These are the most amazing beaches in Belgium

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Belgium may not be the most tropical beach destination you ever heard of.

But you’d be surprised by the beautiful sand beaches on the coast of this tiny country in Europe!

And these beautiful beaches are not just a pile of sand bordering the North Sea! The beaches and beach towns in Belgium offer all amenities you might need to make you summer holiday in Belgium worth while.

All of the beaches and towns we mention in this post have a beachside promenade or boulevard with restaurants and bars which offer views over the water.

By the end of this article, you’ll notice that Belgium is really an underestimated beach destination!

Let’s start with the most popular and best beaches in Belgium:

Blankenberge has always been the most favorite beach destination in Belgium.

It offers long stretches of beach, supplied with drink stalls, rental lounge chairs, a seaside promenade with restaurants and shops, … and so on.

This town provides everything you might hope for when going on a beach holiday in Europe.

There’s also the iconic ‘Belgium pier’, with a restaurant on top.

Blankenberge can be found near the harbour of Zeebrugge and a relaxed beach walk brings you near the ship docks.

When traveling from Bruges, Blankenberge can be reached in 20 minutes by car or 15 minutes by train.

If you want to find the best beach near Bruges to plan a beach day during your citytrip, choose Blankenberge. It’s super easy to reach and a great place to hang out!

Beach in Blankenberge at sunset, Belgium
Beach in Blankenberge at sunset, Belgium

Things to do in Blankenberge (besides beach bumming)

  • Engage in some water sports, like windsurfing, kitesurfing, surfing, SUP, and more
  • Visit the authentic fisherman’s cottage Huisje van Majutte
  • Talk a relaxed walk on the beach to Zeebrugge sea harbour
  • Cycle with weird bikes at the velodrome
  • Attend an event in town

Find accommodation in Blankenberge

Best sea view hotel in Blankenberge: Riant-Séjour

Best sea view apartment in Blankenberge: Apartment Beach

General info about Blankenberge beach

Lifeguards: Yes

Family friendly: Yes

LGBTQ friendly: Yes, but no specific bars

Nightlife: If you’re visiting Belgian beaches for the nightlife, Blankenberge is one of your best shots. Bars and music venues are open late and there are quite a few parties to be found here.

Dogs permitted: Dogs are permitted between October 15 and March 15 (low season). You can take you dog on the beach during high season before 9h and after 21h. The stretches of beach outside of town allow dogs all year.

Knokke-Heist

Knokke-Heist is a larger city at the Belgian coast. So the beach areas are divided in multiple choices: Heist-aan-zee, Duinbergen, Knokke-Heist, and Knokke-Zoute.

Each of these has their own charms, but Knokke-Heist and Knokke-Zoute are the most popular and fun beaches to go to.

In Knokke, the beach area is filled with upscale beach bars and a beautiful seaside boulevard. The beach town is extremely cozy and lovely, but prepare to spend a little more money.

The beach itself is fully equipped, with rental sun chairs, a seaside promenade, and showers on the beach.

Knokke-Heist is also easily accessible from Bruges. By car, it will take you around 30 minutes. By train, you can reach Knokke in 20 minutes, but then you have to walk about 1,5km to reach the beach area.

Knokke Heist Beach
Knokke Heist Beach

Things to do in Knokke-Heist (besides beach bumming)

  • Visit ‘Het Zwin’, a natural reserve in the dunes
  • Check out Knokke Casino
  • Venture out on the water while windsurfing, kitesurfing, or sailing
  • Attend one of the many events that are organized

Find accommodation in Knokke-Heist

Best beachfront hotel in Knokke-Heist: Hotel Adagio

Best beachfront apartment in Knokke-Heist: Mariposa

General info about Knokke-Heist beach

Lifeguards: Yes

Family friendly: Yes

LGBTQ friendly: Yes

Nightlife: Most beach bars close around 20h, but there are quit a few cocktail bars in town.

Dogs permitted: In Knokke-Heist, dogs are not allowed on the beach between 9h and 21h in high season. Starting October 15 until March 15, dogs are permitted on the beach. On the beach of Knokke-Zoute, dogs are permitted all year long.

De Haan

De Haan is a small beach town in Belgium. It’s a cute and cozy place to hang out and relax for a few days. This town is frequently visited by families with children and senior citizens.

