- 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
Christmas Fair and New Year's Ball, Austria
A number of Christmas markets set up shop Vienna throughout December, with hundreds of stalls offering handmade trinkets, foodstuffs, and gourmet wines and spirits to locals and visitors alike. Active during daylight hours as well, nighttime is when the real market celebrations begin, with carols being sung and Christmas trees being lit up.
Festivities in the country’s capital, Edinburgh, stretch from the end of the month into the New Year. Torchlight processionals (a.k.a., the “River of Fire”), dancing in the streets, fairground rides, candlelight concerts, movies, fireworks, and much more all contribute to a fun-filled celebratory atmosphere.
Winter Wonders Festival, Belgium
Brussels gets decked out in all its Christmastime glory throughout the month of December during its Winter Wonders festival. Ice skating, sledding, seasonal chalet shopping, and more can be found at many different locations throughout the city. The Electrabel Nights display at Grand Place is also a must-see. The scene becomes all the more charming when snow blankets the area.