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Antwerp: an old soul reborn as edgy cool Add to ...

MAS The new Museum aan de Stroom (Museum by the River) combines the collections of four different museums, with each floor housing a different theme, including On Trade and Shipping and Of Men and Gods. The top floor provides excellent views of the city and is open until 11:30 on summer evenings and can be visited without an admission fee. Hanzestedenplaats 1; mas.be

Fashion Museum, Provence of Antwerp It’s a small museum, well-curated and intimate. Current works showing are by new designer Manon Kundig, who took her inspiration from the bowerbird, a strange creature that courts the female by building compositions using bits of things he collects – something that Kundig labels “l’art du hazard.” It’s wild and colourful. Nationalestraat 28, momu.be

Antwerp Zoo It’s one of the oldest zoos in the world, established in 1843, and sits in the centre of the city, right next to Central Station. Visit to see the animals, of course, but also to enjoy the splendid architecture. Koningin Astridplein 26; zooantwerpen.be

The Diamond District There’s a diamond museum, jewellery stores and good deli places for lunch. How romantic to pick out your engagement diamond and watch it being cut and mounted in a setting of your choice. Try Diamond Land on Appelmansstraat.

Where to Eat

Grand Café Horta Exceptional for the art nouveau architecture, this busy café is right in the middle of the shopping district. Hopland2; grandcafehorta.be

Appelmanns BrasserieThis typical Belgian restaurant is in a 19th-century building next to the Cathedral and specializes in Belgian dishes. There is also an absinth bar. Papenstraatje 1; brasserieappelmans.be

Ra Kitchen The ultracool store Ra also has a restaurant that hosts a sort of themed dinner party on Friday nights called Villa Villekulla, named after Pippi Longstocking’s fictional home. The comfortable and eclectic decor contributes to a sort of sophisticated, deconstructed dining experience. While the style and dishes change regularly, the food is generally made from local ingredients. Kloosterstraat 13, ra13.be

Flamant Dining here is a little like having dinner in a friend’s dining room, albeit a friend with great taste. The restaurant is on the second floor, above the Flamant Concept shop, and serves elegant international style dishes. Lange Gasthuisstraat 12; flamantdining.be

T’Zilte This double Michelin-starred restaurant is in the new MAS. Chef Vikki Geunes presides over the kitchen turning out classic haute cuisine. Reservations are hard to come by, so make your plans in advance. Hanzestedenplaats 1; tzilte.be

DelRey Chocolate Lounge Situated in the middle of the Diamond District, DelRey’s is the right spot for drinking chocolate. You can also indulge in its specialty handmade chocolates, including chocolate hands, or handjes. Appelmansstraat 5; delrey.be

Café de Duifkens The Duifkins is an authentic Antwerp brown café, often frequented by the actors who are performing at one of the three nearby theatres. Enjoy a Belgian beer in a bolleke , the bowl-shaped traditional Antwerp beer glass. On Sundays there is a fresh market that specializes in live birds in the Graanmarkt. Graanmarkt 5

De Vagant A jenever bar, small and cozy, where a flight of different flavoured jenevers will introduce you to the joys of this strong traditional Belgian liquor. The passion fruit is nice, but don’t miss the chocolate, raspberry or lavender. If you find a flavour you love, the café has a shop a few steps away where you can buy a bottle to take home. Reyndersstraat 25; devagant.be/cafe

Where to Stay

Radisson Blu It’s a modern and well-run hotel with the added advantage of having a magnificent view of Astridplein and the Central Station. Koningin Astridplein 7; radissonblu.com/astridhotel-antwerp

<QL>Hotel de Witte Lelie Antwerp Housed in a 17th-century building near the Fashion District, this small boutique hotel is popular with the couture establishment. There are 11 rooms and suites, contemporary in style, but with deep windows and high ceilings. Keizerstraat 16-18, dewittelelie.be

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