Antwerp is a fun city to visit with kids. The city is easily accessible by car from the Netherlands, and you can also get to Antwerp’s central station very quickly by train from many places in the Netherlands. This makes the city popular to visit for parents with kids. We visited the city several times and list the best activities of Antwerp.
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How to get to Antwerp with kids?
For most families with kids, Antwerp is not that far from where they live, and because of this, most families travel to Antwerp by car. We usually visit the city of Antwerp with our daughter by car, but we must say that we always find it very crowded around the Antwerp ring road. Especially during the week, there are often traffic jams here.
Another way to take a city trip to Antwerp with kids is by train. In just over an hour and a half, you can be in downtown Antwerp by train from Amsterdam. For more information on traveling to Antwerp by train, take a look here.
1. Antwerp Zoo
The most famous attraction in Antwerp with kids must be the Antwerp Zoo. The zoo is easy to reach because it is located next to Antwerp’s central train station. This makes it easy to reach the zoo by public transportation. We had a hotel near the train station and walked to the zoo in about ten minutes.
Antwerp Zoo is a large zoo, with much investment in the animals’ enclosures in recent years. We also found these to be very spacious and modern with most animals. All the famous animals from Africa are of course present in the zoo such as elephants, lions, gorillas and many more animals. They also have a large reptile house and a large aquarium.
There are also fun activities at the zoo that you can do with kids, such as feeding certain animals at certain times. Check the zoo’s website for times. The zoo also has several playgrounds for kids. There is also plenty on offer in terms of dining options throughout the zoo.
The zoo is open all days of the year and for more information on ticket prices and activities organized at the zoo for kids check here. We were there in the morning when the zoo opened and stayed all day. In that regard, you can easily set aside a day for this activity in Antwerp with kids. We wrote about our visit to the zoo in the blog Zoo Antwerp with kids.
2. Plopsa Station Antwerp
Plopsa Station Antwerp is a fairly new indoor amusement park in Antwerp and is located in Antwerp’s central train station. This makes it, like Antwerp Zoo, easy to visit by public transportation. On Sunday morning when the park opens we are right at the ticket booth, so it is still fairly quiet in the park. This allows us to go right in everywhere and we don’t have to wait long anywhere. But before we explore the park, we first take a picture with Maya the Bee who is already waiting for the kids at the entrance.
At first we think the park consists of one area, but there are several areas where different attractions can be found. For example, the park has thirteen different attractions that are especially great for young kids. Sophie is six and most of the attractions are super fun for her age. Her favorites attractions of this park are Tollembeek tour (this is a type of attraction that you often see at the carnival as well, where kids have to run a whole course with obstacles) and Wickie’s Fall Tower (you all sit in a row on a bench and this bench falls down several times quickly).
There is also an attraction where we have to shoot guns along with Lucky Luke and an attraction where we have to help the smurfs in a cart with magic wands. There are also a number of attractions that you can also encounter at the fair such as a carousel, the airplanes, bumper cars (K3), the frogs and a very fast attraction called Storm at Sea.
There is also a playground and ball pit in the park, where kids can play. As far as that goes, you can easily spend a whole morning or afternoon here if you’re taking a city trip to Antwerp with kids. It is also possible to have lunch with the family at noon at this park.
Of course, this is also a good activity if the weather is not so good in town and you are looking for a fun indoor activity. For more information on opening hours, admission prices and the various attractions, take a look at the Plopsa Station Antwerp website.
3. Eating pancakes with a view
Antwerp is on the water, so you can book a tour boat here. The most fun boat for kids sailing is the pancake boat, where parents can enjoy the view of the city from the water while eating unlimited pancakes.
The cruises last about an hour to an hour and a half and, of course, it’s a fun combination of an activity and social dining.
There are several companies that offer this cruise, including the company Flandria. You can also book a three-hour cruise through the main port of Antwerp with this company. This is especially an option for slightly older kids.
4. Chocolate nation
If your kids really like chocolate, then Chocolate Nation, the world’s largest Belgian chocolate museum, is a good option. Again, this museum is very central in Antwerp, as it is right across the street from the main train station. Everything here revolves around Belgian chocolate at this experience museum.
We hesitated for a while whether to visit this museum, but we found the entrance fee quite on the high side, so we decided not to visit this museum. For more information about the museum and admission prices check here.
5. Scavenger hunt Antwerp
Antwerp is a beautiful historic city and the downtown area of Antwerp is well worth a visit. Certainly the area around the Grand Place is fun to visit and have a drink at one of the city’s many outdoor cafes. To make it even more appealing to kids, you can buy a scavenger hunt at the VisitAntwerp office in the Grote Markt and at the central station for a few euros. The scavenger hunt is for kids as young as 6 years old and takes about 3 hours.