The town and consists of three parts: De Haan centre, Vosseslag, and Wenduine beach.

De Haan also has a seaside boulevard and a fully equipped beach with beach bars, rental lounge chairs, and showers.

People mostly visit this beach to relax and hang out on the beach.

De Haan can be reached from Bruges in 25 minutes by car. To get there by public transportation, you need to catch a train to Blankenberge or Oostende and then get the coast tram to De Haan village.

De Haan Beach as seen from the dunes
De Haan Beach as seen from the dunes

Things to do in De Haan (besides beach bumming)

  • Take the coast tram and make a day trip to one of the nearby villages
  • Practise your water legs during a stand up paddle board session
  • Attend an event during high season

Find accommodation in De Haan

Best hotel at the beach in De Haan: Villa La Tourelle

Best apartment at the beach: Petit Sable

General info about De Haan beach

Lifeguards: Yes

Family friendly: Yes

LGBTQ friendly: Yes, but no specific bars

Nightlife: Not really

Dogs permitted: Between June 1st and September 15, dogs are not allowed on the beach in front of town. On the surrounding beaches, dogs are allowed all year long.

Oostende

Oostende is one of the largest cities on the Belgian coast.

The beach in Oostende city is not the most pleasant beach in Belgium, … at all.

If you want to truly enjoy your beach time, you might want to pick a different city or one of the neighbouring small town, which we also discuss in this article.

On the other hand, if you want to enjoy the Belgian coast from a larger city, Oostende might be your right pick.

There are a lot of bars, cafés, and restaurants available. And the city also has a harbour where people enjoy to go and watch the many ships.

Oostende can be reached in a day trip from Bruges. By car, it takes 25 minutes to get there. A train takes you there even faster: in 15 minutes.

Oostende Beach Belgium
Oostende Beach Belgium

Things to do in Oostende (besides beach bumming)

  • Check out Fort Napoleon, a military fortress built in 1811
  • Visit the Atlantic Wall open air museum with WW fortifications and relics
  • Explore the barquentine ship Mercator
  • Visit Sand City Dreams, a sand sculpture festival with artists from all over the world
  • Attend one of the other events that are organized during the summertime

Find accommodation in Oostende

Best hotel with ocean view in Oostende: C-Hotels Andromeda

Best apartment with ocean view in Oostende: Villa Fluisterbos

General info about Oostende beach

Lifeguards: Yes

Family friendly: Yes

LGBTQ friendly: Yes, check out the LGBTQ bars Maxim, Valentino, and Your Place

Nightlife: Oostende has the most options for nightlife

Dogs permitted: In Oostende, dogs are not allowed on the beach from April 1st until October 1st during the day. You can take your dogs to the beach before 10h or after 20h. Dogs are also permitted on the beaches outside of town.

De Panne

De Panne is the last beach town in Belgium before you enter the country of France. This way, it is the furthest from Bruges. By car, the trip from Bruges to De Panne takes almost an hour and a train takes even longer.

De Panne has a wide and cozy seaside boulevard, with bars, shops, and restaurants.

There are also some beach clubs, which are opened during the day in high season.

On the beach of De Panne, you can find everything you might need: rental lounge chairs, showers, public bathrooms and beach bars.

Car sailing on the beach in De Panne
Car sailing on the beach in De Panne

Things to do in De Panne (besides beach bumming)

  • For families, Plopsaland De Panne is a great day activity
  • Make a trip to Westhoek Nature Reserve, which is set in the dunes
  • Plan a day trip to Dunkirk right across the French border
  • Engage in water sports like beach buggy sailing, surfing, or sand boarding
  • Find more events in De Panne

Find accommodation in De Panne

Best hotel in De Panne: C-Hotels Continental

Best apartment in De Panne: Delmare

General info about De Panne beach

Lifeguards: Yes

Family friendly: Yes

LGBTQ friendly: Yes, no specific bars

Nightlife: A few bars, but not too much

Dogs permitted: Most beaches in De Panne allow dogs on a leach all year long. Only the beach zone at the very center doesn’t allow dogs between April 1st and October 30.

Bredene

Bredene is one of the smaller beaches on the Belgian coast, but it is well visited and a popular beach area.

