Belgium

Things to do in Ostend

Discover some of the best things to do in Ostend and book your perfect trip to the ‘City by the Sea’.

Once a sleepy fishing village, Ostend in Belgium has been transformed over the centuries into a cosmopolitan port city that is ideal for a short break. Located in West Flanders, 30 minutes from Zeebrugge and just over an hour from Calais by car, there’s no shortage of things to do in Ostend.

This pocket-sized city's major attractions are its lively town centre, abundance of seafood restaurants, and the gorgeous sandy beach that hugs its shore, so you are guaranteed to be entertained during your visit here.

HUL

Hull Port

ZEE

Zeebrugge Port

Mon-Weds-Fri

18:30

Ostend city beach

Things to do in Ostend

Ostend Activities Shopaholics can enjoy a unique shopping experience at Adolf Buylstraat, a pretty street that boasts a combination of well-known chain stores and independent boutiques, and Kapellestraat, the city’s main shopping street. There are also plenty of streets in-between which are perfect when hunting down souvenirs in quirky shops.

Open-air markets, such as Groentemarkt, are ideal for bringing home local gifts, with market days usually held on Thursday and Saturday mornings and a small flower market held on Sundays.

Culture vultures will love the imposing 19th century Neo-Gothic churches of St Peter and St Paul which are very striking landmarks due to their stained glass windows and towering spires. You may also enjoy the Venetiaanse Gaanderijen, a series of galleries that stretch along the Ostend seawall and were built for the Belgian king in early 1900s.

Another essential place to visit is the Mu.ZEE art museum, which has been completely renovated into a cultural centre and contains a collection of important Belgian art, including work by famous resident James Ensor.
Flower stall at Ostend Market

Beach in Ostend

Ostend beach

Known as the ‘City by the Sea’, a wander along the beach is one of the top things to do in Ostend. Separated from the city by a wide boulevard, the beach is ideal for sunbathing, playing games, and taking part in water sports.

The most popular stretch of beach is in front of Koninklijke Gaanderijen, the Royal Galleries, but if you prefer a quieter beach you can head closer to the fort which tends to be less crowded.

When it is time for refreshments, you’ll find plenty of choice in the beachside terraces, restaurants and cafés.

Eating in Ostend

Like many of the coastal resorts in Belgium, the food options in Ostend are varied, with much of the fresh seafood on offer in its restaurants 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 or Langestraat to hunt out some of the best restaurants, or head to one of the more well-known eating spots spots, such as family owned ‘t Landhuys - the oldest restaurant in Ostend. 

For great value seafood, go to the main square, or eat like a local and 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 Ostend’s delicacies.

Food and drink in Ostend

Lighthouse in Ostend

Ostend Events

Ostend hosts a large number of fantastic events throughout the year, and it is worth researching these before you go to see if you would like to plan your trip around one of them.

For example, the Theatre by the Sea (TAZ) festival brings thousands of visitors to Ostend for 10 days in late July each year, and offers a wonderful blend of live music, amazing performances, and impressive dancing. 

You might also like to visit the alternative art festival, Paulusfeesten, which showcases art, music, poetry, and other shows around a particular theme each year, or Europe's largest annual classic maritime event, the Ostend voor Anker, which boats 172 classic ships, musical performances, and displays. 

With so many great things to do in Ostend, why not start planning your perfect trip to the ‘City by the Sea’ and book your Hull to Zeebrugge or Dover to Calais crossing today.

The most popular stretch of beach is in front of Koninklijke Gaanderijen, but if you prefer a quieter beach you can head closer to the fort which tends to be less crowded

24 Hours in Ostend Read more

With majestic buildings steeped in history, golden beaches just off the beaten track, and the best pancakes this side of the Atlantic, it’s easy to see why people love visiting Ostend, the ‘City by the Sea’.

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