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Digital Subscriptions > Lonely Planet Traveller (UK) > November 2015 > ANTWERP

ANTWERP

Antwerp is Belgium’s second city, and its best-kept secret. Once a Renaissance metropolis, today this fashion and design centre combines historic character with cutting-edge creativity. Head out on two wheels, delve into the past and sample local favours on a weekend exploring Flanders’ unoffcial capital

@sophielmcgrath

PHOTOGRAPHS JONATHAN STOKES

@StokesJon

The Perfect Weekend

MAP ILLUSTRATION: NIK NEVES

TRAVEL ESSENTIALS Eurostar services from London start at £83 return (incl local rail transfer from Brussels). The Antwerp City Card admits you to attractions such as the cathedral and Rubens House, plus gives you free use of public transport and cheap bike hire (£18 for 24hrs, £23 for 48hrs; for details and more ideas, see visitantwerpen.be).

The tour

On Antwerp’s peaceful left bank, Jona de Beuckeleer points out the landmarks of the city’s skyline across the river: the slender cathedral, the Art Deco glamour of Europe’s frst skyscraper, the Gothic church of St Paul’s. He’s leading the Marnix bike tour, one of four offered by Cyclant, the company he runs with his friend and fellow Antwerp native Nicolas. Teachers by trade, they give an entertaining inside track on storied spots and less-pedalled places alike. On Marnix, for example, they take participants through the old town, with its medieval houses and riverside castle, and also the left bank and docklands. At Park Spoor Noord, reclaimed rail tracks lead beside grassy lawns and street art, while in multicultural Borgerhout, the colourful arches of Chinatown frame the grand domes of Antwerpen-Centraal station. Antwerp is a walkable city, but to see some of its most interesting corners it’s best to make like the Belgians and saddle up. l Marnix tour from £13; cyclant.com

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