The ride or die Antwerpenaars, i.e. people from Antwerp city, like to say there’s only Antwerp, the rest of Belgium is the parking lot. We beg to differ— particularly during these times!
Drive a short while to give those lungs some fresh nature air and those eyes a dose of beautiful greenery. Not even people from Antwerp can complain now, these top five spots are a super short ride away. These are all super kid-friendly, so whether with the significant other, your covid buddy, or your 5 children, you’re sure to have some good ol’ fun in nature.
You can also find all of these and more on our map.
1. Troll it up in De Schorre
Although it’s hard to measure up to an insane festival like Tomorrowland, De Schorre in Boom can still hold up its own. Get active by walking, running or cycling around the park.
We’d say the most interesting thing would be to go troll hunting; seven trolls made from wood have made a home in the park. With the kids? Make a game out of it by trying to find them all (download the map that’s on our detailed activity page).
If you’re keen on something longer, check out the Tunnel Walks. When it gets a bit warmer, you can check out the Barefoot Path (Barrevoetspad). Feel the mud and clay under your feet and smell some amazing flowers; it’s an experience you won’t forget.
Where to Stay nearby
B&B De Schorre - Well designed and super homely, this abode makes for a great start to your getaway.
B&B Het KoeKoeKsnest Schelle - This bed and breakfast makes a great base for exploring Belgium, and on sunny days - have breakfast out in the gardens.
Aquavilla Bed & Breakfast - A comfortable home that will exceed your expectations with super friendly hosts!
2. Fort Hunting
We see the city every day but hidden all around Antwerp are forgotten forts that you need to explore. If you’re tired of walking around the same streets and seeing the same parks, then this is for you.
If you didn’t already know, Antwerp used to have a big ol’ city wall with eight fortresses to defend it. The wall might not be around any more, but the forts still are. You could go on one massive walk to explore them all or settle for exploring one and the surrounding park to find all the hidden bunkers. Get a map of the forts by clicking through below on any of the forts and hunt them all down.
If you’re just looking for a quick getaway, go one-by-one. You can do what we did and make it a weekend jogging routine by going to a different one each weekend. Check out the pages for each fort below for more detail but be sure to visit these two!
History buffs need to check out Fort 5. Grab your camera and get ready to snap a photo along the moat walk. Sure, it’s a tight squeeze but it’s well worth it to get some good shots of the fort. While a few of the other forts are damaged, Fort 5 is in really great condition. Why go to a museum when you can take a step into history right here?
Keep going on your trek along Antwerp’s history at Fort 2. Every fort had a purpose and this one held Antwerp’s strongest cannon gallery back in the day. If history isn’t your thing, no worries Fort 2 still has more to offer. Bats. Yup, weird we know. If getting a torch and exploring nature at sunrise or sunset sounds like a good time then head over. We’ll be right behind you. Like, way way behind you tucked up in bed.
3. Exploring the soon-to-be-gone dark side on the Linkeroever
Saint Anna Forest (Sint Annabos)
Explore this forest before the majority of it closes in January for 6 years! Only 66% is set to remain sadly of this forest due to highway construction around Antwerp. This forest was left alone to grow and grow for about 20 years, so you never really know what you’ll find. But you’ve only got so much time left to explore it.
Great to show your kids how forests were back in your day before you had a playground on every block. Nature lovers will find gems of wildlife and plants in each clearing and path. The easy going full 5km walk is a treat for trekkers and dog walkers alike. Make sure to venture to the outskirts so you can check some amazing views of the river Scheldt!
4. Stroll through the heath at Kalmthoutse Heide
There are tons of parks to choose from to get some fresh air outside Antwerp, but Kalmthoutse Heide should be at the top of your list. Of course, you can run, walk, and cycle here. But that’s basically the same for every nature reserve and park. What makes this place so different?
If you’re tired of city views and looking for something totally different, then you need to go to Kalmthoutse Heide. Take a walk here to be transported to a whole new landscape filled with sandy dunes and lush heather plants. It’s nothing like the parks you’re used to.
We all want to get outside to leave the sounds of the city behind for a bit. Kalmthoutse Heide is a “3-Star Silent Area”. Basically, you won’t hear anyone cleaning their apartment or car doors slamming out here. Instead, you’ll get an earful of relaxing bird song and an eye full of unique nature.
Where to Stay nearby
't Greefsch Geluck - If you ever want to feel like you're still home, but away from home, this will make for a cosy stay.
Hotel Dekkers - This hotel includes a restaurant with various à la carte choices and a 3-course menu that changes daily. There's also a café-lounge that has a billiards table for you to play!
BenB Op de Vleet - This super adorable B&B makes for the ideal countryside getaway to leave all of your worries behind.
5. Dystopian Doel
We get that there’s only so many times you can go for a walk in the park before you need something new. Getting fresh air doesn’t just mean sticking to the parks!
At Doel village, you can fully embrace the dystopian landscape that is 2020. Doel is an almost totally abandoned village as residents fled after the building of the nearby nuclear power plant. Some residents have stayed to fight against the demolition of their village.
Enter Doel and you’ll see tons of street art. We’re not exaggerating. Basically, every house is coated in bold and fantastic graffiti. It’s like something out of a YA dystopian novel.
It’s only a short drive away from Antwerp (about 30 mins). Park your car at Parking Scheldemolenstraat next to the mill as only residents are allowed to drive around the village. Keep in mind that the abandoned houses are dangerous to enter. We recommend keeping to the streets to get an artistic breath of fresh air instead.