Antwerp residents call their hometown “’t stadt,” or simply, “the city.” Never mind that Brussels, Belgium’s capital and largest city, is only 35 minutes south by train. Or that Ghent, itself a major cultural center, lies 45 minutes southwest. Never mind that London and Paris are less than two hours west by high-speed rail. Antwerpers see their city as the center of the universe - and with good reason.
With world-class arts and attractions, and an energetic multicultural population, Antwerp feels as dynamic as New York City. Belgium’s second-largest city attracts 800,000 visitors annually, including 100,000 cruise passengers, yet it’s surprisingly compact. Visitors can cross the center city on foot in a half-hour and traverse the city’s length in an hour. There’s a network of buses and trams, and red bikes can be rented hourly at convenient outdoor stations. As befits a great port city, sightseeing boats like Flandria offer tours along the River Scheldt and in the port, which stretches as far north as the Netherlands.