanders - Belgium)

FREE THINGS TO DO IN ANTWERP!

DAY TRIPS FROM BRUSSELS TO ANTWERP
It took not 1 or 2 but 3 day trips from Brussels for me to see it all! Antwerp was very high on my wishlist for several reasons. One - there are 3 UNESCO Sites in Antwerp, visiting which would complete my list of sites in Belgium! Two - Peter Paul Rubens (there's Rubens House where he lived, Notredame Church which has 2 of his paintings and more)! Three -......... that would be the first point of the 5 points in this post! So here are 5 very unique, weird, quirky things to do in Antwerpen.

Unusual things to do in Antwerp


Unusual things to do in Antwerp

Unusual things to do in Antwerp

WHAT TO DO IN ANTWERP? 
WAT TE DOEN IN ANTWERPEN...

ZOMERFABRIEK MURALS
Belgium is known for its murals! Brussels has so many and so many railway/tram stations in Brussels are dedicated to various murals! That said, Antwerp is one of the best places to see Belgian murals. Guess why? It has 3000 sqm of murals in one place! It is unquestionably one of the most instagrammable locations in Antwerp; the best place for shooting Tiktok videos & Instagram reels in Antwerp.
Zomerfabriek literally translates to Summer Factory! It is a lively, youthful, summer party that happens every year in summer. More than 60 international graffiti artists meet up here, and the event is called 'Meeting of Styles'! After the event is over, the rest of the year, the murals are just there for everyone to enjoy, 24x7!!! So, if you're planning to go here just to see the murals, make sure you don't visit when the Zomerfabriek event is happening. 

Where are the Zomerfabriek Murals (On Google Maps)? The starting point is at the crossroads of Pretoriastraat and Krugerstraat 
How to reach the Zomerfabriek Murals? Begin at the starting point mentioned above (this can be walked from Antwerp Bercham railway station (650m (7 mins walk)) or Antwerpen Draakplaats tram stop (150m (1 min walk))), where you will see the intro mural of Meeting of Styles, Zomerfabriek. The whole of Krugerstraat is filled on both sides with murals and continues to Minkelersstraat and Vlijtstraat.
When is the best time to see the Zomerfabriek Murals? Anytime except September!
Zomerfabriek Murals tickets: Free to just see the murals
When does the Zomerfabriek event happen? September every year
Zomerfabriek Event tickets: check the official website of Zomerfabriek

Zomerfabriek Murals Instagrammable locations in Antwerp

Zomerfabriek Murals Instagrammable locations in Antwerp


Zomerfabriek Murals Instagrammable locations in Antwerp

ST.ANNA'S ESCALATOR & TUNNEL
If one of the world's oldest functioning metro is in Budapest, one of the world's oldest functioning escalators is in Antwerp! This was built in 1933. Since 1874, the residents of Antwerp wanted a way to cross the Scheldt river. The original idea was to build a bridge. However, with the risk of ship traffic being hindered, the idea was given up. Eventually, in 1931, the idea to make a tunnel was proposed and accepted. To date, the tunnel is being used by pedestrians and cyclists alike to walk from one bank of Scheldt to another. 
The escalator also is the original which has been in use since 1933. Guess what's the material of this escalator? Wood!!! I've never in my life, so far, have stepped on a wooden escalator. It is a very weird feeling. The sound of the wood and the traditional revolving chains is really amusing! This is open 24x7 as well.

Where is St.Anna's Escalator & tunnel (on Google Maps)St.Anna's Tunnel
How to reach St.Anna's Escalator & tunnel? 2km from Antwerp Central. 200m (2 mins) from Plantin-Moretus museum
St.Anna's Escalator & tunnel timings: 24x7
St.Anna's Escalator & tunnel Tickets: Free. It is like a street but under water. Completely free of cost to use!

Free things to do in Antwerp St.Anna's Escalator & tunnel

Free things to do in Antwerp St.Anna's Escalator & tunnel

Free things to do in Antwerp St.Anna's Escalator & tunnel

NELLO AND PATRACHE STATUE
Just in front of Notre Dame Church in Antwerp, in the courtyard is this white marble statue which you can't miss! This was created by local artist Batist Vermeulen in Dec 2016. This is an art installation in public that's open 24x7.
The story of Nello and Patrache is a bit sad one though! They are the main characters of the novel - 'The dog of Flanders'! The poor, orphaned, little boy Nello used to visit the church every day to see the beautiful paintings of Rubens. The dog also met him often there. Eventually, they died together due to hardships. 

Where is Nello & Patrache Statue (on Google Maps)?  Nello and Patrache Statue
How to reach Nello & Patrache Statue? 1.6km from Antwerp Railway Station; Just in front of Cathedral of Our Lady.
Nello & Patrache Statue opening hours: 24x7
Nello & Patrache Statue tickets: Free

THE LADY AT PIETER APPLEMAN'S MONUMENT
Ok! This may not be a permanent feature, but very quirky and interesting nevertheless! In front of Notre Dame Church, close to its wall is the Pieter Appleman's Monument. Pieter Appleman was one of the architects of the church and this group of sculptures depicting 4 people working on the church construction depicts him and his father Jan Appelmans.
When I was here on a freezing winter evening, one of these sculptures started to move!!! Well, its a lady, dressed looking almost like one of those sculptures! While the sculpture is there 24x7, I am not sure when this lady is available. I can't help but wonder how was she withstanding the weather!!!

