OstendWest Flanders in Belgium. Its North Sea beaches have drawn in tourists since the 19th century when it was a fashionable outing for royalty and aristocracy. It has since become more democratic and is now densely built up with tall 20th-century blocks of holiday apartments and hotels. Its waterfront promenade features every cliche of a European seaside holiday, including a large musical theatre and casino. Besides being a holiday destination, Ostend is also a sizeable port for cargo traffic, particularly across the English Channel. Passenger lines towards the UK have ceased.
Post-war hunger for investments destroyed much of Ostend's original charm with tall concrete apartment buildings. Some relics of the historical Ostend however managed to survive and can still be found.
phone: +32 59 70 11 99address: Monacoplein 2This tourist office will be able to help you with all your questions regarding Ostend. They give brochures and leaflets with information about the city and wider region.
ClimateOstend has a maritime temperature climate which is heavily influenced by the winds from the North Sea. Due to these winds summers here are much cooler than in inland Europe. On the other hand night temperatures below the freezing point are not very common in winter.
Ostend-Bruges International AirportThe airport is served by holiday charters to other warmer destinations, mainly around the Mediterranean, and cargo flights. Regular scheduled passenger traffic is very limited, but some holiday charter specialists offer open seats to general public.
Most travellers arriving by air will however find it easier to fly to Brussels National Airport (BRU), which handles by far the most international traffic in and out of Belgium. There is no direct connection between BRU and Ostend, you must change trains at the Bruxelles-Midi station, which is fairly problem-free.
You can also fly in to other airports with direct connections to Bruxelles-Midi, such as Paris Charles de Gaulle or Amsterdam Schiphol, or the airport of Chaleroi, branded as "Brussels South" by the low-fare carriers flying there. The former two feature direct high-speed trains to Midi, the latter is served by buses to the station.
De Lijn operates a bus (line 6) between the Ostend Airport and the city centre.
By trainThe is in the centre of Oostende and offers many direct connections within Belgium. Changing in Brussels, Ghent or Antwerp adds even more options, both domestic and international. In particular, changing in Brussels-Midi allows you to use the high-speed trains of Eurostar (from London) and Thalys (i.e. Paris, Lille, Amsterdam, Duesseldorf and Cologne), as well as other services from the Netherlands, France and Germany. The Thalys no longer serves Ostend.
The travel time by train is little over an hour from Bruxelles-Midi, with 40 minutes to Ghent and 15 min to Bruges.
By busThe Flemish national bus company, De Lijn, has lines to Ostend from Bruges, Diksmuide and other neighbouring towns. For more information regarding different timetables (only in Dutch): https://www.delijn.be.
By carComing to Ostend by car is also possible. Ostend has plenty of parking lots.
By ferryThe ferry connection to England has ceased its operations.
By tramThe Kusttram, which runs along the whole Belgian coast from Knokke to De Panne stopping in every beach resort such as De Haan, Nieuwpoort and Koksijde. This tram stops along the beaches of Ostend and at the Ostend train station.
Most points of interest in town are close together. You can easily reach them by foot or by renting a bicycle from the rail station for €9 per day. De Lijn bus lines 5, 6, and 39 go along the seafront to the west; if you want to get to points farther along the coast, in either direction, take the Coast Train from a stop next to the rail station. You can pick up a taxi at the rail station, or call Taxibond (+32 126.96.36.199).
phone: +32 59 80-53-35address: Vlaanderenstraat 27(Closed since November 15, 2017.) The house where Anglo-Belgian artist James Ensor lived from 1916 has been restored and transformed into a museum of his life. Studio and lounge on the second floor. Only reproductions are displayed.
phone: +32 59 50 81 18address: Romestraat 11Created after the 2008 merger of the Museum voor Moderne Kunst (Modern Art Museum) and the Museum voor Schone Kunsten (Museum of Fine Arts).
Leopold ParkThe Leopold Park was set out in 1860 on the old city walls in British style, with ponds, paths and flowerbeds. The first park regulations gave free access to tourists, but local residents had to pay. The beautiful bandstand was inaugurated in 1885. The best-known statue of Oostende, called The Sea, but there is not one person who calls it that. Nearly everyone remembers the statue only by its popular name ‘Dikke Mathille’ - ‘Fat Mathilde’. There even is a “Dikke Mathille” beer that you can taste in local pubs. Near the Fat Mathilde on the right hand side is the famous Floral Clock created from 20,000 flowers and plants. It has a diameter of 9 m, the hands are 3 and 4 m long and weigh 70 and 90 kg. The date, made entirely of flowers, is reset every day during the summer months.
