Visit Antwerp's City Of Diamonds

Posted on: 17 December 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Take a road trip to Belgium and discover the worldly home of diamonds.

Fed up of rigorous airport security measures, want to get away but also want the thrill of the open road? Why not check out of one of our ongoing European destinations, available to reach by car, train, bus, motorbike or even bicycle.

On a great drive, the destination never surpasses the journey. In Europe, with the densest highway system in the world, good roads are easy to find and picture postcard hideaways, tranquil, idyllic towns and bustling, beautiful, historic cities can be found almost on your doorstep.

With a map in hand and a port crossing, some of the world’s finest cities can be found within a few hours of reaching land and some of the drives that follow can capture even the most passive imagination.

There are regular services to France, Belgium, Holland, Ireland, the Channel Islands, Isle Of Man, Denmark and even Norway and Spain available from selected UK ports so if you fancy an alternative way of travelling why not take the car?

Antwerp, Belgium

Antwerp is a major Belgian city in the region of Flanders. The overwhelming friendliness of the people of Antwerp and their innate penchant for good food and good living, combined with their low stress lifestyle, makes it a desirable and relaxing place to visit.

Renowned for being the "world's leading diamond city", more than 70% of all diamonds are traded in Antwerp.

The Diamond Market is the hub of the economic section in Belgium. More than 85% of the world’s rough diamonds, 50% of cut diamonds, and 40% of industrial diamonds are traded in the city.

About The Area

The origins of Antwerp come from "aan de werpe", which is Dutch for "at the throw", referring to where the river throws its sand.

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.

Antwerp_Market_SquareAfter 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.

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 well 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.

Getting There

By Ferry

Ferry crossings from Dover to Calais or Dover to Dunkirk (Dunkerque) usually take around an hour and a half to cross the Channel.  Antwerp is 128 miles from Calais and journeys usually take between one hour and a half to drive.

Alternatively, some Eurotunnel trips will take your car on board a train, travelling from Folkestone to Calais in 40 minutes.

After arriving in France, take the E40/ A18 highway east towards the Flemish town of Oostende and Bruges. Continue passed Bruges and follow the signs for Gent before switching to the E17 which will bring you directly into Antwerp from Gent.

By Train

International trains from France and the Netherlands stop in Antwerp - central and Antwerpen—Berchem. To plan your trip, you can consult the website of the NMBS for national and international travels.

Eurostar train tickets to Brussels are valid for one onward journey.

Sites & Attractions

The City of Rubens, the City of Diamonds and the City of the Scheldt. A city with so many names is destined to have something for every traveller.

It is a must for museum lovers. The city has a broad collection of paintings, ranging from classical works to modern Flemmish paintings.

antwerpOf course, Antwerp’s most famous son Rubens is memorated in many museums and churches.

The 'Grote Markt', with its view of the Brabo statue, the guildhouses and the City Hall, offers a good sight of what the old days must have been like.

If you are more interested in Antwerp's present activities, such as its position as the world centre of diamonds, go to the Diamond Museum.

The city is also the city of the Scheldt. Whenever your looking for some fresh air, take a walk along the Scheldt and let yourself be impressed by other guild houses, such as the 'Vleeshuis'.

Web Links

Antwerp Tourist Board to learn more about the Belgium city.

Eurostar for bookings and travel information.

Eurotunnel for bookings and travel information. is a resource for ferry bookings, and includes special offers.

Have you been on a self-driving break recently? Where did you go? Have you been to Antwerp before? Are you planning a self-driving trip soon?

Let us know by leaving a comment in the box below. Alternatively, share your thoughts with other 50connect members in the forums.

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