By | 16th January 2018

Do you need a car in Antwerp?

Do you need a car in Antwerp > Should you rent a car in Antwerp Belgium > Antwerp ( ANR )
Do you need a car in 2? Is it worth hiring a car in 2? Should you rent a car in 2? Should you rent a car in 2?

Antwerp Car hire summary

Overall drive rating

Based on a weighted score across all factors, including driving roads, hire and fuel costs, road safety etc. [Full notes - drive rating]


Cheapest rate for one week

Based on cheapest economy car hire deal with no added extras. [full notes - basic costs]



  • Price alone isn't the only factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Antwerp but clearly it's an important one. See our "why" section for more figures.
How much should I expect to pay in the peak season? Based on cheapest deal during the summer holiday season. (Unless otherwise noted) [full notes - seasonal variations]




  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "whynot" section for more suggestions.
Free parking score Based on the number of hotels which offer free parking.Total 149 - of which 32 have free parking. [full notes - parking]




  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "whynot" section for more suggestions.

Antwerp public transport quick facts

"Top trumps" train score

Higher scores go to the systems which take you to the most amazing places.



  • [full notes - top trumps trains]
  • A good rail system doesn't mean you shouldn't hire a car, but it often means you have a decent range of options.

Overall public transport score

This is a more practical rating based on bus and rail travel.



  • [full notes - overall transit] buses | trams | metro | local & regional rail | national rail
  • Is public transport in Antwerp good value, or is it worth hiring a car just because it is cheaper overall?

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around Antwerp



Take to the waters!

This is a general rating for all types of water travel, including scheduled ferries, sea / rivers cruises and excursions in Antwerp


Need, worth & should!

Whether you have come here asking "do I need a car in Antwerp", "is it worth hiring a car in Antwerp", or whether or not you "should" hire a car here, these are all slight variations on a similar theme:

Do you need a car in Antwerp?

This is essentially based on whether or not public transport and other "non car" options are good enough to get around and beyond the city.

Is it worth hiring a car in Antwerp?

Is car hire good value, especially during the peak season? How does this compare with transit fares?

Should you rent a car in Antwerp?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?

If Bruges represents chocolate box cuteness, together with the summer hordes that go with it, and if Brussels represents all the pomposity that goes with having that extra special kind of capital city feeling, then if almost by default, the massively underrated charm of Belgium is perhaps best represented in cities like Antwerp.

Do you need a car in Antwerp? Introduction

When someone asks "Do you need a car in Antwerp?", this often breaks down to two key questions:

  1. Can you actually get around using public transport, or is a car all but essential?
  2. Is it worth hiring a car in Antwerp? Is it good value for money, compared with non-car options?

Over the next few sections, we wil look at the pros and cons of driving in Antwerp as a tourist, and ultimately weigh these up, so we can answer the key question of Should you rent a car in Antwerp?

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

So what particular delights await the visit the first-time visitor to Antwerp? What about that key question of getting around?

Why should you rent a car in Antwerp?

What are the main reasons for hiring a car here? Do you just want to drive locally? Do you want to go further afield, or should you even look at taking a road trip?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Antwerp?

Reasons why you might need a car in Antwerp

  • In all honesty, we can’t think of any particular reason for wanting to rent a car in Antwerp. If this is your first point of arrival on a brief city break, you’ll do fine without one.
  • Congestion in Antwerp is a problem, as it is in any other city of this size. A car can still be useful for visiting smaller towns and villages outside the city.

That’s not to say that Belgium is a particularly bad place to want to drive a car. Driving conditions are very similar to any other northern European country. It’s simply that if you do want to do a driving tour around Belgium, then it’s much more likely that you’ll be flying into Brussels in the first place. Failing that, you’ll be coming with your own car anyway!

Arriving by train or plane?

If you are coming into Belgium by train, you are probably still more likely to be connecting through Brussels for that as well. There’s little point in changing again to reach Antwerp, when you could pick up a rental car in Brussels Midi Station.

Needless to say, with the airport in Antwerp being well connected to the national road network, you won’t find any problem renting a car here. Since it’s a much smaller facility, the range of available cars is unsurprisingly much smaller than you will find at Brussels National Airport. National airport is still less than one hour by car away from Antwerp.

If you are arriving by train, then car-rental facilities are available at Antwerp Central Station. However, you will be dealing with an even smaller choice than you will find at the airport.

Arriving from Brussels?

