When you think of Belgium, you may think of Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent or Bruges. But there is a town near the coast we want you to hear about. It’s the place where Marvin Gaye wrote his hit Sexual Healing and people don’t just call it the sunniest town in Belgium for nothing. We’re talking about Oostende.
Oostende is located on the west-coast of Belgium. It may be tiny, but it has more to it than meets the eye. Yearly more than 100.000 people visit the street art festival The Crystal Ship, where international street artists use Oostende as their canvas. And yes, the marvellous Marvin Gaye wrote one of the most iconic love songs of the world while he lived in Oostende many years ago. Oostende must have something special..
How to get there
The train station in Oostende is easy to reach from Antwerpen central, so no need to travel by car. There are many hotels, restaurants and shops, but the jewel of the city has to be the beach. During summer this results in a vibrant place to sunbathe and relax at one of the beach bars alongside the promenade.
Where to Stay
There are many hotels to choose from but the most hip hotel in Oostende is by far the Upstairs Hotel. Funky rooms with brick walls, vintage punch bags and a slide in the lobby (yes, really). The location is perfect because it’s in walking distance from everywhere in Oostende. Rooms are available from 57 euro and includes a breakfast buffet.
For a stunning view over the beach, check out fancy hotel C-Hotels Andromeda. Prices are a bit higher but it’s perfect for a romantic getaway. If you are on a budget, there is a fancy youth hostel called De Ploate Hostel which offers dorms but also private rooms with ensuite for a smaller price.
Street Art Festival
If you visit Oostende in April, you must check out this street art festival named The Crystal Ship. The festival was founded back in 2011 but kept changing locations until they made a deal with the city of Oostende. Since then Oostende has become a more colourful city because of the many murals. In total there are 59 large murals and 200+ smaller art pieces throughout the city. The cool thing is that most murals stay here permanently and every year new street art is added to the city.
Where to Eat & Drink in Oostende
Oostende has a lot of little streets where you’ll find several eateries and bars that will fill up your tummy. Also try a bag of shrimps from one of the local seafood market alongside the beach, or their famous prawn croquette.
- For a fancy dinner head to Marina. Getting there is also fun because you can take the free ferry across the water and walk for about 7 minutes through an industrial area, where housing developments are well on their way. This part is going to become the new & hip Oostende, mark our words.
- If you are looking for something a bit more relaxed but trendy, have drinks and bites at Mommy’s Bastards. This place used to be infamous for its mussels but they decided to turn things around which resulted in a funky bar/restaurant with delicious comfort food like burgers, salads and yes, they still serve those killer mussels. Also, try the pink mocktail or G&T’s.
- Check out Lafayette for casual drinks. They play all sorts of music and young and old take the dance floor. It’s nothing fancy, but very “gezellig”.
- If you fancy a traditional Oostende lunch, you can choose between Histoires d’O, where they serve the famous shrimp croquette or Passe-Vite, a trendy hotspot where you can also come for breakfast. Is vegan food your thing? Try Sassy’s for instance. You’ll like the retro look here.
Where to Shop
There is one main shopping street in Oostende where you will find the bigger brands and stores, but there are also quaint little streets where you can also find some cute concept stores. Our favourites are by far; LILY (for women only, but ooh so good), Lolotte (concept store for all ages!), Joyridestreet (for sneakers and skatewear), Ferm (for goodies, clothes, gifts and jewellery).
So next time you’re heading to Belgium and you think that Antwerp or Ghent are the only places to visit, think again. Oostende should be added to the list. Find out more about Belgiums sunniest city!