Ever heard of Ostend or Oostende? Thought so. It is not a destination that comes up immediately when thinking of Belgium. Ostend is located in the Belgium province of West-Flanders and has a population of circa 70,000 people. As you might have guessed, people don’t generally spend their ‘summer’ holiday in Ostend. This is because it is generally quite windy and the summers don’t get as hot as Spain or Italy. This of course doesn’t mean that this lovely little coastal city isn’t worth visiting, right? Right!
And here are 7 reasons why you should visit Ostend:
1. The Coastal Town Feeling
I have been coming to Ostend since I was a little girl. Looks like the stormy weather, rain and the rough sea did leave an impression as I still love the vibe of Ostend’s coast. It is perfect for taking long walks on the promenade, watching fisher boats and the waves going in and out. Or getting cosy in one of the cute restaurants on the promenade to watch how the stormy weather unfolds while you are having coffee and cake. Of course there are also warmer days in summer when you can get away with hopping into the water and sunbathing on the beach.
2. St Petrus & Paulus Church
You can’t miss the St Petrus & Paulus Church. You literally can’t miss it! It dominates the view of Ostend from most locations (especially from the sea) and makes the coastal town look even more beautiful. Make sure you walk by the church to get a closer look. The architecture is simply stunning and impressive.
3. The Fish Market
Apart from getting lots of really good seafood at any of the restaurants in Ostend, you can buy your own selection of seafood from the fish market. You can then either prepare a delicious meal at home or, for the already prepared food they sell, just head to the beach and have a little picnic in the sand. One of my favourite things of the fish market is the dried fish (pictured below). Perfect to take with you and eat later at night with some wine.
4. The Beach (of course!)
Is this my favourite beach? No. I prefer white sand and clear blue water beaches. But: Ostend’s beach has its own character by always being a bit rough and not too hot. It’s perfect for having a glass of wine on the beach and just watching the sea and fisher boats. In summer you do get to swim though, so bring your beach clothes. But don’t forget to pack some warmer clothes also ;) Btw, apparently there is also surfing going on near by. I’m into ‘real’ surfing, no wind, no kite – so I haven’t seen yet where this could be. Though I believe for the latter ones, there might actually be a spot where you can have fun close by Ostend.
Strolling though the city or town of Ostend you will find lots of restaurants, cafes, pubs and little cute shops. Make sure you pass by Wapenplein where you can sit outside in a café and lose yourself in people watching. What I also find fascinating about Ostend is the huge amount of different dog breeds that walk around (sometimes even dressed nicely). If you consider becoming a dog mommy or daddy, you will certainly get some inspiration here.
Amandine is a boat museum just next to the main station of Ostend on the other side of the St. Petrus and Paulus Church. If you have ever wondered how rough the life of a fisherman can be? Visit Amandine. The boat had its last trip in 1995 and was then turned into a museum.
7. The General Lovely Vibe
Ostend has plenty of great restaurants, cafes and spots to sit and take in the vibe of a coastal city. The architecture is generally quite pretty and in between you will often find art. Sometimes abstract and modern. Sometimes in the form of beautiful buildings and monuments. Make sure you explore a little before you leave.
So, next time you visit Ghent or Brugge, extend your trip to spend a few hours in this lovely coastal town, Ostend :)