Two weeks ago I had a chance to visit the magnificent Antwerp as a part of the press trip with Lublin Airport. While the capital of Flanders offers many attractions of its own, I am the type of a traveler who likes to constantly change the scenery and if there’s a chance to explore more, I would go for it.
Belgium is a perfect country to have a chance to explore more. I know that very well as I’ve spent more than a year of my life here, in Bruges, studying European Law at the College of Europe.
While I’ve been to Antwerp and Brussels many times before, there was one destination that was always left without my travel attention. I’m talking about Mechelen. Situated right in the middle between Brussels and Antwerp, it always lured me with the glorious cathedral seen from the windows of a train. Finally, I had a chance to explore it. And I wasn’t disappointed a bit, Mechelen appeared to be an ideal city for a day break from either Antwerp or Brussels.
Let’s go on its exploration together and find out what you can do in Mechelen.
The first indication that Mechelen is beautiful came from this pretty Flemish garden palace a few blocks from the train station. It is called the Palace of Margaret of Austria and it is charming.
Some architecture had American flair to it.
In the past times, Mechelen was an important town in Flanders sparking with numerous churches and leading a successful trade.
Finally, I came to the centerpiece of Mechelen, a stunning Grote Markt with spectacular St. Rumbold’s Cathedral.
Traditional medieval colorful houses. Typical Belgium.
Mechelen has fantastic street views, the Cathedral is pretty impressive, I would say grandiose.
Let’s step inside, shall we? St. Rumbold’s Cathedral was built in the distant 14th century and features a UNESCO-protected belltower (that you can actually climb).
Found some really weird street art on the backstreet.
What I loved the most about Mechelen is the harmony between the city and the water. Back in the medieval times it, like Bruges or Ghent, had a network of canals that ran through the city. Now the canals became streets and the water can be found only in several parts of the Old Town. The way the city incorporated the canals and the river in its Old Town core is really cool and aesthetically pleasing.
Dijle river runs through the city adding some strong Amsterdam vibes to the overall experience.
One of the most picturesque places in town for me was this section of the riverfront with 3 colored old wooden houses. Pure beauty.
The waterfront is a perfect place for long walks and enjoying outdoor terraces. Reminded me of Ghent a bit.
Old river bridge. Look at that cozy wooden pathway under the bridge. Urbanist’s dream.
The street views are equally eye-pleasing here.
That was my coffee view. Flemish architecture overload.
What can I say, Mechelen is an under-the-radar gem of Belgium. With sights as beautiful as in Ghent or Bruges, it enjoys the position of the underdog with no crowds and more authenticity. So hurry up to explore it until everybody finds out.
This article is done in cooperation with Lublin Airport that has recently launched a flight to Antwerp
Lublin – Antwerp flight info
Flight time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Lublin – Antwerp – Fridays, 20:15 – 22:30
Antwerp – Lublin – Mondays, 17:25 – 19:30
Pricing: Return trip from around 130–150 EUR (~60 EUR one way)