A city trip to Antwerp – undeniably the most charming city in Flanders – can, like any other visit to a European city, sometimes take a serious bite out of your travel budget. After all, you want to experience as many interesting things as possible in a short period. You can do this with an organized tour, or perhaps you prefer to explore on your own. To ensure you don’t return home with a financial hangover, I’ve put together a handy article. A list of 34 things you can enjoy in Antwerp completely free of charge.
100% free in Antwerp
Head to the Sint-Anna Tunnel (affectionately known as the Pedestrian Tunnel) and walk (or bike) through it, using the wooden escalators, from the right bank to the left bank of the city. From the left bank, you can admire the beautiful Antwerp skyline.
For the most spectacular view of Antwerp, you can visit the free Panorama Terrace on the tenth floor of the Museum aan de Stroom (MAS) on Eilandje. Please note that the museum itself and its exhibitions are not free of charge.
Enjoy a beautiful sunset by looking from one of the scenic terraces (Zuider- or Noorderterras) along the Scheldt River, and watch as the Lights of ‘t Scheld gradually illuminate.
Take a leisurely stroll through Den Botanieken Hof (or Botanic Garden) on Leopoldstraat! It’s a peaceful retreat to unwind during a busy shopping afternoon.
Visit the open-air Middelheim Museum, which boasts around 400 artworks. Discover sculptures by renowned artists such as Panamarenko and Auguste Rodin. You can access the museum through one of its nine entrances. All of this, completely free things to do in Antwerp.
Cathedral of Our Lady
A visit to the iconic Cathedral of Our Lady is free for residents of the Antwerp province and children under 12 years old. All other visitors pay 6 euros.
If you wish to stay overnight in the heart of Antwerp after a day of exploration, we recommend Citybox Antwerp – a new budget-friendly hotel located just minutes away from the Central Station and Meir. You can check in at any time of day via the terminal, and check-out isn’t required until 12:00 PM. Rooms start at just 49 euros per night.
Attend the Artists’ Mass on a Sunday or holiday at 11:30 AM in the splendid Carolus Borromeus Church on Hendrik Conscienceplein, one of the coziest squares in Antwerp. You can enjoy a lovely concert and admire the interior of the magnificent church.
Take a stroll along the 16th-century cobblestone streets and explore the houses of The Beguinage and its accompanying small St. Catherine’s Church. The last Antwerp beguine passed away around thirty years ago in 1986.
Antwerp has a small Chinatown area located on Van Wesenbekestraat. In addition to Chinese, Thai, and Filipino shops and restaurants, there has been a beautiful Chinese gate since 2010.
Fo Guang Shan Temple
In that same Vanwezebekestraat, you can visit the Buddhist Fo Guang Shan Temple, complete with candles, statues, and flowers. It’s open every day except Fridays.
Go spot some street art. You can find it all over Antwerp, but especially in the Berchem district. You can discover more than 300 artworks using the StreetArtwerpenaar platform.
Het Steen is Antwerp’s oldest preserved building and is located along the Scheldt River. It once housed the Shipping Museum, but now Het Steen is open to visitors of all ages, starting from 6 years old.
Take out your camera and walk through the picturesque and picturesque alley, De Vlaaikesgang (since 1591), in the midst of the bustling city. You can easily access the alley through the entrance at Oude Koornmarkt 16.
Another small but charming street is the photogenic Paardenpoortje (or the Paardekensgang) between the houses of Willem Lepelstraat on ‘t Zuid.
The Bird Market (Vogeltjesmarkt in Dutch) is a true tradition in Antwerp! Every Sunday, from 8 AM to 1 PM, you can discover market traders and their goods on the streets and squares of Theaterplein. While most vendors used to sell birds, poultry, or rodents, it now makes up only a small part of the market.
On Saturdays, the Oudevaartplaats hosts the weekly Vreemdelingenmarkt. This exotic Saturday market is the place to go from 8 AM to 4 PM for Turkish, Moroccan, and southern cuisine and ingredients, with some local traders as well.
If you seek tranquility and want to escape the city’s hustle and bustle, head to the Hoboken Polder. In a bend of the Scheldt River, you’ll find more than 500 different plant species. There are plenty of marked hiking trails, and wheelchair users are welcome too.
