OSTEND CITY GUIDE
Once a sleepy fishing village, Ostend in Belgium has been transformed over the centuries into a cosmopolitan port city with a royal sea and a rich heritage. Located in West Flanders, a short distance from Bruges, there is no shortage of things to do in Ostend - the first continental port of call for many tourists.
This pocket-sized city's major attractions are its lively town centre, abundance of seafood restaurants and, of course, the gorgeous sandy beach that hugs its shore. Known affectionately as 'The City by the Sea' this vibrant place to visit offers a chance to experience Belgium's favourite seaside resort. Relax in this seaside escape by getting a ferry to Belgium with P&O.
Ostend’s Awesome Activities
As the only Belgian city along the coast and the largest seaside resort, you’ll find a large number of things to do in Ostend, and that’s before you get to the enormous 5.5-miles of sandy shore.
Shopaholics can visit the shopping streets centres of Adolf Buylstraat, Kapellestraat and Vlaanderenstraat and get lost in the streets in-between hunting down souvenirs in quirky shops. The open-air markets like Groentemarkt are ideal for bringing home those special gifts, with market days usually held on Thursday and Saturday morning and a small flower market held on Sundays.
For culture vultures, the imposing 19th century Neo-Gothic churches of St Peter and St Paul with their stained glass windows and towering spires are visually stunning.
Another essential place to visit is the Mu.ZEE art museum, which has recently been completely renovated as a cultural centre and contains a collection of important Belgian art, including work by famous resident James Ensor. Further culture can be found at the Venetiaanse Gaanderijen, a series of galleries that stretch along the Ostend seawall and were built for the Belgian king in early 1900s.
Local Bites in Ostend
Like many of the coastal resorts in Belgium, the food options are varied, with much of the fresh seafood taken directly from the North Sea. While the city doesn't boast any Michelin-starred restaurants, it does contain a number of gourmet gems that make the area a paradise for foodies.
Explore along Van Iseghemlaan and Langestraat to hunt out some of the best restaurants, or head to one of the most popular spots, such as the family owned ‘t Landhuys, which is the oldest restaurant in Ostend. For great value seafood, go on the main square, while those looking to blend in with the locals can dine alfresco in one of the brasseries near Bonenstraat and Kadzandstraat. Don't forget to sample the Dover sole and shrimp croquettes to get a taste of the local delicacies.
Ostend’s Unmissable Events
The city plays host to a large number of events throughout the year, so there’s always something to entertain the family. Taking place for 10 days each year in late July, the Theatre by the Sea (TAZ) festival welcomes thousands of visitors who come to experience the blend of live music, performance and dance. Ostend is host to some huge festivals, including the alternative art festival the Paulusfeesten. Europe's largest annual classic maritime event, the Ostend voor Anker receives over 175,000 visitors, who flock to the city to view the 172 classic ships, musical performances and displays.
Ostend is in a prime location to explore the north-west area of Belgium on a self-drive adventure. Those seeking peace and quiet can travel to the coastal town of De Haan and explore the beautiful architecture and stroll down the quaint promenade.
For a chance to visit one of the best-preserved Medieval towns in Europe, a day trip to Bruges is a popular choice, while gorgeous Ghent is also less than an hour from Ostend.
Get a taste for Belgium's favourite seaside resort by getting a P&O Ferry from Hull to Zeebrugge or booking an Ostend Minicruise today.