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Getting There

By Plane--Brussels National Airport is the main international airport for Antwerp. From the airport, the best way to get to Antwerp is by train, either direct or via Brussels.

Antwerp has its own airport, Deurne Airport (tel. 03/285-65-00), 7km (4 1/2 miles) east of the city, but other than a few scheduled flights from London, Manchester, and Liverpool in England operated by local carrier VLM (tel. 03/287-80-80; www.vlm-airlines.com), not much in the way of international flights arrives at Deurne, so in a way -- for now, at any rate -- it's more useful to think of Brussels National as Antwerp's airport. If you do fly into Deurne, De Lijn bus no. 16 shuttles between the airport and Pelikaanstraat, outside Centraal Station in Antwerp center. Taxi fare to the center is around 12€ ($15).

By Train--The city is called Antwerp in English (and Anvers in French), but look out for its Flemish name, ANTWERPEN, on the name boards at Centraal Station, the city's cathedral-like main rail station, built between 1895 and 1905. Centraal Station, 1.5km (1 mile) east of the Grote Markt, is on the edge of the city center, in an area that's currently the focus of a great deal of construction activity. It's worthwhile taking a close look around the station (though maybe not when you're laden down with luggage), and view in particular the graceful ornamentation in the main hall. The original first-class waiting room is now the station cafe. There are coin-operated luggage lockers at Centraal Station. Antwerp's other mainline rail station is Berchem, 4km (2 1/2 miles) south of the city center.

Trains arrive every 30 minutes or so from Brussels and Ghent. The trip time from both cities is around 30 minutes. Antwerp is on the Thalys high-speed train network that connects Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam (and Cologne via Brussels). From Paris, you can take the Thalys high-speed trains through Brussels direct to Antwerp, or the slower and cheaper International trains, changing in Brussels. From Amsterdam, you can go direct, either on the Thalys or the normal International and Inter-City trains. Reservations are required for Thalys. Most Thalys trains stop at Berchem, but a few serve Centraal Station. For all schedule and fare information, and for reservations, call tel. 02/528-28-28.

By Bus--Most long-distance buses arrive and depart from the bus station on Franklin Rooseveltplaats, a short distance northwest of Centraal Station. Timetables and fare information are available from a kiosk in Centraal Station, and by calling tel. 070/22-02-00. The Eurolines company operates a daily service from London's Victoria Coach Station -- via the Dover-Calais (France) ferry or the Channel Tunnel's Le Shuttle train -- to Antwerp, stopping at Bruges and Ghent. The city can also be reached from around Europe on the Eurolines network, direct or via Brussels or Amsterdam. For schedule and fare information, contact Eurolines at tel. 08705/808080 in Britain, or tel. 02/274-13-50 in Belgium.

By Car--Going by car, major highways connecting to Antwerp's R1 Ring Expressway are A1/E19 from Brussels via Mechelen, and from Amsterdam; A12 from Brussels via Laeken; A14/E17 from Ghent; and N49 from Knokke, Bruges, and Zeebrugge, bypassing Ghent. By the fastest direct routes, Antwerp is 51km (32 miles) north of Brussels on A1/E19; 45km (28 miles) northeast of Ghent on A14/E17; and 102km (63 miles) east of Bruges on A10/E40 and A14/E17.

Visitor Information

Antwerp city tourist office is Toerisme Antwerpen, Grote Markt 13, 2000 Antwerpen (tel. 03/232-01-03; fax 03/203-95-91; www.visitantwerpen.be; tram: 2, 3, 4, 8, or 15), open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 5:45pm, and Sunday and holidays from 9am to 4:45pm. An Info Desk (same phone and fax numbers and Web address) at Koningin Astridplein 26, outside Centraal Station, is open the same hours as the main tourist office.

Both of these offices can provide some information on locations outside of the city, but the best tourist information on the environs of Antwerp and on side trips from the city is available from the administrative office (no personal visits) of Toerisme Provincie Antwerpen, Koningin Elisabethlei 16, 2018 Antwerpen (tel. 03/240-63-73; fax 03/240-63-83; www.tpa.be).

City Layout

Centraal Station serves as a focal point and itself is at the heart of a vibrant, multiethnic area. When you're standing in front of the station, the large square opposite you is Koningin Astridplein; to your right is Antwerp Zoo; and to your left is Pelikaanstraat, a major diamond-center street. De Keyserlei runs toward the river and joins the Meir, Antwerp's main shopping street. The Meir then leads into Schoenmarkt, a short street that curves around the 24-story Torengebouw to reach a large square called Groenplaats, where there's a statue of Rubens and the Cathedral of Our Lady. One block beyond Groenplaats (toward the river) puts you into the Grote Markt (Market Sq.), bordered by the Renaissance Town Hall and 16th-century guild houses, and with a fountain-statue of the Roman soldier Brabo. Follow a quaint little street named Suikerrui (Sugar Quay) down to the river, where you see a medieval fortified castle, the Steen, which houses the maritime museum.

An adequate city map for most visitors' purposes is available from the tourist office for .50€ (65¢). For more detailed use you have to buy the Antwerp A-Z map, available at bookstores and news vendors.

Getting Around

Antwerp is a good city for pedestrians, its major sightseeing attractions easily reached from one major street, which changes its name as it goes along. Going by tram is the best way to get around the city; a single fare is 1.20€ ($1.50). The most useful trams for tourists are lines 2 and 15 that run between Groenplaats, near the cathedral, and Centraal Station. Public transportation information is available from a kiosk inside Centraal Station, and by calling De Lijn (tel. 070/22-02-00).

The numbers to call for a taxi are tel. 03/646-83-83 and 03/238-38-38. Taxis cannot be hailed on the street but can be found at stands. The fare for the first kilometer or part thereof is 2.50€ ($3.15) between 6am and 10pm, and 4.50€ ($5.65) from 10pm to 6am; each additional kilometer costs 1.05€ ($1.30) throughout the day or night.

You can rent bicycles at Centraal Station; but be warned, traffic can be heavy and hard to negotiate.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.