These beaches extend for 8km of exquisite sea and sand. There are traffic free tiled promenades to walk along anytime of the day. There is also a pier at Ostende at the end of which you can eat at a bistro from which you can relax and watch the port's hustle and bustle, seeing ferries, yacht and fishing boats come and go. It is as lively in the winter as it is in the summer.
Some people like to do more than stroll along the beach. At Raversidje there is the famous Atlantic Wall which is a protected landmark built to form part of the German defence during the second world war. There has been a restoration of the tunnels and bunkers to make an interesting war museum. There is also a provincial tourist park at Raversijde as well as the domain of Prince Karel.
The Casino - Kursaal is the hub of Ostende cultural life and is also on the beach promenade. There is an impressive concert hall which was reported by Herbert Von Karajan to have the best acoustics in the world. Also within the casino is an exhibition area, a theatre, meeting rooms, a restaurant and obviously the gambling rooms. But the casino area is not the only place to find nightlife and there are clubs and discos in the Montmare area.
The annual peak of nightlife in Ostende is the Bal Rat Mort which is a fancy dress ball at the casino, the high point of the celebrated local carnival. The Wellington Race track attracts those people who like a flutter of a different kind. Visitors tend to be attracted by the gambling but also the bustling and busy atmosphere surrounding the track.
There is rich history in Ostende. In the 19th century, it was the favourite meeting place for the aristocracy such as King Leopold II. In 1890, the artist James Ensor was born in the city, and you'll find his work displayed all over the town at both his house or at the Museum of Fine Arts. Known in Flemish as the Museum Voor Schone Kunsten, you can take an audio-visual journey to familiarise yourself with Ensor. Another museum of Belgium art where you can see a more complete guide is the Provincial Museum for Modern Art (Museum Voor Moderne Kunst).
The former training ship for the Belgian Merchant Navy is the Mercator which was retired in 1960 and now is anchored in the port providing an interesting floating museum for those interested in Naval history. There is also the North Sea Aquarium to see, all of this making Ostende a great place to visit.