Antwerp is best known as a centre of art and design, but this vibrant cultural capital also has plenty of must-see attractions for families. Today on the Radisson Blu blog, we're rounding up the best sights for kids of all ages.
Second only to the Brussels, Antwerp is one of Belgium's largest cities - and as the lowland country's main port, it's just as cosmopolitan. Today Antwerp is a modern fashion hub, drawing an eclectic collection of design students from across Europe, but its heritage lives on in the mediaeval old town. With an ever-expanding programme of things to see and do, this is a city with as much energy as your brood - so here are a few favourite sights to get you moving.
Lions, tigers and bears at the Antwerp Zoo
This historic zoo - one of the oldest in the world - couldn't be easier to find. It's rare to see such a diverse collection of animals in the centre of a metropolis, but the iconic Antwerp Zoo sits next to the city's main rail station. Stroll around the tree-lined park spotting gentle giants, or check the daily feeding timetable and schedule of shows to get a closer look. The 1:15 sea lion show and 3:30 penguin feeding are most popular with kids. Children under three get into the zoo free – good news if they want to visit again and again!
Swimming with the fishes at Aquatopia
One of the city’s best-loved family destinations couldn’t be easier to find. The turtles, rays, sharks and seahorses of Aquatopia are permanent guests of our Radisson Blu Astrid Hotel, Antwerp - the aquarium is inside the hotel! Check out the seven "worlds," including pretty coral reefs and a humid rainforest area, all designed to sustain different types of marine life. The kids will be fascinated by the two giant shovelnose rays in the shark tank and the Red Teju lizard in the swamp area, all newcomers to the aquarium this year.
A Saturday matinee at Stadsschouwburg
Put on your Sunday best for a Saturday matinee at Antwerp’s refurbished Stadsschouwburg theatre. This year’s calendar includes crowd pleasing musicals Sleeping Beauty and The Wizard of Oz, as well as timeless ballet performances like Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet. Make a day of it by visiting the theatre's own GUSTO bistro for lunch, or enjoy a picnic on the terrace at Theatre Square. You can pick up traditional Belgian treats and exotic accoutrements at the weekly market held just across the square.
Get crafty at Antwerp's museums
Though they're a little further afield, Antwerp's museums offer enough unique interactive workshops to keep kids well entertained when you get there. Keep in mind that kids' creative fashion activities at the Mode Museum are in Dutch, so these are better suited to patient older children.