There are both admirers and critics of this trendy architectural work, but I find it beautiful and Instagram-worthy! The Havenhuis serves as the headquarters of the Port of Antwerp and was designed by the world-renowned architect Zaha Hadid. You can sit on one of the benches by the nearby Suez- or Kattendijkdok and enjoy this new architectural gem, all completely free in Antwerp.
Unfortunately, shopping for free in Antwerp is not possible, and even if you don’t enjoy shopping, Stadsfeestzaal on Meir is worth a stop. Built in 1908, the Stadsfeestzaal was mostly destroyed by a fire in 2000 and has since undergone extensive renovation. You can admire the magnificent dome with gold leaf, the grand staircase, original marble, and oak parquet flooring.
Relax in the 14-hectare triangular City Park, a protected monument in the heart of Antwerp. It’s ideal for a moment of respite on benches or at the play area with children, away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
(Update – Free wednesdays have been abolished) Most museums in Antwerp charge an admission fee, but every last Wednesday of the month, you can visit places like MAS entirely for free. The Rubenshuis, Rockoxhuis, Mayer van den Bergh Museum, Vleeshuis Museum, Letterenhuis, and Plantin-Moretus Museum are also accessible at no cost on these days.
More free things in Antwerp?
Visit the sculptures, ancient castles, unique trees, and beautiful gardens in Nachtegalenpark, a large wooded area in the south of the city.
Antwerp Museum App
Download the free Antwerp Museum App (available for iOS and Android), which combines all of Antwerp’s museums into one app. This app serves as the perfect guide during your visits to Antwerp museums and the city itself.
In the summer, when the weather is fine, Sint-Anneke Beach (Sint-Annastrand) on Linkeroever is always bustling with activity. You can wear your swimsuit, but be careful! Swimming in the Scheldt is prohibited. You can also enjoy a nice walk there in the winter.
Are you an architecture enthusiast? Take a stroll along some beautiful Art Nouveau buildings on Cogels-Osylei and its side streets in the Zurenborg district. This is also completely free in Antwerp. More information (article in Dutch)?
De Zwarte Panter
The Zwarte Panter art gallery is a landmark in Antwerp. It’s the oldest continuously operating gallery in Flanders and frequently hosts exhibitions, book launches, and film and concert events. De Zwarte Panter is open from Thursday to Sunday from 1:30 PM to 6:00 PM.
Antwerp Central Station
I personally find Antwerp Central Station to be one of the most beautiful stations in the world. The current Midden-Statie has been in use since 1905 and is completely free to visit in Antwerp. This place is a must-visit when exploring the city. Get your camera ready!
Every year, on the Antwerp version of Mother’s Day (August 15), you have the well-known Rubens Market in the city center. Dozens of vendors dress in medieval attire and sell food and drinks, antiques, and knick-knacks. Entry is completely free, but what you purchase, eat, and drink is, of course, not.
Saint Paul’s Church
What was once one of the richest and most powerful churches of the 17th century now serves as the parish church of the Schipperskwartier. You can visit Saint Paul’s Church for free daily from April to October, between 2 PM and 5 PM. Inside, you’ll find many sculptures and works by Rubens himself. The treasury can also be viewed for a fee of 1 euro.
The formerly somewhat bleak Harmony Park has been completely refurbished, and the Harmony Building received some extra color thanks to street artists. When the weather is nice, the benches and play areas become popular spots.
Sit on a terrace with a glass of Antwerp’s Bolleke Koninck beer (not entirely free) or on a bench (100% free) and enjoy the buildings and monuments on the Grand Place of Antwerp. There you’ll find the City Hall, the Brabo Fountain, and several beautiful guild houses.
Nello & Patrasche
Be sure to visit the statue of Nello & Patrasche on Handschoenmarkt, near the Cathedral of Our Lady. Nello and his dog are the main characters from the 1872 novel “A Dog of Flanders.” The duo is intended to attract many foreign tourists to Antwerp, particularly in Japan, where the story is beloved. And best of all, it’s entirely free in Antwerp.
A cemetery isn’t usually a top tourist spot, but Schoonselhof is an exception. It’s a beautiful park for walking, and many well-known Antwerp residents have found their final resting place here.
Park Spoor Noord
Park Spoor Noord, located near Den Dam, is a great place, especially in the summer. You can barbecue, exercise, relax in the park, or paddle in the fountains. For skaters and BMX riders, there’s a skatebowl with a fullpipe. Always a fun spot for curious tourists.
Do you have any more great tips for free things to do in Antwerp?
This article has been updated.