Lovely long sandy beach, vibrant nightlife and a veritable smorgasbord of restaurants and places to eat make Oostende (Ostend) a great, if unlikely place to visit for a holiday or weekend break. However this is true and for us English speaking visitors the long standing ferry and historical links to the United Kingdom mean that language barriers are hardly ever an issue, although a few words of Flemish never does any harm of course.
There is a long promenade running next to the beach, filled with dozens of restaurants and cafes where you can sit on a terrace at your leisure to either people watch, a popular custom with residents, while enjoying a sangria, cava or one of the dozens of famous and to be honest, fantastic Belgian beers. Ice cream parlours are abound too should you fancy one while sunbathing or going for a stroll.
If nightlife is your thing then the Langestraat area at the casino end is the place to go with friendly bars and people. These are numerous and there are enough to suit all tastes, from music and cocktail bars like the Brazza (opposite the Casino) and Rood to more quiet ones such as the Pura Vida if you like a drink and a chat, although this gets lively later at night. Some others really worth a visit are the famous Manuscript where you can hear music you will never have heard before or at least for years and the Peppermint, possibly the best Jupiler beer in town. More include Lafayette and De Tijd just off the Langestraat.
Just don't go out too early, Oostende has a tendency to start late and finish really late is some bars. If you fancy dancing and a bit of louder and younger music then visit Suite 18, a dance cafe and bar on the Langestraat with resident DJ and free entrance. There you can party til late and it can get very busy indeed, although all the good bars mentioned can and usually do, especially in the summer months.
A full list of bars, although not completely up to date can be found here
There is as mentioned a casino in Oostende, if anyone wants to give it a try, an impressive large building which is situated at the top of theLangestraat near the beach and next to which is the only nightclub worth a visit, the Krush Club. Also in this building there is the Kursaal Oostende, live shows, concerts and much more are on offer throughout the year and you can check whats on by visiting their website here
Some restaurants worth trying include The Petrus, who have a website to check out their menu
, the Cromwell on Wapenplein, which is the main square at the end of the shopping street, Jans Cafe
opposite Rood and if you like grill then Den Artiest is the place
for you. There are too many to mention actually and you may find that you prefer one overlooking the marina and Mercator.
Accommodation is plentiful, hotels and bed and breakfasts although if travelling by car it is better to get one with parking included as the local parking policy operated by Vinci leaves a great deal to be desired.
Whether travelling directly to Oostende by ferry
using Transeuropa ferries who have a service from Ramsgate several times a day via Calais or Eurotunnel the trip is short and almost all motorway to Oostende. Transeuropa actually arrive in the middle of the city!
Weather, well, this is northern Europe so it can vary from day to day of course. I would say though that I have seen temperatures mid 20's in April and 30 degrees in May, it is in general much warmer than the UK. As you can see when visiting, every bar and restaurant has tables outside.
One other thing Oostende is famous for is shopping, there is one main street full of shops in the centre of town, the Kapellestraat. Shops are open almost every day including Sunday, which if you have visited Belgium or France you will know does not happen everywhere.
The official tourisme website for Oostende can be located here
should you need more information before or while visiting.