- Download our Moving to Antwerp Guide (PDF)
Antwerp is generally an easy city to navigate as it's a compact metropolis. De Lijn, the public transport company, operates a comprehensive network of buses and trams. Walking around Antwerp is also pleasant. Much of the picturesque city centre is demarcated as pedestrian zones. Expats wanting to travel out of the city can catch a train operated by the national railway service.
Public transport in Antwerp
If planning to use buses and trams frequently, a multi-ride Lijnkaart card can provide significant savings compared to paying for individual rides. This card can be purchased at stations, supermarkets, and newsagents. Single tickets, which are cheaper if purchased in advance rather than on board, are valid for an hour. This allows passengers to transfer from a bus to a tram, or vice versa, using the same ticket. A multi-ride Lijnkaart card is valid for a year from the date of purchase.
Trams and pre-metro
The pre-metro, which runs underground as well as on surface lines, is part of the tram system that covers Antwerp and its surrounding suburbs. All trams use the same tickets as buses. The most prominent stops are Diamant station, below the central train station, and Groenplaats, from where the line continues west under the Scheldt River to the Van Eeden station.
The city's central bus station is the Franklin Rooseveltplaats, which is a hub for local and regional buses. The bus is helpful for getting to places that aren't accessible by the tram.
Antwerp's Central Station, also known as Antwerpen-Centraal, is an architectural masterpiece and a major transport hub. It connects Antwerp with other cities in Belgium and major cities in neighbouring countries like the Netherlands, France and Germany. This makes it an ideal choice for day trips or for expats wanting to explore more of Europe.
- For more information about the public transport system in Antwerp, including buses and trams, visit the official De Lijn website.
- For more details about routes, schedules, and fares, visit the official website of the Belgian train service, Belgian Rail.
Taxis in Antwerp
Taxis in Antwerp use meters to determine the fare, and the tariffs are set by the city authorities. At the end of a journey, the driver must provide a printed receipt that includes the company's name and telephone number. This serves as a record of the trip in case of queries or complaints.
Legitimate taxis can be identified by an official taxi permit, an illuminated sign on the roof and a red licence plate. Tipping taxi drivers isn't mandatory in Antwerp, but it is customary to round up to the nearest euro if the driver provided good service. To hail a taxi, commuters wave a hand at an approaching taxi with an illuminated sign, or head to a designated taxi stand.
- For reliable taxi services in Antwerp, consider using Taxi.eu.
- Uber and Lyft also operate in Antwerp.
Cycling in Antwerp
Antwerp is a bike-friendly city with an extensive network of cycle lanes. The city also supports a public bicycle hire scheme known as Velo. The first half-hour of use is free, with various passes available for longer-term use. The city's cycling infrastructure is generally safe, but cyclists should be mindful of traffic rules and right-of-way laws.
Helmets are not compulsory, but are highly recommended for safety and using lights when cycling at night is mandatory. Antwerp is relatively bike-friendly, but theft can happen, so riders should ensure that they secure their bicycles properly when leaving them unattended.
- For more information about Antwerp's public bike hire scheme, Velo, visit the official Velo Antwerpen website.
Driving in Antwerp
Expats with a driving licence from a non-EU country can legally drive in Belgium for up to six months. Be that as it may, most expats choose not to drive in Antwerp, as the city boasts exceptional public transport infrastructure and is walkable and cycle-friendly. Those who decide to drive will need to contend with traffic and high maintenance, petrol and parking fees.
Parking in Antwerp is limited and is managed by the local parking authority. The city is divided into different parking zones, some of which require permits that can be bought from district council offices or the parking authority. Multi-level garages are easy to find, though they can be expensive. To avoid being fined or having their car towed away, expats should not park on yellow lines, at bus stops or in front of driveways.
For expats or visitors needing a car for a short period, numerous car rental services are available in Antwerp. These provide a range of vehicles to suit different needs, from compact cars for city driving to larger vehicles for families or groups. When renting a car, be aware of the driving rules in Belgium and any terms and conditions from the car rental company.
- Transport and Driving in Belgium has more on securing a driving licence in the country.
- Information about parking zones and permits in Antwerp can be found on the official City of Antwerp website.
- Companies such as Europcar and Sixt offer car rental services in Antwerp.
Walking in Antwerp
Walking is one of the best ways to experience Antwerp's rich history and charm. The city centre is mostly pedestrian-friendly, with many streets being car-free zones. This includes the area around the Cathedral of Our Lady and the shopping district of Meir. Be aware that Belgium's weather can be unpredictable, so carrying an umbrella or raincoat is a good idea. Always follow pedestrian signs and lights for safety.
Are you an expat living in Antwerp?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Antwerp. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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