The scavenger hunt starts and ends at the Grote Markt in downtown Antwerp. Here you can choose whether you want to walk 3 or 5 kilometers through the city. Along the way, the fox Antigoon provides fun facts and stories about the city, including, for example, the story of Nello & Patrasche, the story of Europe’s first skyscraper, the pedestrian tunnel, the Scheldt River and much more. For more information about this scavenger hunt check out the Visit Antwerp website.
6. MAS museum
There are several museums in the city of Antwerp, but if you have to choose one to visit with kids, the Museum aan de Stoom (MAS) is the best option. You’ll find all kinds of archaeological excavations here, and you can make your visit to this museum with kids more appealing by walking the pirate scavenger hunt offered through the museum. For more information about this scavenger hunt check here.
We do recommend this museum especially if you enjoy visiting a museum during a city break. The building of the museum is really beautiful though and there is a rooftop terrace, where you can enjoy the view for free. To do so, walk along the promenade that spirals upward and enjoy incredible views of the city.
We visited this viewpoint when the weather was not the best, so we did not have a super view. We can imagine when the weather is clear that it is an amazing free view of the city of Antwerp. From the Grand Place, you can walk to this viewpoint in just over ten minutes.
7. Comic books Street art
You can spot quite a lot of beautiful graffiti artworks in the city of Antwerp with kids, and we did find the most fun ones to be comic book themed. Around the center of the city, these large drawings on various buildings can be seen in various places. We made our walk using a pre-printed map that you can find here.
We used this map to take a considerable walk through the city and in this way also saw much of the city along the way. Our daughter enjoyed looking for the cartoon characters drawn around town and taking pictures of them as well.
Along the way, we came across another fun playground at the Frans Hal Square (where some drawings can also be spotted) for variety, making for a fun hour or two of activity in the city. Of course, you’ll also pass plenty of restaurants and cafes along the way for a bite to eat and a drink. This, of course, is another free children’s activity in Antwerp.
Other children’s activities Antwerp
Of course, we haven’t done all the kids’ activities in Antwerp yet, and there are plenty of other things to do in Antwerp with kids. We list the other activities you can do in Antwerp with kids below.
#8 Antwerp bike tour: you can also explore the city of Antwerp with kids by bike. The Dutch organization Baja Bikes organizes bike tours for families through the city. You will set off with a Dutch-speaking guide and during this two-hour bike tour you will cycle past the city’s highlights.
We cycled in Paris with this company and we found it a very fun activity to do with our daughter. Children up to four years of age can ride on the back of parents in a child seat on this bike ride, and kids ages five and up can ride on their own bikes. In fact, they have children’s bikes for this. For more information on this bike tour of Antwerp with kids, take a look here.
#9 Tour boat: you can also explore Antwerp with kids from a tour boat. Here you can book several boat tours that include exploring Antwerp’s world-famous port with kids. Cruises last between one and a half and three hours, but especially with kids, the one and a half hour cruise is long enough.
#10 Het Steen: A fun place to go for a drink in Antwerp with kids is at this centuries-old castle. To do so, you have to climb the tower of the castle and come to a rooftop terrace with a nice view of the river, the harbor and the city. By the way, at this castle you have another children’s activity you can do with the family: The Antwerp Story.
In an interactive way, kids can learn more about the history of the city of Antwerp through different rooms and get to know the different neighborhoods of the city, the different museums and the residents of the city.
#11 Shopping in Antwerp: you can do great shopping in Antwerp with kids. The most famous shopping street in Antwerp is the shopping street on the Meir, but you also have many smaller boutiques where you can enjoy shopping and these can be found in streets such as: Korte Gasthuisstraat, Kammenstraat and Schuttershofstraat. You also have the Fashion Quarter in Antwerp which includes the fashion museum for the real shopaholics.
Family-friendly museums in Antwerp
You have several family-friendly museums in Antwerp. We list below several museums you can visit in Antwerp with kids.
#12 Red Star Line Museum: at this museum, kids can take a suitcase and learn about land movers. Kids as young as six can play this family game, and in this game you follow the story of Bessy. This is a 9-year-old girl taking a trip with her family. Kids are given a booklet with assignments and read a piece of Bessy’s family story each time.
If you visit this museum in Antwerp with kids on the first Sunday of the month, it’s family day at the museum. You can then participate in various workshops organized by the museum that day between 1 and 4 p.m. Kids of all ages can participate in these workshops. For a list of workshops, check out the website of this children’s museum in Antwerp.
