According to wholevehicles, Ostend (Ostende) is a seaside resort town in West Flanders, concurrently the largest Belgian port on the North Sea and one of the five Flemish provinces where the official language is Dutch. Glory came to this northern European resort during the time of King Leopold I, in the 19th century, when the coast was appreciated by royalty and aristocracy. Traces of the presence of representatives of the highest and privileged strata of society can be found today.
The “Queen of the Belgian coast”, as high-ranking guests called Ostend, combines a lot of advantages: beautiful beaches, interesting museums, a variety of shopping, active nightlife and trips to the casino, hippodrome, outdoor pools with specially heated sea water, spa, windsurfing and sailing and impeccable cuisine based on the highest quality seafood. Based on the climatic features of the Belgian coast, the best time to visit is from June to the end of August.
How to get to Ostend
Ostend-Bruges International Airport is a short drive from the city center by car or any form of transport. Unfortunately, the airport is used only by private and charter flights.
Belgium is connected by a network of high-speed trains TGV and Thalys with France, Holland, Germany. The most convenient way to get to the resort from Brussels, from the Central Station (gare Centrale). Ostend is the terminus of the Brussels-Ghent-Bruges railway. Travel time is 1 hour 20 minutes. The fare for the second class one way is a little less than 18 EUR. Trains run once an hour, from morning to six in the evening. Travel time from Bruges to Ostend is no more than 15 minutes, from Ghent – a little less than an hour.
The railway station is combined with the sea and is located a five-minute walk from the coast, so the need to use a taxi or public transport disappears by itself.
The E40 motorway connects Brussels and Ostend. Travel time is about one and a half hours. Distance no more than 115 km. You can also drive to the resort from Antwerp. To do this, you must first drive on the E17 motorway and then only on the E40.
On the ship
There is a ferry service between the English city of Ramsgate and Ostend (Trans Europa Ferries). However, the opportunity to get to the city by water is not available to everyone. Ferries carry only passengers with cars. Travel time is 4 hours.
History and culture
The history of the city goes back to the Middle Ages. The first mentions date back to the 13th century in connection with the lively trade that began in these places rich in seafood. Up to this point, Ostend was, apparently, a small fishing village. Geographically, the city was located on the island of Testerep and later connected to the mainland due to a decrease in sea level. At the beginning of the 17th century, Ostend was captured, partially destroyed, and subsequently rebuilt by the Spaniards.
The siege of the city is described in the book of the famous Spanish writer and journalist Arturo Perez-Reverte called “Spanish Fury”.
In the 19th century, the first king of Belgium turned the northern trading port into a prestigious resort. Lepold II continued his father’s work, cementing Ostend’s reputation as a fashionable holiday destination among the nobility.
How to navigate in the city
The coastal area of Rybakov (Visserskaai) is the best place for tasting seafood. Numerous cafes and restaurants offer a huge selection of dishes. At the end of the area is the Aquarium, which demonstrates the richness of the underwater world of the North Sea (Noordzeeaquarium). The cost of the entrance ticket is not at all big – 2 EUR, and children 4 years old and younger can generally get in for free.
Nearby is a completely pedestrian area, named after King Albert I (Albert I Promenade). This is an excellent place for a walk with a beautiful view of the sea. In addition to fresh air and beautiful scenery, nightlife lovers can easily get to the Oostende Kursaal casino from here.
You can move around the city on the intercity coastal tram, which connects different points along the Belgian coast. In total, the tram makes about 69 stops, and the duration of the route is almost two and a half hours. The traffic interval is every 10-20 minutes in summer, and every half hour in winter, regardless of direction. The cost of a one-way ticket is 3 EUR.
It is better to buy a ticket for the coastal tram in advance, at the machine or at special points of sale of the De Lijn management company. Otherwise, the cost will increase.
The beaches of Ostend
Ostend has five main and well-equipped beaches. The entrance is free. Those who come to Ostend to relax for the weekend choose the most convenient option – the beach next to the train station. The best is the one in the western part of the city, next to the former royal villa of Leopold II (Thermae palace).
Cuisine and restaurants
The basis of the cuisine is seafood. Starting from the famous oysters and ending with shrimp croquettes. Other tasty local attractions include chocolate and locally brewed beer (Keyte beer).
Shopping and stores
The main shopping street is Kapellestraat. All European brands oriented to the middle class are presented here. Also of interest is the Feest- en Kultuurpaleis shopping center (about 17 shops, Wapenplein street).
Entertainment and attractions in Ostend
Among the attractions, first of all, it is worth highlighting the Peter and Paul Church (Sint-Petrus-en-Pauluskerk), built in the neo-Gothic style in the late 19th – early 20th century. It is here that the first Queen of Belgium is buried. Worthy of attention is the Capuchin Church (Kapucijnenkerk), dating from the beginning of the 17th century.
Ship lovers should definitely visit the three-masted sailing ship Mercator, used as a training ship by officers of the Belgian Navy in the middle of the 20th century. Opening hours: January, February, March, April, November, December – from 10:00 to 12:30 and from 14:00 to 16:30. May, June, September, October – from 10:00 to 12:30 and from 14:00 to 17:30. July, August – from 10:00 to 17:30. Ticket price: 4 EUR, for children from 14 to 6 years old – 2 EUR, for children under 6 years old – admission is free.
Museums in Ostend
Historical Museum of Ostend (De Plate]
Opening hours: 10:00 to 14:00 and 14:00 to 17:00, from mid-June to mid-September, and every Saturday Always closed on Tuesdays Ticket price – 5 EUR. Children under 19 are free.
House Museum of James Ensor (Ensorhuis), a famous expressionist artist of the late 19th – second third of the 20th century.
Opening hours: every day, except Tuesday, from 10:00 to 12:00 and from 14:00 to 17:00. Ticket price – 3 EUR.