A Perfect Day In...Antwerp

Creative consultant and longtime resident Tania Beasley-Jolly shares her guide to the stylish city.

Antwerp's chic ease has long attracted design and fashion lovers. After a massive 11-year renovation, the reopening last fall of KMSKA (aka the Royal Museum of Fine Arts) has put Antwerp in the spotlight again, with exhibitions arranged around concepts like Evil, Power and Madonna. Plus, there is an immersive Old Master experience. We asked Antwerp insider Tania Beasley-Jolly for the best places to eat, shop and explore in Belgium’s second-largest city.

Contact your Trip Designer or Indagare, if you are not yet a member, to start planning a trip to Antwerp. Our team can match you with the itineraries, accommodations and reservations that are right for you.

Why Antwerp

“I would describe myself as a multi-hyphenate—I’ve been an art historian, opera singer, founder of a fashion nonprofit and now a consultant in the luxury and fashion space. I am most proud of my role in creating the Saint Louis Fashion Fund, which turns 10 next year. Being a mom is also a highlight, of course! (We first lived abroad here more than 16 years ago.) I fell in love with Antwerp’s culture, the food, the fashion, the interior design and the architecture. It’s not a place where you can immediately see the beauty, but once you rub away the grime, many jewels present themselves.”

Morning Rituals

“I always start wandering around my old neighborhood in the center of town near the Groenplaats (Green Square), discovering new and old places. I stop at Philip’s Biscuits and Goossens bakery for raisin bread, where there is always a queue. Then, I head over to Verso to meet friends for coffee and take a quick look at their multi-brand merchandise and then head across the street to Renaissance to shop.”

Afternoon Delights

“Lunch is always at Shuk for the best Middle Eastern meze. It was started by old friends, Molly and Ika Zaken. They met in Paris many moons ago as two young chefs. I leave very full and fueled! From there, it’s directly to the mothership—the flagship Dries Van Noten at Het Modepaleis (“The Fashion Palace”) and a stop into the ModeMuseum (MoMu). One of my favorite new discoveries is La Collection, co-founded by Florence Cools. The clothes are clean, chic and well…Belgian. I’m obsessed. I also discovered a fabulous new shoe store, MOROBÉ, on my last trip—the shoes are beautifully well-made and special. I also love Antwerp’s amazing jewelry stores, including Wouters & Hendrix, Pascale Masselis and Jewel In A Box. From there it’s on to Botanic Sanctuary, the hip and stylish boutique hotel built in the botanical garden where I used to get coffee and let my young son play. The convent is now a super fab hotel, spa and restaurant. Other great hotels: DeWitte Lelie, the August and Hotel FRANQ.”

In the Evening

“For dinner, I meet friends at Bar Bulot or go to one of the other amazing restaurants/institutions in Antwerp. There is no shortage—The Jane, Huis de Colvenier, ‘t Fornuis, Hertog Jan at Botanic Sanctuary, Album, Fiskebar, Misera and De Godevaart.”

For First-Time Visitors

“If you want it all, you must do the KMSKA in the het Zuid area; have a Belgian beer with frietjes (fries) and mayonnaise in the Grote Markt; shop up and down the Meir (main shopping street); visit the Vogelmarkt weekend market and Kloosterstraat for more shopping. The Rubens House is also a must-see. Lastly, it would not be complete without having at least one piece of Belgian chocolate or a suikerwafel.”

For Return Visitors

“If you like nature and architecture, go walk around Cogels-Osylei, a street in Zurenborg, for all of the amazing houses (from art nouveau to neoclassical palaces), or take a hike in Middelheimpark, where you can grab a drink or snack. Walk—one tiny street or square gives way to another. I would also spend some time in Het Eilandje (Antwerp’s “Little Island”). It has been built up quite a bit over the last decade and the Museum aan de Stroom, MAS, is there. Visit some of Antwerp’s galleries—Kathy Pedrami’s gallery is a favorite. You could also visit the zoo or the Museum of Contemporary Art (MHKA) Antwerp. Try to catch a senior fashion presentation at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts—the next crop of designers is coming out of here.”

A Perfect Sunday

“Sundays are for brunch with friends at Graanmarkt 13 (which is also a wonderful concept store), or a trip to the Vogelmarkt weekend market, where my son used to pet real bunnies. Now, you can sip Champagne and eat oysters at any number of the vendors. I spend the afternoon visiting the KMSKA or the MAS or visiting other favorite stores like Monique Stam, VIAR, Studio Henk and endless antique options.”

This article originally appeared in Indagare Magazine’s Summer 2023 edition, available exclusively to Indagare members.

Contact your Trip Designer or Indagare, if you are not yet a member, to start planning a trip to Antwerp. Our team can match you with the itineraries, accommodations and reservations that are right for you.

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