Antwerp is the second largest city of Belgium. It has a beautiful historic city center, and is world-renowned for its fashion industry. The port of Antwerp is the second largest in Europe, and a major economic player in Belgium. The name “Antwerp” is most likely derived from “aan de werpe”, which is Dutch for “at the throw”, referring to a place where the bending river throws its sand. Locals might tell you of an ancient urban legend, saying it comes from “Hand werpen”, which translated is “throwing (a) hand(s)”. In the official flag, the castle “het Steen” and the hand of Antwerp are shown.In the 16th century, Antwerp was one of the most important financial centres of the world, where traders from all over Europe and Asia sold and bought their goods. After the siege of Antwerp in 1585 by the Spanish, this role as a financial centre was taken over by Amsterdam. Nevertheless, since the 19th century and especially the 20th century, Antwerp has made a serious economic comeback. At a population of 506,225 (2012), it is the second largest city in Belgium, after Brussels, and it has a major European port.Due to its long and culturally rich history, the city of Antwerp houses many interesting historical buildings from different historical periods, as well as a lot of interesting museums. Recently it has become a trendy city, attracting a lot of Flemish and foreign artists, writers, intellectuals, and actors. This is reflected in the city’s many trendy bars and shops. Antwerp is a city with many faces. While it may not be as historically preserved as other Flemish medieval cities, like Bruges or Ghent, it is a very dynamic city, offering a perfect mix of history and present-day modern life.Antwerp is easily accessible by car, but traffic can be heavy. Try one of the P+R outside of the city centre. From February 1, 2017 onwards, Antwerp has a low-emission zone in place in the inner city centre, which means very polluting cars are not welcome anymore. A fine can cost you 125 euro. Road signs warn the drivers approaching the zone. Road cameras scan the license plates. But media report that, except for Dutch license plates, the city at this moment has no legal way to track down the owners of vehicles with plates from other countries. Antwerp Central is one of the few railway stations in Europe with its own IATA code (IATA: ZWE). Many airlines therefore can offer integrated tickets directly to Antwerp. Depending on demand and time of travel, these can turn out to be much cheaper than flying to the nearest airport and taking the train on your own. In practice you will then first fly to Amsterdam, Paris or Désseldorf Airport. After collecting your luggage, you register at the transfer desk to collect a “boarding pass” for a high-speed train or bus connection to Antwerp.The public transportation company De Lijn operates a dense network of buses, trams, and pre-metro (underground tram) connections in the city and its surroundings. If you plan on taking a bus or tram more than 5 times, then buy a 10-ride card (Lijnkaart) costing 16. They can be bought at fixed points in town (e.g. most supermarkets and any place that sells newspapers, just ask the cashier). Every time you enter a bus or tram, just put that card in one of the yellow ticket machines. A single ticket bought from the ticket machines, Lijnwinkel stores, or the driver in the bus costs more (3.00 per ride).The cheapest option to purchasing tickets it m-tickets which can be bought in the De Lijn app . An m-ticket costs 1.50 and m-card (which consist 10 m-ticket) costs 15.00. It is possible to buy tickets via SMS, but it is not as cheap as in the mobile app. All possible ticket types and purchasing modes can be find in the De Lijn webpage .For one fare, you can ride up to an hour. Zone system no longer exists at De Lijn, so tickets are valid everywhere . The central bus station is the Franklin Rooseveltplaats, near the central train station. Nearly all buses leave from there, or from the Antwerp-Central or Antwerp-Berchem train stations. Buses towards the west terminate on the left bank (metro stop Van Eeden).Maps of the bus/tram network in the entire region can be found online. Due to traffic, buses and trams in Antwerp don’t always travel according to their indicated schedule, especially around rush hour. However, certainly within the city centre the frequency is usually high enough to not cause too much of an inconvenience. Public transport company De Lijn has a bad reputation when it comes to informing the public of diversions, cancellations or delays. Expect to be given little to no information when the bus suddenly follows a diversion or a stop is not served – it’s best to ask a local. This is a persistent problem that even the locals find very difficult to deal with.Taxis are available, but they can be quite expensive. They await customers at specific locations around town (waving your hand will seldom work) like the Groenplaats or the railway station. You can recognize these places by an orange TAXI sign. The prices are fixed in the taximeter.Driving in Antwerp is not as difficult as many big cities in the world, but crossroads can seem very chaotic for foreigners. There are few free parking spaces, but many spaces where you have to pay (on the street or in underground car parks). The underground