Hi. Is it worthwhile to spend part, or a full day of 2.5 days in Bruge to see the shoreline nearby to the north? Are there any companies offering group trips, or would I have to rent a car? Thanks!
It's very easy by rail. Take the train to either Oostende or Zeebrugge, and then there's a narrow-gauge tram that runs up and down the coast. My favorite town is De Haan.
I agree with Tom about De Haan with it’s Belle Epoque Houses and the lovely tramstation. Einstein stayed there in 1933 several months before moving finally via the UK to the US. The house where he stayed is still there, but in private hands so not open to public. I think there is nothing more then a walking route with info about his daily activities and a statue.
For going to De Haan, you can go with the train (takes just 15min.) to Oostende or Blankenberge and from there with the coastal tram to De Haan.
I do not agree with Zeebrugge, it’s out of the way, an industrial port and plain ugly, only thing of interest to visit is an old Russian submarine and an old lightship. However on the way to Zeebrugge can be of interest the village of Lissewege.
You can go to posh Knokke, have no idea if the Belgian wealth will impress you, but always nice cars to spot there.
Blankenberge is a well-known working-class coastal resort, has a good vibe as the sun shines.
Oostende is bigger, a bit more vibrant and the former sailingship “Mercator” is nice to visit.
Most resorts are not directly attractive as they consists mostly of modern appartment blocks and a boulevard along the beach, with open air restaurants and cafes. I like these places actually during high season, when the sun shines and everybody is in a good mood, the atmosphere is then pleasant. For visiting the coast you don't need a car.
If you enjoy surrealist art, there's a museum dedicated to local lad Paul Delvaux in Koksijde. Probably not worth the trip if you aren't already an enthusiast, but highly recommended if you are.
Philip - I too like the museum of Paul Delvaux, for getting there a car is most convenient. You can get there also with the coastal tram from Oostende, but that will take certainly an hour and some walking. In Oostende the little museum of James Ensor, known for it’s surrealism is worth a visit too.
OH. MY. GOSH. I had no idea about this tram! It is perfect!! I think I want to start at one end (DePanne), and go to the other (Knokke-Heist), getting off 2 or 3 times to explore (Ostende, DeHaan for sure, it seems). Do I need to return to my starting point, or can I then get the train back to Bruge? Thanks!
By rail, you can go directly to Knokke-Heist from Brugge (I think... if not, you can at least go to nearby Zeebrugge). But you can't travel directly to De Panne. Most of your options probably run through Oostende.
Travelling with the “Kusttram” coastal tram is dirt cheap, for getting on and off as much as you want is best to buy a €5 dayticket. The tram needs about 2½ hour to go from Knokke all the way to De Panne. I did the trip last September from Knokke to Koksijde near De Panne for visiting the Delvaux Museum, but at the end I had more then enough of the ride.
For going from Bruges to Knokke is best to go by direct train, takes just some 20 minutes and costs one way €3,70. But for walking through the posh part of this place you have best to take further the bus (10min.) to “Knokke Het Zoute” and walk along the Kustlaan and the boulevard along the beach and other nearby streets. I think you can also use your tram dayticket for this, but not 100% sure as I only use the tram, ask at the sellingpoint.
With the coastal tram, starts just next to the railwaystation you can go to less glamorous Blankenberge or further to De Haan, to the latter takes some ¾ hour.
To my opinion the best part of the coastal tram is between Oostende and Middelkerke as the line runs along the beach and you have a nice seaview and there are remains of the WWII Atlantikwall “Raversijde”. There is a nearby tramstop to get off for paying a visit if it’s of interest ofcourse. You can go further beyond Middelkerke, but I doubt if it real adds to the experience as there is nothing more then searesorts who are looking more or less the same.
Btw a well-known place in Oostende for walking around is the Koning Boudewijnpromenade and the casino along the beach.
As De Haan is halfway between Oostende and Blankenberge it doesn’t make a difference taking the train to either places as travel time and costs are pretty much the same. For info and tickets for tram/bus to buy is best in advance at the “Lijnwinkel” in front of the railwaystation in Bruges.
Don’t do this daytrip with high expectations, see it more as fun to do, especially during high season when the weather is fine, the atmosphere is pleasant and everybody is enjoying themselves there on the coast.
Great information! Thanks Everyone!! Seems if I leave Bruge after breakfast I can spend the day on the coast and be back for dinner.
Or have dinner on the coast, loads of restaurants to choose from. Open air restaurant, while enjoying a warm early evening sun?
That actually sounds very nice, Wil! The open air Atlantic Wall Museum looks like something I want to explore, so I shouldn't be in a rush to get back for my last night in Bruge. I imagine I can return to Bruge directly from, say, Ostend, even though my morning train is Bruge to Knokke. Now all I need is good weather in mid-July! Which leads me to ask...I'm very familiar with London in late June/early July...very variable! Rains often, but never for long! Can be awfully hot...or awfully chilly! Is Belgium the same?
"Is Belgium the same?" More or less, yes.
The weather - I think the climate in the southern part of the UK and the Belgian coast are more or less compairable, but in general the UK has a reputation of fog and rain, so you can – hopefully - expect lesser rain in the area of Bruges. In mid-July it’s likely you will have the highest temperatures of the year, but nevertheless nothing can be garanteed.
Another thing is that weather can be more bright at the beach, then just a bit more inland, so if it looks a bit dark in Bruges it doesn’t has to be the case at the coast. So that will be the challenge and to be found out once being there.
For travelling around you can make a loop, for instance starting in Knokke and work your way down along the coast. In Oostende also of interest can be fort Napoleon, with also remains of the Atlantikwall, but Raversijde is still a better place to see that. There is a nearby tramstop “Oostende Duin & Zee” and you need to walk a ½km or more directly you can go from downtown with the free passenger ferry and a 1km walk.
Fort Napoleon closed Monday and Tuesday, opening hours 10h - 17h. Raversijde open every day, 10.30h - 17.00, but entrance till 1h - 1 1/4h before closing time.
The easiest (most frequent) train connection back to Bruges is via Oostende. Blankenberge has lesser frequent connections, but is also a good option.
Enjoy your stay!
" in general the UK has a reputation of fog and rain, so you can – hopefully - expect lesser rain in the area of Bruges"
Bruges average rainfall per annum is 925mm, compared with London's 611mm. Canterbury is much the same as London.