The City of Antwerp is a secret treasure. The city combines its medieval history with an exciting modern pace and an international flair. While its world-renowned diamond trade and busy port tend to overshadow other attractions, the Port of Antwerp is a cosmopolitan center endowed with glorious architecture, impressive monuments, world-class art, chic shops, lively pubs and clubs, and wonderful restaurants serving a wide range of Belgian and multi-cultural foods. It is not possible to list in this article all the many attractions visitors to the Port of Antwerp will find, so we will only mention a few here. For more detailed information about the things to see and do in the Port of Antwerp, please visit the city's tourism website.
The Port of Antwerp enjoys a maritime climate similar to that of southern England, with rain falling about a third of the days throughout the year and with snowfall from December to March. Temperatures range from an average high of 23 °C (73 °F) in July to an average low of 6 °C (43 °F) in July.
Visitors to the Port of Antwerp will want to see the Plantin Moretus Museum, the home of Christoffel Plantin, a 16th Century printer and bookbinder. On the UNESCO World Heritage List, the Museum contains one of the best collections in the world of items related to printing, including two of the oldest surviving printing presses in the world. With a rich interior, the museum contains the complete archives of the Plantin business as well as a magnificent library and a complete set of dies and matrices. Visitors to the museum can don printer's overalls and experience the entire printing process from cutting the die to settling the bill.
One of the oldest zoos in the world hides in the Port of Antwerp. Containing beautiful 19th Century architecture and design, the Antwerp Zoo is home to more than 5000 animals from around 950 species. Established in 1843, the zoo contains many well-preserved buildings that house animals, birds, reptiles, and tropical gardens.
For more adventurous visitors to the Port of Antwerp, the Antwerp Ruien offer a mysterious and fascinating tour of the city's underground. The Ruien were natural ditches that protected the city from floods in its early days. The Port of Antwerp's modern "Old Town" is really the second layer of the city. The first layer is underground, buried when pollution and an open sewer system made life in the city unbearable. Because the effort was so expensive, citizens were responsible for burying their own section of the canals, and the walk today reflects their different resources and abilities. The Antwerp Ruien was a sewer system until the 1990s when new pipes were installed and the old ditches were emptied. In 2004, the government decided to open them to the public. The Ruien are not an easy walk. They are dark and damp and full of insects, but the offer a doorway into an ancient world and life that is beyond compare. Plan on taking about three hours for the tour.
Another must-see in the Port of Antwerp is the Diamond District where the streets are lined with jewelry shops and the Antwerp Diamond Exchange makes its home. The district is home to 1500 diamond companies. Perhaps the center of the world's diamond industry, the Diamond District is also a unique cultural and ethnic neighborhood because at least half of the industry is in the hands of the city's Jewish population, many of them Orthodox. Within the district is DiamondLand, the biggest diamond shop in Antwerp. See the collections of loose diamonds or browse finished diamond jewelry. You are, of course, welcomed to purchase some of these wonderful treasures.
Travelers who want to see the Port of Antwerp by sea can find a list of scheduled cruises by searching for "Antwerp" on the Cruise Compete website.