Rather than partying at nightclubs, Mechelaars tend to spend evenings talking and drinking the local beers in pubs and cafes. Many of these nightspots perform live music especially during the summer.
Mechelen has four main districts with a decent drinking scene and fine gastronomic possibilities.
Classic Flemish cuisine is presented in the area around Grote Markt. Apart from broad-ranging menus local taverns and restaurants offer an authentic historical décor.
Wollemarkt is a place of international cuisine and typical Mechelen dishes.
The district near the station comprises a number of affordable cafes and eateries where one can have a snack on the go. The college students are the habitués of this neighborhood.
A former fish market Vismarkt and the adjoining Nauwstraat form the area with the most concentration of ‘brown cafes’, lounge bars and trendy restaurants. This is by far the most dynamic area of the city.
Some of the atmospheric night spots around Vismarkt include ’t Ankertje aan de Dijle (Vismarkt 20) with live jazz and blues performances every first Monday of the month, the old and authentic brown café D’Hanekeef (Keizerstraat 8) with 35 different types of beer. De Gouden Vis (Nauwstraat 7) is a famous café with art-deco interior, a library and a canal view. A huge range of beers as well as a variety of jenevers can be found in the smallest Mechelen café adjacent to St Rumbold’s Cathedral. The wine lovers should head to Unwined (Begijnenstraat 23) with ten wines every day for tasting.
Popular dance spots of Mechelen include De 5 Vaten (Schoolstraat 6) with DJ sets on the weekends and theme parties once a month and an ambient music café De Prof (Koning Albertplein 13) with DJ sessions on special occasions.
Mechelen has its own brewery – Het Anker that features the finest beers (Mechelse Bruynen and Gouden Carolus), jenevers (Ouwe Klare) and the signature beer chocolates. The brewery located in the heart of the center has a shop and a brasserie serving typical Flemish dishes. The beers of Het Anker are available in many other bars and eateries of the city.