Belgium itself and the local people are very friendly and welcoming to the large number of tourists that visit their country every year but it is still important to familiarise yourself with the country and its customs before you travel.
Being prepared can only make your short break more enjoyable as you will feel confident and secure from the beginning.
The details below are just a few items of practical information that you may require, so take a moment to read through and have a good trip.
The local tourist office can be found at Grote Markt 13
Embassies and consulates:
The countries British Embassy is in Brussels at Rue d'Arlon 85 Aarlenstraat, 1040
The main languages spoken in Antwerp are Dutch and French but English is widely understood and spoken. It would be advisable to familiarise yourself with some of the most common phrases.
Passport and Visas:
UK visitors only need a valid passport to stay in Belgium.
You should buy full health and travel insurance before your trip and make a note of their 24hour helpline number. EU citizens are entitled to reduced cost emergency care as long as they have the relevant documentation. For Britons this is the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
EU nationals do not have to declare goods imported for their own use, although you may be questioned by custom officials if you have a large amount of certain items. The limits for non-EU visitors are 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco; 1 litre of alcohol (over 22 percent alcohol) or 2 litres of wine; 50g of perfume.
Visitors with Disabilities:
Belgium has made headway over recent years with regards to disabled visitors but as many town and attractions have developed over the centuries irt is taking time for everything and everywhere to be adapted to accommodate everyone. Certain areas may still be difficult to navigate, for example doorways are not widened or ramps not installed for wheelchair access. The Belgiums are very sympathetic however and will do everything they can do make disabled visitors welcome and their visit as easy as possible. The tourist authorities have collated as much information as they can and it is very important to do your research before you leave home.
Belgium uses the Euro as its national currency. The Euro is broken up in to 100 cents (1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 cent coins and 1 and 2 euro coins) and 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 euro notes.
If you loose your passport you should report it to the local police station and then to the nearest embassy or consulate. Keep a separate note of any travellers cheque numbers as you will need them to make a claim if lost.
Medicines and Medical Treatment:
Citizens from the EU are entitled to free or reduced-cost NHS (National Health Service) treatment, including dental treatment - bring the EHIC card from your home country. Full health an travel insurance is still advised.
There are are 2 main centres in Antwerp:
Centrum Ziekenhuis Antwerpen
Algemmen Kinder Ziekenhuis Antwerpen
Voltage in France is 230 volts. Sockets take plugs with two round pins, the standard European plug and socket. UK electrical appliances will require an adaptor.
Recent legislation ensures Belgiums bars, restaurants and casinos are smokefree without exemptions
100 - Medical emergencies
101 – Police
100 - Fire services
112 - European general emergency line
Antwerp, in the main, is a relatively safe place to stay. Pick pockets and bag snatching are the most common problem as thieves prowl tourist areas looking for unwary travellers, so it pays to have your wits about you.Most city areas are safe to walk about even late at night but it makes sense not to take any unnecessary risks as with any big city.