#13 Museum Plantin Moretus: this museum focuses on the art of printing. You can go here in Antwerp with kids and take a look at the printing house and the home of the Plantin-Moretus family. This is also the only museum in the world listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site. This is a museum your kids have to love, though, and it is not the first museum we would go to with our daughter ourselves.
#14 House of Rubens: In this famous museum in Antwerp, you can go and see the paintings of the painter Rubens. You can do different assignments with kids at this museum in Antwerp using an assignment booklet. For kids, such an assignment booklet may be enough to make this kind of museum interesting as well. There is a scavenger hunt for kids ages six through 12 and a separate search brochure for kids over 12.
#15 Museum Vleeshuis: this is the last family-friendly museum in Antwerp in our list. Museum Vleeshuis is all about music. Using an app on a phone, kids at this museum in Antwerp can do assignments centered around music.
You can play with kids in Antwerp in lots of playgrounds. Of course, this is also a free children’s activity in Antwerp! We list some of the most fun playground you can visit in Antwerp with kids.
#16 Playground on the Quays: as the name suggests, this huge playground is located near the Flemish quays. Located in the south of the city of Antwerp, this playground is suitable for both young and older kids. In fact, the playground which is 2000m2 is divided into two playgrounds.
One playground is for kids ages two to six and the other playground is for kids ages six and up. Especially in summer, this is a wonderful place to play with kids in Antwerp. You can park your car at this playground in a paid parking garage, but you can also, for example, take an electric scooter from the city center to this playground in Antwerp with kids.
#17 Park of Brasschaat: This playground is located a little outside of Antwerp, though, and by car you’re a little over twenty minutes away. You can play on different playground equipment in this playground near Antwerp with kids, and there is also a deer meadow in this park, where you can spot deer and goats. In the summer, there is also an ice cream cart in the park. It is also possible to rent a boat at this park in the summer and take a tour of the park’s pond.
#18 Park Spoor Noord: You can visit this playground in Antwerp with kids. Especially for kids who love to skate, Park Spoor Noord is a really cool place to go. By the way, because of the graffiti, this place is also a fun place to photograph your kids (at least we always find that a cool place for a photo shoot).
If you visit Antwerp with kids in the hot summer months, this park is also a great place to cool off with the family. There is a very large fountain where in summer families with children cool off and the kids play in the shallow water. There is also a playground in the park and you can also go for a drink at summer bar Bar Noord during the summer months.
Indoor playground Antwerp
You don’t have super many indoor playgrounds in the city of Antwerp that you can visit if the weather is bad in Antwerp, for example. However, about a half-hour drive from the center of Antwerp, there is a very nice indoor playground: Mega Speelstad.
We have visited this indoor playground in the Antwerp area once from our home town. From where we live, it is also only a forty-minute drive to Mega Play Town. This is a huge indoor playground, where you and your kids can have a great time for half a day.
There are also a few attractions that make them even call it a children’s amusement park, but that’s a bit too much of a stretch. However, there is a lot to play both inside and outside for kids and our daughter, who was four at the time, spent many hours here having fun in this playground.
Free children’s activities Antwerp
You also have a number of free children’s activities in Antwerp. In that regard, a city trip to Antwerp with kids doesn’t have to be expensive. We already mentioned above visiting the MAS and the Comic Books Streetart walk, but there are a number of other free children’s activities in Antwerp. We list some free children’s activities in Antwerp.
#20 Sint Anna Strand: You can go to the beach in Antwerp with kids. This is obviously a very fun free children’s activity that you can go do in the summer when the weather is warm. Especially in the summer months, it can be quite crowded here. By the way, at this beach you will also find an outdoor pool, a mini golf course and several playgrounds for the kids.
#21 Vogeltjesmarkt Antwerpen: this market is hugely famous among tourists who visit the city of Antwerp and as a result, it did change its character. Where in the past the market was really visited to buy birds, nowadays it is a very pleasant market where other things besides the birds are sold.
You also have plenty of terraces here where you can have a drink after visiting the market in this part of Antwerp with kids. Of course, this is also a free children’s activity in Antwerp.
#22 Children’s Farm Rivierenhof: if your kids enjoy visiting a petting zoo, this is definitely a fun free children’s activity in Antwerp. This petting zoo is free to visit Sunday through Thursday between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
#23 Smurfs Walk Albert Park: if you have a subscription to Storytell, you can take a walk in the Albert Park and look for the different Smurfs’ houses with QR code, where a listening story of the Smurfs can be heard each time. You have seven different listening stories that you can listen to with kids here in Antwerp, and these are stories with titles like Brilsmurf and the Witch. Of course, this is only a free children’s activity in Antwerp if you already have a subscription to Storytell.
