A city with historic conflicts and of prime strategic importance over the centuries has been transformed into a modern, stylish, and cultural affair. From the Spanish invaders in 1601 to the battles and bombardments of the Second World War, Ostend has survived and grown in defiance to the odds. More recently, it has faced an economic threat when the Channel Tunnel reduced the flow of people using the port. Again, it has re-defined itself and emerged triumphant, and is now a popular seaside resort with a charm that exudes the local Belgian traditions. Try the local beer at one of the many 'Brown Bars', but be warned that it is stronger than you may be used to, or visit one of the excellent art galleries and museums that show the rich cultural heritage of the city.
Location: 9 kilometres of beach on the West coast of Belgium
In the province of West Flanders on the North Sea coastline, the city has always had good transport links to Europe and across to the UK, owing to the large amount of cargo moved through the port. It is one hour from Brussels and 15 minutes to Bruges by train, and enjoys many day-trippers from these two cities who visit the 'Queen' of Belgium's beaches. The nearest airport, for those travelling from further afield, is at Lille in France. There is a local airport at Ostend, but this caters mainly for cargo and onward holiday flights to other destinations.
Business: A popular location for business travellers
The city offers a unique service that promotes the staging of conferences and exhibitions by businesses, from the large corporate event facilities at the Wellington Race Court to the many conference rooms and halls offered by hotels and unique locations across the area. Tourism executives and city authorities have teamed together to offer business event managers a one-stop shop for all their needs.
Culture: Europe's largest maritime festival
In May, the city hosts the 'Oostende voor Anker', when hundreds of historic ships gather in the port to delight and amaze the quarter of a million visitors who have flocked to see them. Continuing the nautical feel, visit the Mercator Museum, which is based inside a century old threemasted naval vessel that is now moored permanently in the port.
Activities: Relive the violent history of the region
No visit to the city can be complete without a visit to the Atlantic Wall. This sympathetic reconstruction of the German defences shows the conditions in which their troops unsuccessfully tried to hold back the Allied forces in the Second World War. It has been recreated using original materials, and is an enlightening place to visit for those with an interest in military history.