Igor Daems grew up in the suburbs of Antwerp, Belgium, and finally moved to the city center about four years ago. Since then, he’s become an avid fan of the city he thinks often, and unfairly, gets overlooked in favor of Bruges and Brussels. In addition to doing marketing work for Antwerp Tourism & Convention, Igor is an Antwerp “spotter” for Spotted by Locals — a series of online and mobile travel guides with up-to-date tips by handpicked local writers in 41 cities around Europe. Here are Igor’s favorite things about his beloved Antwerp.
Antwerp is My City
The first place I take a visitor from out of town is the top floor of the MAS museum for a superb view on the city. And it’s free.
When I crave for a Belgian beer I always go to Paters Vaetje — they serve more than 200 kinds.
To escape from the tourists I head to the north side, where there are only locals.
If I want to buy vinyl records I go to Lange Koepoortstraat.
Locals know to skip the main shopping street, Meir, on Saturday and check out the surrounding streets instead.
When I’m feeling cash-strapped I go to a Turkish bakery for some very cheap, but excellent, pizza.
For a huge splurge I go to Smulpaep for the one and only Belgian (not French!) fries.
Photo ops in my city include the left bank for an excellent view of the skyline, and the best vantage points are ‘t Zuid (South), famous for culture and art, and ‘t Eilandje to see the new stunning MAS museum.
If my city were a celebrity it’d be Rubens, the painter.
The most random thing about my city is that it has people of 147 nationalities living in it.
My city has the best-singing men.
My city has the most fashionable women.
In my city, an active day outdoors involves biking around all day and barbecuing in Park Spoor Noord.
My city’s best museum is M HKA for contemporary art.
My favorite jogging/walking route is along the river, into the port.
Any frituur (place to buy Belgian fries) is the spot for late-night eats.
To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read Week Up.
You can tell if someone is from my city if he tells you Dutch beer is crap.
In the spring you should enjoy the first sunshine on Groenplaats.
In the summer you should attend as much open-air performances as you can.
In the fall you should go to the Middelheim open-air museum to watch the leaves falling down on the beautiful statues.
In the winter you should hop from one coffee bar to the other.
A hidden gem in my city is the small but excellent Mayer Van den Bergh museum.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
For a great breakfast joint try Zum.
Don’t miss the Laundry Day festival in September.
The best way to see my city is on foot.
If my city were a pet it would be a butterfly, small but so nice to look at.
If I didn’t live in a city, I’d live at the seaside.
The best book about my city is Het Dwaallicht by Willem Elsschot.
If you have kids, you won’t want to miss the zoo — one of the oldest in Europe.
Falling in love with a church could only happen in my city.
My city should be featured on your cover or website because I want people to know that there is more to Belgium than Brussels and Bruges.