De Haan is a beach resort on the Belgian sea coast in West Flanders. Thanks to a clever and strict real estate policy, De Haan has kept the charm of the 1930s, with a lot of white villas and compared to the other Belgian seaside resorts a very limited number of postwar apartment blocks. It is forbidden to build buildings higher than 5 floors here.
De Haan (French: Le Coq) used to be a very popular destination among the French speaking aristocracy and rich. The current day municipality of De Haan also contains the villages of Klemskerke, Vlissegem, Vosseslag (which has a lot of campings) and Wenduine (which also is a seaside resort).
- 1 Tourist office De Haan, Tramlijn-Oost, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Daily 9:30—12:00 and 13:30—17:00. Located in the former tram station.
- 2 Tourist office Wenduine, Leopold II-laan (next to the Wenduine Centrum tram station), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 9:30—12:00 and 13:30—17:00. Closed Mon-Thu from October until end of March. Located in the village of Wenduine.
The coastal tram (de Kusttram in Dutch) is the easiest way to reach De Haan by public transport. The tram line runs from De Panne near the French border to Knokke near the Dutch border. One could take the train from Ghent, Bruges or Brussels and transfer to the tram at Ostend or Blankenberge, the railway and tram stations being next to each other. De Haan has 3 tram stops; you probably want the stop at De Haan aan Zee which has a very quaint, photogenic station building. De Lijn operates the coastal tram.
The central portion of the town is about a kilometre long and just over half as wide, so you can get around easily on foot. Between De Haan and Wenduine you can very easily take the Kusttram. However, if you want to see the sights in the inland villages of for example Klemskerke, than the best way to do so is by bike or by car.
- 3 Fietshuis Catrysse, Leopoldlaan 16, ☏ . Daily from 8:30 until the evening. Outside the tourist season closed on Wednesday. Bike rental company in the town centre of De Haan. Here bikes are for rent for already a few hours up to several weeks. €10 for 4-8 hours, €13 for a full 24 hours.
- 4 Fietsen André, Leopoldlaan 9, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Daily 9:00—18:00. Except school holidays closed on Monday. Another bike rental company in the town centre of De Haan.
A distinctive characteristic of De Haan is the fanciful architecture of many of its buildings, both commercial as well as residential. Many buildings are in the belle époque style. The buildings can be a reason in itself to visit De Haan. Most such buildings of interest are between the tram line and the beach. The commercial buildings (hotels, restaurants) are on the route from the tram station to the beach and along the beach itself. One should also look at the houses along residential streets as almost all have some degree of quaintness.
- 1 Tram Station. The tram station itself is much photographed. The name of the station De Haan aan Zee literally means the rooster by the sea. Between the tram tracks is a historical sign saying "don't step on the tracks" in Dutch on one side and in French on the other. The coastal tram used to be part of a much larger network of cross-country trams (known as the Vicinal in French and the Buurttram in Dutch) of which very little remains in operation today.
- 2 Spioenkop. Small white pavillion built on top of the second highest dune of Belgium (31 meters above sea level). This place is close to the village center of Wenduine. From the pavillion you can have a nice view over the surrounding dunes.
- 3 Villa Savoyarde, Shakespearelaan 5. Albert Einstein lived in the villa "Savoyarde" for six months in 1933 after escaping the growing nazi regime Germany. After six months he moved to the United States. The house is not open for visit and is private property with people living in the house, please respect this.
- There is a small park at the end of the street Normandiëlaan which contains the life-size statue of Albert Einstein sitting on a park bench.
- 4 Hubertmolen, Park Leopold II. This wooden mill built by Jan Hubert in 1880 can be compared to those in the Netherlands. Jan Hubert belonged to the most important miller family of the Belgian coast.
- 5 De Grote Schamele Weecke, Lepelemstraat 44, ☏ . This historic farm in the village of Vlissegem with a monumental barn dates back to the 14th century. The barn is now located in a hotel called Hof ter Lepelem.
- 6 Duinbossen (Wooded dunes). This unusual woodland stretching from Vosseslag to Wenduine. The nature reserves 'De Zandpanne' and 'De Kijkuit' are situated in or next to the 'Duinbossen'. Several paths allow walkers to cross the terrain. Maybe you can spot one of the galloway cows grazing between Wenduine and Zwarte Kiezel.
- 7 Nature Reserve D'Heye, Batterijstraat-Koerslaan. This nature reserve consists of a more than 1000 years old dune area, located between De Haan (Vosseslag village to be more precise) and the neighboring municipality of Bredene. Since 1993 it is protected as a nature reserve.
- 8 Town Hall, Leopoldlaan 24. The current town hall was built as the first luxury hotel Grand Hotel du Coq in De Haan with running hot water. In the period after the Second World War the building served as a holiday centre for Walloon children. The coastline that time was more inland, so the hotel was situated right next to the beach. Since the 1970s the building is used as the town hall.
Walk, play or sleep on the beach, bike on the seafront or in the country.
- 1 Royal Golf Club Oostende (Koninklijke Golf Club Oostende), Koninklijke Baan 2, ☏ . One of the oldest golf courses in Belgium and the only link course on the Belgian coast. It was built in assignment of king Leopold II due to his aspirations to make Ostend more appealing to British tourists. The golf course is called "Oostende", but it actually is situated in De Haan, albeit in the direction of Ostend.
