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Thursday 30 May 2024

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Ostend on the West Flanders coast – a perfect city or seaside break


It may not be the first thought for most Brits in search of a bit of sand, sea and sunshine, but the Belgian coastal resort of Ostend has a surprising amount to offer.

Add to that the fact that it can very easily be reached without setting foot anywhere near an airport, and you can have a hassle free summer break without shelling out a fortune.

Easily reached from London in under four hours by Eurostar (be sure to book London St Pancras to Any Belgian Station, as your ticket price then covers your onward journey to Ostend from Brussels Midi), you can realistically set off from most starting points in England early morning and still be on the beach by mid afternoon. If you’re setting out from south of London, pick up your Eurostar connection at either Ashford or Ebbsfleet.

There’s a good range of hotels on offer which will suit most budgets, together with some superb bars, restaurants and cafés, both on the beautiful seafront, or in the city centre. If your stay is for more than a couple of days, why not take advantage of the Kusttram, or Belgian Coastal Tramway, which runs the 68 kilometres (42 miles) along the West Flanders coastline, from De Panne near the French border right up to Knokke at the Dutch frontier.

Not to be missed is the beautiful Leopoldpark, just a few minutes’ walk from the Marie-Joseplein tram stop. A few blissful hours can be spent around the lake here if you fancy a change from the beach – you can even have a game of mini golf, or relax over some refreshments, knowing that the kids are occupied safely on the swings and roundabouts.

Culturally and architecturally different from a Belgian city break such as Ghent, Bruges or Antwerp, a few days in Ostend will recharge and refresh you, imbuing your soul with a little bit of what seaside holidays used to be all about.

World Travel Blog especially recommends:

Taverne Koekoek
The fare might consist of just a simple but delicious roasted half chicken, but we guarantee you’ll be back for more…
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Poco Loco
Relaxing and sophisticated, this cool cocktail bar is just a few minutes’ walk from the beach…
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Chalet Minigolf
Just perfect for relaxing on one of those hazy, lazy summer afternoons in Ostend’s beautiful Leopoldpark…
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Café Rubens
We love a Café Rubens, and this seafront one in Ostend – with hotel to boot – is no exception…
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Restaurant Savarin
Perfectly situated right on the beach front, this excellent bar restaurant adds a touch of Victoriana Laas…
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This wonderful Tardis of a bar offers cheap drinks and a cornucopia of maritime memorabilia…
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The Victoria Pub
It’s Brits abroad, but not as you know it, with this rather refined little English bar just off the prom…
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Glitzy, fun, inclusive and colourful – this Ostend gem should be missed at your peril!
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Hotel Princess
Perfect location, simple, clean and modern accommodation with a great bar and breakfast buffet…
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