Ostend (Dutch: Oostende) is a seaside city of 70,000 inhabitants in West 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.
Ostend used to be a small fishing village on the easternmost edge of an island on the shore of the coast. The original town centre is 200 m away in the sea compared to the present day seashore. After the town was flooded and destroyed several times by severe storms, it was moved onshore to its current location. The mudflat between the island and the coastline gradually sanded and the island became a part of the main land. Ostend prospered as a market town. In the 17th century the harbour of Ostend gained importance. Ostend received a lot of attention of Belgian kings Leopold I and Leopold II, since they liked to spend their holidays here. They built many important buildings in the city, such as the Hippodrome Wellington horse racing track and the Venetian-style Royal Galleries, which are still a notable landmark along Ostend's main beach.
Post-war hunger for investments destroyed much of Ostend's original charm, replacing them with tall concrete apartment buildings. In the city centre, several high-rise buildings have recently been constructed, chiefly intended for the super rich from outside of the city, as most of these appartments are far more expensive than what any local could ever afford. However, some relics of the historical Ostend however managed to survive and can still be found.
- 1 Tourist office, Monacoplein 2, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Daily 09:00 —19:00 in summer, 10:00—18:00 in autumn and spring, 10:00—17:30 in winter. This 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.
Ostend 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. As is the case anywhere along the North Sea coast, sea water temperatures are highest in mid- to late summer, when the beaches are at their busiest.
- 1 Ostend-Bruges International Airport (OST IATA) (within the city limits just out of the centre). The 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 IATA), 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.
The 2 Train Station 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.
The 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.
Coming to Ostend by car is also possible. Ostend has plenty of parking lots.
The ferry connection to England has ceased its operations.
The 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).
- 1 James Ensorhuis (James Ensor House), Vlaanderenstraat 27, ☏ . June-Sept and Easter vacation week: W-M 10:00-12:00 and 14:00-17:00; Nov-May: Sa Su 14:00-17:00; closed Oct. (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. €2 adults, €1 seniors and students, free for children under 18.
- 2 Mu.ZEE (Art Museum by the Sea), Romestraat 11, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Su 10:00—18:00. Created after the 2008 merger of the Museum voor Moderne Kunst (Modern Art Museum) and the Museum voor Schone Kunsten (Museum of Fine Arts). €9 adults, €7.50 seniors, €1 young people aged 13 to 26; free for children under 13.
- Leopold Park. The 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.
- 3 Sint-Petrus-en Pauluskerk (St. Peter and Paul Church), Sint-Petrus-en-Paulusplein. This 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.
- 4 Zeilschip Mercator (Sailing Ship Mercator), Mercatordok (Not far from the rail station), ☏ . May Jun Sep: daily 09:00-12:00 and 13:00-18:00; Jul Aug: daily 09:00-21:00; Apr-Jun Sep: daily 10:00-13:00 and 14:00-18:00; Oct-Mar: Sa Su and holidays 11:00-13:00 and 15:00-17:00. A 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. €5 for adults, €3 for children ages 5-12, free for children under 5.
- 5 Noordzeeaquarium (North Sea Aquarium), Visserskaai 25 (Near the old fishing harbor), ☏ . April to September daily from 10:30—12:30 and 13:00—17:00 with no break in July and August; October to March weekends from 10:30—13:00 and 13:00—17:30. Small aquarium with a collection of fish, mollusks, shell, and crustaceans from the nearby waters of the North Sea. Popular with children. €2 for adults; €1 for children 4-14.
- 6 Amandine Ship, Vindictive-laan 35Z, ☏ . Daily 10:00—17:00. Last entrance at 16:30. Sits in a dry basin on a plastic "sea" as a museum of the history and traditions of Ostend's Icelandic fishery. €4 for normal ticket, €2 for children aged 4 to 12, children younger than 4 for free.
- 7 Oostends Historisch Museum De Plate (De Plate Oostend Historical Museum), Langestraat 69 (close to Wapenplein), ☏ . Sa 10:00-12:00 and 14:00-17:00; school vacations W-M 10:00-12:00 and 14:00-17:00. Housed 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. €2 adults, €1 seniors and children 14-18, free for children under 14.
- 1 Sea excursion - Franlis rondvaarten, Weststaketsel, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 1 July-20 July and 16 August-29 August: daily 14:00—17:00. 21 July-15 August: daily 11:00—17:00. Boats depart every hour. The 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”). €9.50 adult, €7.50 child.
- Ostend Beach. Ostend 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 Rental. Many 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.
Ostend is a paradise for shopaholics. First of all, you have the Kapellestraat with all the important large chain stores. In the Adolf Buylstraat you can find designer clothing, shoes and accessories. Ostend has also a shopping center Shopping Center Feest- en Kultuurpaleis with 17 different shops. Other shopping streets are Christinastraat, Witte Nonnenstraat, James Ensorgalerij and Alfons Pieterslaan
There are a number of places to eat in Ostend, ranging from a Pizza Hut to charming old style Flemish Pannenkoekenhuis (Pancake Houses). There are also a number of chocolatiers and Dutch style Snoepje (Sweetie) stores, the latter lit up in bright pink neon. Most street corners are either a coffee shop or a bar.
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.
- 1 Frituur Franky, Karel Janssenslaan 53, ☏ . Tu-Su. Popular place among locals for fries in Ostend.
- Passe-Vite, Nieuwstraat 10, ☏ . Good food at a budget price. Serves for example spaghetti and salads.
- 2 Lusitania, Visserskaai 35, ☏ . Busy 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.
- 3 Apero Fish Palace, Nieuwstraat 5, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. The place to go if you want to eat seafood. The signature dish is a huge bowl of mixed seafood.
- 4 Het Koninginnehof, Platanendreef 1, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. This restaurant on a small island in the middle of the Maria Hendrikapark offers tasty meals.
- 5 St-Malo, Albert 1 Promenade 62A, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. In this restaurant they serve Belgian and Thai dishes. Lunch menu €22, dinner menu €42.
- 1 Copador, Langestraat 10, ☏ . Daily from 14:00. Cozy bar to go to if you feel like having a coffee, glass of wine or a cocktail.
Tati's Jazzclub (tatis), Langestraat 71 (in the Langestraat (main bar/pub street in Ostend), you should walk up to the quay; look for the saxophone hanging out front, next to the Irish bar Celtic). Depending. Just go and see if it's open. The Langestraat area is the area with the most bars in Ostend. You have a choice of over 30 bars and restaurants.
- 1 HI De Ploate Ostend, Langestraat 72, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 10:00 - 22:00 (rooms available after 15:00), check-out: before 10:00. In 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. €22-32.
- 2 Hotel de Hofkamers, IJzerstraat 5. Check-in: 14:30, check-out: 11:00. Small 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. €100.
- 3 Hotel Ter Streep, Leopold II laan 14. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 11:00. Embellished with flowers, the hotel is near the beach, the casino of Ostend and the shopping centre. €90.
- 4 Ramada Ostend, Leopold II laan 20, ☏ . In 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.
- 5 Burlington Hotel, Kapellestraat 90 (by the yacht marina opposite to the main train station), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Hotel with view on the yacht marina. Double rooms starting at €82.
- 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. 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 De Haan, and you can get there either by coastal tram or by taking the free ferry and walking along the beach (just 3 km).
|Routes through Ostend|
|Nieuwpoort ← Middelkerke ←||W E||→ Bredene → De Haan|