By Lauren Kmec
Antwerp
Belgium
Photo gallery
Antwerp, Belgium, is sometimes referred to as the “Diamond Center of the World,” because the vast majority of the world’s diamonds are traded here. Located on the east bank of the River Scheldt, Antwerp is the second largest seaport in Europe, so some parts of the city feel like a breezy seaside resort, even though other areas are strikingly cosmopolitan. In this regard, Antwerp certainly does have something for everyone.

EscapeWizard.com invites you to plan your next European vacation to Antwerp. To get here, it is best to fly into Brussels Airport (BRU) in the Zaventum municipality, which is a ~30 minute drive to Antwerp. Smaller regional flight may arrive at Antwerp Airport (ANR) in the Deurne district, only ~15 minutes from the city center. Follow this link (www.escapewizard.com/flight.php) to book you flight. EscapeWizard.com also offers a plethora of hotel choices for you to consider (www.escapewizard.com/hotels.php?flag=htl). Our top hotel selection for the city is the Crowne Plaza.

EscapeWizard.com encourages history buffs to visit The Steen (Dutch for “the stone”), an ancient castle built around the year 1200. The Steen was one of the first stone buildings in Belgium, hence its appropriate name. The Steen was a proper castle for more than 300 years, then it served as a prison from 1549 to 1823, and it became the National Maritime Museum in 1862. Although it is no longer active as a museum, visitors to the Steen can still see old ships on site.

Grote Markt is another of Antwerp’s must-see destinations. This market square was the focal point of power during Antwerp’s Golden Age in the 16th century. Grote Markt is surrounded by guild houses, as well as the grand City Hall building, which was constructed in the 1500s in the typical Northern Renaissance style. In front of City Hall stands a fountain of Brabo, a mythical hero central to Antwerp’s ancient legends. After seeing the sights all around the square, EscapeWizard.com suggests stopping at one of the local restaurants for a taste of Belgian beer and local cuisine.

The Antwerp Zoo is another worthy site that is recommended by EscapeWizard.com. Built in 1843, the Antwerp Zoo is one of the oldest facilities of its kind in Europe. Highlights include elephants and giraffes housed in a mock Egyptian temple, “Vriesland,” the penguin and arctic seal exhibit, a planetarium, and the winter gardens. The Antwerp Zoo houses ~5000 animals of 950 different species, and it features a successful program to save endangered species, such as the bonobo and the golden lion tamarind.

EscapeWizard.com highly encourages tourists to visit the Antwerp Cathedral (aka the “Cathedral of Our Lady”), which features prominently on the city skyline and has long been a well-known symbol of Antwerp. Constructed over time from 1352 to 1521, the exterior of the Cathedral was designed in the Gothic style, whereas the interior is mainly Baroque. The Cathedral’s tower reaches a height of 123 meters, which made it one of the world’s tallest buildings at the time of its construction. The Cathedral’s other interesting features include three paintings by famous Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens, incredible stained glass windows, and the tomb of Isabella of Bourbon.

If you’re looking to explore an interesting neighborhood, try Zurenborg, located in the Berchem district in southern Antwerp. Zurenborg is divided into two main parts: the northwest area and the southeast area (or “Cogels-Osy”).  The northwest portion, designed as a “village in a city,” is anchored by a large central square with all streets radiating out from this point. On the other hand, Cogels-Osy does not have a town square, but rather a smaller, circular central space. Upon its founding, many of Antwerp’s wealthier residents moved to this area, and they built very elaborate homes in a variety of styles. Today, many of these unique buildings have been preserved as monuments. Thus, Cogels-Osy is well known for its remarkable, eclectic architecture.

