Travel writing cliché bingo from Antwerp, Belgium

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Play a game of travel writing cliché bingo as Tanya Aster-Browne visits Antwerp, Belgium.

Travel writing cliché bingo

Tanya suggests you read this travel blog post while looking for travel writing clichés and tautologies. You may find a few hidden gems.

Disclosure: Some of the links below, marked with a (£), are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

OMG! I absolutely loved my trip to the Belgian city of Antwerp, definitely one of Europe’s hidden gems despite being a long-established fashion hotspot.

Fashion from the Antwerp Six

The group of designers dubbed ‘the Antwerp Six’ helped put the city on the map of the continent’s fashion hubs.

Locals recommended I stroll among the trendy shops of the pedestrianised Wilde Zee district: an insider tip nestled between the historic city centre, the theatre district and up-and-coming Sint-Andries quarter.

Bearing that in mind, I made it my goal to seek out a gorgeous floppy hat from a one of the city’s upscale fashion boutiques.

The shops in Antwerp offer great value for money and like the city as a whole are packed full of unexpected surprises.

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My hat certainly didn’t cost the earth and, matched with nice accessories in autumn colours, it’ll be ideal for stylish seasonal selfies. But, enough about that, I bet you want to hear about the Belgian chocolates, right?

Sign for the Stadsfeestzaal, a shopping centre in Antwerp, Belgium
Shop til you drop? Sign for the Stadsfeestzaal in Antwerp.

The best Belgian chocolates ever

If you love chocolate anything nearly as much as I do, you must make Antwerp part of your itinerary on your next visit to Belgium.

I couldn’t get enough, despite chocolate stores being on every street corner.

The chocolates lining the shelves of the shops are amazing. They’re beautifully presented. Like the best I’ve seen, ever.

I’d literally give my right arm for more of the choccies. In the cold light of a November day that seemed ironic as I was munching on chocolate hands from dawn to dusk. They’re so amazingly delish. Lush.

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One of the friendly locals told me in heavily accented English that the chocolates are known as ‘Antwerp hands’.

A neon cactus among hip interior decor at Mercado, Antwerp's indoor market.
Hip interior decor at Mercado, Antwerp’s indoor market.

Best places for lunch in Antwerp

I arrived into the city just in time for lunch and headed to Mercado, a bustling indoor marketplace packed with smartly dressed young professionals enjoying a well-deserved day off. Locals and tourists happily rubbed shoulders side-by-side.

Mercado is one of the hippest places to eat in Antwerp. It’s a must-do insider tip for delicious cuisine. Don’t leave the city without giving it a go. There’s something for everyone here.

Eateries sell authentic, mouth-watering street food from exotic locations from afar afield as Mexico, Morocco and Malaysia. They were doing a roaring trade.

Initially, I went on the hunt for gluten-free, low-carb, vegetarian, cruelty-free options. I was won over by the tempting aroma of lemongrass laced beef dim sum. So tasty and no problem with my allergies.

I love authentic travel experiences and seek them out wherever I go, so I ate with chopsticks in this Belgian market.

Dim sum served with chopsticks at Mercado in Antwerp, Belgium
Dim sum served with chopsticks at Mercado.

Best things to do in Antwerp

Everyone should experience the Rubens House while in Antwerp. Peter Paul Rubens, a famous painter from a long time ago, lived in the stunning edifice for 25 years. (That’s sooooo long to live in one place…I’m looking forward to my 25th birthday next month.)

The city’s museums and churches display a treasure trove of 52 of the Flemish Master’s priceless masterpieces.

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It’s just one of the historic gems that wow visitors to this chocolate box pretty city.

which this year marks a very unique anniversary. It’s 450 years since Antwerp City Hall opened its doors. It’s the only UNESCO World Heritage Site city hall to have maintained its original purpose from the day the building opened to the present day. How awesome is that? You can visit alone or with a guide.

The MAS, Antwerp’s riverside museum, has a bold, contemporary design. The rooftop has breathtaking views that are literally stunning.

Rubens statue at Groenplaats outside the Hilton Antwerp Old Town hotel
Rubens statue on Antwerp’s Groenplats public square.

Vibrant nightlife in Antwerp

With the sun setting I jumped at the chance to experience Antwerp’s vibrant nightlife.

There’s lots of chic cafes and cocktail bars. Beer is popular too in Belgium. Follow your nose and you’ll stumble across a place for a drink or two.

Glass of Belgian beer in a glass bearing Antwerp's De Koninck brewery's name
Two beers or not two beers? That was the question after this glass of local De Koninck beer in Antwerp.

Have you got a favourite travel writing cliché that you avoid like the plague? You’re welcome to share it in the comments field below.

Further information

For tips on where to go and what to see in and around Antwerp take a look at the  Visit Antwerp and Visit Flanders websites.

Check out Nigel Fouintain’s book, Cliches: Avoid them like the plague (£):

About the author

Tanya Aster-Browne loves infinity pools with crystal clear water and travelling first class. She adores posing for selfies in bikinis and broad-brimmed hats, holding ice cream cones for the Instagram post that isn’t a selfie. She specialises in writing breezy listicles.

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  1. Am in France, a land of contrasts, and enjoying the sweeping views, vibrant markets and hidden gems around every corner of this pocket of paradise. Still with me so far? You shouldn’t be, unless addicted to travel cliches. Right: off to look for another melting pot in paradise…

  2. That’s a coincidence! I’m in Finland, also a land of contrasts with its fair share of hidden gems. There’s something for everyone here in the vibrant capital where East meets West in the picture-postcard drop-dead gorgeous streets and parks.

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