The Flemish Coast
The nearest part of Belgium to Calais, the Flemish coast is an unknown jewel of Western Europe, with 40 miles of sandy beaches stretching out along the North Sea, broken up only by the occasional small town. In many places, there are long sea walls constructed, making for an easy walk up and down the coast for all levels of fitness. The beaches are great for sandcastle construction and their width allows for stress-free kite flying.
The region is also an ideal place for horse riding and cycling holidays, its characteristic flatness making it accessible to all levels of ability.
Places to go
Ostend is great to explore for lovers of good shopping and good beaches alike. With 9km of sandy beaches and a shopping centre that has branches of nearly all large stores, there is something to appeal to everyone. The local restaurants offer a fine range of sea food specialities. Ostend also had its fair share of artists, and there are numerous museums dotted about the town celebrating the artistic contribution of many its former residents.
For those interested in history, the Flemish coast has a number of memorials to casualties from the 1st and 2nd World Wars. Of particular note are the Yser Tower in Diksmuide and the King Albert I Memorial in Yser, in commemoration of the small band of Belgian troops that stooped the advance of the German army, buying valuable time in which the British Expeditionary Force and French army could regroup and plug the gap.
Food and drink
Being a coastal region, most of the delicacies revolve around sea food. Local specialties include shrimp croquette or mussels in white wine, both of which come served with chipped potatoes in mayonnaise, a dish known as 'fritur'. Many restaurants will allow you to eat outside, combining the delicious food with the stunning views of the area.
Ferries to the Flemish Coast
- LD Lines - Ramsgate to Ostend
- Norfolkline - Rosyth to Zeebrugge
- P&O Ferries - Hull to Zeebrugge
- Transeuropa - Ramsgate to Ostend
The Flemish coast is well served by a network of toll-paying motorways and free dual carriageways, allowing for easy and stress-free access to all parts of the region. Drivers in Belgium should be aware that at many junctions the priority is from the right rather than with the flow of traffic. Driving defensively is recommended.
Cars aren't the only way of getting around. In fact, probably the best way of getting around is via the Coastal Tram, a street tram that runs the entire 60km length of the coast. Furthermore, the Flemish coast has a well organised bus network. Belgium is also a great place for hitchhiking.