Regardless of being one of many world’s smallest international locations, Belgium isn’t in need of tempting metropolis breaks for households – in addition to Brussels, Bruges and Ghent, you will discover loads of issues to do in Antwerp with youngsters.
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Earlier than I visited, I admit I didn’t know as a lot about this Flemish metropolis, which sits about half an hour from the Dutch border – Europe’s second greatest port, dwelling to Rubens, a style hotspot and on the coronary heart of the world’s diamond commerce, there’s tons to find.
And in case your youngsters aren’t fussed by nice artwork, valuable gems and avant-garde design, there are some nice household sights as nicely, together with the 22 concepts under, my decide of one of the best issues to do in Antwerp for youths.
One of many oldest zoos on the planet, Antwerp Zoo sits proper subsequent to the prepare station – actually, when the station was constructed, they needed to promise to verify the wall connecting the 2 was as ornamental because the station itself.
It’s essential preserve your animals glad, in any case! Hold an eye fixed out for the camel statue on the rooftop as you enter the gates previous golden mosaic large cat photos, with round 1,000 totally different species to find contained in the gates.
The totally different areas of the zoo are themed on locations from world wide, and has varied initiatives to assist endangered animals: plus an opportunity to see large cats, bears, penguins, elephants and extra, together with the aquarium.
Het Steen Citadel
Het Steen – which interprets because the rock – dates again to the beginning of the thirteenth century, when the citadel was a part of a good larger fortress.
The oldest constructing in Antwerp, at this time it homes the vacationer info centre and The Antwerp Story (scroll down for extra particulars) so not like the Gravensteen in Ghent, it’s not a citadel you possibly can discover to get a style of medieval Belgium, nevertheless it’s nonetheless an imposing sight.
Exterior, there’s additionally a statue of an enormous, referred to as Lange Wapper who legend says used to terrorise Antwerp’s inhabitants, and two people cowering earlier than him.
You can too purchase the Antwerp Metropolis Move, together with entry to sights and public transport, on the vacationer info centre, in addition to selecting up maps and biking trails
The Antwerp Story
Set inside Het Steen, the Antwerp Story is a good introduction to the historical past of the town for youths.
Transferring by way of time as you go by way of 11 totally different rooms, there are some artistic methods to move you again into Antwerp’s previous, together with a hologram of a designer and a 360-degree projection of the port, in addition to fashions to climb inside and extra.
Permit between 30 and 60 minutes for the principle attraction, then save a while to absorb the views from the roof terrace of Het Steen.
The world’s largest Belgian chocolate museum, Choco Nation is a good mixture of background concerning the historical past of chocolate and chocolate making, and place to strive a couple of your self.
Various, actually, as you possibly can style 10 totally different flavours of chocolate as you discover the 14 totally different rooms with an audio information in English and Le Petit Chocolatier expertise for youths.
Alongside the best way, you possibly can be taught some quirky details – resembling that Antwerp has the world’s largest cocoa storage port – in addition to just about visiting cocoa plantations on the equator.
Reverse the Central Station, enable round 60-90 minutes for the go to (and preserve an eye fixed out for the colorful Chinatown arch close by as you go in).
Don’t miss at cease on the Chocolate Line store whilst you’re in Antwerp – we found the weird flavours throughout a go to to Bruges however the Antwerp store is way quieter
Journey the ferris wheel
Not removed from Het Steen, there are some implausible views of the town and river from the Antwerp Ferris Wheel.
Set close to Steenplein on the banks of the Scheldt (it beforehand moved areas between winter and summer time), it’s an ideal spot on a sunny day – and never scarily excessive for youthful youngsters.
Discover the underground canals
Whereas there’s a lot to see above floor in Antwerp with youngsters, the town additionally has an enchanting underground collection of tunnels and canals tucked away.
Referred to as De Ruien, the waterways have been as soon as used to get across the metropolis within the Center Ages, earlier than being coated over – however you possibly can take a particular tour of the historic underground passages and be taught extra about Antwerp alongside the best way.
Probably the most child-friendly approach is to take one of many brief boat journeys, appropriate for age 3+, though these have been quickly suspended whereas restoration work is happening. Within the meantime, youngsters aged 10+ may also be part of one of many guided walks.
Take a tour
Antwerp is a really walkable metropolis however in the event you don’t fancy exploring on foot, you will discover loads of different choices too.
Strolling tour of Antwerp with youngsters
As an alternative choice to an organised metropolis strolling tour (though you’re spoiled for selection in the event you do need a kind of), strive a scavenger hunt of Antwerp, fixing clues and riddles as you wander previous 10 of the town’s key areas.
Household-friendly bike tour of Antwerp
Or be part of a family-friendly bike tour of Antwerp, the place you possibly can be taught extra concerning the legends and tales of the town throughout a three-hour cycle round its streets.
Sightseeing bus tour of Antwerp
If the climate’s unhealthy otherwise you’re seeking to sightsee with out carrying out small legs, there’s additionally a hop-on hop-off bus tour of Antwerp with a pre-recorded commentary as you drive round – a very good possibility too in the event you’re seeking to go to a number of the museums additional out of the town centre.
Boat tour of Antwerp
If you happen to simply desire a style of being out on the water, hop on the water bus which runs alongside the Scheldt – you possibly can decide it up at Steenplein, close to Het Steen, or the Sint Anna tunnels for instance.
Alternatively, there are non-public excursions together with the electrical Sir Tristram from Antwerp by Boat which take you on 50-minute jaunts across the harbour.
Plopsa Station amusement park
This little theme park of Plopsa Station within the centre of Antwerp, also called Comics Station, is all themed round totally different cartoon characters, tremendous heroes and comedian e-book stars.
