Just a weekend in Ostend

Just over an hour away from our Belgian capital there’s a small version of Brussels by the sea: Ostend. A city with a lot of history and a rough edge reflected in its architecture and diversity of people. Expect a bit of old past glory, hipsterness and heritage. There’s a lot of cultural activities: musea, photography exhibitions and a huge number of good restaurants.

It’s the end of the railway line to the coast. It was the place where people stranded from inland or arrived from sea. Stranded people stayed in Ostend, and at some point even an American with a cocain addiction: Marvin Gaye. He’s said to have written Sexual Healing here.

In this article we’ll share some of our personal highlights in Ostend, split in 4 categories: 1. Food & drinks, 2. Cultural highlights, 3. Nature, 4. Sports & relax

I originate from Gistel, next to Ostend, but it’s only in the last years we really started discovering and appreciating the city. Ostend invested a lot in its revival and cultural offering. Since our parents got an apartment in Ostend, we started going a lot. The direct connection from Brussels makes it a relaxing journey. Except during the warmest summer weekends where you can expect queuing and crowded trains… but during those weekends you can expect stressful traffic jams on the high-way as well.

With NMBS you can have weekend tickets (half price) or a 10 pass card so that going to Ostend and back should cost you no more then €17. Perfect for a day trip or weekend, both in winter and in summertime.

1. Our highlights for food & drinks:

  • Brasserie Albert – for fish and beautiful architectural heritage (€€)
  • Terras Venetiaanse Gaanderijen – for a beautiful lunch setting and good fish (€€)
  • Albrecht – for brunch (€)
  • Frenchette – for a fancy dinner (€€€)
  • Mosselhuis – for a cosy place and good basic food (€)
  • De grote post (€)
  • Kaap – bar next to the beach (€)
  • Hotel du Parc – for shrimp croquettes (€)
  • Bistro Mathilda (€€)
  • The Catch (€)
  • Chamonix – for waffles and pancakes in an old American diner style interior (€)
  • Lizette (€)
  • Passe-vite (€)
  • Oesterput (€€€) – for oysters, lobster and other good seafood
  • Vistrap to buy fish or shrimps (not to eat there)
  • Et Alors (€€) for brunch

In general you need to reserve in advance for almost all of the above restaurants.

2. Our cultural highlights:

  • Muzee
  • James Ensor museum
  • The Crystal Ship – wandeling met street art
  • De Grote Post
  • Mercator
  • Atlantic wall & vissersdorp Anno 1465
  • Venetiaanse galerij met wisselende foto tentoonstellingen
  • Midnight Love Tour van Marvin Gaye – wandeling met app

3. Our nature highlights:

  • Fort Napoleon & Oosteroever – take the little free boat crossing the harbor
  • Japanese garden
  • Cycling het groen lint
  • Atlantik wall
  • Duinenkerkje in Mariakerke – with some dunes, the grave of James Ensor and a lovely little chapel
  • Maria Hendrikapark

4. Sports & relax:

  • Running on the beach
  • Swimming in the sea
  • Gokart = billekar – for rent in many places at the seaside
  • Qi Gong – Sundays / Wednesdays on beach
  • Massage & meditation
  • Zwembad Brigitte Becue
  • Blokart / landsailing

If you enjoy seeing the glory of Ostend in the old days when it had a busy harbour with boats leaving to the UK and some glory of the past, then have a look at the digital image database here.

A small selection from “beeldbank”:

So if you’re looking for a fun and diverse day or weekendtrip from Brussels, you definitely need to visit Ostend!

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