As is evidenced by the abundance of historical sites, Antwerp flourished during Medieval and Renaissance times, and it is thriving again today, thanks to a culture that celebrates the city’s glorious past while looking forward to its bright future. Who knows what excitement awaits you in Antwerp, Belgium? Make your travel plans today with EscapeWizard.com, and let the adventures begin!
Hotels in Antwerp
By Sandy O\'Neal
Crowne Plaza
Gerard Legrellelaan 10, Antwerp, Belgium
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The Crown Plaza Hotel Antwerp is nestled away among parks and green zones in the residential area of Antwerp known as Green Heart.  Just 30 minutes from Brussels Airport, you will be able to travel from the airport to the hotel by way of the airport shuttle bus which stops right outside the Crown Plaza. Check in is at 2:00 p.m. and check out time is noon.  If you are traveling with your four-legged friend, you will be delighted to know that pets are welcome. All rooms are non-smoking.

Sprawling 16 floors, the hotel has 262 guest rooms and suites to choose from. Room amenities include TV with access to in-room movies, coffee maker, tea maker, mini refrigerator, work desk with a lamp, and complimentary high speed internet access with wireless data connection.

The hotel has 14 meeting rooms with accommodations from 10-500 people that can be arranged to suit the needs of your event, group meeting or conference. If just need to arrange a small space for a spontaneous meeting, there are 2 spaces off the lobby that you can book. 

The hotel fitness center is available to help you maintain your fitness routine while you are away from home. After a vigorous workout, relax in the sauna or steam bath. During your stay, spend some leisure time at the indoor infinity swimming pool.

Dining on-site is available at Anna Living and Bar. Here you will experience an intimate and cozy atmosphere where you can sit in easy chairs and sip a Belgian beer or your favorite cocktail while enjoying local fare. When you walk into the eatery, look down and you will be transfixed by the carpet which is a Google Earth image of Antwerp. 
 
Whether traveling to Antwerp for business or pleasure, The Crown Plaza is a perfect choice. Book your next stay through EscapeWizard.com by following this link (www.escapewizard.com/hotels.php?flag=htl).
Hotels in Antwerp
By Sandy O\'Neal
Hilton Antwerp
Groenplaats 32, Antwerpen, Belgium
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In the charming city of Antwerp, located right at the heart of the Groenplaats, you will find the Hilton Antwerp. It’s just 5 miles from the Deurne Airport where you can arrange a taxi or limousine to transport you to the hotel. If you are traveling by air through the National Zavantem airport, you are just 27 miles from the hotel. Check in is at 2:00 p.m. and checkout is noon. If you traveling with your pets, you will be pleased to know that the hotel allows small pets

From traditional guest rooms to suites and executive suites, there are plenty of choices and something for everyone.  Regardless of your room selection, you will enjoy wireless internet access in your spacious room with its pleasing décor.  Room accommodations include 32” LCD TV, work desk, and a marble bathroom with a separate bathtub and shower.  And for that special touch, magazines and mineral water are provided.  

To help you maintain your fitness routine while you are away from home, the hotel has an on-site health club. After your grueling workout, relax in the sauna, or pamper yourself with a peaceful massage. You may also want to enjoy some tranquil time at the solarium or on the sundeck. 

The business center is available for those who need to work while away. If you are looking for a location to host a meeting, conference or group event, you’ve come to the right place. The hotel has 14 meeting rooms available that can be arranged to suite your needs. The reception team is available 24 hours a day to make sure your event is perfect in every way.

You can enjoy dining and drinks right on-site at the Terrace Café, Maritime Bar or Lobby Lounge. At the Terrace Café you can enjoy a spectacular view of The Cathedral of our Lady while dining bistro style, and enjoy breakfast and lunch at the outdoor terrace. Enjoy he nautical theme at the Maritime Bar while sipping a Belgian Beer or cocktail. The hotel’s signature afternoon High Tea can be enjoyed while relaxing in the old world charm of the Lobby Lounge. 

When traveling to Antwerp, the Hilton is an excellent choice to enjoy your time away from home. Book your next stay through EscapeWizard.com by clicking this link (www.escapewizard.com/hotels.php?flag=htl).