Where is Pieter Appleman's Monument (on Google Maps)?  Pieter Appleman's Monument
How to reach Pieter Appleman's Monument1.6km from Antwerp Railway Station; Just beside of Cathedral of Our Lady.
Pieter Appleman's Monument opening hours: 24x7
Pieter Appleman's Monument tickets: Free

PARKBRUG

THE ANTWERP WHISPERER

VLAEYKENSGANG
This street is Antwerp's version of Liege's Impasse des Ursulines, where poor people and servants of rich men lived in yesteryears. The street dates from 1591. While it's just off-Notre Dame, an area that's very busy, this street looks frozen in time!

Where is Vlaeykensgang (on Google Maps)?  Vlaaikensgang
How to reach VlaeykensgangWalkthrough the gate at Oude Koornmarkt 16 and tucked in there is this place!
Vlaeykensgang opening hours: 24x7
Vlaeykensgang tickets: Free

Free things to do in Antwerp Nello and Patrache statue

Free things to do in Antwerp Pieter Appleman's Monument

HOW TO REACH ANTWERP:
Antwerp is one of the big cities in Belgium and is served by 2 major railway stations - Antwerp Centraal and Antwerp Berchem. The building of Antwerp Centraal is worth visiting. It was built in 1895-1905. The majestic railway station was designed by Louis Delacenserie. 
It is well connected by SNCB-NMBS train from all other cities of Belgium. Here are some ways to get cheap Belgian Train ticketsPublic transport in Antwerp is by metro, tram & bus and it is free with Antwerp City Card. Public Transport in Antwerp is under DeLijn, the same as in the rest of Flanders. If you have a DeLijn 10 journey ticket, it can also be used in any mode of public transport in Antwerp.

DAY TRIPS FROM ANTWERP:
Turnhout
Kalmthout

Free things to do in Antwerp Pinterest Unusual things to do in Antwerp Pinterest

P.S: I was given Antwerp City Card by Visit Antwerp to experience the city for review purposes, however, the opinions are my own and this post does not advertise the product/service.

Bhushavali

An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 85 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of June 2022. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands

16 comments:

  1. Jane Dempster-SmithJanuary 25, 2019 at 3:14 AM

    Thank you for your article on Antwerp. We visited Bruges and Ghent last year and never made it to Antwerp. I think we have missed out on seeing so much. We really enjoy street art! This is a must next time we are in Belgium.

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  2. Wow! Such beautiful street art. I love the 3rd and the 5th one. These murals are truly instagrammable. The meet-up of graffiti artists is a wonderful idea. I hope we can have one in my local area as well.

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  3. When visiting Belgium last year, I primarily loved 2 things and happy that they are listed in this post.

    1. The lady at Pieter Appleman's monument
    2. Zomerfabriek Murals

    Recommend you to visit African countries. (Note: Don't visit during summer)

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  4. I love to find street art hidden in vibrant cities around the world. Great finds!

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  5. You have covered feel very interesting sights of Antwerp which I was not aware of, especially the oldest escalator, that seems to be really interesting to know. I would love to take pictures of all the murals when I go to Antwerp, plus those statues are mind-blowing. I'm sure it's a very pretty City.

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  6. I have to say, I don't remember any of these attractions when I was in Antwerp. The oldest escalator is fascinating, and it doesn't look too bad! The art festival sounds very cool, and something I'd like to see.

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  7. I love all of the street art that you photographed! I did a quick day trip to Antwerp and Brussels many years ago, while visiting friends in the Netherlands. We were so rushed that we didn't get to really explore the cities. I think maybe it's time to go back and spend more time in Belgium.

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  8. We loved our half day walking tour of Antwerp. IT's such a beautiful city with great architecture. But this post makes me realise that there are so many places we missed. And all of them make me want to make time for Antwerp yet again.

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  9. World's oldest functioning escalator? That sounds interesting. I have never been to Belgium, leave alone Brussels or Antwerp but I have to get there someday. Love those wall murals by the way. You managed to cover all UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Belgium? That is super cool!

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  10. I really like street art, that's one of the major part of my travels. Also, these statues present in different parts of Europe are very fascinating. Budapest overall sounds like a place that is one of its kinds.

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  11. I love Belgium. Never been to Antwerp but 3 UNESCO Sites would be great reason for me to visit this city in summer. I had no idea it has the World's oldest functioning escalator

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  12. Wow this place is truly interesting! I admire the community for supporting new artists to make this place more gorgeous :D

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  13. I've only had a chance to stop by Antwerp for a couple of hours and didn't really get to see much of the city, and now I'm having all the regrets about that! I had no idea there were so many murals there - all of which are stunning. And a wooden escalator?! I didn't even know those existed. What a unique opportunity to get to ride on a wooden escalator.

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  14. its an amazing place, i want to go once in life to explore the place. Thanks for sharing the beautiful info.

    Regards,
    Ravin...

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  15. I really like street art, that's one of the major part of my travels. Also, these statues present in different parts of Europe are very fascinating. Even I have never stepped on a wooden escalator. Didn't have any idea that something like this exists in the first place.

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  16. Beautiful place.Amazing graffiti works. Loved all pics.

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