Once King Leopold’s favourite seaside resort, Ostend is the largest of Belgium’s coastal cities and offers around seven kilometres of broad sandy shores. Besides its beautiful beaches and spacious promenade, the Flemish city is known for its eye-catching architecture and exceptional museums.
Ostend is home to some of the Flemish coast’s most noteworthy buildings, including a Napoleonic-era fort completed in 1811. You can also explore the neoclassical arcade of the Royal Galleries, made up of a royal villa, a horse racing track and a hotel amidst a seemingly endless cluster of Tuscan-style columns. The neo-Gothic Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul is Ostend’s most striking building, with towering twin spires and majestic stained-glass windows.
Ostend’s long stretch of white sand draws in many tourists during the warmer months, but with six sections more than 100 metres wide in places, there’s room for everyone. Head west to find the Sportsrand, offering a variety of activities including beach volleyball, kitesurfing and more.
Head to Ostend’s Raversijde neighbourhood to discover the Atlantic Wall – a well-preserved fort used by the German army during the Second World War. Now a fascinating open-air museum, it allows visitors to explore two kilometres of tunnels, trenches and bunkers with the aid of an audio guide. Moored in front of the city hall, you’ll find The Mercator sailboat, featuring an onboard exhibition about the history of the vessel, including its crew and legendary voyages.