Oostende is a lovely coastal town in Belgium. The main attraction of Oostende is the beach of course, but there’s much more to see and do in this town that’s just half an hour from Bruges. On this page I’m sharing my top sights and activities in Oostende with you.
There’s a giant amount of street-art in Oostende. And I’m not talking about some vandalistic graffiti, but beautiful murals or funny statues. In 2015 public art festival The Crystal Ship started and each year since they’ve invited artists from all over the world to leave their mark in Oostende. This resulted in over 60 artworks that appeared in Oostende over the years. The highest mural is 40 meters high and the smallest piece of art is just a few centimeters. The work pictured above was one of my favorites. It’s from Jaune and he shows street workers who do all kinds of mischief.
When you just walk around in Oostend you’ll already see many of the street-art works, but you can also use the free map from The Crystal Ship with all the locations on it. You can download it here or get the map at the tourist office in Oostende.
Besides graffiti, you can also find other works of public art in Oostende. This boat in a bottle can be found in front of the Casino in the city centre. In the bottle you’ll see a warship made from banknotes. This piece of art is made by Tom Herck as a critical view on today’s society. The price of weapons is very cheap. He heard that you can get a hand grenade for as little as 5 euros (hence the 5 euro bill that is used in the bottle). In the meantime the prices for food keep rising, the milk bottle symbolizes that.
The top sight in Oostende is of course the beach. Oostende has a long stretch of white sandy beach. It’s around 7 kilometers long and with 80 meters in depth there’s always a spot for you to sunbathe. You can also walk along the broad boulevard next to the beach. And when the weather is warm enough you can take a swim in the North Sea!
You’ll find these cute beach houses all over the beach at Oostende. These so called beach cabins can be rented for the season. Every year from October to December you can request to rent one with the local government. Many people use it to stall their beach equipment. Some have very well organized beach cabins with chairs, tables, glasses and spare clothes.
Marvin Gaye Tour
Did you know that Marvin Gaye lived in Oostende for a while? He even wrote his famous song ‘sexual healing’ there. You can do a Marvin Gaye Midnight Love tour in Oostende. For only 5 euros per person you can pick up an Ipod at the tourism office to do the Marvin Gaye tour. The Ipod will show you where to walk to next and for each stop it has interesting video’s about Marvin Gaye’s life in Oostende.
Click here for more information or to reserve the Marvin Gaye Tour in Oostende.
Mu.Zee, a nice play on the words museum and sea, is a Belgian art museum in Oostende. It’s not your standard ‘paintings on the walls’ museum, but it’s very interactive and creative. It shows art ranging from 1850 up to the present, all made by Belgian artists. They have a collection that you can always visit and several changing exhibitions. The building used to be a departments store, but now houses the 3 stories high museum.
Oostende has a pier that’s great to walk all the way to the end of. It’s a nice stroll and you’ll have a great overview of the city. You can find this sculpture of a seashell at the end and you can marvel at all the passing boats. If you’re lucky you might spot seals in the bay!
Got hungry from all the sightseeing? Check my food guide for Oostende here.
This house on the Christinastraat in the city centre of Oostende is a wonderful sight to take a picture off. It’s called the ‘Spanish House’ but it’s actually from after the Spanish time. It used to house a candy and toy store. Inside the house they reconstructed a living room from the 1900’s to see how people lived back then.
The arcade hall Luna Park Reflex in Oostende is the biggest in Belgium. There are all kinds of games and activities in this arcade hall. Besides the modern games, they also have a few classics. They’re open on Fridays to Sundays and during some holidays they open up extra.
In 45 minutes you can drive from Oostende to Ghent to explore another great Belgium city. Click here for my food guide to Ghent.