If there is one thing Antwerp has plenty of, it is bars or “café’s” (in Flemish). The offer is enormous, and you have them in all sizes and styles, with a million different atmospheres. If you are looking for a real Belgian authentic bar experience, this is the article for you!
Have a look at my selection of 7 great bars in Antwerp.
#1 De Kat
This cafe ticks all the classical boxes. You have your wooden benches, room for 30 persons, and a typical bartender/owner who doesn’t move away from his bar. For drinks: 3 beers on tap, a selection of bottled beers, some basic wines, and crisps. For free: lively discussions between the regulars and the bartender. What more do you need?
Although the bar is right in the center next to city hall, it’s not a tourist trap at all. The bar Engel has been the get-together place of the real Antwerpian for many decades. Besides the local inhabitants, the Engel also attracts politicians for an after-work meeting. If you do not have a Bolleke* or draught beer in your hand, you don’t fit in!
*More about a Bolleke in this article: 4 Antwerp specialties you MUST try.
The Pelikaan is a classical drinking joint where they go through a beer barrel every hour. The regulars stand at the bar for their lively daily discussions. Of course, there are wooden benches and chairs to sit on, but they are just not the favorite choice of regulars. The Pelikaan is an excellent place for a quick drink during a pub crawl.
#4 Paters Vaatje
Paters Vaetje is located in the heart of the city. It lies next to the impressive Cathedral of Our Lady. It has a small patio/outside terrace so you can enjoy the view of the cathedral. They offer a lot of different beers, but the place can get very crowded. Finding a spot is not always easy, but they might be able to seat you if you are lucky. Have a look inside and check!
The Vismijn is located in the trendy south part of the city. It’s not trendy when it comes down to its interior, but it is trending with locals. Every Friday evening, the Vismijn is packed with workers of all sorts for an after-work drink. The Vismijn claims to serve the best draught beer, and it might even be true! Here you can expect perfect beers from the tap and on Friday, free snacks to keep you there as long as possible
#6 Cafe Beveren
Café Beveren is probably in every guidebook of Antwerp there is. And there is a simple reason: it is an iconic bar you must visit on your trip to Antwerp. The highlight: a classic organ called “The Cap'” that plays lively tunes and brings in the singing and dancing atmosphere typical to this bar. On average, the ratio of tourists versus locals can lean into tourists more, but the experience is still authentic.
Duifkens is an authentic Antwerp pub that has been around for a few centuries. People came here long before Rubens was born. Today it is a no-frills cafe suited for all occasions. In winter, it can be very crowded, as the café is too small to fit all its fans simultaneously. When it’s cold outside, you’ll need to come early to guarantee a seat in this cozy café with a dark wooden interior and low ceilings. In the summertime, the terrace provides much-needed extra space. The Duifkens is a favorite hang-out of many Flemish and Dutch celebs. This makes sense, as it is close to theaters in Antwerp.