As a creative travel studio, Tailored Tours scours the continent's cities & landscapes, sharing in its rich cultural heritage, celebrating its artists & artisans and delighting in its prized local gastronomies. Our passion for meaningful relationships and love of craft provides us with access to unique places & personalities across Europe.
As a late summer escape we've created a weeklong journey to Antwerp, Belgium, for NY-based partner VinePair, and are happy to share with you a short list of some of our favorite haunts, museums & encounters.
Here are some of the most memorable corners of Antwerp, all washed down with the world's most delicious beer.
While a visit to Antwerp's Cathedral, or Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal, is the popular church of choice, Antwerp is home to some of the most exquisite examples of Baroque architecture in all of Europe. Our favorite is Saint Paul’s (Sint-Pauluskerk in Flemish). Dating back to the year 1571, its heavenly interior, twisting white marble columns and superb collection of paintings by the Flemish masters (Rubens & van Dyck among others), not to mention some of the most impressive wood carvings in a country full of artisans, make it truly a gem. And the fact that you may find yourself there all alone is all the more magical.
Saint Paul's Church -
Address: Sint-Paulusstraat, 22
Beer, Beer, Beer
From Trappist to Saison, Lagers to Ales, Blondes to Whites, selecting a beer in Belgium is no easy task. We happen to be very good at this and happy to help!
Our favorite? St Bernardus, a luscious, dark Trappist beer whose recipe was the brain child of an ex-Westvleteren brew master. With several varities to its name ranging from the 4.8% abv "St Bernardus Extra" to our favorite, the 10% abv “Abt 12”. Where to try it? Our favorite spot is Dansing Chocola, a beautiful two-story bar & restaurant located on historic Kloosterstraat. Jaak, the owner and native Antwerper, is cool as cool gets, and will gladly pour you a full (or 1/2 size upon request) Bernardus to accompany their superb homemade Belgian stoofvlees, or Flemish stew.
Dansing Chocola - Address: Kloosterstraat, 159
If you didn’t know it already, the secret to Belgian fries’ success is that they’re twice cooked. First, to get the perfect soft interior, and second for that ideal outer crisp. Old or young, carnivore or vegan, nothing stands between a Belgian and their fries, and there are literally thousands of “frituur”, or french fry stands, across the country. Our favorites are the modestly named #1 Frituur and Frites Atelier, both classics located in downtown Antwerp. Pictured here is our very own Luke Watson, self-proclaimed frites connoisseur, ready for a chow.
#1 Frituur - Address: Hoogstraat, 1 ; Frites Ateler - Address: Korte Gasthuisstraat, 32
Drinking jenever is one of those wonderful ways to learn history while at the local bar. The traditional juniper-flavored liquor of Belgium and the Netherlands from which gin later evolved, and according to EU regulations the only two countries (in addition to two small regions in France & Germany) where jenever receives an officially protected appellation. Our favorite jenever bar, de Vagant, is run by a father - son duo who are so dedicated to their country's liquid past that in addition to the more than 200 jenevers to sip through, they've created their very own jenever museum upstairs, replete with old bottles, posters and turn of century jenever paraphernalia. The only problem is getting down the stairs!
de Vagant - Address: Reyndersstraat, 25
Antwerp was once was the richest city in Northern Europe. A port city of commerce, the arts and some of the most highly skilled artisans in the world, a stroll through its old quarter will transport you back to the age of Mercator & Rubens. And after your fill of beer and frites, a visit to one of the city's collection of museums is a must.
Our favorite is the Plantin-Moretus Museum, UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the oldest functioning printing press in the world, in addition to tapestries, books, antiques and room after gorgeous room of Flemish masterpieces. Ponder what you've seen from the rose garden, a beautiful patio dating from the 1600s.
Plantin-Moretus Museum - Address: Vrijdagmarkt, 22-23
No trip to Belgium would be complete without a bike ride through its pristine green countryside. And the fact that getting out of Antwerp by bike is fun and extremely easy only adds to the charm. Our favorite route is to take St Anne's tunnel, completed in 1933 with original wooden escalators recently restored as pedestrian & bike friendly, under the River Schelde to the suburb of Linkeroever. Ride past beautiful parks, fields and forests, with stunning views of the city skyline behind, creating amazing photo ops. Nothing builds up an appetite like biking on flat terrain! Our fave? A stop for mussels and a crisp white wine at An's Hoeve, roughly translated as "An's Place", is obligatory, where you can sip and eat before continuing your ride through green pastures.
An's Hoeve - Address: Wandeldijk, 26
This September Tailored Tours and VinePair are heading to Belgium to discover the very best in culture, the arts & gastronomy as we go behind the scenes with top chefs, access private tastings, master classes & more. Join us for the trip of a lifetime !