- With over 80 million foreign tourists annually, France is the most visited country in the world.
- You can start gambling as soon as you land in Amsterdam, at the Holland Casino found in the Schipol airport.
- There are 28 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK including Stonehenge, the Tower of London, and Westminster Abbey.
- Germans are the world’s second biggest drinkers of beer (after the Irish), with an annual average of 119 liters per consumer.
- 44% of the world's olive oil is produced in Spain.
Antwerp is the second largest city in Belgium.
During the 16th century it was the most significant center of trade and culture in the Lowlands, and arguably one of Europe’s most important cities. Every day tons of goods from the New World arrived to Europe via Antwerp’s harbor. Many foreigners found work in the city during this era and their influence is still clearly visible today in the city’s opulent and varied architecture.
Antwerp is a center for fashion and diamonds. The diamond district is next to the recently refurbished central train station. The city also has many impressive squares and beautiful, tree-lined boulevards with designer boutiques. In recent years, the quays along the river Scheldt have been restored to their former glory.
If you like to venture off the beaten tourist track, make sure to go to the city’s Southern quarters which offer a mix between trendy wine bars, furniture shops, galleries and offices for creative companies.
The most impressive remnant of Antwerp’s glorious past is perhaps the main square (Grote Markt) and the cathedral next to it. The area has many buildings which are prime examples of Flemish gothic architecture. On the main square you will also find a statue of Antwerp’s mythical hero, Brabo, who chopped off the hand of the evil giant Antigoon and threw it in the river. Legend has it that this is where the name “Antwerp” comes from (“handwerpen” means “to throw a hand” in Dutch).
If you like sampling the excellent Belgian beers, then you’re spoiled for choice in this city. In recent years many clubs have opened around the river. The red-light district is world famous, not only for its obviously red-lit windows, but also for the many small traditional pubs. More conventional watering holes can be found on the Groenplaats and around the main square area.
Make sure to visit the palatial former home of painter Peter Paul Rubens on the Wapper 9, and marvel at the massive collection of buxom beauties, painted by the master himself.
Many smaller casinos can be found around Keyserlei Boulevard. Larger casinos are just a short ride away, in coastal towns like Ostend and Middelkerke.
Antwerp lies right on the border of the Netherlands, which also gives you easy access to a very large branch of the Holland Casino, located 20 minutes away in a former monastery in the beautiful Dutch town of Breda.
Upcoming Events Across Europe
Venice Carnival, Italy
Focused in and around Piazza San Marco but celebrated throughout the city, the Venice Carnival dates back all the way to the 13th century. For 12 days each February, locals and tourists don masks to celebrate during the world’s top baroque fancy-dress party. The centerpiece event is the Grand Masked Ball, which anyone can attend so long as they’re properly outfitted in costume and mask and can dance the quadrilles.
Jorvik Viking Festival, England
Europe’s largest Viking Festival takes place over 8 days in mid-February in York. Staged in the Jorvik Viking Center, home to Vikings over 1,000 years ago and the UK’s top non-London attraction, the archeological and combat festival has been taking place for almost 30 years. The action comes to a crescendo during a staged battle between Viking hordes full of sound and light effects – a truly must-see event.
Holland Flowers Festival, The Netherlands
Starting on the third Wednesday each February and continuing for about a week and a half, the Holland Flowers Festival is truly an extravagant visual delight. Taking place in Bovenkarspel, the festival includes workshops and wine tastings on top of the unending cornucopia of flora on display. Gardens filled with bulbs, shrubs, trees and all manner of ornamental horticulture offer up incredible, unforgettable sights.