You can find the only nudist beach in Belgium in Bredene and that’s part of it’s popularity.

Bredene beach is wedged in between Oostende and De Haan. It’s easily accessible from both beach towns with the coastal tram.

Aside from hanging out on the beach, there’s not too much to see and most people venture out to the nearby towns for activities.

Things to do in Bredene

  • During high season, you can engage in water sports, like surfing
  • The town organizes multiple events during the summer months
  • Enjoy an evening at the evening market in town (in the summer months)
  • Take a day trip to Oostende, Brugge, or other nearby places

Find accommodation in Bredene

Best hotel in Bredene: De Golf

Best apartment in Bredene: Duinenzicht

General info about Bredene beach

Lifeguards: Most places

Family friendly: Yes

LGBTQ friendly: Yes

Nightlife: Not too much

Dogs permitted: Dogs are not allowed on the main beach between July 1st and August 31 from 10h30 until 18u30.

Good to know: Bredene has a nudist beach

De Haan Beach
De Haan Beach

Less known beaches in Belgium

The 6 beaches we mentioned above, are thé most popular beach areas in Belgium.

But there are also smaller beach towns, which are less known. This doesn’t mean they aren’t pretty or cozy!

All of these towns have a beautiful seaside promenade with restaurants and cafés.

We’ll shortly mention a few of these smaller beach towns:

Koksijde-Bad

Koksijde Bad is a small beach town near De Panne and it’s part of the town Koksijde.

This beach is relatively quiet.

People visit the beach mostly to spend time near the water.

There’s not too much nightlife going on, but there are plenty of restaurants and seaside bars to spend an awesome day at the beach.

Mariakerke-Bad

Mariakerke Bad is located next to Oostende and it’s a perfect getaway from the city.

This small beach town is located at walking distance from Ostend, so you can easily spend your evenings in the city and your days… well beach bumming in this relaxed little town!

Nieuwpoort-Bad

Nieuwpoort Bad belongs to the town of Nieuwpoort and it can be found next to Koksijde.

This beach town is comparable to Koksijde bad in terms of size and amenities.

Sand Sculpture Festival Oostende
Sand Sculpture Festival Oostende

When to visit the beach in Belgium

High season

High season starts during the school holidays in Belgium.

July and August are the busiest times.

This can be an advantage and a disadvantage at the same time.

There will obviously be more people, but on the beaches in Belgium, there’s always a spot to escape the crowds.

The interesting part about high season is the fact that most beach towns have a lot of events scheduled during those months.

You’ll likely encounter some music festivals, evening markets, sand sculpture festivals, …

Shoulder season

Spring and autumn are shoulder season in Belgium.

People don’t visit the beach to go swimming, but to enjoy the area in mild temperatures.

Most towns already (or still) have some events on the calendar.

Winter season

Winter season is the least busy time of the year.

Nevertheless, it’s still an awesome idea to plan a day on the beach during winter.

Walking on a breezy beach in the winter sun is still a fun and relaxing activity. But you will need a warm jacket for this!

Best beach near Bruges

You might be researching this topic because you want to combine your city trip to Bruges with a day at the beach.

I must admit that this is an awesome idea and it’s super easy to do for most destinations!

These are the travel times and distances from Bruges to the beach.

Blankenberge: 20 minutes by car – 15 minutes by train

Knokke Heist: 30 minutes by car – 20 minutes by train

De Haan: 25 minutes by car – no direct train

Oostende: 25 minutes by car –  15 minutes by train

De Panne: longer than 1 hour for both options

Recommended: Oostende for a city beach and Blankenberge for a beach town.

Conclusion: which are the best beaches in Belgium?

In short: all beaches in Belgium are cozy and offer all possible facilities, like public bathrooms, showers, lifeguards, restaurants, …

You choice will most likely be influenced by accessibility and your own wishes.

If you want to visit a city with multiple nightlife options, choose Oostende.

But if you just want to switch between the beach, the restaurant, and a daytime cocktail bar, you have a lot more choices! Check out Blankenberge, De Haan, or De Panne.

For a more upscale vibe and pricier bars, check out Knokke-Heist.

Last, but not least: looking for a nudist beach: go to Bredene.

We hope you were able to find the perfect beach for your holiday!

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The most amazing Belgian Beaches
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