By OUTTraveler Editors
Shopping -- whether for diamonds or high-end fashion -- may be the main goal for many visitors to Antwerp, but the city is also a stylish art mecca with a buzzy scene. While the 17th-century paintings of Peter Raul Rubens and the historic Rubenshuis are must-see attractions, it doesn't stop there. Head south of the center toward the Zuid district, where the art nouveau buildings give off a Parisian vibe.
The Pourbusstraat is the main gallery drag, but you can find any number by drifting along the charming streets. Find a table at Hopper (Leopold de Waelstraat 2; CafeHopper.be), the city's most famous jazz club, where students try out their skills. Or if you prefer to mix your art with coffee, check out De Dikke Kat (Kasteelpleinstraat 26; DeDikkeKat.be), a cute café and exhibition space. You'll have to skip the Royal Museum of Fine Arts for now, since it's undergoing major renovations for the next several years. But that leaves more time for the contemporary art museum, M HKA (Leuvenstraat 32; MuHKA.be).
It also curates the nearby Cinema Zuid (Lakenstraat 14; CinemaZuid.be), which is the cheapest place to catch a classic film or something a little more experimental. If you want a truly eye-popping site, keep traveling south until you get to the Palace of Justice. It functions as a sort of gate to the city, and, while English architect Richard Rogers says he was inspired by butterflies, it looks like a series of steel sails (or shark fins) floating across the horizon. --Jerry Portwood
Located near the historic Grote Markt, it's all contemporary design wedged into a 16th-century panorama. Haarstraat 11A; Hotel-Matelote.be
Radisson Blu Astrid
The Michael Graves-designed hotel is closest to the Central Station and is a great jumping-off point. Koningin Astridplein 7; RadissonBlu.com/AstridHotel-Antwerp
Even if you don't buy anything at the flagship store for Dries Van Noten -- one of the city's fashion legends -- you'll enjoy the inventive window displays. Nationalestraat 16
Sure, it's a gay bookstore for browsing, but it also has a wide selection of designer underwear and other "toys". Minderbroedersrui 33; Verschil.be
The brainchild of two former Royal Academy of Fashion students, the concept store not only contains rising indie labels, it also has a café/restaurant, a bookstore, and an art gallery with site-specific installations. Kloosterstraat 13; RA13.be
A wine bar tucked away in an old Antwerp house on one of the narrow streets in the city center, it's far from the crush of tourists and offers an eclectic menu with exotic riffs on unusual dishes. Haarstraat 9; RestaurantInVINcible.be
Belgian-French plates are served up in a comfy, retro-chic locale in the Zuid district. Try one of the "perfumed" martinis. Gentplaats 1; Josephines.be