Are you ready to uncover the delights of Mechelen, a hidden treasure in Belgium? Whether you're an adventurer, a history aficionado, or simply seeking a picturesque getaway, Mechelen offers a plethora of experiences that cater to all interests.
We'll delve deeper into the 15 best things to do in Mechelen inviting you to engage with the city's charm. The best part? You can do most of these things on a rainy day! Because we know how Belgium can be right?
All the Top Things to Do in Mechelen
From historical landmarks to cultural gems and unique experiences, I've curated a selection that covers all the must-see and must-do activities in Mechelen, ensuring an unforgettable journey that caters to your travel style. Let's dive straight into the excitement! 🌟
1. Marvel at St. Rumbold's Cathedral
Dominating the skyline, St. Rumbold's Cathedral is an architectural marvel. Located at the heart of Mechelen, have you ever wondered how this grand cathedral was constructed without modern technology?
Don't miss the chance to climb the tower for sweeping city views. Remember to book your tower climb in advance.
Address: Onder den Toren 12, 2800 Mechelen
2. Discover Kazerne Dossin
A somber reminder of history, Kazerne Dossin was once a Nazi transit camp. As you stand within its walls, can you fathom the stories of resilience that unfolded here? At this moment you can visit the expo "Homosexuals and Lesbians in Nazi Europe" within the halls of the museum.
Opt for a guided tour to gain deeper insights into the camp's history and its significance today. Or visit the memorial online on their site.
Address: Goswin de Stassartstraat 153, 2800 Mechelen
3. Visit the Toy Museum
Discover the magic of toys at the Mechelen Toy Museum, nestled in the heart of Mechelen. Recently renovated in the summer of 2023, it offers a fresh and vibrant experience.
Explore a diverse collection of vintage and modern toys, from dolls to model trains, and enjoy hands-on interactive exhibits. Don't miss special themed displays and exhibitions that add a unique twist to your visit. It's a place where nostalgia and play come together to create cherished memories for all ages. Perfect for a rainy day in Mechelen!
Address: Nekkerspoelstraat 21, 2800 Mechelen
4. Climb Up the St. Rumbold's Tower
Embark on an adventure as you ascend the St. Rumbold's Tower. How does the thrill of conquering its heights amplify the city's beauty?
You can access the summit of the Sint Romboutstoren by ascending a staircase consisting of 538 steps. The final set of stairs will lead you directly to the tower's peak and a glass walkway. When you have finally completed all those steps, you'll be treated to Mechelen's panoramic 360-degree views of the city. Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for some steep staircases. The view from the top is well worth the climb.
And if you happen to be in Mechelen on a Saturday during the weekly market, you're in for a musical treat. The city's carillon player takes a seat in the tower and performs delightful tunes on the bells. Keep your ears open, and you might even recognize some popular melodies.
5. Take a Boat Tour
Drift along the Dijle River, soaking in the picturesque sights of Mechelen. How does the gentle sway of the boat enhance your connection with the city? Evening boat tours offer a unique perspective as the city lights illuminate the water.
6. Explore Mechelen's Beguinages
Step back in time as you explore the tranquil beguinages. Because of its special Flemish style and special design, the Big Beguinage was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Beguinages were like small towns inside bigger towns. They had their own bakery, brewery, church, and places to take care of sick people. They were made a long time ago, during the time when people went on crusades. Lots of men left for the crusades and didn't come back, so there were many women left. Can you envision the daily lives of the women who lived in these charming cottages?
7. Enjoy a Picnic in Tivoli Park
Tivoli Park in Mechelen is a tranquil oasis created around the Tivoli castle. This serene park offers lush greenery, perfect for a leisurely picnic or a peaceful stroll along its scenic pathways.
Located in the heart of Mechelen, Tivoli Park provides a serene escape from the city's hustle and bustle, making it a beloved destination for both locals and visitors.
Recommendation: Visit during spring for a burst of colorful blooms, and don't forget to bring a blanket for your picnic.
8. Enjoy a culinairy hotspot: De Vleeshalle
Welcome to De Vleeshalle, where history meets culinary excellence. Once a marketplace for butchers, this monumental hall is now a vibrant food hub nestled in the heart of Mechelen.
Fourteen passionate vendors showcase their best offerings daily, serving up freshly prepared dishes for on-the-spot enjoyment or selling premium ingredients for your home kitchen adventures.
The flavor artisans at De Vleeshalle are as diverse as the global culinary map itself, bringing together the tastes of Hanoi, Madrid, and Acapulco under one roof. Indulge in the creamiest guacamole, savor the crunchiest focaccia, relish aromatic phở, or experience heavenly burgers. Complete your culinary journey with the world's finest ice cream and freshly roasted coffee.
On the first and second floors, you'll find even more excitement and color, making De Vleeshalle a must-visit destination for food enthusiasts and travelers looking to experience a world of flavors in Mechelen.
