The beauty of Antwerp is that it is a slightly off the beaten track destination with much to offer, most of it very accessible on foot and at prices more reasonable than the major cities. In the space of about six hours we viewed the gardens and Flemish masters at the Ruben Huis, strolled along the Meir - a pedestrians-only mall loaded with some neat shops. We remembered to look up as we moved along to take in some amazing architectural embellishments on the buildings, and view one of Europe's largest harbors. We also had some very good meals and enjoyed the tranquility of a massive park loaded with statuary and war memorials that beckoned to us along the way. Although we are public transport fans and saw all the possibilities of getting from point A to point B via metro and tram, we just hoofed it and never felt overextended.
Other Antwerp attributes touched us as well. We arrived early on a Friday evening and saw some of the many Hasidic Jews making their way to synagogue for the sabbath. As American Jewish travelers in Europe, historical memories of less hospitable times are always with us and remind of that we have never personally experienced fears in America because of who we are. Seeing those Hasidic families was both life affirming and bittersweet. Many Hasidim I am told work in the diamond industry and Antwerp is the place to pick up gems if you're so inclined and at prices that do not preclude acquisition my non-millionaires. If you're not in the buying mode, visiting some of the showrooms is nevertheless a very interesting experience.
Essential Antwerp can be seen in a day, but I suspect those travellers committed to seeing cities in-depth would find much to reward them by spending the extra time really exploring taking in the sounds, smells, and aura of the place.