Belgium boasts 42 miles of North Sea coastline, and running along this coast are a series of soft and sandy Belgium beaches. Yes, there are beaches in Belgium, as some might be surprised to know, and when summer hits these beaches are certainly in demand. Belgians flock to the Belgium beaches in the summer months, and many wealthier citizens here have second homes or apartments on the coast. You’ll find thirteen seaside resorts along the Belgian coast, and these resorts are all linked together by the world’s longest-running tram line. This means that you can hop on the tram near the French border at De Panne and take it the entire 42 miles to Knokke, which borders the Netherlands. The tram makes 70 stops along the way and the journey is about two hours from end to end.
The various seaside resorts in Belgium offer unique experiences, so you will definitely want to consider using the tram or a rental car to visit a few different ones if you have the time. Perhaps you’ll hit the casino in Ostend during your stop there, or opt to enjoy some time at the aquarium just up the coast in Blankenberg. There are plenty of fun things to do on Belgium’s coast, and spending some time on a Belgian beach is just one of them. Swimming in the North Sea in Belgium is best done in the summer months when water temperatures are quite comfortable on average.
Beaches in Belgium
One of the top Belgian beach destinations is the Knokke Heist municipality, which is the most exclusive of the Belgium seaside resort areas. Those who enjoy shopping will find a myriad of upscale shops in Knokke, and golfers will be happy to know that the country’s finest course is also here. It’s not the easiest course to get onto, but if you belong to a golf club back home, you can flash your card and obtain a tee time. Knokke is where the wealthiest of wealthy Belgians head when they want to enjoy a beach in Belgium, and the wide sandy stretch here is certainly inviting. It extends for eight miles, making it ideal for long, casual walks. Since the Belgium beaches are quite smooth and wide on the whole, they are also ideal for jogging. You’ll have the calm North Sea at your side whenever you need some refreshment. Nature lovers and birdwatchers who are visiting Knokke will not want to miss the Zwin Nature Reserve, which presents a rich, coastal ecosystem that attracts scores of sea birds.
Situated more or less in the middle of the Belgian coast is the city of Ostend, which is easily one of the top Belgian beach destinations. Ostend is the largest city on the coast of Belgium, and it has what just might be the most popular Belgium beach. Ostend is surely prone to getting crowded in the summer, so you’ll want to book your room ahead of time at one of the Ostend hotels during the summer months when possible. When visiting some of the beaches in Belgium, such as the one in Ostend, you can interest yourself in some windsurfing, some sailing, and of course some swimming. When not having fun on the beach here, you can hit the casino, explore the Old Town, drop in on a museum, or head to any number of restaurants to indulge in some fresh seafood. Mussels are extremely delicious along the Belgian coast, and seafood restaurants are in good number, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to try them. Both Knokke and Ostend are easy to reach from Brugge, so you can easily pair a trip to Brugge with a day or more on a Belgium beach.
Those looking for villa rentals close to a beach in Belgium will do well to head for the small town of De Haan. The beach at De Haan is relatively small, but you there are a good number of cottages and small homes for rent here. Also contributing to its allure is the fact that you won’t find apartment blocks backing the beach, as is the case at some of the other Belgium beach towns, such as De Panne. This doesn’t mean that De Panne doesn’t warrant a visit. It boasts some good restaurants and shops for its visitors to enjoy, and the Coastal Dune Park and Wildlife Refuge here offers up miles of paths among the dunes and bushes.
The sand on the beaches in Belgium is about as fine as you are going to find anywhere on the planet, and where the coast is less disturbed, beautiful dunes and coastal shrubs present a romantic setting. In addition to doing some beach and nature reserve walking, those heading for the Belgium beaches can also enjoy bicycling. There are a number of great coastal biking trails here, and you can search for less crowded strips of sand when you want to break for a while. Of course, if you prefer to simply rent a beach chair and an umbrella and call it a day, there’s nothing wrong with that either. You can bet that in the summertime, there will plenty of other folks doing the same.
Image: francisco.j.gonzalez (flickr)