car parks are well-signposted. The prices are typically 2 per hour.In 2014 INRIX, the traffic data organisation, named Antwerp and Brussels as the two most congested cities in Europe and North America. The London Guardian newspaper, in 2014, published an article headed “5 Reasons Belgium has the worst traffic in Europe”.There are many one-way roads, that can make it difficult to get to a specific place. Try to park your car as close as possible and go on foot.Most things to see are near or within the Boulevards, the half-moon of avenues where there were once 16th century city-walls. This old town center, with a diameter of about 1.5 km can be walked, but there is excellent public transport.Horse tram (paardentram) leaves from the Grote Markt every hour. It is an approximately 40 minutes / 1.5 mile ride through the city.The south of the city is now known as the trendy part.At the centre of this part of the city is a huge square called de gedempte zuiderdokken which simply means, ‘the filled-up southern docks’. In the sixties, this was an abandoned trade dock. They filled up the dock in an attempt to expand the city. The higher crime rate in the region made it a very cheap place to live. This was a blessing for the local art world, which started to flourish, making the region trendy and safe over the years. Today, it is known as a “yuppie stronghold”.Antwerp has several colleges and a university.Due to very strict language requirements imposed by the Flemish government, all Bachelor courses are offered in Dutch only (except for the Maritime Academy which enjoys a special international status). However, the University of Antwerp currently offers 9 fully English-taught Master programmes, 7 advanced Master programmes, and 7 postgraduate degrees, in topics ranging from Linguistics and Computer Science to Marine Transport .Antwerp hosts over 30000 students, and therefore boasts a vibrant student life that also has many traditional aspects. Well-connected in the centre of Europe, offering a varied city day- and nightlife, and having a very reasonable cost of living compared to the surrounding capitals, it’s a popular destination for Erasmus students. Current and prospective Erasmus students should get in touch with ESN Antwerp , part of the global Erasmus Student Network and very active in organizing activities to help international students find their way around.Wherever you are in Antwerp, you will always be near a pub or another drinking facility. Not surprising for a city that has the most pubs per capita in the world. In Antwerp pubs do not have a closing hour.The city centre now has free wifi that is available once you register using an account with Facebook or Google.Some cafís have free wireless internet, but don’t write it on the door for whatever reason. Some will charge you for it…Many hotels, including the Radisson, have free/included internet. If you come in from the street with a laptop, they may let you use it for the price of a few drinks at their bar. The Fon initiative has also some members living in and around Antwerp providing often free connectivity.If you’re a student or member of a university, college or research institute elsewhere in the world, you can probably connect for free to the eduroam Wi-Fi network for higher education , in and near most buildings of the University of Antwerp or any of the Colleges. Ask IT services at your home institution whether it’s part of eduroam, and if so, ask them for a manual to setup your machine for connections elsewhere.Most parts of Antwerp are safe, but some neighbourhoods can feel less comfortable, especially by female travellers, as the local population is rich in foreign cultures and because of the dominant presence of young men in the streets, especially the area around De Coninckplein and the neighbourhoods of Borgerhout, Seefhoek and the Schipperskwartier. Still, these neighbourhoods have a very lively atmosphere and so are definitely worth a visit, during the day if this is new to you.Moreover, it is of utmost importance to lock your bike properly if left outside on the street throughout the city, as to take any valuable off sight in your car. If you need police assistance, the direct police number is 101. If you need a nonurgent police inquiry or the most nearby police station you can dial 0800/12312 for free. Most police officers in Antwerp are friendly and professional.Be particularly vigilant at Antwerp’s Central Station as there are teams of pickpockets operating in the area who use young children to distract their victims whilst laptop bags and handbags are slashed with razors. On average, 15 incidents of pickpocketing are reported daily at the station. There are also pickpockets operating in other busy Antwerp train stations like Berchem. Do be mindful of your belongings and keep an eye on your wallet and purses and avoid keeping all your money and travel documents in one place.Like most of the rest of Europe, the number for emergencies (ambulance, police and fire) is 112.Since Flanders (and Belgium) is not big, it’s very easy to take the train and go visit another city.Getting to other places in Flanders or Wallonia is relatively easy from the bigger Belgian cities, especially from Antwerp, Ghent, and Brussels.
Airport: ANR Antwerp International Airport (Deurne) Cities in Belarus