Ostend is a beautiful seaside resort in the West Flanders area of Belgium, which is popular with locals and tourists alike. As it is primarily a beach town, there are plenty of activities to do on the beachfront. There are a number of gorgeous beaches for sunbathing and swimming, and the seafront is lined with restaurants, bars, and cafes.  In the nineteenth century, Ostend was one of the most popular holiday destinations. The best beaches are west of Ostend’s harbour, and are constantly watched by lifeguards between 10.30 and 6.30 every day. So if it’s a relaxing beach holiday you’re after, Ostend might be the place for you. It’s also a great base for exploring the West Flanders region, or a starting point for a European driving holiday. Drive onto the ferry at Ramsgate and take a trip over to experience Belgium’s delights.

Ostend has more to offer tourists than sun, sea, and sand. This gorgeous harbour town dates back to the middle ages, and has a number of historical and cultural sites to delight visitors.  For more about the town’s history, take a trip to the De Plate folk museum. The building the museum is housed in used to be Leopold I’s residence. The museum not only has information about the town and its history, but exhibits displays of Roman and Neolithic periods, as well as Ostend’s famous maritime legacy.

For an afternoon of culture, try visiting the town’s Museum of Fine Arts. It displays works of art by local painters from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, like Leon Spilliaert and James Ensor. For more up-to-date pieces, take a trip to the Provincial Museum of Modern Art. This exhibits collections by artists such as Panamarenko, Peeters, and Magritte, as well as having an educational exhibition on Belgium’s modern art in general.

The artist James Ensor is somewhat of a local celebrity in Ostend. Visit the James Ensor house for more information on his life. He lived in the house from 1916 until he died, and it is where he was most inspired to create his best works.

If you go on holiday to shop, then Ostend is the place for you. Kappellestraat, Adolf Buylstraat, and Witte Nonnestraat are streets which have been pedestrianised, so you’ll find the best shops here in a calm environment. There is also Ostend’s local market, which takes place each week on a Thursday.

If you’ve taken the kids over, a definite destination for the day will be the North Sea Aquarium, which is near to the old fishing harbour.  There are some incredible examples of life from the North Sea, including crustaceans, fish, and various plants.

Once you’ve completed your tour of Ostend, or West Flanders, it’s quite easy to drive on to other European cities. Gent is 39 miles away, Brussels is 73 miles away, Amsterdam is 172 miles away, and Berlin is 457 miles away. Set off in the morning and you could be in the next city by the evening.