Antwerp – where chips & beer are just a bike ride away |

Two boxes ticked when team members are presented with an event destination shortlist - Antwerp is one of the world’s most distinguished purveyors of these delicacies. Management, however, may need to hear about the activities, venues, striking architecture and ease of access.

It was with some excitement that I recently returned to Antwerp to further develop our event product there. Belgium fries just don’t have the guilt baggage of the Anglo-Saxon world. In Belgium they are a work of art, to accompany gorgeous mussels or drown in mayonnaise. As for beer, there can be few locations with the quality and variety of Belgium. What else could any event attendee wish for?

I was actually drawn away from the chips and beer and spent a good deal of time exploring the port area on bike. Antwerp is an incredible city for the cyclist, not quite ‘king of the road’ but certainly privileged compared to many other European locations. One of the highlights was taking the sub-terranean / sub-aquatic pedestrian tunnel which runs beneath the port of Antwerp. Accessed by historic wooden escalators, dismounted cyclists share the journey with foot passengers to reach the depths of Antwerp. St Anna’s tunnel connects the city and northern west sides of the port.

Architecture is something that you can't miss in Antwerp and its contemporary architecture is a vivid expression of Antwerp’s confidence and vision. There is no greater reflection of Antwerp’s daring than the Port Authority building, which was commissioned to extend an existing, protected, historic fire station. The solution was as bizarre as it is magical – build an elevated, diamond-inspired extension to hover over the historic fire station. I walked the perimeter to marvel at the structure at all angles. Spellbinding. There was no sign of HRH Prince of Wales sharing my appreciation circuit though!

To finish the day it was fries, mussels and a small glass of Belgium beer. Antwerp is a doddle to get to from London. Corporate events can experience a true European city in its pomp, with alfresco dining, remarkably contrasting architectural and a quirky range of venues and attractions. More boxes ticked.

Antwerp Port Authority building.
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