- 2 Duinbossen and De Zandpanne. Between De Haan and Wenduine, the two nature reserves Duinbossen and De Zandpanne allow for a good hike. free.
- 3 Potinière, Leopoldlaan, De Haan. Scroll around the small park in the center of De Haan. Ideal leisure activity with kids: there is a playground, a midget golf and a lot of benches to see the kids cycling around.
- 4 Wenduine Swimming pool (Wielingenzwembad), Graaf Jansdijk 18, De Haan (Wenduine), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Swimming pool at the beach in Wenduine. 2€ (adults), 1,25€ (kids).
- 5 Vlissegem kermis. Learn to know the local traditions at this typical Flemish fair. Typically organised mid June. Free.
De Haan is not known as a shopping destination, but of course there are the high end boutiques that are typical for sea side resorts.
- 1 Frietvosje, Vosseslag 134, ☏ . Wed-Mon: 11:00—14:00 and 17:00—00:00. Closed on Tuesday. One of the most appreciated frietkoten in De Haan municipality, though situated in the village of Vosseslag. This is the place you have to go to if you want to have some good fries in De Haan.
- 2 Strand, Zeedijk 19, ☏ . A brasserie on the beach and restaurant of the Strandhotel. A great place to drink a trappist beer or eat a shrimp croquette. €15-25.
- 3 Le Kok sur Mer, Warvinge 49, ☏ . Closed on Mon, Wed and Sun evening.. Great restaurant in the village of Vlissegem. The food is very tasty and beautifully served. Lunch menu for €30.
- 4 Bleu Chaud, Koninklijke Baan 15, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Meat and grill restaurant in the centre of De Haan. Most courses are with meat and fish. Dishes for children are available. main course €19-€30.
- 5 Markt 11, Driftweg 11, ☏ . Tue-Sat: 12:00—14:00 and 19:00—21:00. Closed Sun, Mon.. Luxurious restaurant with a fine cuisine is a good location for fine dining in De Haan. lunch menu €39, other menu for €65.
De Haan is not the place to go to if you want to experience some buzzing nightlife. However, there are a few spots that offer a nice setting for a relaxing tea or coffee.
- 1 Mano, Zeedijk 18, ☏ . Nice brasserie with coffee and tea located on the seaside promenade. Also offer snacks such as waffles and ice cream. Ideal for a small afternoon break from the beach.
- 2 Koffiehuis Provence, Stationsstraat 11 (Close to the De Haan main tram station), ☏ . Cozy place with friendly service. Tea, coffee and snacks are served here.
- 3 Bij Mady en Peter, Kerkstraat 46. Tue-Sun: 10:00—19:00, closed on Monday. Typical Belgian cafe bar to have a coffee or beer.
- 4 Cocktailbar Ipanema, Grotestraat 8 (next to the library), ☏ . Thu-Mon: 17:00—1:00. Closed Tue, Wed.. Cocktails in an exotic bar.
- 1 Camping De Heide, Driftweg 210A, ☏ . Camping located on the edge of the De Haan municipality. This camping offers spots for tents, caravans and campers. Parking spaces for cars are included. WiFi and hot water are available. Open from 31 March until 3 October. €18-€25 for 2 persons.
- 2 Sunparks De Haan aan Zee, Wenduinsesteenweg 151, ☏ . Big holiday park behind the dunes where well equipped holiday houses are available. In the center of the park is an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, sauna and wellness centre. The park is open during the whole year.
- 3 Ibis De Haan, Wenduinesteenweg 136, ☏ . Comfortable economy hotel located behind the beautiful dune forest. €60.
- 4 Maison Rabelais, Van Eycklaan 2 (centre, near tramway line), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Small B&B in a 1939 villa. Garden with 4 sunbeds and other garden furniture.
- 5 Holiday Suites De Haan, Sparrensbolaan, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 10:00. Apartments equipped with a kitchen, bathroom, living room and bedroom. The domain has a free outdoor swimming pool opened during the summer months.
- 6 Romantik Manoir Carpe Diem, Prins Karellaan 12, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A charming little four star hotel in the Concessie (the white villas part of De Haan), near the beach and the natural "dune" reserve and not far from the village. €150-250.
- 7 Grand Hotel Belle Vue, Koninklijk Plein 5 (Very near to the tram station), ☏ . Excellent four star high-end hotel housed in a 1912 monumental corner building. €180-€250.
- Take the tram to other coastal places such as Knokke, Ostend or Nieuwpoort. Also neighbouring Bredene-aan-zee is nice to visit, as it is the only Belgian coastal town where the original coastal dunes have not been destroyed by the 'Atlantikwall' of endless rows of uniform, ugly and grey apartment blocks so characteristic of the Belgian seaside. In Bredene, there is no seaside promenade, the town is behind the dunes and high-rises are limited. On the beach, all you see behind you are dunes, and a couple of casual beach bars. A few WWII German bunkers (part of the original Atlantikwall) still stand on top of the dunes. Bredene is also home to Belgium's only nudist beach (a small section of the beach east of town centre). Bredene is halfway towards Oostende, and you can get there either by coastal tram or by walking along the beach (5 km).