48 hours: An Ostend Weekend on the Belgian Coast

The small seaside city of Ostend (Oostende in Flemish) was once notable as the summer residence of Leopold II, King of the Belgians, and held on to the epithet ‘La Reine des Plages (The Queen of the Coast)’ as the glamour started to fade away. Though this part of the coast of the West Flanders region of Belgium has always been popular with European families for bucket and spade-type seaside camping holidays, the city itself was reduced to not much more than a portal, one end of a ferry link between the British Isles and continental Europe, passed through on the way elsewhere. When that link was lost, Ostend had to find a new purpose.

Sint-Peter-en-Pauluskerk, the neo-Gothic building that towers over the centre of Ostend.

And it did. Ambitious urban regeneration projects in the early 2000s have given the city a modern and stylish outlook, celebrating the art and design heritage of Ostend and making the most of the Belle Époque architecture, while championing the quirky surrealism we expect of Belgium.

Ostend is a surprising haven of street art, with surprises to find around every corner.
So to help you uncover the charms of the Queen of the Coast, this is my vagabond guide to spending a weekend in Ostend.
Continue reading “48 hours: An Ostend Weekend on the Belgian Coast”