Antwerp, Belgium – March 2001


This being the first article I write here, I started wondering what was most precious to me in Antwerp. What do I miss when I’m away? Why should others visit Antwerp?

Then I thought: the nightlife, the Antwerp pub scene. And because it can be hard to choose what pubs to go to when you’re in a city you don’t know, a guide to some of the coolest pubs here could be really useful to travellers.

Now listing all the good places would be impossible, considering there are about 1,800 pubs in the city. So instead of trying to do something I knew could only fail, I decided to go for the random approach: I went on a pub crawl with a friend one saturday night, and the places that we hit that night are listed below.

Kate Whelans

Nationalestraat 45

A good place to start a night out. You’ll always find a place to sit here. Untidy but cosy, with old posters on the walls, candles on the table and Celtic folk or old blues and jazz playing in the background. There’s a pool table and a dartsboard. This is one of Antwerp’s eight Irish pubs – if you go to all of them on St. Patricks day, you can win plane tickets to Ireland, your weight in Guinness or other prizes.

An Sibhin

Nationalestraat 44

Another atmospheric Irish pub. Small and dark. They were playing Manu Chao on this particular night. There’s a cigarette vending machine. In summer, you can sit outside.

Fritkot Max


Not a pub, but we stopped here too. A frituur or fri(e)tkot is something typically Belgian: a place where you can get french fries and other snacks. This one has a special frietkotmuseum on the first floor. For some reason there are always Dutch people here.


Korte Nieuwstraat 28

Mainly popular with teenagers – it’s my 17 yo sister’s favourite hangout. I wanted to drink tea because I was cold and needed a break from beer, but they’d already cleaned the coffee machine so there were no hot drinks anymore (at almost 11 pm); so I had a Bacardi Breezer instead. They have pool tables, table football, computer games and a cigarette vending machine. They usually play the popular music of the day, or hits from the 90s and 80s. For animal lovers: note that there’s a traffic sign saying that horses are not allowed (or, according to my friend, not behind the bar). They sometimes have parties or concerts (anything from reggae to black metal) in the basement.

Celtic Ireland

Groenplaats 1

You would never have guessed from the name, but this is another Irish pub! At daytime it’s also a restaurant. And they did have tea here. It’s huge but always full on Saturday nights, when there’s usually a band playing. Tonight was no exception. I’d already seen the same band playing here last month, and they even played the exact same songs, which kinda bored me even though I’d liked them last time. Some people started fighting, but it didn’t get out of hand since others stepped in and seperated them. In summer you can sit outside.

De Volle Maan

Oude Koornmarkt 7

On weekdays (especially Thursday night) it’s mainly a student pub, but that doesn’t mean it’s dead on weekends. More relaxed than Celtic Ireland though. Popular music, today mainly house (or some other kind of dance music, I’m no expert), not exactly my taste but it didn’t bother me either. They have newspapers and magazines, and a cigarette vending machine in the basement.



Nice quiet place to end our evening. They were playing some jazzy kind of laidback house tonight (if that makes sense). They also have newspapers and magazines, and you can sit outside.

Well, those were the places we visited, but I would like to recommend some other, special places.

Blues fans will have a good time at Crossroads (Mechelsesteenweg 8), while those who like jazz should visit De Muze (Melkmarkt 15). If you want to drink jenever, go to De Vagant (Reyndersstraat 25); if you want to dance to alternative music head for Den Aalmoezenier (Aalmoezenierstraat 46).

Het Zeezicht (Dageraadplaats) is one of Antwerp’s most famous pubs, a place where leftist artists gather, but a bit outside the centre (near Berchem station and Cogels-Osylei though). Student nightlife thrives on Thursday night – one place worth mentioning is Markies de Sade (Stadswaag 17).

That’s it for my first article. I hope it can be of use to someone. If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to email me.