Belgium is one of Europe’s most densely populated countries, and it has a well developed commuter rail network. This is particularly geared up for commuting in and out of Brussels. It’s also good for other major cities. Some of the more rural connections are a great deal slower. They are also considerably less frequent than the Brussels shuttles.

For more general suggestions on driving in Belgium, please see our Brussels car hire advice page.

Why not? Visiting Antwerp without a car

What is public transport like in Antwerp? What about local conditions for walking or cycling? Can you rely on public transport and maybe a few taxis for most or all of your trip? Are there some times of year when it's easier to get by without a car than others? When should you rent a car in Antwerp?

Reasons for visiting Antwerp without a car

  • By far and away the biggest appeal of visiting Antwerp without a car is the sheer delight of visiting the city itself.
  • If you are flying into Antwerp’s small city airport, then it’s only a very short bus or taxi ride into the city centre.
  • This advice is written on the general assumption that you are arriving by train, since this is much more likely here.
  • In an historic city where through traffic is limited, driving around narrow streets in a hire car doesn’t really make much sense.

Is this Europe’s finest station?

Railway stations in many cities are simply mundane and functional places. The triple deck Antwerp Central is an entirely different matter altogether! Following the construction of the new railway tunnel which allows high-speed north to south trains to pass directly through the city, the station is now rated by many rail pundits as being amongst the finest in Europe, if not the world.

If, like many passengers, you are arriving here either via Brussels or via Rotterdam in the Netherlands, then you will alight at the lowest level of this vast cavernous station. You then proceed upwards through to the dramatic Beaux Arts main hall. You may or may not recognise from various flash mob YouTube videos.

Getting Around Locally

  • The best means of getting around the city is to hire one of the ubiquitous Raleigh chopper type bicycles.
  • Even if you don’t consider yourself a particularly confident cyclist on the streets of a city like London or New York, then Antwerp is quite different.
  • Antwerp might be one small step below Dutch standards, but there are plenty of designated cycle paths.
  • Historic central streets have extensive limitations on through traffic, putting the city giant leaps ahead of typical North American or British cities.
  • The street design also makes walking a delight in Antwerp.
  • You can also pick up a tram at Central Station to go to most parts of the city.
  • Take tram 6 to Luchtbal to visit the striking new Port House, one of the last buildings designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid.

Just how Central?

Don’t be deceived by the name – Great Market Square (Grote Markt) is still around a mile / 1.7 kilometres away from the central station, but it still makes for a perfectly pleasant walk.

If you do decide to pick up a rental car at Antwerp station, then the chances are that you will just be driving it into a parking garage. You’ll then leave it there as you explore the city on foot. If you just want to hire a car in Antwerp for a day or two, then this might make a lot more sense than having one for the whole duration of your stay. That way you are cutting down on rental and parking costs – a natural win-win in a city that is so well connected.

Beyond Antwerp by public transport

Even if a hire car might be useful for having the flexibility to drive to smaller towns and villages beyond Antwerp, it is still by no means essential.

Local trains and buses will still take you where you want to go, and they aren’t just useful for travel within Belgium. Why not also consider popping across the border into the Netherlands. In particular, why not visit the massively misunderstood and underrated gem that is Rotterdam? Cross-border driving in a rental car from Antwerp shouldn’t be a problem, but always check the small print first. Rotterdam was so extensively rebuilt in the post-war motor age, but it’s far nicer just to pop across their by train and then pick up a rental bike in Rotterdam central station.

The same applies to almost any other Belgian town as well. If it’s large enough to have a manned station, then there’s a pretty good chance it will have bike rental as well.


So, do you need a car in Antwerp? Based on specifically arriving direct into Antwerp by air or rail, then our advice here is about as clear as it can be: Antwerp is very much a destination where you are better off using public transport or hiring a bike. The same goes for most of the places you might want to visit nearby.

It’s also somewhere that you’ll be perfectly happy getting around using nothing other than your own two feet, with or without pedals.

This makes the overall Carornocar verdict a very strong no.


Our slider ratings range from 0 (it isn't even possible to hire a car, e.g. Hong Kong) through to 10 (you really must rent a car here, e.g. Phoenix, Tampa). However, most places are somewhere inbetween these extremes, and this is where it gets more interesting! Further ratings breakdowns, including a much more detailed public transport rating, are currently being added. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

Would you hire a car in Antwerp?

Have you driven in Antwerp? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Antwerp?

Do you need a car in Antwerp? For some or all of the time? 

Tell us what you think using the comments section below:

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