Turnhout is one of those places where I probably wouldn't even have thought of visiting, if not for the idea that I wanted to visit off-the-beaten-path areas and news places in countries I have previously been to. So when I was researching this trip, I was searching for places to visit that do not have immediate appeal. I decided to check out little towns near Antwerp such as Turnhout. It turned out that Antwerp was a great place to base oneself given that there are quite a few of these little places around it that are worth checking out.
Apparently, this town was founded during the 11th century, as a hunting retreat for the Duke of Brabant. Now, it's a town that is easy to reach by bus, as there are direct buses that run from Antwerp to Turnhout. And the great thing is that my multi-day De Lijn pass was valid even on excursions to places outside the city!
The most interesting thing to see in Turnhout is its lovely begijnhof. A begijnhof is this secluded area for women who want to be modest, but don't want to be a nun. They want to live piously and quietly, separate from the rest of society. So these lovely courtyards that are somewhat secluded from the rest of the town popped up in several Dutch-speaking towns. Turnhout's begijnhof is quite pretty and serene.
There is also a castle of the dukes of Brabant. Nowadays it functions as a government office.
I also checked out the center of town. It's not the prettiest, and doesn't have the visual appeal that other Flemish cities have, but nevertheless, it is a lively place.
Turnhout can easily be explored in a half day, and is very easy to reach from Antwerp. I definitely recommend going there to see a different side of Belgian life. Life is small, revolves around little things and issues, and everyone knows everyone, at least that was the sense I got.