A weekend in Blankenberge
With my fascination for mermaids and beaches, I feel very much drawn to the seaside. And when you're talking about the Belgian coast, Blankenberge quickly comes to mind, as it is our second biggest seaside resort. The city has a beautiful heritage from its Belle Époque glory (which I'm very sensitive to) but that's not the only thing it has to offer. There really is something for everyone in Blankenberge, whether it is culture, shopping, gastronomy or beach bars! Since the city is rather small, there is no pressure and you can easily go from one point to another by foot. And with its 'Happy to sea you' spirit, the city is known to be warm and welcoming!
Lunch at Oosterstaketsel | Zeedijk 350, 8370 Blankenberge
Obviously there is no better place to enjoy seafood than the seaside! At Brasserie Oosterstaketsel you can do so in a unique location with amazing views over the waves. They're known for their fabulous fish soup and the service is really friendly and attentive. The warm interior made essentially out of dark wood will surely bring you in the maritime mood.
Shopping at Escape | Kerkstraat 22, 8370 Blankenberge
You can shop all weekend in Blankenberge and while doing so Escape cannot be missed! With its motto 'I've got a crush on the world', founder Joelle is all about travel and interior (just like me). She loves to discover new places and brings back her memories and inspirations into her home and travel store, whether through Berber carpets, Egyptian lamps or Scandinavian furniture. There's also a café inside the store where the Moroccan vibes are clearly present: high praise for their mint tea and exotic sweets!
Visit of the Belle Époque Center | Elisabethstraat 24, 8370 Blankenberge (only open from 14:00 to 17:00)
The Belle Époque refers to the period from 1870 to 1914, a time of innovation and wealth for Great Britain and Belgium. A new elite of rich middle-class people emerged and their desire to enjoy themselves and travel drove the first seaside tourism. It is in that time that Blankenberge went from being a small fishing village to one of the most sophisticated seaside resorts in Europe. At the Belle Époque Center you can dive into the city's rich past through ancient posters, Art Nouveau documentation and other embellished items. The museum also houses a secret gem: a surprising rooftop terrace, complete with mosaic bench made out of tiles from Belle Époque villas. An oasis of peace where you'd almost feel transported to Barcelona's Park Güell.
Stroll along the city's main sights
After your visit to the Belle Époque Center, explore the city to discover testimonies of Blankenberge's glorious past. It starts with the streets surrounding the museum. It is here that you'll find some of the most memorable facades with beautiful loggias, colorful tiles and other ornaments. Another architectural relic is the Belgium Pier. It was originally built in 1894 and has been a local icon ever since. Walking over the 350 meters long walkway over the sea, you arrive at an impressive circular building where all kinds of events used to be held at the beginning of the 20th century. Last but not least, the Paravang offered shelter from the wind for holiday-makers watching the fishermen at work in the port. Luckily this Belle Époque structure has been preserved, meaning you can still enjoy its promenade with shell motifs while overlooking the marina.
Cocktails at Salito Beach | Zeedijk 176, 8370 Blankenberge
A day at the beach isn't complete without sipping cocktails in a tropical beach bar. At Salito Beach you're guaranteed to feel those tropical vibes thanks to the palm trees and reed parasols. With your toes in the sand, enjoy one of their many, many cocktails. For example, they have about 10 different Mojitos!
Dinner at Cabo | Wenduinse Steenweg 1, 8370 Blankenberge
Cabo is the best place to end your day in style while waiting for the sunset. Either you go to the restaurant on the ground floor where they serve very refined food in the form of menus. Either you go to the lounge bar upstairs to enjoy drinks and tapas on the terrace overlooking the marina and the sea. Either way, the atmosphere is relaxed and the service on point! Tip: If you're coming from the beach, it is best to take the small ferry at the end of the Zeedijk to reach the other bank. Otherwise you'll have to walk the 1,5 km to reach Cabo by surrounding the marina.
Tour with the Water-Taxi | Wenduinse Steenweg 3, 8370 Blankenberge
One last asset of Blankenberge I would like to tell you about is the Water-Taxi. Throughout my city guide we've been pretty close to the sea, so what about actually going into the sea? With the Water-Taxi you can go to one of the surrounding seaside resorts, you can go spot seals, or you can even do a personalized boat trip on the North Sea. Whatever your choice, I'm sure it will be an unforgettable experience!
Stay at Hotel Mercure | Koning Leopold III Plein, 8370 Blankenberge
Conveniently located above the train station and next to a private parking, Hotel Mercure is a great option if you wish to spend the weekend in Blankenberge. The hotel boasts a heated rooftop swimming pool on the 4th floor (!) and the elaborate breakfast buffet is there to cover all your morning cravings.
The train will take you from Brussels to Blankenberge in 1h20. By car it will take you approximately the same time. The train station is located near the city center and so is the Indigo Parking (Kerkstraat 122).