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One of the world's great diamond trading centers, the Belgian city of Antwerp has appeared in James Bond movies and - as the birthplace of Reubens - has given birth to some of the world's most beloved artworks. Nowadays, it offers fine food, markets, galleries, historical tours, museums and much more, making it an enduringly popular northern European destination. The train station Antwerpen Centraal is the city's major rail terminus, and isn't hard to reach, no matter where visitors happen to be. But it's important to know the fastest routes, especially if time is tight and every second counts.
Assuming the center of Antwerp is Grote Markt (the city's central square), it should be very simple to reach Antwerpen Centraal, and a range of different options are available. For many people, the most convenient option will be using the city's excellent tram network. Line 9 runs from around the cathedral and Grote Markt to train station Antwerpen Centraal, and doesn't take long to arrive. Walking is a possibility, although factoring in 20 minutes journey time is a sensible precaution. Taxis are a good alternative, especially for those with limited mobility. Those coming from Antwerp Airport can take trains from Mortsel to Antwerpen Centraal, take the number 20 bus, or catch tram line 9. All services run direct to the station, and won't take too long to reach their destination.
If travelers start out in Grote Markt the walking distance is approximately two miles (three kilometers), making it a fairly manageable transfer, but one that will take at least 20 minutes. Trams and road routes from Grote Markt follow a slightly longer course, having to avoid the Stadspark, but are much quicker than walking. Expect line 9 trams to reach the station in 10 minutes, and taxis to take from 5-10 minutes from locations in the heart of the city. Antwerp Airport is three miles (five kilometers) south of Antwerpen Centraal. From there, travelers should anticipate trams to take 12-15 minutes, but trains are very fast, reaching the station in just seven minutes. Buses are by far the slowest way to travel, taking 20 minutes to reach the station from the airport terminals.
Antwerpen Centraal is managed by Belgian Rail, which has a comprehensive set of policies to assist disabled travelers, so those with limited mobility should expect a fairly hassle-free transit through the station. Free wheelchairs are available if needed, personal assistants can be booked in advance, disabled drop-off points make taxi journeys easier, while ramps are in place to facilitate easy access to the station concourse.
Escalators and elevators also ensure that mobility-impaired visitors have full access to the entire station, including platforms, toilets, shops, and ticketing offices. However, it's worth noting that a railroad crossing exists between the platforms at the station, meaning that staff may be required to provide assistance for transfers. Elsewhere, disabled travelers are well looked after in Antwerp. All trams have plenty of space for wheelchair users, and many stops have raised sections to enable ready access. The city has no shortage of wheelchair-friendly taxi providers, ensuring that specialist assistance requests can be fulfilled.
Generally speaking, if passengers have large amounts of luggage to contend with, trams will be a viable transport option. Antwerp's trams have enough space to contain most vacationer's cases, and they are extremely reliable. However, those with very bulky items will probably want to book a taxi, and oversized vans and SUVs are available. When heading to the station, many tram routes swing by the Stadspark, the Plantentuin botanical garden, and the Reubens House - one of Antwerp's premier attractions. So if travelers have a couple of hours spare before their trains depart, they can hop off the tram and enjoy some historical entertainment. If visitors expect to spend an hour or two at the station itself, there are some great ways to spend time in the nearby area. Antwerp Zoo is right on the station's doorstep, and is home to some 7,000 animals. Alternatively, Comics Station is actually situated inside the station complex, and offers family fun based around famous Belgian comic heroes, from the Smurfs to Lucky Luke. So there's plenty to see and do within 10 minutes of the station platforms.