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Expat Exchange - The Essential Guide to Mechelen 2024
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The Essential Guide to Mechelen

By Betsy Burlingame

SJB Global
SJB Global

Summary: Discover the charm of Mechelen with our guide to the city's top attractions, culinary hotspots, and vibrant nightlife. From outdoor adventures to cultural experiences, we'll also help you find the best recreational activities to enjoy, and offer advice on making lasting connections with the friendly locals.

Welcome to Mechelen! If you're planning to move to Mechelen, congratulations on taking the first step towards a new adventure. While there are many things to think about before you leave, such as visas, housing, and transportation, it's important to remember that once you arrive, the fun really begins. In this article, we'll introduce you to some of the best sites, restaurants, and nightlife that Mechelen has to offer, as well as provide tips on recreational activities and making friends in Mechelen.

Mechelen, a charming city in Belgium, offers a variety of attractions for both tourists and locals. One of the most iconic landmarks is St. Rumbold's Cathedral, a stunning Gothic church with a 97-meter-high tower that offers panoramic views of the city. The cathedral also houses two famous artworks by Peter Paul Rubens. Another must-visit site is the Grote Markt, a picturesque square surrounded by beautiful guild houses and the impressive City Hall. The Belfry, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is also part of the City Hall complex.

For history enthusiasts, the Kazerne Dossin is a thought-provoking museum and memorial dedicated to the Holocaust and human rights. The Museum Hof van Busleyden, housed in a 16th-century palace, showcases the history and art of Mechelen during the Burgundian period. Art lovers should not miss the contemporary art center De Garage and the street art project Mechelen Muurt, which features large-scale murals by various artists throughout the city.

Visitors can also explore the picturesque Vrijbroek Park, a large green space perfect for leisurely strolls, picnics, and sports activities. The park also features a rose garden, a playground, and a pond. Another interesting site is the Planckendael Zoo, home to a wide variety of animals and a popular destination for families.

For a unique experience, take a boat tour along the Dijle River, which offers a different perspective of the city's historic buildings and picturesque bridges. Mechelen is also known for its traditional craftsmanship, particularly in the production of bells and carillons. The Royal Carillon School and the Bell Museum are worth a visit to learn more about this fascinating craft.

The restaurant and nightlife scene in Mechelen is diverse and vibrant, offering a wide range of options for all tastes and budgets. One of the most popular restaurants is Il Cardinale, known for its delicious burgers and unique, church-themed interior. For a more upscale dining experience, try Cosma Foodhouse, which offers a fusion of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine in a stylish setting.

For traditional Belgian fare, head to De Met, a cozy brasserie located on the Grote Markt. Beer lovers should not miss Het Anker, a historic brewery that offers tours and tastings, as well as a restaurant serving traditional Belgian dishes. Another popular spot is Sava, a lively tapas bar with a wide selection of Spanish wines and delicious small plates.

When it comes to nightlife, Mechelen offers a variety of bars and clubs to suit different preferences. Café De Gouden Vis is a popular choice for its cozy atmosphere, extensive beer selection, and live music. For a more lively night out, visit Club Kamikaze, which hosts regular DJ nights and themed parties. Alternatively, enjoy a relaxed evening at Haverwerf, a trendy wine bar with a beautiful terrace overlooking the Dijle River.

Recreational activities in Mechelen cater to a wide range of interests. Vrijbroek Park is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering walking and cycling paths, sports facilities, and a playground. The park also hosts various events and activities throughout the year, such as the annual Scottish Weekend and the International Rose Garden Festival.

For water-based activities, the Sportimonium sports museum and the Tivoli swimming pool are great options. The Sportimonium offers a range of sports and games to try, while the Tivoli pool features indoor and outdoor swimming areas, a sauna, and a whirlpool. For those interested in indoor sports, the De Nekker sports center provides facilities for badminton, squash, and tennis, among others.

For a more cultural experience, Mechelen offers various workshops and classes, such as the Royal Carillon School, where visitors can learn about the art of bell ringing. Additionally, the city hosts numerous festivals and events throughout the year, including the biennial Mechelen Beer Festival, the Maanrock music festival, and the Mechelen Muurt street art project.

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Insider Tips from Expats in Mechelen: Making the Most of Life and Connections

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Allianz Care's plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Our flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget. You can submit your claims digitally and our helpline is available 24/7 to help you anytime.

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Allianz Care's plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Our flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget. You can submit your claims digitally and our helpline is available 24/7 to help you anytime.
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Get Quote

Allianz Care's plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Our flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget. You can submit your claims digitally and our helpline is available 24/7 to help you anytime.

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Allianz Care's plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Our flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget. You can submit your claims digitally and our helpline is available 24/7 to help you anytime.
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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


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