The indoor amusement park within the prepare station has round 15 separate sights, and whereas most received’t be acquainted to non-Belgian guests – besides the Smurfs – it’s all nonetheless enjoyable for youthful youngsters.
Some sights have a minimal peak requirement so it’s value doublechecking earlier than you go to.
Spot the road artwork
If you happen to’re visiting with older youngsters, preserve an eye fixed out for the road artwork round Antwerp together with the Stripmuren comedian murals route.
There are at present 13 totally different websites across the metropolis, with a map to obtain if you wish to tick off all of the totally different websites, or you possibly can simply match a couple of into your exploring with a couple of close to the historic Grote Markt sq..
Study the legend of Antwerp’s identify
Head to the historic a part of Antwerp and the Grote Markt sq. is dwelling to a few of its prettiest outdated buildings together with the sixteenth century city corridor and guildhalls.
However whilst you’re there, you possibly can see the Brabo fountain, celebrating the legend which gave the town its identify. So the story tells, a Roman soldier identify Brabo got here to the world the place an enormous was demanding a toll to cross the river.
Anybody who did not pay had their hand minimize off and flung into the water. Brabo, who didn’t need to pay the toll, challenged the enormous and defeated him within the battle – earlier than deciding to topic him to the identical punishment, flinging his hand into the river Scheldt.
The Dutch phrases ‘hant’ ‘werpen’ (hand throw) led to the identify we nonetheless use at this time.
Eat Antwerpse Handjes
If you happen to’ve acquired a very good legend of giants and palms being thrown into rivers, the following step is a conventional deal with to have fun it.
Antwerpse Handjes are scrumptious hand-shaped buttery biscuits with flaked almonds in, though it’s also possible to discover chocolate palms and chocolate-covered marzipan choices.
Sint Anna Tunnel
There aren’t many locations the place crossing a river is a child-friendly attraction… particularly while you’re going underneath the water.
However in the event you’re visiting Antwerp with youngsters, don’t miss St Anna’s tunnel, which crossed underneath the river Scheldt. Created to attach the newer elements of the town with the historic city, the river was too busy for a bridge, so as an alternative of going over, the choice was made to go underneath.
The primary spotlight is the Thirties wood escalators which lead you down into the tunnel: fantastically preserved, it’s one of the vital uncommon issues to do in Antwerp with youngsters – the white-tiled tunnel itself stretches for 1,876 toes and isn’t vastly thrilling however you possibly can simply trip straight again up once more.
If you happen to do preserve going, head proper while you emerge and there’s a small seaside round half a mile away.
Discover some inexperienced house
The most important public inexperienced house within the metropolis, the Stadspark is a stunning spot to flee the bustle or loosen up in the summertime’s warmth.
There’s a small lake to get pleasure from, in addition to strolling trails within the triangular park and a skate park – in the event you’re fortunate, you possibly can even spot rabbits. Round 10 minutes stroll from Centraal station.
As one other different, head to the botanic gardens with round 2,000 totally different vegetation and herbs, within the grounds of the previous medieval hospital on Leopoldstraat.
Go to a museum
Antwerp is dwelling to a string of museums, and whereas some will enchantment extra to older youngsters (resembling MoMu, the town’s style museum), there’s a powerful vary to take a look at.
KMSKA Museum of nice artwork
With a powerful 13,000 items in its assortment, Antwerp’s Museum of Advantageous Artwork has an enormous assortment of labor by Rubens – who spent a lot of his life within the metropolis – in addition to a string of different artworks proper by way of to the Expressionists.
Reopened in late 2022 after an enormous 11-year renovation challenge, there are recommendations on what to look out for for households, plus youngsters aged 6-12 get a sketchbook and pencil as a present with the household path, together with 10 shocking new works to search out.
The primary museum to function on Unesco’s World Heritage Web site listing, the Plantin-Moretus Museum housed one in all Europe’s most vital e-book printing firms.
It’s nonetheless arrange as in the event you have been visiting the home because it was 400 years in the past, together with the preserved printing presses. And in addition to with the ability to see a printing demonstration, there’s additionally a enjoyable treasure hunt for households, difficult you to identify animals hiding within the museum rooms – appropriate for ages 4+.
Greater than 80% of the world’s uncut diamonds go by way of Antwerp however a lot of the gem commerce – unsurprisingly – isn’t open to the general public.
So to get an actual style of the bling, head to DIVA Museum, reopening in March 2023, which shares extra concerning the historical past of diamond buying and selling within the metropolis in addition to some spectacular gems and items of jewelry on show.
The Museum aan de Stroom, or MAS, is one other good place to be taught extra about Antwerp’s historical past – to not point out how its significance as a port cast hyperlinks to international locations world wide.
Hold an eye fixed out for family-friendly exhibitions, together with one known as ‘Anyone Residence’ which incorporates a sewer crocodile, board video games and drawing on partitions, whereas one other quickly exhibition covers the legends and tales of Antwerp. Head as much as the roof terrace for one more nice view too.
The Rubens Home
The home the place Rubens lived throughout his time in Antwerp is closed till 2027, while you’ll have the ability to step inside his studio as soon as once more. Within the meantime, younger art-lovers can see his work on the KMSKA, the Plantin-Moretus Museum and contained in the cathedral, amongst different websites.
Museum de Reede
One other museum that’s greatest for older youngsters, the Museum de Reede focuses on graphic artwork and engravings together with work by Edvard Munch and Francisco Goya, in addition to modern artists. Free for under-13s.
Disclosure: This publish comprises affiliate hyperlinks – any purchases you make are unaffected however I could obtain a small fee. My go to to Antwerp was courtesy of Luxair and the vacationer board for work with no obligation to share, however I needed to anyway… All opinions are my very own.
Zoo entrance photos copyright MummyTravels, St Anna tunnel courtesy AdobeStock, all different photos courtesy of Depositphotos