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Blick auf Ostende, Bild: Frederic_Demeus / shutterstock

Ostend – enjoy, stroll and “sea”

The port city of Ostend is located in the province of West Flanders. Almost 72,000 inhabitants live here on the Belgian North Sea coast. Numerous historic buildings and museums worth seeing bear witness to its eventful history.

With a unique promenade and the nine-kilometre-long shore area, Ostend is considered the “queen of seaside resorts” in the neighbouring country.

In addition to its well-kept, wide beach, which invites you to a relaxing beach holiday, the charming city has a number of other worthwhile destinations in store for its guests.

Sunbathing, walking or water sports: a beach pleasure for all tastes

The coast off Ostend offers a completely different atmosphere on several beach sections. From the lively, popular “Groot Strand” to the quieter areas near Mariakerke or Raversijde, everyone will find the right place. Young windsurfers and water sports enthusiasts like to populate the sports beach set up especially for them. It can be a little louder here. The fine sandy areas are well equipped and await those seeking relaxation, families with children or partygoers. They all benefit from comfortable facilities and the safety of the local lifeguard.

As a special feature on the Belgian North Sea coast, the 67-kilometre-long tram line “Kusttram” connects all towns from the French to the Dutch border. On board this longest intercity tram in the world, visitors to Ostend reach their desired destination in a relaxed manner.

Not just for rainy days: art, culture and architecture in Ostend

With the St. Peter and Paul Church, which can be seen from afar, the city has a neo-Gothic cathedral full of historical details that is well worth seeing. After an extensive renovation, it is definitely worth a visit.

In the vicinity of the church building there are other interesting buildings and facilities steeped in history. But there is also a lot to discover in Ostend for fans of modern architecture. The cultural centre “De Grote Post” with its monumental copper sculpture and impressive glass and ceramic reliefs found a home in the listed Old Post Office building.

For those interested in art, a visit to the well-known “Museum by the Sea” (Mu.ZEE) is a must. It houses the works of Belgian artists from the founding of the state in 1830 to the present day; including many by the local painters Ensor and Spilliaert. Mu.ZEE also organises regular special exhibitions.
In the immediate vicinity of the city is the remarkable open-air museum Atlantikwall. Rebuilt bunkers, cannons and elaborate dioramas bring the events of the world wars to life in an impressive way.

The “Fort Napoleon” is also worth a detour. The mighty complex was intended to serve the troops of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte as a wall against an English invasion. In the First and Second World Wars, the German occupiers then used it. Today, as a modern museum, it brings the conflicts of this time closer to its young and old visitors.

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Anything but boring – Ostend with children and cones

Ostend Beach
Ostend Beach, Image: Oliverouge 3 / shutterstock

After days of sun, sand and sea, even the youngest tourists need a change. The kids can live out their urge to move in the “Hangtime” leisure facility. Numerous trampolines on 1,000 square metres and a ball pit for the little ones make possible hours of bad weather fly by. This also applies to the interesting theme park “Explorado”. In the project of the first Belgian astronaut Dirk Frimout, adults and inquisitive children alike rediscover the four elements of earth, water, fire and air in a fascinating way.

Families in particular like to visit the two lovingly preserved ships “Mercator”, a former sailing training ship, and “Amandine”, an old fishing cutter.
During the summer months, numerous events for young and old attract visitors to the city on the North Sea coast. At the “Theater am Meer”, an annual ten-day event, there are top-class performances by various artists to see. The Sand Sculpture Festival captivates thousands with its magical but ephemeral works.

Ostend, the Belgian “Queen of Sea Resorts” inspires its guests with the unique flair that only places by the sea radiate. The mixture of lively, modern city and maritime atmosphere not only conveys a relaxed mood to holiday guests. In addition to the sandy beach, which is up to 80 metres wide, and the long promenade, many cosy street cafés entice you to enjoy a relaxed aperitif.

In the parks such as Leopoldspark or the famous Japanese Garden, you can take long walks. The casino in the Kursaal, which is well worth seeing, provides some thrills for “risk-taking” travelers and the locals. Around the clock they can try their luck at roulette, blackjack and poker.
A successful holiday by the sea definitely includes extensive enjoyment. In countless restaurants, from the highly praised star restaurant to the typical snack bar, the Ostend residents themselves and their guests feast to their heart’s content. Especially along the promenade, the freshly caught fish is always very popular. It is served with the supposedly best fries in the world, which the inhabitants of the region like to emphasize with a wink.

