Shopping in Antwerp
The experience of shopping in Antwerp is so much more than just shopping: it’s also an aesthetic and culinary pleasure! On each square km you can find countless fashion stores, excellent bakeries, renowned chocolate houses, fantastic restaurants, and all this is located in breathtaking centuries-old houses, surrounded by Gothic and Baroque churches, and historical monuments.
There are several shopping areas in the center of Antwerp and most of them are closely connected, so you can easily (s)hop from one to another!
Meir: The main shopping street and the most well-known to tourists. With some exceptions you will mostly find large European chain stores located here (Zara, HM, Massimo Dutti, etc), just like pretty much on every main street in big European cities. The street is traffic free and it’s worth visiting just for the sake of admiring the stunning Rococo architecture (remember to look up, the most amazing facades are above shop window level). In this street you will also find the «Stadsfeestzaal» — the former city events hall, turned into a large shopping center. It’s been restored to its former glory and looks fantastic (see below pic).
Glamour lovers will definitely find what they want in the Quartier Latin (Schuttershofstaat, a street parallel to Meir). Boutiques like Hogan, MSGM, Jimmy Choo, Chanel, Armani, Maje, Tara Jarmon, Zadig et Voltair, Delvaux, Burberry, Hermes etc found their place here. And of course here you will find as well some signature Belgian design stores, like Delvaux (founded in Brussels in 1829) and Essentiel (founded in 1999). When you want to take a break from spending money, have a brunch at «De Foyer» in the incredibly beautiful Bourla theater (see the pic below) or a lunch in the majestic Bourla restaurant just behind the theater on the Graanmarkt. This is one of my favorite places where you can eat traditional Belgian dishes. Tip: definitely go for sea food, which is incredibly fresh and tasty. I prefer grey shrimp above all!
Wilde Zee: A very special cosy place, a sort of intersection of 6 small traffic free streets where you will find pretty much anything: a renowned fishmonger, a bakery with queues stretching all the way outside, divine caterers, famous Pierre Marcolini chocolate house, a great tea store, Scandinavian design store etc. As for fashion, here you will find plenty shoe stores for any budget (Monar, Sacha etc) and lots of hip boutiques (Cosi Cosi, Sienna, Patrizia Pepe etc) Here you will also find the oldest shopping gallery in Belgium (Nieuwer Gaanderij), where new pop up stores find their place next to the established businesses.
When you follow this gallery, you end up in Huidevetterstraat, also very much loved by tourists for its variety of boutiques. It’s quite a large street between Quartier Latin and Wilde Zee, so you won’t miss it. Here you will find Max Mara, Massimo Dutti, Michael Kors, Fratelli Rosetti, and many more.
Another top location to shop is Nationale Straat (below). This is where the heart of fashion is in Antwerp these days: the fashion museum MoMu and fashion department of the Academy of Antwerp. You definitely should take a look at the signature store of Dries van Noten and the high end fashion store Renaissance. Don’t forget to turn into Kammenstraat, right next to Nationale straat. This is where the young and trendy will feel at home!
If you want to escape the busy center and enjoy broader and quieter streets while shopping, then the South of Antwerp («Antwerpen Zuid») is definitely for you. It pretty much starts where the Nationale Straat ends. I love strolling by the amazing Art Nouveau buildings, the Museum of Fine Arts (below), boutiques of international designers both famous and emerging, some of my favorite cafes. The signature store of Ann Demeulemeester is also here.
If you got bitten by the Antwerp bug and want to explore it, let me know and I will organize a shopping tour, showing you the most interesting and exclusive places of this vibrant and incredibly beautiful city! Give me a shout!