Sint-Petrus-en Pauluskerkaddress: Sint-Petrus-en-PauluspleinThis vast, neo-Gothic church from 1907 has a suite of stained-glass windows and a memorial chapel dedicated to Belgium's first queen, Marie-Louise of Orleans, who died in Ostend in 1850.
phone: +32 473 59 08 43address: MercatordokA former Belgian merchant marine training ship, this three-masted schooner is now a floating maritime museum. It has a length of more than 78 m and a width of 11 m. This beautiful ship is really worth a visit. Great for kids as well.
phone: +32 59 50 08 76address: Visserskaai 25Small aquarium with a collection of fish, mollusks, shell, and crustaceans from the nearby waters of the North Sea. Popular with children.
phone: +32 473 59 08 43address: Vindictive-laan 35ZSits in a dry basin on a plastic "sea" as a museum of the history and traditions of Ostend's Icelandic fishery.
phone: +32 59 80-02-89address: Langestraat 69Housed in King Leopold's restored, 19th-century summer residence, the museum holds displays of Neolithic and Roman objects excavated in the vicinity and exhibits depicting Oostend traditional dress, folklore, and history. There's a re-created fisherman's pub, a fisherman's home, and an old tobacco store.
phone: +32 59 70 62 94address: WeststaketselThe company Franlis provides 45-minute sea excursions along the coast which provide a unusual view on Ostend and its harbor. Embarking point is West Pier in Ostend (right in front of the small beach “Klein Strand”).
Ostend BeachOstend is visited by many day-trippers, especially during July and August. Tourists from the Belgian inland and foreigners mostly arrive by train (day trips) and head for the closest beach area from the station. There is a pont - free of charge - that takes you the eastern beaches: a wild stretch of beaches and dunes between Ostend and Bredene. There is even a beach for nudism-aficionados. Drinks and ice cream at - marvelously set - Twins Club.
Bike RentalMany places in Oostende offer bicycles for rent, including the following stores: Nico - Fun on Wheels (Albert I-Promenade 44A), Linda (Albert I-Promenade 28), Candy (Albert I-Promenade 4). There are coastal tracks through the dunes, and country roads leading to quiet villages. It is the perfect place to start cycling tours to the many Belgian coast towns and even Bruges is nearby.
A common sight is a coffee served with a small advocaat (eggnog). Sometimes these come with three or four profiteroles, free of chocolate sauce, for dipping in the liqueur.
phone: +32 59 41 26 95address: Karel Janssenslaan 53Popular place among locals for fries in Ostend.
phone: +32 59 51 39 13address: Hertstraat 1Good food at a budget price. Serves for example spaghetti and salads.
Lusitaniaphone: +32 59 70 17 65address: Visserskaai 35Busy and popular restaurant in the touristic heart of Ostend. The food is well presented and comes in generous proportions. It is recommended to make a reservation in advance.
phone: +32 59 50 02 24address: Nieuwstraat 5The place to go if you want to eat seafood.
phone: +32 59 80 04 54address: Platanendreef 1This restaurant on a small island in the middle of the Maria Hendrikapark offers tasty meals.
phone: +32 59 50 39 67address: Albert 1 Promenade 62AIn this restaurant they serve Belgian and Thai dishes.
phone: +32 59 70 35 56address: Albert I-promenade 9Italian restaurant for fine dining. They can offer gluten free dishes.
Copadorphone: +32 476 87 64 74address: Langestraat 10Cozy bar to go to if you feel like having a coffee, glass of wine or a cocktail.
phone: +325 980 52 97address: Langestraat 72In the city center. Almost all year round there is a high chance that a large part of the people staying in the hostel are going to be groups of school children. Lockers and luggage storage are available. There is also a kitchen and a self service restaurant.
address: IJzerstraat 5Small charming hotel with only 25 rooms, in a quiet street in the heart of Ostend. The hotel has a secure parking/garage. Close to the Casino-Kursaal of Ostend and the beach.
address: Leopold II laan 14Embellished with flowers, the hotel is near the beach, the casino of Ostend and the shopping centre.
phone: +32 59 70-76-63address: Leopold II laan 20In the centre of Ostend, close to the beach. Rooms are spacious and comfortable. Hotels offers free Wi-Fi and has Mercator restaurant serving international favourites.
phone: +32 59 55 00 30address: Kapellestraat 90Hotel with view on the yacht marina.
phone: +32 59 80-66-44address: Koningin Astridlaan 7The majestic landmark hotel at the Ostend beach remains full of grand history, but is now rather worn and outdated in many ways.
- De Haan is a beach resort with many fanciful buildings in the belle époque style. Residential streets are lined by many quaint houses. De Haan is an easy side-trip from Ostend by the coastal tram (Kusttram). Get off at the station De Haan aan Zee.