Whether families with children, couples seeking peace and quiet, partygoers or ambitious water sports enthusiasts – everyone will find the ideal holiday pleasure in the city on the North Sea coast. The sea view and the fresh breeze of sea air are always included.

The most beautiful sights in Ostend

Tramhuisje

The historic tram station, which was built in 1903, is one of the landmarks of the spa town.
The listed building is the only surviving stop of the coastal tram, which still regularly stops there.

Lange Nelle

The Lange Nelle is popularly known as the 65-metre-high lighthouse in Ostend. It is one of the four lighthouses still in operation and has reliably guided seafarers on the high seas since 1949. The tower is not open to the public, but it is an interesting sight on a leisurely bike ride.

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St. Peter’s Cathedral

St. Peter and Paul Church in Ostend
St. Peter and Paul Church, Image: Jean-Marc Pierard

The Church of St. Peter and Paul (Sint-Petrus-en-Pauluskerk) is the main church of the resort.
The building, which was built in 1899 under King Leopold II, is 72 metres tall at its highest point. The Roman Catholic church in neo-Gothic style was built on the ashes of a previous church. In 2004, Manufactur d’Orgues Thomas von Francorchamps built the Thomas organ, which has been part of the church ever since.

Anno 1465 Museum

The medieval fishing village of Walraversijde is one of the most important archaeological sites in the area. The village is being reconstructed and includes three fishermen’s houses as well as a bakery and smokehouse. In the museum, all finds and information about life in 1465 are conveyed. Tickets can be ordered online, but dogs are not allowed.

Fort Napoleon

The imposing Fort Napoleon was originally a military fortress. It was built in 1811 under Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte and was intended to serve as a base. During the two world wars, it was used by German occupying troops. After 5 years of restoration in 1995, Fort Napoleon was opened in 2000 as a museum with indoor and outdoor gastronomy for the general public.

Leisure activities for the whole family

Munical Swimming Pool

The municipal swimming pool was built in the mid-70s. It also has an outdoor area, a paddling pool for toddlers and an area for older children with two water slides. Adults can relax in the hot tub, Turkish bath and solarium. Sauna access is also popular, but it is not included in the entrance fee of about 3 euros. A café provides culinary catering during your stay.

Puzzle Escape Room

Exciting for the whole family – Escape Rooms are a popular leisure activity for tricksters and hobby detectives. The goal is to free yourself from a room full of mysterious puzzles. Each Escape Room is individually decorated and has its own mysterious story. Time is limited and only those who crack the code solve the puzzle and make it to the next room. The ultimate challenge for bright minds.

Billekarre – Go Kart

At four locations in Ostend there is the possibility to rent the rustic pedal mobiles. Whether alone, four or even six. The go-karts are available in different versions and are a welcome change from the usual bike tours. You can rent the vehicles by the hour or all day and explore the surroundings from a different angle.

Hangtime

The indoor playground is more like a play park. In addition to the 1000 square meters of trampolines, there are foampits, basketball hoops, dodgeball, fly yoga and for the very little ones an extensive play zone that invites you to discover. Hangtime also has a restaurant and a café lounge where you can relax with a drink and a piece of cake after all the action.

Short trip to Bruges

Bruges-Belgium
Beautiful Bruges, Image: TTstudio/shutterstock

Bruges is a small, romantic town near Ostend and is ideal as a destination for excursions.
Impressive architecture, small bridges, lovingly furnished shops and small cafés – Bruges exudes a charm of its own that will wrap you around your finger.
Sights such as the Rozenhoedkaai, the Bonifazius Bridge and the 83-metre-high Belfry, which are the perfect postcard motif, are just too kitschy and beautiful. The 13th-century windmills on the outskirts of the village are also worth a visit. Both mills are still grinding grain and can be visited.

Ostend is just as suitable for a cultural trip as it is for a family holiday, the varied surroundings and the interplay of activity and relaxation ensures a successful holiday in Belgium that will remain unforgettable.