How many places are there in Belgium (the world even!) that are positively green and only six minutes away from the airport? We can count them on one hand. However, one of the districts of Antwerp, Deurne, has the biggest eco swimming pool in Europe. So forget wandering the city streets of Antwerp (for the moment at least) and explore something different! Swim the day away amongst nature, discover quirky corners of Belgium, and sip coffee with locals in one of Antwerp’s greenest districts.
Explore even more fun things to do in Antwerp on our map.
Of course, the second you land from the airport, you will want to skip to the “best places” in the city. That’s what every travel guide says to do, after all. But why not go against the same tried and tested travel advice and change your perspective? Ask; Are there alternative and less touristic options to see? Are there fascinating places to go and green hidden gems to discover in less than 15 minutes on the tram? The answer is indeed there are! Deurne is well worth seeking out, and I’ve got four local places to explore on your slow travel city plan.
1. Swim away at Boekenbergpark
📍Unitaslaan, Antwerp 2100
Boekenbergpark is one of the most unique places in Antwerp. Even though it’s only 10 hectares, the mini forest of Boekenbergpark packs in a lot. The 73 metre-long natural swimming pool is a must-see. Swim among thousands of plants (22,000 to be exact) which preserve the purity and clarity of the water. Unlock the wonders of nature and relax in Europe’s biggest natural swimming pool.
The pool is open from mid-May to mid-September, and the entrance is free. It’s six-minutes by taxi or a 24-minute walk from Deurne airport. But that’s not all to do here…
Discover a ruined tower, cave complex, natural history museum and a speleological foundation all in one place. Boekenbergpark might be known for its swimming pool, but there are other sites worth checking out in Deurne. After a swim, stretch your legs on a walk through the park.
What you need to know
- Entry to the swimming pool is free.
- The park is a six-minute taxi drive away from Deurne airport.
- It’s a 24 minute walk from the airport.
2. Sip a coffee at Café Exter
📍Eksterlaar 3, 2100 Antwerpen
It wouldn’t be a city trip in Antwerp without pausing for coffee. Antwerp has a vibrant coffee culture (hardly surprising given that Antwerp is the world’s largest storage hub for green (unroasted) coffee) This is one cafe in Deurne I wholly recommend visiting, especially after a dip in Boekenbergpark’s pool. This Belgian-French Brasserie is located by the park entrance. It’s a real treat; just ask the locals who frequent here. When I say Deurne is an oasis, you’ll get what I mean when you relax here. Cafe Exter is an ideal place to people-watch, eat, drink, and soak in the calm mood.
3. Walk this way in Te Boelaerpark
📍Karel de Preterlei 2140, 2140 Antwerpen
Antwerpen’s love their green spaces and you will too by the end of this trip. Lucky for you, there’s another park less than a 10-minute walk away from Boekenbergpark, so you can get those 10,000 steps surging in this 16 hectares park. Half of the park is open to catch the sun, and the other part is wooded if you need shade. An ideal picnic area or a place to just chill, relax and feel more zen.
4. Visit Antwerp’s popular Rivierenhof park
📍Turnhoutsebaan 246, 2100 Antwerpen
Prepare yourself for a 135 hectare park that is full of surprises. The question to ask is, what isn’t there? This eclectic park caters to all moods, so if you’re feeling active, there’s tennis, miniature golf, callisthenics or the marked 10-kilometre running course.
Or, if you’re in the mood to reconnect with your inner child, visit the castles, fairy-tale house, farm and labyrinth.
For the cultural enthusiasts, there are outdoor concerts and theatre shows. It’s no wonder this lively park attracts over one million visitors every year.
Top tip: You can combine a walk, run or rent a city bike to visit all three parks. Riverenhof is 1.5 km north of Boekenbergpark via Sint-Rochusstraat. Discover more green parks in Antwerp in our city guide.