5 adventurous bike trips in Antwerp
1) The Boulevards
Ranked earlier this year as one of the top three cities in Europe for cycling, Antwerp has developed an extensive network of Velo rental hubs where you can pick up a bike for the day and head off to explore its network of dedicated cycle paths. Start off by exploring the new cycle lanes around the leien boulevards which run all the way from the law courts designed by Richard Rogers to the MAS museum. Pick up a free fietskaart (cycle map) at the tourist office to plan your ride.
2) The Scheldt quays
Enjoy the dedicated cycle lane that runs along the Scheldt waterfront for six kilometres, from the innovative architecture of the Nieuw Zuid quarter in the south to the newly opened Droogdokkenpark in the north. Along the way, check out the freshly landscaped riverside park next to the Sint-Michielskaai where the city has replaced a former wasteland with wood block benches, a playground and street art by graphic designer Kevin Lauryssen.
For an uncommon adventure, you can follow the Ringfietspad around the edge of the Antwerp ring motorway, all the way from Middelheimpark on the south side to the docklands in the north. Completed earlier this year, the 12km route runs mainly through woods and parks bordering the six-lane ring road. But it sometimes had to take a big detour to avoid a traffic interchange. The final stretch takes you through Park Spoor Noord, where the summer Bar Noord is open until late September. But the undoubted climax of this trip is the stunning new Parkbrug cycle bridge completed earlier this year by Brussels engineers Ney & Partners.
4) Antwerp Port
Take a tour of Antwerp port to the north of the city to discover a rich collection of architectural styles as well as new bars and restaurants. Begin on the Kattendijkdok-Westkaai waterfront where six towers were built by international architects from 2001 to 2016. Ride to the end of the quay and cross the white bridge, then continue past the Stormkop building. Turn right along Siberiëstraat to reach Zaha Hadid’s landmark Port House (worth a look inside if you are here on a weekday). Enjoy the view from the quayside before heading back into town along the bumpy cobbles of the Oostkaai quayside. Stop off for a beer at the Seef brewery at Indiëstraat 21 and take a look inside the curious Kerkschip (church ship) moored at Houtdok-Noordkaai 25.
5) Left bank
A new free ferry service from the Steenplein pier lets you explore interesting spots on the left bank of the Scheldt. The ferry drops you off near the Sint-Anna beach where locals go to eat mussels, drink beer and lie on the grassy riverbank. Head back south to the Frederik van Eedenplein where the tiny frites cabin Frituur LO has stood for more than 60 years. The potatoes are cut by hand each morning and fried in beef fat while you wait. You can sit on the bench outside or cycle to the riverbank to eat your frietjes with a spectacular urban view in front of you. Then cycle back into town through the lovingly preserved 1930s Sint-Annatunnel.
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The 500 Hidden Secrets of Antwerp reveals off-the-beaten-track places and interesting details for anyone who's keen to explore Antwerp's best-kept secrets.
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