Mechelen Belgium is one of the underrated and yet to be discovered city in Belgium by tourists. Going to Mechelen is very convenient because it is located between Antwerp and Brussels. It takes 20 minutes by train to reach Mechelen from Antwerp and 35 minutes by train from Brussels. From the middle of the Netherlands such as in Utrecht, it takes around 2 hours and 20 minutes to travel going to Mechelen Belgium, by car or by train. Unlike the major cities in Belgium such as Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent, and Brugge, Mechelen is a small city with character, own history, and symbols worth visiting.
Historically, Mechelen is the first capital of the Netherlands, even before Brussels became the capital of Belgium and Amsterdam of the Netherlands. During the first half of 1500s under the rule of Archduchess Margaret of Austria, Mechelen was the first official capital of the “Low countries” consisting nowadays of Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. The city also became the home of the Duchess.
The nice thing about visiting Mechelen compared to its other Belgian counterparts is that Mechelen is calmer and cheaper while still being lively. Mechelen has many bars, breweries, and street markets. Hence you will never run out of things to do. Of course, it is possible to visit and experience Mechelen in one day, especially if it is just a side trip from other Belgian cities. In this blog, I will discuss the one-day itinerary when in Mechelen Belgium.
Mechelen Belgium One day itinerary
1. The Grote Markt and Town Hall of Mechelen Belgium
The Grote Markt is the center square of Mechelen. It consists of various architectures built in different eras, such as the houses from 16th and 18th centuries design, the St. Rumboldt’s ttower, which was started to be built during the 1200s, and the town hall of Mechelen which was built around 1320-1326. The town hall is one of the first town halls to be ever built in Belgium. The Grote Markt is very lively during Saturdays where many shops and market stands conduct their market business.
2. St. Rumbold’s Cathedral
This UNESCO World Heritage cathedral is dedicated in the honor of St. Rumbold, a Christian and martyr who initiated the establishment of a nearby abbey. It is believed that the remains of St. Rumbold are buried in this cathedral. The cathedral has a tower, consisting of 538 steps, and offers a magnificent view of Mechelen. Climbing the tower is for free and therefore should be added on to-do-lists when in Mechelen.
3. The Brewery Het Anker in Mechelen Belgium
The Brewery Het Anker is established during 1471 and is considered as one of Belgiujm’s oldest breweries. This brewery is hailed for the famous Gouden Carolus Beer, which has several versions. It’s Gouden Carolus special beer has won 3 times as a gold medal in the World Beer Awards during 2012. Indeed, this place is a must to visit to taste their special beers, when in Mechelen Belgium.
4. Jewish museum of Deportation and Resistance
This Nazi deportation and concentration camp during World War II were witnessed to the sufferings and deaths of 26,000 thousand Belgian Jews and Romani people during the German occupation in Belgium. Only 5% of them survived the camp. The museum documents the holocaust time and the human rights violation during the wars.
5. Museum Hof van Busleyden
The Museum Hof van Busleyden is a 16th century Renaissance palace in Mechelen Belgium. It brings back the memories of the golden period of Mechelen. In this museum, you will learn about the Burgundians’ perspectives, the city, power, mastership and craftmanship. You’ll also learn more about Archduchess Margaret, who also once lived in the town of Mechelen.
6. Martin’s Hotel Patershof Mechelen Belgium
Ever wonder how it feels to stay in a church that was converted into a hotel? Then you staying Martin’s Hotel Patershiof is highly recommended if you want to experience a piece of history during an overnight stay in Mechelen. This hotel combines both the old and new era of Mechelen. This neo-gothic convent was built in 1863 and was converted into one of the most beautiful hotels of Mechelen in 2009.
Aside from visiting the above mentioned places, you can also enjoy Mechelen in a typical Belgian way! Try Belgian chocolates in a store, dine in with a typical Belgian food, or enjoy drinking the famous Beer of Mechelen.
Of course, if you are interested to visit the major Belgian cities, you may check my blog about:
Antwerp – Antwerp Belgium: Seven Reasons to visit
Brussels – Brussels Belgium one day itinerary
Ghent – Ghent Belgium one day itinerary