9. Taste Local Flavors at Brewery Het Anker
Are you a beer enthusiast? Sample Mechelen's finest brews at Brewery Het Anker. You can book a table for a nice moment with friends and family around a delicous meal and some beers. Or you can visit the brewery and discover more about the beers of Mechelen. They also organise a lot of events so don't miss out.
10. Stroll Through the Grote Markt
The bustling Grote Markt is Mechelen's heart. Relax at a café and watch the world go by. The square often hosts events and markets, adding to its charm.
11. Visit Planckendael Zoo
Planckendael Zoo is a captivating destination for wildlife enthusiasts and families alike. Located just outside Mechelen, this expansive zoo offers an opportunity to get up close with a diverse array of animals from around the world.
Stroll through beautifully landscaped habitats to encounter everything from majestic elephants and playful pandas to exotic birds and more.
12. Admire the Art at Mechelen Cultural Centre
Located at the heart of Mechelen, the Mechelen Cultural Center is a vibrant hub for arts and culture. This modern center hosts a diverse range of events, including live performances, art exhibitions, and cultural gatherings.
Whether you're interested in theater, music, visual arts, or other forms of artistic expression, this venue offers something for everyone. With its contemporary facilities and engaging programming, the Mechelen Cultural Center enriches the cultural landscape of the city, providing a platform for both local and international talent.
13. Relax at Vrijbroek Park
Vrijbroek Park is a serene green oasis nestled in the heart of Mechelen. This expansive park offers a delightful escape into nature, with lush lawns, serene lakes, and picturesque gardens.
The park also boasts a rich collection of flora and fauna, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers. With its blend of natural beauty and recreational opportunities, Vrijbroek Park invites visitors to unwind and reconnect with the tranquility of the great outdoors, all within the city's embrace.
14. Amaze yourself in Technopolis
Technopolis is an enthralling science center located in Mechelen, where curiosity and discovery reign supreme. It's a place where science comes to life, offering interactive exhibits and hands-on experiments that engage visitors of all ages.
From uncovering the mysteries of physics and chemistry to exploring the marvels of technology and innovation, Technopolis makes learning an exhilarating adventure.
Whether you're launching rockets, creating electric circuits, or delving into the world of virtual reality, there's always something new and fascinating to explore. With its commitment to making science accessible and fun, Technopolis sparks the imagination and inspires a lifelong love for learning.
15. Wander Along the Dijlepad Trail
The Dijlepad Trail is a picturesque route that invites you to explore the natural beauty surrounding Mechelen. This scenic path takes you along the tranquil Dijle River, offering a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Whether you're seeking a peaceful walk or a leisurely bike ride, the Dijlepad Trail provides a perfect backdrop with its lush greenery and waterside views. It's an opportunity to reconnect with nature, spot local wildlife, and appreciate the serenity of the riverbanks.
Where to Stay in Mechelen
Still in the early stages of planning your Mechelen adventure? After sorting out your travel arrangements, the next step is finding the perfect place to call your home base for exploring this charming city.
🥇 Best Hotel – Martin's Patershof: This hotel is situated within a former church, creating an atmosphere that's both historic and captivating at the center of Mechelen.
💶 Best Budget Hotel – Hotel Elisabeth: Conveniently located near Mechelen's main attractions, it offers cozy rooms without straining your budget.
🏡 Best Bed and Breakfast – B&B Koepoort: A personalized and charming stay with excellent breakfast (glutenfree possible as well).
🌳 Best Nature Retreat – Bijgebouw Hoeve in Nature: Located at 11km from the city center of Mechelen, this beautiful holiday home in the middle of nature will feel like the vacation you deserve.
How to Get Around in Mechelen?
Navigating Mechelen is a breeze, offering various convenient options for getting around this enchanting city.
🚶♀️ On Foot: Mechelen's compact size makes it ideal for exploring on foot. The city center and its attractions are easily accessible by walking, allowing you to soak in the charming streets and vibrant atmosphere.
🚌 Public Transit: Mechelen boasts an efficient and eco-friendly bus service that's perfect for traversing the city. The bus system, De Lijn, covers key areas, making it a great way to reach your desired destinations. A single ticket valid for 1-hour costs around 2,5€ when you pay by SMS texting 4884 and sending a text "DL" or with The Lijn Bus App.
🚴♂️ Bicycle: With cycling paths and bike rental stations scattered throughout Mechelen, biking is an enjoyable and eco-friendly mode of transportation.
🚗 Car: While Mechelen is pedestrian-friendly, using a car can be convenient for exploring areas beyond the city center. Keep in mind that parking within the city can be challenging and costly.
How Many Days Do You Need to Visit Mechelen?
To truly savor all that Mechelen has to offer, a visit of 2 days is recommended. This duration allows you to immerse yourself in the city's historical sites, explore its diverse museums, and meander through its charming streets at a leisurely pace.
I hope you will enjoy your stay in Mechelen and don't hesitate to discover other amazing places in Belgium.
Keep on exploring & Fly Along