#24 Middelheim Museum: this is a place where art and nature merge. You can visit this “museum” for free in Antwerp with kids, and during the vacation periods you also have creative workshops here that you can sign your kids up for.
#25 The Botanical Garden: if you want to unwind in Antwerp with kids, there is a kind of botanical garden in the city that you can visit for free. At The Botanical Garden, you have 2,000 different trees, plants and flowers to check out and this garden is definitely worth taking a stroll through with your kids. The plant garden is open every day from 8 a.m. and at least until 5:30 p.m. in winter and until 8 p.m. in summer months.
Children’s activities Antwerp and surrounding areas
You also have some kids activities that you can’t do in the city of Antwerp with kids, but you can do in the Antwerp area. We list some fun children’s activities in the Antwerp area.
#26 Suske en Wiske Museum: If you are looking for a family-friendly museum in the Antwerp area, this museum is definitely a fun option. Of course, this museum is dedicated to these cartoon characters and there is plenty to do in the museum for kids. Kids can take a time travel and play along in a comic during strip tours.
#27 Day trip to Brussels: by train you can easily go to Brussels from Antwerp with kids. In just over half an hour, you can get to Brussels by train from Antwerp. In Brussels, you have plenty of fun children’s activities you can do. We wrote about this city the blog Brussels with kids, in which we list all the fun activities you can do in the city with kids.
Family-friendly restaurant Antwerp
You have some nice family-friendly restaurants in Antwerp that are great for lunch and dinner in this city. We list some great family-friendly restaurants in Antwerp below.
Park West: This family-friendly restaurant is not in the center of Antwerp, but it does have a playground near the restaurant. We often look for a restaurant with a playground anyway, and this is the case at Park West. You can eat at this restaurant in Antwerp with kids, but be sure to check the website in advance (see the blue link a few lines back) to see what’s on the menu so you have an idea of what you can eat here with the family.
De Burgerij: This chain has several branches in both the Netherlands and Belgium, and you also have a restaurant from de Burgerij in our own city of Tilburg. This family-friendly restaurant in Antwerp serves mainly burgers, but also other dishes such as salads, for example. Kids can play in the play corner at this Antwerp restaurant, where they can have a great time. A great restaurant to eat in Antwerp with kids.
‘t Of in Hove: This is another family-friendly restaurant in Antwerp with a playground. Indeed, you also have here for children a field where they can play soccer, trampolines and kids can also play in the sandbox. As a result, this is definitely a restaurant you can go to in Antwerp with kids during the summer.
There is also a play area for kids inside, which makes it great to visit restaurant ‘t Of in Hove in winter. There are also plenty of food choices for kids at this family-friendly restaurant in Antwerp.
De Melkerij: this is another family-friendly restaurant in Antwerp with a playground. A great place to have lunch in the summer months. The restaurant also has a special menu for kids.
Antwerp with kids: visiting during Christmas
The last time we visited the city of Antwerp was in the month of December for Christmas and we found the city super atmospherically decorated everywhere at this time. The entire main market and many stores were decorated with thousands of lights, which was a hugely atmospheric sight. There was also an ice rink and a Ferris wheel in the center, as well as activities for kids.
For example, kids could decorate Christmas balls near Steenplein and later hang them up with the elves in the big Christmas tree in the Grand Place. We really liked the whole atmosphere of the city and it is definitely a consideration to visit the city during this period.
Family-friendly hotel Antwerp
Antwerp with kids: Mercure Antwerp City Centre
During our city trip to Antwerp, we slept at hotel Mercure Antwerp City Centre. This hotel was recently completely renovated and is right in the center of town! This allowed us to easily walk everywhere without having to use public transportation. We had a deluxe room and in the morning we had a delicious breakfast at the hotel. In addition, there is a city park opposite the hotel, where there is also a very cool playground. We wrote about our stay at the hotel on the blog Mercure Antwerp City Centre with kids.
Where to stay in Antwerp with kids: other hotels
Besides the Mercure Antwerp City Centre hotel in Antwerp, there are a number of other hotels suitable for families with kids. We list a few for different price ranges.
Budget hotel: Novotel Antwerp
Mid-range hotel: Hotel 1875
Luxury hotel: Hampton by Hilton Antwerp Central Station
For a list of all hotels in Antwerp with kids click here for more information.
Antwerp City Card
Antwerp City Card (card for free transportation in the city and free admission to various museums and great discounts on other things. This card may be interesting if you plan to visit many things in Antwerp with your kids! Check in advance what all you want to do in Antwerp and whether the card will benefit your family. For us, this was not the case.