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Ostende, Belgium

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. Formerly 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 both cargo traffic, particularly across the English Channel. Passenger lines towards the UK have ceased.

Ostend originally was a small fishing village on the easternmost edge of an island on the shore of the coast. The original town center is 200 meters away in the sea compared to the present day seashore. After the town got flooded and destroyed several times... Read more

Ostende, Belgium

Destination:

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. Formerly 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 both cargo traffic, particularly across the English Channel. Passenger lines towards the UK have ceased.

Ostend originally was a small fishing village on the easternmost edge of an island on the shore of the coast. The original town center is 200 meters away in the sea compared to the present day seashore. After the town got flooded and destroyed several times by severe storms the town 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 mainland. Ostend prospered as a market town. In the 17th century, the harbor 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 Royal Galleries. Thanks to these investments Ostend started to be called "Queen of the Belgian sea-side resorts". In the 20th century, Ostend hosted all of the sailing events for the 1920 Olympic Games for Antwerp.
Post-war hunger for investments, unfortunately, destroyed many of Ostend's original charm to place high concrete apartment buildings. Some relics of the historical Ostend, however, managed to survive and can still be found.

Tourist office, Monacoplein 2, ☎ +32 59 70 11 99, e-mail: info@visitoostende.be. Daily 9:00 —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.

Climate

Ostend has a maritime temperate climate, influenced by winds from the North Sea, making summers cooler than inland Europe. 24-hour average temperatures below the freezing point is a rare occurrence. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Ostend has a marine west coast climate, abbreviated "Cfb" on climate maps.


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Ostende, Belgium: Port Information


The quay is about 500 m from the open sea, and the port is situated close to the city center.
There is a railway station nearby.
Taxis and buses are available.

Get around Ostende, Belgium


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. 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 (0) 59.70.27.27).

What to see in Ostende, Belgium


  • James Ensorhuis (James Ensor House), Vlaanderenstraat 27, ☎ +32 (0) 5980.53.35. June-Sept and Easter vacation week Wed-Mon 10 am-noon and 2-5 pm; Nov-May Sa-Su 2-5 pm. Closed Oct. 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. 
  • Kunstmuseum aan Zee (Art Museum by the Sea), Romestraat 11, ☎ +32 (0) 59/50.81.18. Tues-Sun 10 am-6 pm. Created after the 2008 merger of the Museum voor Moderne Kunst (Modern Art Museum) and the Museum voor Schone Kunsten (Museum of Fine Arts). Also known as Mu.ZEE. 
  • Leopold Park. The Leopold Park was set out in 1860 on the old city walls in the 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 meters, the hands are 3 and 4 meters long and weigh 70 and 90 kilos. The date, made entirely of flowers, is reset every day during the summer months.
  • 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.
  • Driemaster Mercator (Three-Master Mercator), (Not far from the rail station). May, June, September daily from 9 am-noon and 1-6 pm; July and August daily from 9 am-7 pm; April to June and September daily from 10 am-1 pm and 2-6 pm; October to March weekends and holidays from 11 am-1 pm and 2-5 pm. Formerly a Belgian merchant marine training ship, this three-masted schooner is now a floating maritime museum. It has a length of more than 78 meters and a width of 11 meters. This beautiful ship is really worth a visit. Great for kids as well. 
  • Noordzeeaquarium (North Sea Aquarium), Visserskaai (Near the old fishing harbor), ☎ +32 (0) 5950.08.76. April to September daily from 10 am-noon and 2-6 pm; October to March weekends from 10 am-noon and 2-6 pm. Small aquarium with a collection of fish, mollusks, shell, and crustaceans from the nearby waters of the North Sea. Popular with children. 
  • Museumschip (Museum Ship), Vindictive-laan 35Z, ☎ +32 (0) 5923.43.01. Monday from 2-7 pm and Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am-7 pm. Sits in a dry basin on a plastic "sea" as a museum of the history and traditions of Ostend's Icelandic fishery. 
  • Oostends Historisch Museum De Plate (De Plate Oostend Historical Museum), Langestraat 69 (Close to Wapenplein), ☎ +32 (0) 5980.02.89. Sat 10 am-noon and 2-5 pm; school vacations Wed-Mon 10 am-noon and 2-5 pm. 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.

What to do in Ostende, Belgium


  • Ostend Beach. Ostend is visited by many 'day' tourists, 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 (kleinstrand). The locals and other residents in Belgium usually occupy the larger beach (grootstrand). Ostend is widely visited by British, Germans, French and Dutch. Buses from Brussels tend to pass through giving the opportunity to North American and Asian tourists to view Ostend. 
  • Paulusfeesten is a street festival that takes place in the center of Ostend during the second week of August. Spread over different squares, it features some of Belgium's biggest music acts, but also lesser known bands (Belgian and international), street performances and theatre acts.

What to eat and drink in Ostende, Belgium


Eat

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. Don't confuse them with the other venues featuring pink neon and lots of (eye) candy though. Most street corners are either a coffee shop or a bar.
The Restaurant l'Enfant Terrible, located at Nieuwstraat 16, an easy walk from the town center and seconds from the harbor, serves an excellent selection of good, well-prepared food. In particular, their entrecote steak with fries is outstanding.
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.

Drink

  • The Langestraat (and its sidestreets) is your best on finding an open bar in Ostend. There are lots of pubs, bars, and clubs with a very unique style squeezed into this one street. The better bars are listed below.
  • 't Botteltje, Louisastraat 19. Something of a landmark in Ostend, it serves literally hundreds of beers (Belgian and foreign). Take a seat in one of the booths and let the waiters recommend you something.
  • Lafayette, Langestraat 12. If Marvin Gaye were still alive, Lafayette would probably be his favorite bar in Ostend (ask any local about Marvin Gaye's connection to Ostend, if you have enough time on your hands). Plays non stop soul and funk music. Quiet during the afternoon, sweaty and loud at night.
  • Manuscript, Langestraat 23. A small bar that's relatively quiet till around midnight. When other bars start closing, locals usually head over here for the afterparty until 7 am. There's also a nice, sunny terrace during summer.
  • Poco Loco, Langestraat 45. Salsabar and a bit of a hit or miss. Either the bar is packed and people are dancing their butts off, or there are two guys passed out at the bar. Just go and see which version you get.
  • Twilight, Langestraat 21. The place to be for rock and heavy metal fans. The music is loud, the beer is cheap and you can play darts so you don't have to talk to each other.
  • Zeegeuzen, Kapucijnenstraat 38. Former fisherman's bar that serves it own drink, appropriately named "zeegeuze". It's a mixture of a Saint-Louis Geuze and a secret ingredient only the bartenders know.

Shopping in Ostende, Belgium


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 Feest- en Kultuurpaleis with 17 different shops. Other shopping streets are Christinastraat, Witte Nonnenstraat, James Ensorgalerij and Alfons Pieterslaan.

Safety in Ostende, Belgium


Although Ostend is pretty safe, you should be careful in some parts of the city. Use your common sense like in any other place of our planet. 

Language spoken in Ostende, Belgium


Flemish language is spoken in Ostend. You can find Dutch, German and French speaking locals. English is widely understood in tourist places.

LOCAL TIME

1:37 pm
November 20, 2019
Europe/Brussels

CURRENT WEATHER

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7.3 °C/45 °F
sky is clear

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